For almost a decade, I've put out a list of NFL draft-eligible players I liked better than the scouts, which I call.
This year, as I prepped for that team, an NFL personnel man asked me why I didn't put together a list of players I don't like as much as the scouts.
"You scared to do it?" he asked.
"You know better than that," I said.
With that, an idea was born, the first Worse-Than team, made up of players I don't like nearly as much as the scouts.
Let's start with the back. I like Barkley's game. But you'd think he was a combination of Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, a can't-miss player. There is no such thing.
They once thought the same thing about former Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter and he flopped as the top-overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995.
Barkley won't flop, but I just don't see the value in the position and I don't think there is as much separation between him and some other backs in this draft.
That's why he's on the list.
Darnold has a strange motion, has little hands and he turned the ball over a bunch last year for the Trojans.
The likelihood is that two of the four top quarterbacks in this draft will flame out. I don't know if Darnold will have a Jake Locker flameout, but I do believe he will never come close to being the quarterback many expect him to become, which is the top one in this class.
I like him. I don't love him.
I like Barkley. I don't love him.
That's why they are on this Worse-Than team.
Sam Darnold, QB, USC
In talking with several personnel men and scouts the past few weeks, they agreed with me that Darnold could have some bust potential. I am not saying he will – and I like his game – but there are concerns. It looks like he could go first overall to the Browns, but that's risky in my mind. I wouldn't take him with the first overall pick. That's for sure.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Ridley is ranked as the top receiver in the class by most draft analysts, but scouts have concerns. Is he big enough? Is he tough enough? He is a good, solid player but in a bad draft for receivers he will get over-drafted. The past few drafts have seen some first-round receivers struggle early on. I think he will as well.
Connor Williams, T, Texas
His 2017 tape, when he had some injury issues, wasn't good. Plus, I don't think he's nearly as good as his reputation. Scouts I've talked to wonder if he might be a player who can be a decent starter and nothing more. That's not first-round value, which is where many have him pegged to go.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
To me, he is a box safety and the value of that position, especially with the way the game is played, has declined. I don't think he plays well enough in space to deserve to be a high draft pick. Third round would be where I would take Harrison. Some have compared him to former Tide safety Landon Collins, but I don't think he's in that class.
He wasn't asked to run a lot of routes at Oklahoma State, but he did show some vertical ability. In fact, he's good on the deep balls. He just doesn't run as well as some scouts expected. I just don't see him as a top-five receiver prospect, which is where many have him ranked.
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
He was a big-time recruit to Texas, but his production never seemed to come from all his supposed talent. He can run and chase, but he has a tendency to get blocked too much and not shed the blocker. That's a problem on the next level, where the linemen are even better. He sure looks the part. At bare minimum, he might be a really good special-teams player and a solid starter. But can he be much more?
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
I like his game, but based on the pre-draft evaluations you'd think he was going to run for 1,800 yards and catch 70 passes every season. That's not happening. There are also a lot of good runners in this draft class who I think will have similar careers. The value of the position itself says Barkley will get over-drafted in my book. He's damn good, but he isn't what the draft cult would lead you to believe.
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
There was some talk of him being a first-round pick at some points in the process, but that won't happen now. He's a former receiver who plays like it. He isn't a good in-line blocker at all, and he's just OK when it comes to the physical part of the game. But there is a place for pass-catching tight ends, even if he's far from being a top-three tight end in this class for me.
Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
When you put on his tape, you see a player who fights on every snap. But he is limited some in terms of athletic ability. He should be a nice rotation player on the next level, but I don't see him becoming a dominant edge rusher. There has been some first-round talk for Hubbard, but he has the look of a third-round pick to me. I like him, just not like others do.
D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
He has all the tools, but there wasn't a lot of production. I know his quarterbacks weren't good, but I expected to see more from him. He will get over-drafted because of his speed. That is always enticing, which I understand. But I just think he will go higher than he should.