When choosing underrated and overrated players, many things come into play. The player's personality (on and off the field), salary and most importantly on-field performance all create the perception one way or the other if a player is underrated or overrated.
With that in mind here are my picks, one in each category, for the most underrated and overrated player on the 2012 Minnesota Vikings roster.
Toby Gerhart, Running Back
Gerhart has to be one of the least heralded Heisman Trophy runner-ups in recent memory (2009) and has followed that up by being Adrian Peterson's backup during his two NFL seasons. But with Peterson's status for the start of the 2012 season up in the air due a left knee injury suffered late last season, Gerhart looks likely to get an opportunity to shine while Peterson works his way back to full health.
Gerhart has performed solidly when given the opportunity thus far in his career, so it's fair to say he can be productive as the Vikings' lead tailback in Peterson's absence. He is not as dynamic a runner as Peterson is when healthy, as most backs aren't, but there's no reason to think the Vikings' offense can't be productive with Gerhart seeing the majority of the carries if that is required early in the season and beyond if Peterson has any setbacks in his recovery.
Gerhart could emerge from the first few weeks of the season among the league's leading rushers if he has to serve as the Vikings' workhorse back during that time, his ability to catch passes should not be overlooked.
John Carlson, Tight End
Carlson's salary, due to the five-year, $25 million deal he signed with the Vikings this offseason, vaults him to the top of this list on the Vikings' roster. Add in the fact he missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury as a member of the Seattle Seahawks and his poor production in 2010 (31 receptions for 318 yards and one touchdown) and this is a free agent bust waiting to happen.
Also, Carlson's salary status may elevate him to the top of the team's tight end depth chart at the expense of 2011 second-round pick Kyle Rudolph's playing time. That does not look to be a good scenario for a Vikings' offense that has lacked competent pass catchers over the last couple seasons, and without Carlson returning to his early career form (back-to-back seasons with 50 or more receptions in 2008 and 2009) the passing game could be hampered if Rudolph is forced to the bench by a higher paid teammate.
Carlson will be heavily scrutinized by Vikings' fans and media covering the team since his contract is the biggest the team agreed to with any player during what turned out to be an underwhelming free agency period in terms of big-named player signings.