Is two years in the NFL enough to earn somebody overrated honors?
It is for Reggie Bush.
Bush came into the league as a player many expected to be a Marshall Faulk-type of runner, a home-run threat every time he touched the ball, a star in the passing game. Two seasons into his career with the New Orleans Saints, Bush is a runner who tiptoes into the hole, a player who is far more hype than production.
|Mr. Underrated O.J. Atogwe tackles Mr. Overrated Reggie Bush last season. (Getty Images)|
Bush, who has 1,146 rushing yards in two seasons, gets the nod this year as my most overrated NFL player. In 28 NFL games, Bush has one 100-yard rushing effort. His 3.7 career average per rush is not impressive at all. He does have 161 catches in two seasons, but the Saints expected a lot more with him running with the football when they selected him.
What's bigger: Bush as a disappointment or his girlfriend's (Kim Kardashian) ample behind?
We expected to see those electrifying, make-the-defensive-coordinators-sweat runs that he put on display at Southern California. Instead we have had a tentative, between-the-tackles runner who sure doesn't make us think of Gale Sayers, which the experts said he would.
While Bush is this year's most overrated player -- Vince Young should thank him -- St. Louis Rams safety O.J. Atogwe is the league's most underrated player.
Atogwe had eight interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and 75 tackles in 2007 for the Rams. He has 32 starts in his three-year career and at 26 is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Atogwe can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2008 season if the Rams don't get him signed to a long-term deal by season's end. If the Rams are smart, they'll get him locked up before that happens. He's that good.
Two interesting things about Atogwe are that he is from Canada and his given name is Oshiomogho. He was given the O.J. nickname when he started playing football at the age of 7.
O.J. is a lot easier to remember for people -- and this is a player we shouldn't forget.
Here are the overrated-underrated players for all 32 teams.
|Cards RB Edgerrin James (Getty Images)|
Underrated: LT Mike Gandy. He shocked a lot of people, including this writer, with how well he played last season in his first with the Cardinals. He helped the line make big strides from the previous season.
Overrated: RB Michael Turner. He can prove me wrong in a big way this season. But I still have my doubts as to whether he's what the Falcons think he is as a runner.
Underrated: LB Michael Boley. On any other team, he might have earned a Pro Bowl berth last season. He's a speedy run-and-chase linebacker.
Overrated: CB Chris McAlister. It's too bad Steve McNair retired. He would have won this easily. Without him, it's tough to pick somebody here. But I went with McAlister, who missed half of last season because of injury. He's not a premier corner anymore.
Underrated: G Jason Brown. He was a mauler at left guard last season, one of the rising young players at the position. There is a chance he could move to center, but he should excel there as well.
|Bills LB Angelo Crowell (Getty Images)|
Underrated: LB Angelo Crowell. He had his best season in 2007 with 126 tackles. With the departures of London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes, he became a defensive leader.
Overrated: DE Julius Peppers. He's considered a top pass rusher by many, but had just 2½ sacks last season. That's not good enough. I still think he can get back to his old form, but as of now he's overrated.
Underrated: S Chris Harris. When the Panthers acquired him in a trade with Chicago last season, he stepped in and played well enough to earn a new contract after the season.
Overrated: C Olin Kreutz. He struggled in 2007 and looks to be in a major decline. The Bears need better play inside from him this season to get that running game going.
Underrated: DE Adewale Ogunleye. On a defense that features Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Tommie Harris, Ogunleye had an outstanding season with nine sacks in 2007.
|Bengals WR Chad Johnson (Getty Images)|
Underrated: DT Domata Peko. He is a good inside player who plays hard all the time. If he were on a better unit, he would get more attention.
Overrated: WR Donte' Stallworth. The Browns think they're getting an elite receiver, but he's never been that in any of his three other stops. There's too much inconsistency.
Underrated: S Sean Jones. He's a rangy safety, which you must have these days. He had five interceptions last year and at 26 is ready for his breakout season.
Overrated: S Roy Williams. They should retire this spot for him. He has been overrated for years -- he won my overall honor a few years ago -- but he still goes to Pro Bowls. How?
Underrated: DT Jay Ratliff. He stepped in and played well at nose tackle when Jason Ferguson went down. Ratliff might move to defensive end to compete for a starting job.
|Broncos LB D.J. Williams (Getty Images)|
Underrated: LB D.J. Williams. He has bounced around the linebacker spots, but has stayed steady. He had 141 tackles last season to lead the Denver defense. He's now moving from the middle to the weak side, which is where he belongs.
Overrated: DT Cory Redding. After being one of the Lions' underrated players two seasons ago, he didn't play that well after getting a new contract last year. The Lions need a bounce-back season from him.
Underrated: C Dominic Raiola. Playing for the Lions, he gets overlooked when it comes to Pro Bowl voting. But he's a tough, feisty, smart player who is the best of the Lions' offensive linemen.
Green Bay Packers
Overrated: S Atari Bigby. He had some good plays down the stretch and in the playoffs. But he became a January phenomenon. If you watched him during the season, he struggled in coverage.
Underrated: CB Charles Woodson. It's criminal that he didn't go to the Pro Bowl last season. He was their best corner, not Al Harris, who did go to the Pro Bowl.
Overrated: RB Ahman Green. There are some who think he's still an elite runner. I don't. So he gets the nod here on a tough team to find an overrated player.
Underrated: CB Fred Bennett. As a rookie, he showed the ability to develop into a nice cover corner. With Dunta Robinson out for a least half of the coming season as he recovers from an injury, Bennett will be the team's top corner.
|Colts K Adam Vinatieri (Getty Images)|
Underrated: LB Gary Brackett. He's squatty and sure doesn't look like the prototype middle backer, but he gets it done for the Colts. He's an active run player and he's good against the pass.
Overrated: CB Rashean Mathis. He has the tools to be a Pro Bowl player, which he was in 2006, but he didn't play all that well last season. He got beat by the double move too much.
Underrated: LB Daryl Smith. He started the season at weak-side linebacker, but moved to the middle when Mike Peterson was hurt. He excelled at both spots, but most outside of Jacksonville probably don't know anything about him.
Kansas City Chiefs
Overrated: RB Larry Johnson. Yes, he was bothered by injuries last season. But was he a product of the Chiefs' line when he put up those big numbers in 2005 and '06? He averaged 3.5 per rush when he was on the field. That's not star stuff.
Underrated: WR Dwayne Bowe. As a rookie he caught 70 passes for 995 yards and five touchdowns. He got overlooked playing for a bad Kansas City team.
Overrated: OLB Joey Porter. He has been more bark than bite for the past couple of seasons. In 2007, there wasn't even much barking.
Underrated: CB Will Allen. He was the team's most consistent cover player the past two seasons. He might not be Pro Bowl caliber, but he's just under it.
Overrated: LT Bryant McKinnie. You look at his physical skills and you should see an elite tackle. You just don't. He's OK, but has never lived up to the hype.
Underrated: LB E.J Henderson. He moved back to the middle last season and showed he's there to stay. He is a big reason the Vikings played the run so well in 2007.
New England Patriots
Overrated: LB Adalius Thomas. The Patriots paid a ton of money for him and he didn't do what they expected. It didn't help that he was forced to play some inside. He's more of an outside rusher.
What is your take on Reggie Bush?
He's not overrated
He's overrated but will get better
He's overrated and will stay that way
Total Votes: 34,449
Underrated: TE Ben Watson. On another team, without the quality receivers that Tom Brady has, he would be a 70-catch tight end. Randy Moss and Wes Welker overshadow him.
New Orleans Saints
Overrated: RB Reggie Bush. This one was easy. He hasn't come close to living up to the hype. One has to wonder if he'll ever be more than a situational back.
Underrated: G Jahri Evans. It's a shame he didn't get voted into the Pro Bowl last season. He's as dominant a guard as there is in the league. Too bad nobody knows it.
New York Giants
Overrated: TE Jeremy Shockey. It's chic to jump all over Shockey these days. I still think he's a heck of a player, just not the superstar some think him to be.
Underrated: G Chris Snee. He's Tom Coughlin's son-in-law, but he also happens to be a really good player. Snee is one of the elite guards in the NFL -- even if he hasn't been to Hawaii.
New York Jets
Overrated: LB Calvin Pace. The Jets think they're getting this great edge rusher. But aside from last season, has he ever been that?
Underrated: LB David Harris. He stepped in and started as a rookie and played well. Harris always seems to be around the football.
|Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Getty Images)|
Underrated: CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Teams don't even challenge him anymore. They might now with Hall around, but my guess is they throw at Hall.
Overrated: CB Asante Samuel. He's good, but is he really that much better than a healthy Lito Sheppard? Some scouts think he freelanced too much in New England and he isn't a willing tackler. Good player, just not a great one.
Underrated: RB Brian Westbrook. He continues to be the only real weapon on offense, and yet he can't get to the Pro Bowl regularly. The Eagles must have him getting 25 touches a game.
Overrated: WR Hines Ward. He has been a very good player for a long time, but he averaged just 10.3 yards per catch last season, which was down from 13.2 in 2006. That's a sign he's slowing down.
Underrated: DE Aaron Smith. He was limited to 11 games last season because of injury. When he's not in the lineup, the Steelers are not the same defense. He's not flashy, just effective.
St. Louis Rams
Overrated: WR Drew Bennett. The Rams paid a lot to bring him in as the third receiver and he disappointed. Now he's penciled in as a starter, which is a concern.
Underrated: S O.J. Atogwe. He played at a Pro Bowl level last season, and should be even better now in his second full season as a starter. He had eight interceptions. The one knock could be he sometimes takes poor tackling angles.
San Diego Chargers
|Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie (Getty Images)|
Underrated: DT Ryon Bingham. He had his best season in 2007, which led to the Chargers giving him a contract extension. He started two games last season and can play both nose tackle and end in the 3-4. He's a great backup who could start on some teams.
San Francisco 49ers
Overrated: TE Vernon Davis. I know Davis has been held back by poor quarterback play, but he sure hasn't played like a star, which most people think him to be. He has 72 catches in two seasons. The talent is there -- and he will put up numbers one day -- but he's not there yet.
Underrated: WR Arnaz Battle. He has 109 catches and eight touchdowns the past two seasons and all the 49ers try to do is replace him. He's a reliable player who has worked hard to become a good receiver.
Overrated: WR Deion Branch. You hate to kick a guy when he's down -- Branch is coming off a major knee injury -- but he was never worth what the Seahawks gave up to get him, which was a first-round pick.
Underrated: S Deon Grant. He signed as a free agent before last season and quickly developed into a key figure on the defense. He is active in coverage and he's a willing tackler.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Bucs S Jermaine Phillips (Getty Images)|
Underrated: S Jermaine Phillips. He played so well last season he should have been in the Pro Bowl. His improvement was even a little shocking to the Bucs.
Overrated: QB Vince Young. He's young and still learning, but you'd think he's a superstar the way the media talks him up. He's far from it.
Underrated: CB Cortland Finnegan. I went with left tackle Michael Roos last year, but he's getting some hype now. Finnegan is a feisty competitor who doesn't back down. He's a willing tackler and is pretty good in coverage.
Overrated: WR Santana Moss. He had a big season in 2005, but wasn't as effective in 2006 and 2007. He has averaged 58 catches the past two seasons. That's not No. 1 receiver production.
Underrated: DT Anthony Montgomery. After shedding weight before the 2007 season, he became one of the surprise players on the roster. He's a force in the middle of the Redskins line.