Is Antonio Gates the Most Overrated Charger?

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5 2010 in San Diego California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 28-13. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

I usually find CBSsports.com's Pete Prisco to be fairly level-headed in his NFL posts, but it's the time of the offseason when NFL news screeches to a halt and even Pete isn't immune to bringing up silly arguments just to get the conversation going. So, about a week ago, Pete made a list of the most overrated and underrated players on every NFL team.

For the San Diego Chargers he, unsurprisingly, chose Nick Hardwick as the most underrated player on team. That's difficult to argue, as Hardwick has been playing a Pro Bowl level for years without much to show for it. He does more than most Centers in the league, in terms of pre-snap reads, and might be the best Center in the league at pass protection. In fact, Pro Football Focus gave him the best Pass Blocking rating among Centers in 2011 (he was 29th in Run Blocking).

However, Pete's selection of Antonio Gates as the most overrated shocked me. Here's what he said:

Overrated: TE Antonio Gates. He's coming to the end of the line, so he isn't the elite player he once was. That's too bad because he was great at one point.

Gates has made eight consecutive Pro Bowls, including in 2011. He caught more passes last year than he did in 2010 or 2008. He had 7 TD receptions in 13 games. By every statistical measure, he was the 5th best TE in the league last year behind the two Patriots TEs, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez. That's not exactly bad company.

Did Gates play most of the last three seasons on a bad foot? Yes. Could it continue to be that way? Sure. Is he still a Top 5 TE with the bad foot? Yes. Can you overrate a Top 5 TE? You can not.

Try again, Pete.

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