One of my favorite yearly columns is Pete Prisco’s overrated/underrated list for each NFL team, and I enjoy taking a look at Prisco’s picks for the New England Patriots most overrated and underrated players. This year, Prisco made two excellent choices by calling Ryan Wendell the team’s most underrated player, while he called guard Logan Mankins the most overrated player on the team.
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The Patriots have arguably the league’s best offensive line, and it was Evan Silva of Rotoworld who ranked the Pats O-Line as the best in the league. Ryan Wendell emerged as a key part of that offensive line last season with incredible run blocking ability, and the Pro Football Focus has written several recent articles lauding Wendell, who stepped right in as Dan Koppen‘s replacement at center and didn’t miss a beat. You can’t ask for much more from a first-year starter, and everyone’s favorite stat is that Wendell led the league last season in offensive snaps played. He consistently mauled defenders and made it to the second level, despite playing in an up-tempo offense and as a first-year starter at center.
Wendell isn’t without his flaws, though, because he really needs to work on his pass blocking ability before he can be regarded as an elite center. But run blocking is far more important at the center position, and Wendell is a guy who deserves a lot of credit for Stevan Ridley‘s success as a first-year starter last season. Wendell got better as a pass blocker as the season wore on, but there is still room for improvement. But all told, Wendell could very well be one of the best five centers in the NFL, and he was a good choice for Prisco.
Logan Mankins is somebody I think the world of, because he could be the toughest player in the NFL (and there are a lot of tough guys to choose from). Mankins, however, is indeed an overrated player, and that’s because he is regarded as an elite guard despite not being one anymore. He’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but injury and age have had a significant effect on his play. Mankins is still a good starter in this league and an integral player and leader for the Patriots, but he is no longer a dominant player. In fact, a lot of Mankins’s perceived value is drawn from reputation, and I have no idea why he made it on the top 100 NFL List. He’s good, but Mankins is not a top 100 player anymore.
That said, it’s awesome to have him on the team, even if he isn’t elite anymore.
Kyle Arrington would have gotten my vote for the most underrated player on the team, because Wendell is starting to get his due thanks to people like Prisco. Arrington, by the way, was Prisco’s choice last year, and Mankins is his most overrated player in back-to-back seasons.
Prisco’s list is full of great picks, and I’ll run through those that I think were home runs from him.
Underrated: Chris Harris Jr. (he’s one of the best CBs in the NFL, was good as a rookie in the nickel too), T.J. Ward, Josh Freeman, Kareem Jackson, Sam Shields, Reshad Jones, Eugene Monroe, Evan Mathis, Will Montgomery, Jurrell Casey.
One more thing, thank goodness he didn’t call Jerod Mayo overrated. Prisco did call Wes Welker overrated, which is a statement that I don’t agree with, even if I do agree with his assertion that Welker isn’t a top 50 player.