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Senior NFL Columnist

Overrated-underrated: Sue me, Lions fans, but Suh is more hype than bite

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Suh is a freak, but Prisco says he gets blocked too often. (US Presswire)  
Suh is a freak, but Prisco says he gets blocked too often. (US Presswire)  

Is Tim Tebow overrated? Of course, he is.

But I couldn't make him my pick for the NFL's most overrated player because his ranking comes from a demented, see-nothing-wrong group of cult members who are blinded by what he stands for rather than looking at what he truly can do on a football field.

And most people in the NFL, who are rational football evaluators, know what he is and what he isn't.

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He can't be overrated because he shouldn't be rated.

So scratch him off the list of potential candidates to be my pick for the NFL's most overrated player. A year ago, that honor went to Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu, inciting Steelers fans to make me Enemy No. 1.

Don't worry, Steelers fans. He's not the choice this year. But he is still my pick as your team's most overrated player. He just isn't great in coverage. He gambles too much. He is feast-or-famine with his aggressive style.

No, the pick this year for the league's most overrated player is Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. I know he has a ton of potential and was a force as a rookie in 2010, but he spent 2011 getting blocked.

He is an ultra-aggressive defensive tackle who uses his ability to get off the ball to drive up the field. But what teams did in 2011 was use that against him. He was trapped a lot. Often guards and centers would just let him rush up the field and take him where his momentum led him -- which was out of the play.

He was much easier to block in 2011 than as a rookie. I expect he will bounce back in 2012 with a brush-up of his techniques, but as of right now he is my pick as the most overrated player in the NFL.

You might laugh at that a year from now, but watch the tape from 2011 and you'll agree. The 49ers "wham-blocked" him on two long runs because of his aggressive approach.

As for the league's most underrated player, my pick is San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald.

While he was lost at times on a defense that featured Justin Smith on the other end, McDonald is a relentless player -- and one who the 49ers moved around the line a lot in 2011, and he still came through with his best season. McDonald can play with his hand down, but the 49ers also stood him up in the middle of their line a lot early last season.

He is athletic, strong and fast. Smith gets all the attention, and he is a heck of a player, but McDonald isn't far behind on that line.

Now here are the most overrated and underrated choices for all 32 teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Overrated: RB Beanie Wells. I know he's a big back and they've waited for big things, but I just don't see it. And he offers nothing in the passing game. I expect Ryan Williams to steal more carries this season.

Underrated: DE Calais Campbell. He was one of the best 3-4 ends in 2011. He played better than the more heralded Darnell Dockett, which is why the Cardinals signed him to a long-term deal.

Atlanta Falcons

Overrated: DE John Abraham. He has one sack against a division opponent last season, yet some still consider him a star pass rusher. I don't see it. He's good at times, but he isn't elite.

Underrated: LB Sean Weatherspoon. He is a run-and-chase linebacker who has all the skills to be a star in the Atlanta defense. His athletic ability is fantastic; he just needs a little more consistency.

Baltimore Ravens

Overrated: WR Anquan Boldin. He could retire this spot since he earns it every year. Boldin just doesn't scare down the field, yet on Sundays all you hear are network analysts slobbering over the guy.

Underrated: CB Lardarius Webb. He emerged as a real shutdown corner in 2011. He didn't give up a touchdown pass, which is impressive in a division with A.J. Green, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.

Buffalo Bills

Overrated: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. What was the rush last season to sign him to a long-term deal? I know he had some injury issues that slowed him in the second half, but is he really the long-term answer?

Underrated: G Andy Levitre. He was really good at left guard early last season, but didn't play as well when injuries forced him to play left tackle. As a guard, he is a fighter and never backs down.

Carolina Panthers

Overrated: RB DeAngelo Williams. They paid him a ton of money last season, but he rushed for just 836 yards as he split time with Jonathan Stewart. He needs to give the Panthers more bang for their buck.

Underrated: CB Chris Gamble. He had his best season in 2011, yet didn't go to the Pro Bowl. Though inconsistent at times over his career, Gamble was very good last season.

Chicago Bears

Overrated: WR/KR Devin Hester. Yes, he's a nice return man. Not what he once was, but good. As a receiver, he isn't much. Yet you'd think he was a star.

Underrated: DT Henry Melton. He has great quickness playing the three-technique tackle spot. He had seven sacks from his down spot. He does get handled some at the point, but that can improve with more strength for this former college runner.

Cincinnati Bengals

Overrated: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Yes, he's a solid runner. But where's the home-run speed? They paid to make him their starter, but he doesn't give them much more than what they had.

Underrated: DT Geno Atkins. It was a crime he didn't get picked for the Pro Bowl last season. He went as an injury replacement. Put on his tape against Marshall Yanda in Baltimore and you will know why.

Cleveland Browns

Overrated: LB Scott Fujita. He just doesn't run like you want an outside linebacker to run. The Browns need to upgrade his spot.

Underrated: S T.J. Ward. Keep an eye on this young player. He has star potential. He can run, cover and hit, but he is coming off an injury.

Dallas Cowboys

Overrated: NT Jay Ratliff. He just wasn't as good as in years past. He's solid, but he wasn't dominant like he was in other seasons.

Underrated: LT Tyron Smith. He was outstanding as a rookie on the right side and will be even better on the left, his more his natural position.

Denver Broncos

Overrated: RB Willis McGahee. He did a nice job in that gimmicked-up offense, but the Broncos need more from their running game than what he can give them.

Underrated: CB Chris Harris. He played the nickel last year and did a nice job as a rookie. Check out how he played against Wes Welker. He is a quality football player for a kid who didn't get drafted.

Detroit Lions

Overrated: DT Ndamukong Suh. He has all the tools, but he spent last season getting blocked a ton. There is still too much talent for him to stay down.

Underrated: ILB Stephen Tulloch. He was a nice addition last season on a defense that needed a play-making linebacker.

Green Bay Packers

Overrated: TE Jermichael Finley. He has the ability to be a premier tight end in this wide-open passing league, but despite the reputation he isn't there yet. Maybe this is the year, but for now he's a tad overrated.

Underrated: T Bryan Bulaga. He stepped in at right tackle and didn't play like a rookie in 2010, and played even better last year. When he missed time with an injury, it showed up on the Packers line.

Houston Texans

Overrated: TE Owen Daniels. He had 54 catches for just 677 yards and three touchdowns last season, even in an offense that was without Andre Johnson for much of the season.

Underrated: C Chris Myers. His athletic ability makes him perfect for their zone-blocking scheme. Re-signing him was a big move for the Texans this spring.

Indianapolis Colts

Overrated: WR Reggie Wayne. He doesn't run like he once did and that showed itself when Peyton Manning went down. He is morphing into a possession receiver now.

Underrated: S Antoine Bethea. He remains the glue in a secondary that has had a ton of injuries.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Overrated: TE Marcedes Lewis. He didn't catch a touchdown pass last season after getting a big contract and he looked to be slower than the year before. This is a big season for Lewis.

Underrated: LB Daryl Smith. He isn't flashy, doesn't get a lot of sacks, but he is a playmaking linebacker who just racks up tackles.

Kansas City Chiefs

Overrated: CB Stanford Routt. Did they really let Brandon Carr go for this guy? He really struggled for the Raiders last season.

Underrated: LB Derrick Johnson. He was all over the field last season, finally showing off the tools that made him a first-round pick.

Miami Dolphins

Overrated: T Jake Long. He is good but had some troubles last season. Injuries forced him to miss time, and on the field he wasn't as dominant.

Underrated: DE/DT Randy Starks. He had another impressive season, even if few noticed. He's a good player against the run and also had 4 1/2 sacks.

Minnesota Vikings

Overrated: DT Kevin Williams. His best football hasn't come in years, yet he still gets considered among the best inside players. That's reputation working.

Underrated: C John Sullivan. On a bad line, he was one of the few bright spots. He emerged as a leader on the line, a player they can build around for a long time.

New England Patriots

Overrated: G Logan Mankins. I know he has some injury issues that he played through last season but he wasn't close to being as good as his reputation. Let's see if he can bounce back.

Underrated: CB Kyle Arrington. He did a nice job on the corner last season, outplaying more-heralded Devin McCourty. Arrington had seven picks to lead the team.

New Orleans Saints

Overrated: S Roman Harper. He is good near the line of scrimmage, but really struggles in coverage. They hid him well last season at times, but he can be a trouble spot on the back end in coverage.

Underrated: C Brian De La Puente. He was a surprise starter, but did a nice job after beating out Olin Kreutz, who retired. De La Puente is a battler.

New York Giants

Overrated: S Antrel Rolle. They paid him a lot of money as a free agent two years ago and he hasn't lived up to the hype. Kenny Phillips, playing next to him, is a better player.

Underrated: S Kenny Phillips. This former first-round pick, who was slowed by knee problems early in his career, emerged as a good player in the back end of the Giants defense last season. He should be even better this season.

New York Jets

Overrated: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Yes, he's a good player. But he isn't as elite as some think. Reputation helps his cause.

Underrated: NT Sione Pouha. He is a force in the middle of their defense. He is outstanding against the run, holding the point.

Oakland Raiders

Overrated: Linebacker Rolando McClain. He looked slow and out of position way too much last year. I just don't see the attraction.

Underrated: LT Jared Veldheer. He has some really impressive games last year in pass protection and blocking for the run. There were some lapses, but he is a good player.

Philadelphia Eagles

Overrated: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has the tools to be a star corner, but for some reason he just doesn't play to those skills.

Underrated: WR Jeremy Maclin. Lost in all the DeSean Jackson hype last year was the fact that Maclin had a big season. He really emerged as a go-to guy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Overrated: S Troy Polamalu. I still don't see what everyone else sees. He gambles too much. He's good. He's not great. That makes him overrated.

Underrated: TE Heath Miller. He doesn't put up fancy numbers, but he's a reliable receiver and a good blocker. He is well-rounded.

St. Louis Rams

Overrated: S Quintin Mikell. The Rams brought him in as a free agent from the Eagles and he struggled. Can he fit better in the new system?

Underrated: QB Sam Bradford. It's now chic to say he wasn't a good pick after a so-so 2011 season. You'd be wrong to think that. He will be a good one.

San Diego Chargers

Overrated: TE Antonio Gates. He's coming to the end of the line, so he isn't the elite player he once was. That's too bad because he was great at one point.

Underrated: C Nick Hardwick. The Chargers did the right thing in re-signing Hardwick. He is very good in pass protection.

San Francisco 49ers

Overrated: LT Joe Staley. He went to the Pro Bowl last season, but shouldn't have been picked. He's solid. But he's not that good.

Underrated: DE Ray McDonald. Playing opposite Justin Smith, he doesn't get the attention he deserves. But he isn't far behind and he's a lot younger.

Seattle Seahawks

Overrated: WR Sidney Rice. They paid him like a No. 1 receiver and he didn't stay on the field. Even healthy, is he really that?

Underrated: DE Red Bryant. He isn't a pass rusher, so he doesn't get a lot of attention, but he is a good run player and a big part of Seattle's improving defense,

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overrated: G Davin Joseph. He can be a mauler at times, but his game was off a bit in 2011. Should be better with the pairing inside with Carl Nicks.

Underrated: DE Michael Bennett. He plays hard and will be a full-time starter in 2011 with the injury to Da'Quan Bowers. He had four sacks in 10 starts last season, so look for that number to go up.

Tennessee Titans

Overrated: RB Chris Johnson. It's hard to believe he averaged 4.0 per carry. He just didn't seem to hit the holes with the same speed and quickness as he did in 2010.

Underrated: CB Jason McCourty. He was the better of the corner-playing McCourty brothers. He has developed into a top-level cover player.

Washington Redskins

Overrated: CB DeAngelo Hall. He is more bark than bite. He even said he played bad enough last season that maybe the team should cut him. Wow.

Underrated: LB Perry Riley. He really came on in the second half of the season. This 2010 draft pick has a chance to be a really good player inside for the Redskins.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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