It’s hard to prove that an athlete (or performer) is overrated or underrated because perception isn’t something you can totally quantify. But I do spend an unhealthy amount of time consuming NFL Twitter, reading NFL analysis and watching NFL games. I know who’s getting love and who’s getting hate. And I know that in some cases, players receive too much of one or the other.

Here are eight NFL players who get too much love considering what they’ve done over their careers, based on results as well as perception.

1. Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco

Flacco makes stupid money and nobody ever questions how his job seems to be so secure, but the 32-year-old is really just living off one special Super Bowl run in 2011. He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and he’s led the Ravens to a winning record just once in the last four seasons (supposedly his prime). Among 15 quarterbacks with at least 100 starts in the last nine years, he ranks 14th (ahead of only Ryan Fitzpatrick) with a career passer rating of just 84.5. So no, Joe Flacco is not elite.

2. New York Giants QB Eli Manning

Another quarterback living off Super Bowl success, Manning deserves a lot of credit for his clutch playoff performances in 2007 and 2011. But one of the league’s most famous and heralded players has never been an All-Pro and has made just three Pro Bowls in 11 seasons outside of those two. He has a sub-60 career completion percentage and a passer rating that is even worse than Flacco’s.

3. New York Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson

He’s a well-known name among football fans with an $86 million contract, but Wilkerson is coming off a season in which Pro Football Focus graded him 45th among 53 qualified 4-3 defensive ends. It was his second bad year in the last four, and he’s still been to just one Pro Bowl.

4. New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore

The five-year veteran has never been elected to a Pro Bowl (he was an injury replacement last year) and is coming off a season in which PFF ranked him 60th among 120 qualified players at that position. He gave up completions on more than 60 percent of the passes thrown his way last season, and only 10 NFL corners took more penalties. And yet in March, the Patriots gave the 26-year-old more guaranteed money than every other cornerback in the league except Josh Norman.

5. Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick

The whole world wants to know why Kaepernick remains unemployed. Has to be those protests, right? That could be a factor, but do consider that he’s lost 16 of his last 19 starts and he has an 85.9 passer rating in his last three seasons. Kaep started his career with a bang, but once the league caught up to him it became obvious that he doesn’t know how to hit secondary reads or even consistently manage an NFL offense under center. He misses too many easy passes and bails far too early on promising plays. He’s a backup at best, yet Twitter will lead you to believe the 29-year-old has the ability to become a franchise quarterback.

6. Seattle Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse

It’s just a given that Kearse is a regular starter for the Seahawks, which is silly because he’s been terrible in all but one of his five NFL campaigns. The 27-year-old caught just 55.1 percent of the passes thrown his way while scoring just once in 2014, he was good in 2015 and then he was again held to just one touchdown while pulling in only 46.1 percent of the passes he was targeted on in 2016. If you’re going to fail to catch that many passes, you’d better be a scoring threat. Kearse isn’t. He should be benched in favor of Paul Richardson.

7. Oakland Raiders WR Michael Crabtree

The 29-year-old got a lot of credit for going over 1,000 yards in 2016, but he also dropped a league-high 13 passes, and he and Kearse were two of the five most penalized receivers in the NFL. That’s not new — Crabtree dropped a combined 18 passes in 2014 and 2015, and he’s always lacked discipline.

8. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton

Few will likely agree here, but look at Newton’s numbers as a passer and keep in mind that his primary job is to pass the ball. The league’s third-lowest-rated passer last season had an abysmal completion percentage of 52.9. And that wasn’t an anomaly. Newton has posted a sub-90 rating in five of his six NFL seasons, and he’s won just three playoff games (and zero championships) in that span. He does a lot with his legs and is one of the faces of the league, but that might only serve to make him more overrated.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

  • sportsfan365

    Hard to put defensive players on this list as the statistics for defense seldom identify plays that are NOT made by a defender, however, I am going to nominate Josh Norman for inclusion. He’s been in the league for five years and had one good season. He was frequently picked on by Redskin’s opponents last year despite his fellow Redskin cornerback being nicknamed “toast”.

  • David Argy

    Great article, especially on Flacco and Eli.

    But, I disagree on 2. I don’t see how Kaepernick can be overrated, when most people seem to think he stinks. He’s decent/average. And I don’t think you can count his record totally against him. There are 21 other starters and the 49ers have been terrible last 2 years. Not all his fault.

    The other one is Cam Newton. He might be over rated, but to say you can’t count his running ability because he is a QB is just wrong. Do you consider a RB’s receptions, or a LB’s ability to blitz and also stop the run. There’s plenty of positions that have more than 1 responsibility.

    • Peter Menagias

      Kapernick is overrated. He should be a 3rd string quarterback and isn’t “average”. He’s a drama queen looking for attention because he has no touch on his passes. He also helped divide a nation. Great job Kap.

      • SMB the communist

        If you believe someone that took a knee and played like an average qb caused the division of a country as varied and proud as that of the U.S., you’re insane

  • YoDudes

    Is the Pro Bowl really that important that you have to mention how many appearances some players have?

  • Geb2207

    Cam Newton is THEE most overrated player in the NFL with out a doubt! Horrible passing percentage is constantly misses wide open receivers. Their success us largely due to a great defense.