Falcons TE Kyle Pitts Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

NFL's Most Overrated Player at Each Position Entering 2024 Season

Alex Kay

In the NFL, some starters become household names without the on-field production or playoff success to back it up.

Reputations tend to linger, too. If a player becomes a multi-time Pro Bowler early in their career, they're often considered stars even when their production begins to fade.

Fans shouldn't be concerned with what a player has done in the past, though. Their future outlook is far more important.

With that in mind, we've highlighted the most overrated player at each position heading into the 2024 NFL season based on factors such as salary, production, draft status, capital that has been used to acquire them in a trade and general reputation.

QB: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

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Justin Herbert is the NFL's third-highest-paid player in terms of average salary ($52.5 million) and total contract value ($262.5 million). But unlike most of his highly paid counterparts, Herbert hasn't experienced much playoff success with the Los Angeles Chargers.

In his four seasons as a starter, Herbert has led the Bolts to a middling 30-32 regular season record and lost his lone playoff game. That playoff loss was an all-time choke job, too.

Herbert helped stake the Chargers to a seemingly insurmountable 27-0 lead with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card Round. However, he led only one scoring drive in the second half, and that lone field goal wasn't enough to stave off the Jaguars' furious comeback that eventually led to a 31-30 Chargers defeat.

While Herbert has completed 66.6 percent of his throws for 17,223 yards and 114 touchdowns against 42 interceptions, he's made only one Pro Bowl and has been far from consistent. After signing his blockbuster deal last offseason, Herbert missed four games because of a finger injury and won only five of the 13 starts he did make in 2023.

That lackluster showing led to the Bolts cleaning house this offseason, relieving both head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco of their respective duties. There is hope for a quick turnaround with Jim Harbaugh and Joe Hortiz taking over those vacated positions, respectively, but it's unclear whether Herbert will be able to reach his immense potential and deliver sustained playoff success in L.A.

Until that happens, Herbert will continue to be the most overrated quarterback in the NFL.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

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After losing incumbent starter Tony Pollard at the start of free agency, the Dallas Cowboys opted not to select a running back during the 2024 NFL draft. Instead, they re-signed former starter Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year deal shortly after the draft concluded.

That decision could come back to haunt the Cowboys as they try to reach an NFC Championship Game for the first time in nearly three decades. Their backfield sorely disappointed in each of their last three playoff exits, two of which featured Elliott prominently.

Elliott mustered only 31 yards on 12 carries in a 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2022 Wild Card Round, and he had 10 carries for 26 yards in a 19-12 loss to the Niners the following year. However, team owner Jerry Jones still believes the veteran can be a starter despite these pitiful showings.

"I saw him play his last games with New England," Jones said of Elliott during the 2024 draft, per CBS Sports' Garrett Podell. "I thought he played well enough to be a starter."

It's worth noting that Elliott is fresh off a career-worst season with the New England Patriots in 2023. He finished with only 642 yards and three touchdowns on 184 carries.

While Elliott is due to make only $2 million in 2024—a far cry from the six-year, $90 million deal he signed with Dallas in 2019—he's still projected to play a significant role this season. He isn't likely to face much competition from unproven backups like Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn or journeyman free-agent pickup Royce Freeman, which means the Cowboys are poised to feature the NFL's most overrated running back as their starter.

WR: Stefon Diggs, Houston Texans

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Stefon Diggs is coming off four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, but his star appears to be quickly fading.

After opening last season with five 100-plus-yard outings and six touchdowns in his first seven games, Diggs hit a wall in Week 8. He failed to eclipse 87 yards in any of his final 10 games, had only two outings with seven or more catches and scored two total touchdowns in that span.

Diggs' continued his underwhelming playoff track record last year as well. He caught only three passes on eight targets for 21 yards during the Buffalo Bills' disappointing defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. The prior year, Diggs caught four of his 10 targets for 35 yards in a blowout divisional-round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bills cut bait on Diggs this offseason by trading him to the Houston Texans along with a pair of Day 3 picks for a 2024 second-round pick. The Texans revised Diggs' contract shortly after the trade, wiping out the remaining three years on the deal and allowing him to become a free agent following the upcoming season.

While Diggs could bounce back in what is now a contract year, the aging veteran will have to contend with a pair of breakout receivers in Nico Collins and Tank Dell—as well as pass-catching tight end Dalton Schultz—for targets in the Texans' offense.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see Diggs' continue the regression he began midway through last season and hit the open market next spring without much fanfare.

TE: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

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Kyle Pitts became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history when the Atlanta Falcons selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2021. However, he's largely failed to deliver on his vast promise during his first three NFL seasons.

Pitts began his career on the right foot with 68 catches for 1,026 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. However, it took him a team-high 110 targets to do so, and he's since regressed significantly.

Injuries limited Pitts to only 10 games in 2022, and he struggled to beat out 2022 No. 8 overall pick Drake London for looks. Pitts recorded only 28 receptions on 59 targets for 356 yards and two scores as a sophomore, and he didn't fare much better this past season despite suiting up for all 17 games..

On the heels of a 53-catch, 667-yard, three-touchdown campaign, Pitts must show this year that his poor stats stemmed from former head coach Arthur Smith's system and Atlanta's lack of stability under center early in his career. He'll have no more excuses after the team not only hired a new head coach in Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator in Zac Robinson, but also made a massive investment under center by signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract in free agency.

Pitts is now playing with the most talented passer of his career and has plenty of elite skill-position teammates surrounding him, including star running back Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 overall pick last year. He'll have one more chance this season to show that he isn't overrated and can live up to his predraft hype.

OL: Orlando Brown Jr., Cincinnati Bengals

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Orlando Brown Jr. experienced a meteoric rise early in his NFL career. He started on the right side of the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line as a rookie third-round pick, and he made the first of four straight Pro Bowl appearances the following season.

The Kansas City Chiefs gave up a first-round pick to acquire Brown ahead of the 2021 campaign, and they immediately installed him as their starting left tackle. He fared decently as a blindside protector, although he allowed four sacks in both 2021 and 2022, according to Pro Football Focus.

After the 2022 season, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Brown to a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency. That put Brown in the top five at his position for total contract value and guaranteed money as well as the top 10 for average salary.

However, Brown went on to have arguably his worst campaign as a pro last season. He earned a middling 66.1 PFF grade by allowing seven sacks and drawing three flags across 1,058 offensive snaps.

While Brown has the size at 6'8" and 345 pounds to be a great left tackle, he lacks athleticism and struggles against speed rushers. He gives up far too many pressures for a left tackle who's being paid at an elite level. He's much more capable as a run-blocker, which he would be able to excel at more on the right side of the line.

The Bengals took steps to shore up their line this offseason, as they spent a first-round pick on hulking Georgia tackle Amarius Mims during the draft. Mims has the chance to develop into Joe Burrow's long-term blindside protector, but he has to get brought up to speed after starting only eight games for the Bulldogs.

DL: Leonard Williams, Seattle Seahawks

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Few players have gotten paid despite wildly inconsistent performances the way Leonard Williams has during his decade in the NFL.

Since entering the league as the No. 6 overall pick in 2015, Williams has banked approximately $112 million. He just signed a three-year, $64.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, too.

However, Williams has only flashed greatness on a sporadic basis. He's earned only one Pro Bowl nod, which came back in his 2016 sophomore season when he notched 68 tackles, seven sacks and two forced fumbles for the New York Jets.

The Jets traded Williams midway through the 2019 campaign to the MetLife Stadium rival New York Giants. He had arguably his best season with Big Blue in 2020, breaking out with career-highs of 14 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in addition to 42 pressures, 18 quarterback knockdowns and 12 hurries.

However, Williams failed to match those pressure and sack numbers in the next two seasons combined despite playing on a three-year, $63 million deal. After an ugly start to the 2023 campaign, the Giants traded the defensive lineman to the Seahawks.

Williams did pick up the pace after the trade. He finished his 10-game tryout in Seattle with nine tackles for a loss, four sacks, 15 pressures, seven QB knockdowns and four hurries.

It remains to be seen whether Williams will sustain that pace moving forward, but it doesn't seem like a safe bet given his inconsistency in the past. The Seahawks paying him like a top-15 defensive line talent will only compound the issue.

Edge: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

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The Los Angeles Chargers were expected to have one of the NFL's most formidable pass-rushing units uniting Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa ahead of the 2022 season. However, the pairing has largely underwhelmed over the past two years.

Bosa's play is particularly concerning given his blockbuster contract and pedigree. He opened his career with 23 sacks in his first two seasons, earning both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl honors in back-to-back years right out of the gate. He even shook off an injury-plagued 2018 campaign to make three consecutive Pro Bowls between 2019 and 2021, but his play has fallen off considerably in the years since.

While injuries aren't helping matters—Bosa has suited up for only 14 total games in the last two seasons—he hasn't been performing at a high level when healthy.

Last year, Bosa did notch 6.5 sacks in the nine contests he suited up for, but most of them came against subpar opponents. He secured 2.5 sacks against a hapless Zach Wilson, two against a washed-up Ryan Tannehill and one against Chicago Bears backup Tyson Bagent. His Week 3 takedown of Kirk Cousins was the only sack he notched on a quality quarterback all year.

Bosa hasn't played up to snuff when the games matter most, either. In his last playoff appearance, the edge-rusher failed to generate even a single pressure. Despite playing only 38 defensive snaps, he also managed to draw two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that played a big role in his team squandering a 27-point lead.

While Bosa isn't earning the record-setting money that his brother Nick is with the San Francisco 49ers, he has a $26.1 million cap hit in 2024. Next year, he's on the books for an enormous $36.5 million cap hit.

Considering how he's fared since he last made a Pro Bowl, Bosa has quickly gone from one of the league's best edge-rushers to the most overrated.

LB: Devin White, Philadelphia Eagles

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After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Devin White got his NFL career off to a white-hot start.

As a rookie, he tallied 91 tackles, four fumble recoveries (including two for touchdowns), three forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, one interception and three pass breakups. The following year, he tallied a career-high 140 tackles and 9.0 sacks en route to a second-team All-Pro nod and a Super Bowl victory.

Things took a turn for the worse in 2021. Despite garnering his lone Pro Bowl nod, White's production dipped across the board. His PFF grade, which was already awful during his first two seasons, fell to an abysmal 36.2 that season.

White tends to be a liability in coverage, which contributed to those brutal marks. He allowed completion rates of 75 percent or higher in each of his first four seasons, including 70 catches on 84 targets in 2020 and 64 completions on 78 targets in 2021.

White, who has missed plenty of key tackles and gives up big plays as often as he makes them, was even benched for the first time in his career at the tail end of last season. According to Tampa Bay Times insider Rick Stroud, White reportedly rubbed coaches and teammates the wrong way with his attitude.

It seems the league took note of that this offseason, as White wound up signing a one-year, $4 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. One year ago, he pushed for an extension that would pay him upward of $20 million annually.

White will likely get plenty of chances to prove himself on an Eagles team that fielded one of the league's worst linebacking corps last year. Relying on him to play a key role could come back to burn the Eagles, though.

DB: Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens

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Marlon Humphrey is only one year removed from the most recent of his three Pro Bowl appearances, but the 2019 All-Pro has been slipping for years and is no longer one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL.

Humphrey is the league's fourth-highest-paid cornerback on an annual basis, but his impact on the game is rapidly diminishing. He's been getting beat in coverage more often, and he's coming dangerously close to a liability as he enters his eighth NFL season.

Between 2020 and 2022, Humphrey gave up 161 catches for 1,906 yards and 12 touchdowns across 269 targets. This past year was the first season since 2018 that Humphrey allowed a completion rate lower than 53.6 percent. Although he did improve in coverage last year, Humphrey was only available for 10 games—the fewest he's played since his sophomore season in 2018—due to various injuries.

There's a chance that Humphrey could bounce back by staying healthy and locking down opposing pass-catchers in 2024, but he hasn't managed to accomplish both of those in a season for quite some time. Considering how much money he's making each year, that should be an annual occurrence, not a rarity.

Contract data is courtesy of Spotrac and advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

   

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