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Overrated/Underrated

Breaking down misperceptions about draft prospects

Posted: Thursday April 19, 2007 12:07PM; Updated: Thursday April 19, 2007 1:59PM
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Brady Quinn was productive in Notre Dame's offense, but is he really a special quarterback?
Brady Quinn was productive in Notre Dame's offense, but is he really a special quarterback?
Al Tielemans/SI
FILM ROOM
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It's that time again, folks. Time for one of the most anticipated events of the NFL draft season (at least by my editor). Time for GMs to go scurrying to their war rooms to reevaluate their draft boards.

It's the fifth annual Overrated/Underrated column.

For those new to this tradition, I choose one player at each position who I feel is overrated by the various draft analysts, prognosticators and others who rank prospects for a living, and one who is underrated. I'm sorry to inform you that this list is not based off hundreds of hours of film evaluation or scouring combine results. It's based on a far-simpler method: Watching college football.

Every year, scouts unnecessarily drag down a few perfectly qualified prospects and foolishly prop up others due to their insistence on emphasizing so many things besides actual college production. While it's certainly not the only measuring stick, you would think such a thing would carry more weight than how fast a guy runs the 40-yard dash in shorts in February.

Past editions of this column have produced their share of both hits and misses. It's too early to judge the results of last year's just yet, though I definitely screwed up that Laurence Maroney bit. I'll go ahead and give myself some props for Marcus McNeill, though.

On to this year's crop, which, I must say, was the hardest one to do yet because ... I can't believe I'm saying this ... I think the scouts, for the most part, have it right. But there are exceptions.

Quarterback

Overrated: Brady Quinn, Notre Dame (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

Is Quinn worthy of a first-round pick? Absolutely. There's no slighting his productivity running Charlie Weis' pro-style offense the past two seasons. I just can't believe the Irish star is still being mentioned in the same breath as LSU's JaMarcus Russell. If you watched last year's Sugar Bowl, in which the two played on the same field, the difference was like night and day. (Or as one participant in the game told me, "Like high school vs. pee wee.")

Yes, Russell had the benefit of a better supporting cast, and yes, Quinn was facing a much tougher defense, but it was still painfully obvious that Russell was an elite-level prospect who made all sorts of ridiculous throws that neither Quinn nor any other college quarterback last year could dream of.

Whichever team winds up drafting Quinn is going to be getting a smart, skilled player who should succeed at the next level, but not some once-in-a-generation phenom you'd think about taking No. 1.

Underrated: Troy Smith, Ohio State (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

I've already devoted plentiful column space defending the plummeting Heisman winner. You can read that rant here. All I'll say here is that if Smith is truly considered a "late fourth-round" pick at this point, as SI.com's draft experts have billed him, then he can't get much more underrated than that.

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