Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/2/12
What makes an NFL player overrated or underrated? In the NFL it could be the amount of money he makes in comparison to his productivity.

Or the amount of attention he demands in relation to his productivity. Or the expectations placed on him and his productivity in relation to the expectations.

Let's go with productivity or the potential productivity. 

In Jacksonville, expectations are understandably low.

Last year Jaguars went 5-11. They rated last in total offense in spite of having the NFL leading rusher on their team. Their productivity on the offense was abysmal. 

Remember there is a difference between fantasy productivity and real production. 


I desperately want to put Blaine Gabbert on the most underrated list. I know he had a horrendous year last year.  An offseason plagued with questions of his ability to play at the NFL level. 

Analysts dissecting his every play, or non-play in last year games. Yes, Gabbert threw for 12 touchdowns but that was eclipsed by the 11 interceptions. At times he appeared to feel non-existent pressure causing him to flee the pocket like a 12-year-old school girl running towards Justin Bieber. There is nowhere to go but up?

But Gabbert was never supposed to start last year. He was supposed to sit and learn behind David Garrard.  Garrard injured his back in preseason causing the Jaguars to go to plan B. Plan B was Luke McCown. But after two weeks McCown's play made it necessary for the Jaguars to go to plan C. Plan C was to insert a rookie quarterback whose scouting report insisted he would fold under pressure. And Gabbert folded under pressure. 

This year he will have plenty of opportunity to prove the detractors wrong. He will be working with a full preseason.  Former Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is now head coach. The offensive coordinator is former quarterback coach Bob Bratkowski. And the quarterbacks coach is former Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Greg Olsen. Instead of the lame duck coaches he had last year, Gabbert is surrounded offensive minded mentors. 

The Jaguars signed former Dallas wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Playing behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin last year, Robinson amassed 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. Lee Evans was also picked up in the offseason to help the drop prone receivers from last year. The Jaguars had 40 dropped catches last year evenly spread throughout the wide receivers and tight end. 

The former 10th round pick of the NFL Draft has many disbelievers. Last year he completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards. The only quarterback to have a worse completion percentage last year was Tim Tebow. 

Unfortunately Gabbert doesn't have the hype machine of Tebow. And Gabbert did not lead his team to an unpredictable playoff win.Gabbert is underrated because he played so poorly last year.  His productivity was not indicative of a 10th round pick. This year he will prove his critics wrong.  
Marcedes Lewis had some issues last year.  A shortened preseason, baby mama drama and Blaine Gabbert helped to create a subpar season for a Pro Bowl tight end. " I think a lot of times people forget that we are human, that we may go through things outside of football.  I'm excited to be putting that behind me now.  I had some family things going on.  I got that focus back." 

Right now that focus does not seem to include coming into camp in shape. Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union reports coach Mike Mularkey is unhappy with Lewis' conditioning telling the tight end he needs to get in better shape. 

Last year Lewis had 39 receptions for 460 yards and zero touchdowns. During the season Lewis also had some critical drops and had only two catches in the red zone. How is he underrated? In 2010, Lewis had 58 receptions for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Which Lewis is the real deal? 

With focus and talent anything is possible.  Last year he proved he lacked focus on the field.  In 2010, Lewis proved he had the talent.  Talent will prevail. 


Bryan Anger was the 70th overall pick in April's NFL Draft. The third-round pick from California is a quality athlete.  He is also a punter. This is the highest a punter has been selected in the NFL Draft since Todd Sauerbrun was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bears. Anger is a victim not of his making. Being selected in the third round was the surprise of the Draft. 

At California, Anger averaged 44.2 yards per punt last season. During his career he has put 90 kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line. But Anger is a punter. He was picked in the third round on a team that needs so much more. Unless Anger's athletic ability allows him to receive passes, or return kicks, or rush the passer he is vastly overrated.  

In 2009, Maurice Jones-Drew signed a four-year extension worth $31 million with a $17.5 million signing bonus.  That deal made him one of the three highest-paid running backs in football. Last year after having microfracture surgery, Jones-Drew rushed for a league-high 1,606 yards. 

He scored 11 of the teams 21 offensive touchdowns. He was third on the team with 374 receiving yards. Jones-Drew had three receiving scores which tied him for the teams' lead. This year he is the eighth highest-paid running back. 

Jones-Drew productivity last year made him the No. 1 rusher in the NFL. This was the first time in his career that he averaged more than 100 yards per game. He is durable only having missed three games in his six season career. But with Jones-Drew on the field the team managed only five wins last year. The Jaguars have missed the playoffs 10 of the past 12 years. 

Here is where fantasy and reality present a schism. As Steve Wyche of the NFL Network states, " Though Jones-Drew is arguably the best running back in the NFL and one of the best players in Jaguars history, his productivity hasn't translated into much success." 

The Jaguars have managed to have losing seasons with Jones-Drew on the field.  If he holds out and they have a winning season who has lost? 

Unlike fantasy football the Jaguars are measuring Jones-Drew's productivity around wins and losses. And with this measuring stick Jones-Drew comes up overrated. 


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