The pre-draft process (January to early April) is capable of driving up the perceived value of a player for artificial reasons rather than for true scouting factors like performance on game tape. Teams simply have to sort out fact from fiction. The teams that buy into the hype factor will miss on more first round picks than they’ll get correct over time.
Robert Gallery/OT/Oakland Raiders (2004-2nd pick overall)
He was hyped as the next great athletic left tackle, but Gallery never adjusted to the speed of the NFL game. To his credit, however, he found a home inside at guard.
Vernon Gholston/OLB/New York Jets (2008-6th pick overall)
Much like Mike Mamula before him, Gholston’s great NFL Scouting Combine workout was overvalued and overhyped. The Jets waived him after just three seasons and he's now looking for a job.
Maurice Clarett/RB/Denver Broncos (2005-3rd round pick)
He created quite a stir by challenging the NFL's rule requiring players be three years out of high school to enter the 2004 Draft. He initially won his court case, but it was later overturned. When he was finally eligible for the 2005 Draft, the Broncos shocked everyone when they took him in the third round, but his career never got off the ground and they cut him before the regular season started.
Lawrence Phillips/RB/St. Louis Rams (1996-6th pick overall)
The hype with Phillips was enormous before the 1996 draft because many personnel evaluators believed he could be the next great back to come out of the University of Nebraska. But all he became was a headache for the Rams, who cut him in his second season.
Mike Mamula/DE/Philadelphia Eagles (1995-7th pick overall)
You could call him the father of the combine workout. Mamula was hyped as a freakish athlete, but his game tape never lived up to that moniker. He had a mediocre career and was out of the league after six seasons.
Ryan Leaf/QB/San Diego Chargers (1998-2nd pick overall)
The hype between Leaf and Peyton Manning leading up to the 1998 draft was huge because there was debate over who would be selected first. While Leaf was supposed to be the next great franchise quarterback to come out of the Pac-10 Conference, all he turned out to be is one of the biggest busts in league history.
Matt Jones/WR/Jacksonville Jaguars (2005-21st pick overall)
The hype for Jones, who was a quarterback in college, started at the Senior Bowl in 2005 and never stopped until the Jaguars selected him in the first round that year. Jones had straight-line speed, but very little else to show for his game.
Brian Bosworth/LB/Seattle Seahawks (1987-1st round pick supplemental draft)
The 'Boz' turned out to be easily one of the most overhyped players through the pre-draft process, producing few positive on-the-field results. His career was over early in his third season because of shoulder problems.
Tim Tebow/QB/Denver Broncos (2010-25th pick overall)
You won’t find many draft picks that were more hyped and polarizing than Tebow. Many liked him as a person, but as a quarterback, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who was completely convinced he could play at that position in the next level.
Tony Mandarich/OT/Green Bay Packers (1989-2nd pick overall)
What put the hype in overdrive for the offensive lineman was the cover of the April 24, 1989 issue of Sports Illustrated where they called him the “Incredible Bulk.” Unfortunately, what he would become is a poster child for steroid abuse. However, Mandarich made a great come back after being out of the league four years and played three more years for the Indianapolis Colts.