NFC's most overrated players

Entering his second season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is focused on winning "at all costs." AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Most overrated AFC players | Most overrated NFC players

To paraphrase a John Facenda line, the NFL offseason is a time of hope. It isn't hard to look over the personnel changes that occurred in free agency and the draft and find a path for mediocre teams to become playoff contenders or for playoff contenders to become Super Bowl champions.

That type of positive mindset can be useful, but it can also be damaging when it comes to grading personnel, as it can make mediocre players seem good and good players seem great.

Those types of personnel grading errors cannot and should not go unchallenged, so let's take a look at seven players in the NFC whose hype levels exceed their performance levels.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Newton's backers would defend his Pro Bowl nomination last year by quoting that Newton set a single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14) and became the first player to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a season.

Those are impressive marks on their face but they are quantity-based and occurred after a lockout-truncated offseason. As I mentioned in my fantasy football draft guide, the lockout hurt defenses' ability to practice blitzes, which was a primary factor in why passing offenses were so explosive early on.

This impacted Newton as much as anyone, as he threw for 374 or more yards in three of his first four games. Once defenses started to get up to speed, however, Newton wasn't close to as effective a passer, throwing for 208 or fewer yards in five of his last six games.