Packed with upside: Most overrated prospects in 2015 NFL draft
We're calling this a breakdown of "overrated" prospects. But what that really means, as it relates to the NFL draft, is that the players included below could be overdrafted—taken higher than they should be based on what they have shown as prospects.
That does not mean they all will bomb in the NFL or that they are terrible players. Without fail, though, every draft elevates several prospects beyond where their realistic ceilings. Here are 10 may fit the bill this year:
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
The NFL loves upside. The notion drives the entire draft, to some extent—teams do as much research as they can on prospects, only to cross their fingers and hope they'll get the anticipated level of bang for their buck. But there always are a few guys who garner a longer look based almost entirely on the dream of what they might some day become.
Perriman is front and center for that movement in 2015. He is a big, brilliantly athletic, home-run threat at the wide receiver position ... who also is not all that far along is his development as a player. Perriman's hands are a concern, as is his route-running. Per the NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, Perriman, at 13.8%, had "far and away the worst" drop rate of any early-round receivers last season.
And yet, he has been mentioned throughout the past few weeks as a likely Round 1 pick, perhaps even a top-10 option. Maybe down the road, his game matches up with that hype. Right now, the buzz surrounding him has surpassed the actual product.
Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Armstead is the defensive version of Perriman. He checks off all the physical boxes—6'7", 292 pounds, 33-inch arm length, powerful, etc. And Armstead is raw.
The word "raw" is usually uttered in close concert with the word "upside." This means that the team drafting him can hope he makes an impact early, but a more feasible expectation is that he will require multiple seasons of coaching and maturation before he can be counted on as a full-time starter.
In that way, this overrated(/likely overdrafted) list of players boils down to preference. It says here the the first half of Round 1 is too high to draft a player who is more projection than prospect. At least a few NFL teams view this whole process in a different light, preferring to swing for the fences over seeking out relatively safe picks with less of that coveted upside. To each his own.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
There is a precipitous drop-off at the quarterback spot this year behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The problem is that outside of Tampa Bay and Tennessee (or whichever two teams land Winston and Mariota), another handful of teams are still in the market for a franchise quarterback. So what's a team to do?
Well, in all likelihood, said team will reach. Taken on his own, without the context of the remaining quarterback class, Petty probably deserves to be a mid-round (i.e. Rounds 3 or 4) prospect. Same goes for Brett Hundley and Garrett Grayson, with several other quarterbacks sitting in line behind them.
The lack of options at the game's most important position figures to push at least one or two of those QBs—starting with Petty, if recent reports are to be believed—up into an early Round 2 spot.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
Before we get too far into this, allow me to just mention that I like Tevin Coleman as a player. A lot. On an Indiana team that has one bowl berth since 1994, Coleman stood out week to week with his big-play ability—he turned nothing into something as much as maybe any college running back.
Those breakthroughs will be fewer and further between in the NFL. Coleman does not find his way into space so much as he plows through defenders, which is a tough way to make a pro living. This RB class is a crap shoot, and a run realistically could start at the position anywhere from early Round 2 onward. Coleman deserves to be mentioned among the second-tier group, after Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley. There just might not be as much potential here as his 2,036 yards last season indicate.
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Coates blew up in the Iron Bowl vs. Alabama (five catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns), then excelled throughout Senior Bowl week. Is that enough to justify an early-round pick?
The 6'1", 212-pound Coates can make plays by going over top of cornerbacks and he's a big-play threat downfield. There's just not much else there as of the last time we saw Coates on the field, so waiting on him a bit is advised.
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (Fla.)
SI's Doug Farrar mentioned multiple times on our 2015 Audibles mock draft podcast that he does not believe Flowers deserves Round 1 consideration. And it's true that, even up through positional drills at the combine, the Miami product has endured some truly ugly moments as a blocker.
Odds are, he's going to land in Round 1 anyway. Flowers stands 6'6" and 329 pounds, with the strength to punish defenders in the run game. Does that make him a better prospect than T.J. Clemmings or Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher? Probably not, but he's on track to be drafted ahead of all of them.
Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State
"It would not shock me," the scout added, "if somebody took him late first [round] because of the upside."
There's that word again. "Upside." Edwards has been garnering Round 1 talk of late because of it, but his performance last season at Florida State simply does not measure up. While he dropped some 15 pounds ahead of the combine (down to 279) and flashes as an outstanding athlete, Edwards also offered limited production (3.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss) during the 2014 season. Will he suddenly flip the switch as an NFL player if he's taken with a first-round selection?
Quentin Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio)
Rollins will present another interesting test case for the NFL's production-vs.-potential discussion. He was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, picking off seven passes and recording 72 tackles. That also marked Rollins' first and only year playing college football, having spent his first four seasons at Miami on the basketball team. Translating his stunning success to the NFL—be it at cornerback or by learning a new position at moving to safety—stands as a massive challenge for Rollins. It is the type of challenge best left for Round 3 or later, not a Round 1 gamble as some have suggested.
Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
The shine appears to be off the apple a bit here as it is, so Holliman could wind up being drafted at an appropriate spot—somewhere on Day 3, by a team with two starters in place at safety. He lands on our list because his remarkable 14 interceptions last season (best in the NCAA) may catch a team's eye, bumping him well up the board on playmaking talent alone.
The rest of the scouting report is troubling, though. Holliman did not work out at the combine, then turned in a sluggish show at Louisville's pro day (4.65-second 40, 7.08 three-cone). Zierlein also chalked him up with a whopping 20 missed or broken tackles last season; Holliman made just 44 tackles total.
Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Again, I get it. Dupree has the size (6'4", 269 pounds) to help set the edge and the quickness (4.56 40) to rush the passer or even play in space. He's an athlete, in every sense of the word, and could be molded into an excellent NFL player by the right coaching staff.
But. The flaws in his game as a college player were evident, starting with average awareness and continuing to include a pretty basic pass-rushing repertoire. There are some who believe Dupree is en route to a top-10 pick, be it by Atlanta or the Jets or a team moving around via trade. His current skill set would be a far better value fit another dozen-plus picks later.