The college football recruiting rankings may be more of a marketing tool than a meaningful measurement of talent, but a recent study by ESPN found that players with the “overrated” tag are more likely to be undervalued in NFL contracts than those with the lower-ranked tag.
The study’s authors found that a player’s overall recruiting status was significantly related to whether or not they were selected by an NFL team, which is why it’s important to keep in mind that “overriding” is a subjective measure.
So which players are considered “over-rated” in their contracts?
Here are some of the more prominent names in college football today: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, rated as the most underrated QB in the country by 247Sports.com.
Watson was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in 2014 and has since gone on to start four games for the Tigers.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound signal-caller has been linked to several NFL teams including the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.
He was ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 20 overall prospect and the No 1 passer in the 2017 class by ESPN.
Watson’s ranking came after a disappointing 2015 season that saw him go 11-2 and lead Clemson to a BCS bowl appearance.
Watson has struggled to recapture the form that made him a Heisman Trophy finalist last year, but he has proven he can be an NFL quarterback with a good supporting cast and solid arm strength.
Tennessee RB Leonard Fournette, rated the No 10 overall prospect in the 2018 class by 247 Sports.
The 5-foot, 190-pound running back is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,086 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
Fournettes overall draft stock has plummeted since his stellar 2016 season, as he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Titans are looking to upgrade at running back and the 5-10, 190 pound Fournetes stock may be the only one that can help the Titans get there.
Clemson WR Mack Hollins, rated to be the No 6 overall prospect by 247sports.com, according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings.
Hollins was drafted out of the University of Alabama in the first round of last season’s NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
The Clemson native has spent the past two seasons at Clemson and rushed for 4,067 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Hollings is one of the top wide receivers in the nation and his speed and burst are a major reason why he has become one of college football’s top receiving threats.
The Florida State product also is considered one of two players in the SEC to be a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection, and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
LSU QB Jameis Winston, rated by 247sport.com as the top quarterback in the world according to the 247 Sports Composite.
Winston was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft and has been struggling for years with injury.
He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in 2017 and missed the rest of the season due to the injury.
Winston has been playing through shoulder injuries his entire career, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be ready for the NFL in 2018.
Michigan QB Jake Rudock, rated No. 8 overall prospect according to ESPN.
Rudock has been plagued by injury his entire NFL career.
He suffered a torn ACL in 2016 and was forced to sit out the 2017 season.
The redshirt junior was drafted to replace Matt Barkley at Michigan State, and has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since.
In 2018, he had just 11 starts and was rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com before being released in the final week of the preseason.
USC RB Royce Freeman, rated a three star prospect by ESPN, according the 247 Composite.
Freeman was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and is a projected first-round NFL pick.
He has spent most of his career as a running back, and was a two-time All-American at Utah State.
The two-way running back has struggled in his time at USC, with a season that he started in 2016 ending with him losing the starting job to running back Devontae Booker.
USC has been trying to replace the lost talent of Booker, and Freeman could be an option for the Trojans.
Washington State QB Aaron Murray, rated at No. 5 overall prospect per 247sports, according by Scout’s Composite rankings, according ESPN.
Murray was a first-rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft after going in the third round of that year’s draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Murray has struggled at times since being drafted, but his skill set, speed and arm strength are among the best in the game.
Murray is considered by some to be one of