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Overrated/Underrated (cont.)

Posted: Thursday April 19, 2007 12:07PM; Updated: Thursday April 19, 2007 1:59PM
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Running back

After a brilliant 2005 season, Auburn running back Kenny Irons took a step back in 2006.
After a brilliant 2005 season, Auburn running back Kenny Irons took a step back in 2006.
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Overrated: Kenny Irons, Auburn (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

Irons' reputation was basically built during one particularly impressive six-game stretch toward the end of his junior season. He ran for 886 yards (nearly 150 per game) and eight touchdowns while carrying no fewer than 23 times in a contest.

Irons never came close to regaining that dominant form last season, barely gaining that many yards (893) over a full season. Injuries played a factor, causing him to miss two games and limiting him in others, but still he failed to exhibit the type of relentless running and make-you-miss moves of a guy who entered the season on most Heisman lists.

Teams that peg him as a future every-down NFL back will be taking a huge gamble that his one, glorious six-game run was the norm, not an exception.

Underrated: Michael Bush, Louisville (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

Talk about your costly injuries. A year ago, this guy was breathing down Adrian Peterson's neck as the top running back in this year's draft. Now, he's a sixth-rounder? Certainly, a broken leg is no small question mark, particularly since Bush just had a follow-up surgery last month to insert a new rod. But plenty of elite running backs have returned from devastating injuries to regained their previous form. If that happens in Bush's case, some lucky team is going to get a punishing, highly athletic runner who can be a beast in short-yardage and goal line situations (he scored 23 touchdowns as a junior).

Wide Receiver

Overrated: Dwayne Bowe, LSU (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

People have been drooling over this guy since the day he stepped foot on LSU's campus, and rightfully so, seeing as he's a strong, massive receiver who can get up and grab a jump ball. There's only one problem: He drops passes. Lots of them.

Much was made of his offseason LASIK surgery a year ago, and Bowe did cut down on his drops last year, but there were still some pretty big ones, most notably a wide-open touchdown against Florida that might have changed the course of what was then a 7-7 game (LSU wound up losing 23-10). He's a good receiver, one who had nearly 1,000 yards last season, but he was never quite as good as his lofty billing in college. Now he's being overhyped headed into the pros.

Underrated: Sidney Rice, South Carolina (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

For two straight years, Rice carried Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks offense on his back. One of those rare playmakers who can take over a game with only a couple of touches, he managed to rack up consecutive 1,000-yard seasons despite playing with average quarterbacks. Also, opposing defenses had to know Spurrier was going to try to get the ball to his star receiver at every possible opportunity.

Rice did come out after his redshirt sophomore year, perhaps raising concerns over whether he's ready to make the jump, but two full seasons as a primary receiver in the SEC is pretty substantial experience. You could easily justify ranking him higher than any receiver besides Calvin Johnson and Dwayne Jarrett.

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