The NFL Draft hype machine is a powerful thing.
In the two-month period that separates the Super Bowl from draft day, there are always prospects who become favourites of the draft community to the extent that their weaknesses are seemingly swept under the rug.
Here we look at five overrated prospects who have the beneficiaries of such praise but have significant flaws that make them undeserving of being so highly thought of.
QB – Sam Darnold, USC: Darnold has the arm strength, ability to throw with anticipation and proficiency evading pressure to suggest he could be a successful starter at the next level.
But the clamour to anoint him as the consensus first overall pick is bewildering for a player who demonstrated consistently poor decision making at USC, throwing 13 interceptions, and lacks consistent pocket presence. He should succeed in the NFL, but he is far from a lock.
WR – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M: Kirk has been talked about as an early day-two or even first-round selection. To an extent that is understandable given Kirk's speed, ability to pick up yards after the catch and impact in the return game.
However, Kirk's biggest failing is a pretty substantial one. He is not a natural catcher of the ball, too often appearing to fight and trap it rather than making a clean reception. His technique in that regard can be refined, but it is an issue that makes even spending an early second-rounder on him seem like a reach.
DL – Da'Ron Payne, Alabama: Watching Payne's magnificent performance in the National Championship Game against Georgia, it is easy to buy into the hype surrounding him.
Payne possesses natural burst off the snap and uses his hands intelligently to generate interior pressure. Yet displays like that showing against the Bulldogs did not come often enough and his disappointing production — five tackles for loss and three sacks in three seasons — is highly concerning for a player talked up as a possible top-20 pick.
The Crimson Tide stuffed the Georgia run down the stretch to will @AlabamaFTBL back into the game.— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) January 9, 2018
For his efforts in the trenches, senior DL Da'Ron Payne is the 2018 CFP National Championship Defensive MVP.#RollTide || #NationalChampionship pic.twitter.com/wFKQ5TMah5
LB – Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech: There's so much upside to consider with Edmunds, who is only 19 and is blessed with an exciting combination of size and athleticism and also carries pass-rush upside.
But that athleticism is not on the same scale as Georgia's Roquan Smith, who is a far superior player in coverage and is of the lighter build that NFL teams are shifting towards at the linebacker position.
Edmunds is a raw player whose instincts are in need of improvement, with overpursuit a particular problem. He is worthy of a first-round pick but it is a fallacy to suggest he should be the first linebacker off the board.
QB – Josh Allen, Wyoming: Allen's weaknesses certainly have not been swept aside, and he remains the most polarising player in the draft. However, the NFL seems to have talked itself into Allen as a top-five pick. That is utterly remarkable for a prospect who only completed 49 per cent of his passes in junior college and then just 56 per cent at Wyoming.
Allen's physical upside is obvious but it does not outweigh his substantial flaws with accuracy, poor footwork and an inability to deal with pressure. Whichever team takes him first will be making a franchise-altering mistake.
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