With the NFL draft only a little over a month away, buzz around some of the top prospects is ramping up and our analysts are getting deeper into player evaluations for the 2016 draft class.
Every year, there's a number of prospects that command a certain hype — and perhaps don't deserve it. Today, we're going to take a look at the numbers and identify those players. Here are the top 10 most overrated NFL draft prospects for 2016:
[Editor's note: Be sure to check out our 10 most underrated 2016 prospects as well.]
- Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
If you’ve followed anything on PFF this draft season, this should come as no surprise. To be fair, I’m not sure anyone is necessarily high on Hackenberg anymore, yet even considering him a mid-round prospect at this point is generous. He was the lowest-graded quarterback in all of the FBS in 2014, and while he improved last year Hackenberg still graded very negatively. His 64.0 accuracy percentage was the second-worst in all of college football, while his accuracy on bubble screens was only 84.6 percent. Bubble screens! I’m not sure how an NFL team will ever be able to change that wild inaccuracy.
- Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
I’ll let the grades do the talking on this one:
|Category||Grade||FBS Rank (Out of 227)|
The chances of molding those numbers into an NFL-level player seems nearly impossible.
- A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Robinson may very well be a fine player, and he graded out highly last season against the run, but you don’t need his combine numbers to know that Robinson doesn’t have the juice to be a top interior rusher. There’s little explosion off the ball and he graded out right around average last season, collecting a paltry 23 total pressures on 357 rushes . How much is a one-dimensional run-stuffing base end worth right now in the NFL? The Chiefs' Jaye Howard is a comparable player from a production standpoint and he just got a two-year, $10 million deal. That doesn’t scream first-round player to me.
- Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Almost every year it seems like a team falls in love with a linebacker's athleticism and fails to check if it really translates to the football field. Ryan Shazier, Alec Ogletree, Bruce Carter, etc. the list goes on. That could very well be Lee this year. His athletic traits are off the charts, with a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine and an 11-1 broad jump. The scary part about Lee is that he almost never played as a true linebacker and thus lacked instincts when forced to play in the box. 492 of his 879 snaps came in the slot out wide of the tackles. Even when he was asked to make plays in space, he frequently took bad angles and overran plays.
- Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Some of the Dodd hype is understandable due to the weak edge class. Teams don’t all of a sudden stop needing pass rushers. Calling him a top-15 guy though is something we can’t get on board with. Dodd is easy to like because there really aren’t many weaknesses in his game, but at the same time we saw few strengths. He finished the season as our 41st-ranked pass rusher on the edge with 42 percent of his +18.2 grade coming in one game against Oklahoma. When you consider he was going up against the weaker college right tackles, that’s not inspiring production.
- Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Outside of the Texas A&M pipeline and the right tackle’s pipes for arms there really isn’t much to get excited about with Ifedi. The smoothness and change of direction ability we saw last year from his teammate Cedrick Ogbuehi did not at all pass on to Ifedi. And while his arms are long, he routinely lost the first-punch battle. Ifedi actually posted a negative pass blocking grade for A&M, yielding five sacks, three hits, and 18 hurries on the season. In all likelihood he’s a guard at the next level, but I’m not sure that will magically alleviate his issues.
- Deion Jones, LB, LSU
People are going to drool over his pro day 40 time, but I’m not even convinced that he’s that great of an athlete. The 4.59 he ran at the combine looks good for a linebacker until you realize he’s only 222 pounds and smaller than a good number of the running backs he’ll have to tackle. Teams would overlook that if he was dynamic in coverage, but his -6.6 coverage grade was the third-lowest in the SEC. He allowed 381 yards on 42-57 targets, while only getting his hands on four passes all season long.
- Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
Right now Miller is much more of an offensive weapon than wide receiver. And as we’ve seen with Tavon Austin, offensive weapon has a limited value. His route running at the moment is terribly raw. His releases off the line of scrimmage are among the slowest in college football. One 12 yard out route at the Senior Bowl took him over four seconds to get to his final break — an eternity in the NFL. A team may select Miller highly banking on his development because the other options at receiver in the class are sparse, but he’s a few years away at the moment and his upside appears to be in the slot.
- Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech
Yet another offensive tackle and it’s a somewhat common theme at PFF. We’ve seen such a steep learning curve at the tackle position over our nine years of data, that we can’t endorse taking on projects at the position. Many tackles don’t put it all together until their fourth year and under the new CBA, maximizing value on the rookie deal is a must. Clark is extremely raw. At the Senior Bowl he lost on 56 percent of his one-on-one's in pass protection — one of the lowest rates of the week.
- Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
The hierarchy of needs for a left tackle in the NFL is usually pass protection first and run blocking a distant second. That’s why Decker — the 79th most efficient pass protecting tackle in college football last year — seems a bit of a stretch in the first round. It’s also a tad concerning that he played in an offense at Ohio State that rarely asked him to take true pass sets and almost never took deep drops.