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Who is the Detroit Lions’ most overrated player?

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One analyst believes it is Riley Reiff, but we have three more likely candidates.

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Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The definition of an overrated player is hard to pin down. Obviously to call someone overrated is to believe their inherent value is less than their perceived value. But valued by whom? Is their perceived value at the hands of fans or advanced statistics sites? Is a player overvalued only when he undeservedly receives accolades like Pro Bowl appearances and ranks among the top at his position?

There is no clear answer to that and maybe that’s why CBS’s Pete Prisco came up with an unusual answer when faced with the question: Who is the Detroit Lions’ most overrated player?

Riley Reiff

This former first-round pick struggled at left tackle last season, even though the Lions kept saying he was their long-term answer. Now with the drafting of Taylor Decker, he is moving to the right side with the hope that will help him improve his play.

Reiff is a player that many expect to hit free agency next season. As Prisco says, the Lions drafted his replacement, and expectations are so low for Reiff that he is now switching positions in his fifth year as a starter in favor of a rookie. That doesn’t seem like a player with high perceived value.

Is there a better answer out there? The Lions, as a team, are going into the 2016 season with extremely low expectations from national media. Pro Football Focus has ranked nearly the entire team in the bottom third of the league. The Lions’ only perceived superstar will spend the 2016 season watching from his home in Atlanta. So who is the Lions’ most overrated player? Here are some candidates:

Eric Ebron

Lions fandom is so entirely split on Eric Ebron that he could technically be both the Lions’ most overrated and underrated player at the same time. Ebron has faced the most criticism of any recent draft pick, but there is also a large contingent of fans and analysts that believe 2016 will be the year Ebron transforms into a top-tier tight end.

However, as of right now, Ebron has yet to prove anything. His play in 2016 will likely dictate whether fans are underrating or overrating him.

Matthew Stafford

Stafford is another polarizing player whose true value likely falls between two common beliefs. National media pundits tend to be down the Lions quarterback, ranking him among the middle-of-the-pack, while a good portion of feverish Lions fans think he believes to be among the NFL’s top 10.

People have been hotly contested over Stafford’s value since he entered the league, and his inconsistent play over six seasons hasn’t helped. Still, many believe Stafford just needs the right circumstances around him (say, a good offensive coordinator and a line that a can block) and the true Stafford will emerge.

Ameer Abdullah

Abdullah is coming off a modest rookie year, but expectations are sky high for 2016 -- perhaps too high. Search his name on google and you'll find tens of articles labeling Abdullah as the breakout player of the year or the must-have fantasy option in your draft.

What exactly has Abdullah done to garner such high expectations? His 597 rushing yards (at 4.2 a carry) were commendable, especially given the offensive line he had to run behind, but to expect Abdullah to double that production would be to ask too much of the second-year back. Abdullah could be a great running back in this league, but he still needs to prove it.

Ezekiel Ansah

This would undoubtedly be Pro Football Focus’ choice for Detroit. The advanced stats site has spent all offseason combating waves of Lions fans irate over Ansah’s exclusion from their top 101 players of 2015 list.

Their argument is as follows: Analysts are blinded by Ansah’s high sack total (14.5 in 2015). In reality (according to their statistics), Ansah was not among the best in creating pressure. According to the site, Ansah graded out as just the 21st-best edge rusher and his 66 QB pressures wasn’t all that great.

For what it’s worth, SportingCharts.com also tracked "defensive hurries" in 2015, defined as a "statistic kept for defensive players, usually defensive linemen, when they 'hurry' the quarterback into throwing the ball before he is ready." The site credited Ansah with just 19 hurries, good for 38th in the league.

However, Ansah is entering just his fourth season in the NFL and has seen a big improvement in each year of his play. Even PFF admits Ansah’s play against the run is also above-average. So is he overrated? I guess it depends who you ask.