NFL Draft 2017: Most overrated prospects include Alvin Kamara, Budda Baker

Sporting News

Every year during the NFL Draft process, due to media excitement and/or NFL team optimism, prospects are pushed up draft boards to points that exceed actual value. This year is no exception.

These 10 prospects, arranged by position, are either inflated by those covering the 2017 NFL Draft or overvalued by teams that might take them a round or two early.

NFL Draft 2017: Draft Results | Big Board

NFL Draft 2017: Most overrated prospects

— Quarterback: Davis Webb, California

Every year, one quarterback’s upside and arm talent wins over enough NFL teams to drive up substantial interest despite lackluster film. This year that quarterback is Webb, who transferred to Cal from Texas Tech to replace Jared Goff (after Webb lost the TTU starting job to Patrick Mahomes).

Webb is tall, has a remarkably strong arm and hails from an offense NFL teams clearly trust after Goff went first overall. But his accuracy on the perimeter is concerning, and his Senior Bowl was less than impressive. If/when he is drafted in the top-40 picks, he’ll be the odds-on favorite to be the first quarterback who busts in the NFL.

— Running back: Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

After the consensus top three running backs, Kamara is often considered the next man up. While he’s a powerful interior runner with apparent readiness in his second-level reads and third-down value, a jack of all trades in the NFL sometimes means a master of none.

Kamara is a strong runner with perimeter upside, but he relies on a talented offensive line for support. There are more talented and versatile running backs in this class.

MORE: Top 10 RBs in NFL Draft

— Wide receiver: Zay Jones, East Carolina

The FBS all-time receptions leader, Jones is consistently grouped among the top receivers in the 2017 NFL Draft. His Senior Bowl showed his red-zone ability, and his interior catch finishing is impressive. But much of his college film is almost unusable for his NFL projection.

Jones will be drafted in the first three rounds, but expecting more than a volume slot receiver who will have an adjustment in getting separation in the NFL would be a mistake.

Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Many have basked in Davis’ MAC greatness since his junior season, and the rush to crown him as the top receiver in the draft has guided some astray on what Davis can really be in the NFL.

He’s an impressive late-breaking route separator. He’s balanced throughout his routes and post-catch movements. He ran a wide variety of routes that will translate. But Davis doesn’t have the freakish size, length, speed or ball skills needed to be a top 10-worthy prospect. Some NFL teams have Davis graded as a second-round prospect.

— Offensive line: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

NFL teams understandably like Robinson, a three-year starter at left tackle for the best team in the SEC that has a history of producing NFL offensive linemen. Add that Robinson improved as the season went on, and he checks several boxes.

But his woes and lack of development as a quick pass protector, plus a need to improve his upper- and lower-half technique, after three years as a starter is concerning.

— Defensive tackle: Malik McDowell, Michigan State

On film and in flashes, McDowell is arguably the most talented defensive lineman outside of Myles Garrett in the class. But two major concerns hold him back and make him a doubtful first-round pick.

One is his inability to stay within the defensive scheme at Michigan State, where he often went off script. Another is his character, which is easily the most concerning part of his evaluation. His character report and concerns are maybe the most notorious of those of any prospect in this class.


— Defensive end: Derek Barnett, Tennessee

The complete opposite of McDowell, Barnett does not offer great length, athletic upside or projection, but he is about as reliable character- and work ethic-wise as one can ask for in a prospect.

That said, drafting a prospect without great athletic upside in Round 1 is a trap. Barnett’s projection is reliant on the fact that he’s a snap anticipator. His rush moves that were successful in college might not work consistently in the NFL.

— Linebacker: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

J.J.’s little brother has seen his projection rise to Round 1. T.J. Watt, who is more of a second- or third-round talent than worthy of a top-30 draft choice, likely won’t go as high as current projections have him.

He tested well and is more than just a high-motor edge player, but Watt’s projection is situational and upside-driven. If he gets drafted in the first round, it’ll quickly become clear he was a reach.

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— Cornerback: Gareon Conley, Ohio State

Conley is a talented cornerback whose first-round projection is founded in impressive fluidity, finishing ability away from his frame and vertical coverage upside. But he’s not as physical or efficient in short-area coverage, and he has shown a need for added timing and anticipation in man and interior coverage.

He’ll be drafted somewhere in the top 20 picks, and the top 10 is possible. But he, like Eli Apple, might have a greater need for development than some expect.

— Safety: Budda Baker, Washington

As a versatile safety/nickel cornerback, Baker’s highlight reel plays and explosiveness as an underneath coverage and run defender have earned him praise. And while NFL teams are intrigued with his potential starting ability, they aren’t as confident in his grade as a top-50 pick.

Baker’s projection is reliant on him becoming the next Tyrann Mathieu, which is a risk for an NFL team looking for a safe starting option. Baker’s best-bet projection is Damarious Randall, who was a surprise first-round pick for the Packers but has not yet lived up to that billing.

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