The best time of the NFL year is draft season. Whether it’s analyzing team fits, spending countless hours watching film, trying to evaluate players, or making original commentary regardless of what the media thinks, draft season is by far the most polarizing time of year as well.
Every now and then, there are the 5 players in each class where everyone knows they’ll be good at the pro level, the 5 players who are underhyped for the entire offseason but turn into diamonds of the rough, and finally, the 5 “incredible” prospects who are seen as so good that ignoring red flags becomes protocol when evaluating them.
While my past post (linked below) discussed the 5 best draft prospects for the incredible NFL class of 2020, this article will discuss 5 prospects who are hyped up by the media, but may eventually end up as busts in the NFL because too many people ignore their red flags.
#5: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
While LSU may be known as “DBU”, let’s just say Fulton isn’t exactly one of their best products. He routinely gets beat over and over again, regardless of competition (multiple times against Utah State), even though he plays on one of the best defenses in the entire league.
People love the athleticism, and that’s perfectly fine, but when a corner gets beaten a ridiculous number of times, they should not be getting any consideration as a 1st-round pick. Fulton is overrated, and while his athletic profile does work in his favor, he’s a developmental prospect at best.
#4: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Aiyuk is another prospect coached up by former NFL coach Herm Edwards. However, his emergence is overhyped, as many media members have a 1st-round grade on him, which makes no sense whatsoever. Almost all of his highlight plays, including the explosive kick returns and the deep touchdowns, are a result of bad defensive play.
Whether it’s defenders falling down on go routes, which are pretty much the only routes he can run, or wide open lanes during kickoff returns, Pac-12 defensive play against Aiyuk in particular is awful, even though he’s a mediocre route-runner at best. Furthermore, even with his size, he struggles against press-man coverage and thrives with a free release against zone, just like any college receiver.
He also shows complete lack of awareness at times, especially in the run game. Is he very fast? Yes. Does he show potential on offense and the return game? Absolutely. But is he worth a 1st round pick? No. Will he be overdrafted by a good 3-4 rounds? Yes. Thus, Aiyuk is an overrated prospect who’s gaining unwarranted hype as the offseason continues.
#3: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Another highly-projected Oklahoma quarterback, the third in 3 seasons. However, Hurts is by far the worst, and he’s definitely not Baker Mayfield nor is he Kyler Murray. To put it simply, he has looked terrible in a system where it’s remotely difficult to look bad. Arguably the best offensive line in the entire nation, the receiver of a generation in Ceedee Lamb, and a largely-improved defense in 2019, and Hurts still managed to look subpar.
The largest issue with Hurts is that if the aforementioned Lamb wasn’t open, Hurts would just take off. Being a 1-read quarterback doesn’t bode well for a career in the NFL, especially considering his inability to diagnose pressure. If I earned a penny every time Jalen Hurts couldn’t spot obvious pressure, I would have more money than Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates combined.
Oh, and speaking of that run game, Hurts is not that great of an open-field runner. He’s more of a “I’m just going to use my size” sort of runner, mainly because he’s not very athletic. Finally, he’s careless with the football, placing it in some of the worst windows ever.
Even when Lamb is open (which is pretty much every game), Hurts routinely misses him (mainly due to a lack of throw power) for big gains. Overall, Hurts is an overrated prospect and, like Aiyuk, will be criminally overdrafted.
#2: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Delpit is another “LSU Prodigy” projected as a top-10 pick in this draft class that is full of talent. However, just like Fulton, most media members have him projected as either a mid-to-late 1st round pick, and even that is high for his standard of play. The #1 criticism of Delpit’s game is his tackling.
The former Unanimous All-American doesn’t whiff occasionally, though; He gets straight up outmuscled on some of the easiest tackling opportunities. Against Texas, Longhorns receiver Devin Duvernay in particular made Delpit look terrible, because he either kept running into Delpit’s smaller frame, or because he just kept his feet moving, which generated even more yards after catch for the Longhorns.
Easy tackles are hard for him, which makes the genuinely hard tackles even more difficult. Furthermore, he also gets juked when opposing threats just stick their feet into the ground and cut hard (see Jerry Jeudy vs LSU). Delpit is just not a good enough tackler to play in the NFL, period. Unlike former teammate Devin White, he’s not exactly new to the position, so fixing his tackling traits will make teams much more reluctant to draft him.
Another concern with Delpit is his pursuit. More often than not, he takes terrible angles towards the ball-carrier and ends up in a terrible position, which leads to even more missed tackles. These angles also show up when Delpit’s playing coverage in the deep third zone, and he’s given up some big plays as a result of that. The point is, Delpit should not be going in the 1st round, and those who have him as such should reconsider their evaluation.
#1: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Tua is one of the most overrated draft prospects to have ever entered the NFL. When most people hear the name Tua Tagovailoa, it’s as if they only remember the backup quarterback (for Jalen Hurts) who came back after halftime against Georgia in the 2018 National Championship game, and not the All-American who lost by nearly 30 points a season later.
Everyone has him as QB2 in this class, and most say there is a large gap between him and whoever QB3 is (most say Jordan Love or Justin Herbert), but that’s not really true. In the case of Herbert, it’s quite frankly the opposite.
A lot of Tua’s “production” is a result of the tremendous amount of talent around him, which he likely won’t have at the professional level. Alabama had one of the best offensive lines in the nation this year, led by 1st-round-caliber tackles Jedrick Wills Jr and Alex Leatherwood. Furthermore, the stable of weapons at Tua’s disposal for the last 2 seasons is just another example of how great Alabama is at recruiting talent.
Jerry Jeudy, the 2018 Biletnikoff Award winner and a consensus top-2 wide receiver in the 2020 class, has been Tua’s best target the past two seasons. Henry Ruggs III, who also has a mid-1st-round draft stock along with Olympian-level speed, broke out in 2019 as a true deep threat.
Jaylen Waddle, who will be a consensus 1st-round pick next season and is known as one of the most dangerous weapons in college football, was a fantastic 3rd option who could flip the field with his insane returnability. Finally, Devonta Smith, arguably Tua’s most reliable receiver, always gets open, regardless of coverage and opponent.
So, Tua plays with the most dominant group of receivers that college football has ever seen to go along with a very talented offensive line. But that’s not it. Alabama’s running backs the last 2 seasons have been crazy talented as well. Josh Jacobs, who was a 1st-round pick in 2019 and should’ve won Offensive Rookie of The Year, Damien Harris, a 4th-round pick, and now Najee Harris, who will be a 1st-round pick in next year’s class, have all accompanied Tua in the backfield.
However, that’s still not it. Nick Saban’s defense has boasted unbelievable talents in the NFL even before Tua, and the last 2 seasons are no exception. Quinnen Williams, Terrell Lewis, Anfernee Jennings, Xavier McKinney, Dylan Moses, Deionte Thompson, and Mack Wilson are all examples of elite defensive players who have entered the NFL from Alabama. So, Tua should be considered overrated mainly because of the supporting cast around him, which largely contributes to his production.
If there was a word to describe Tagovailoa, it would be inconsistent. Far too many times has Tua led his wide-open receivers (shocker, right) too much, diminishing a potential touchdown to a 10-yard gain. Those aforementioned receivers have also bailed him out of multiple interceptions due to his carelessness with the ball. Just like Hurts, he fails to see pressure at all, and often takes unnecessary hits as a result.
However, my deepest concern with Tua as a prospect is his injury risk. As a result of his inability to read pressure, he takes way too many hits, and isn’t very durable at all. Considering the fact that he won’t have guys like Jonah Williams, Leatherwood, and Wills protecting him at the next level along with a stupendous amount of safety valves, I genuinely worry for this kid’s future regardless of whether he gets drafted to the LA Chargers or to Miami.