NFL

NFL’s All-Underrated Team: Offense

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Everyone knows that guys like Aaron Rodgers, DeMarco Murray and Rob Gronkowski are having huge seasons. Well they aren’t the only ones, as the NFL is loaded with players who are playing well but aren’t either household names or just aren’t receiving the credit they deserve. In this two part series, we’re going to announce our Football Insiders’ All-Underrated Offense and Defense.

Quarterback- Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

It’s difficult to be considered underrated at the quarterback position, being that it’s the most important position in sports and also the most scrutinized. Despite his lack of team success, Matt Ryan is having a fantastic year. Ryan is completing 65.8 percent of his throws and he’s fifth in the NFL with 4,112 yards passing (more than Brady, Rodgers, Stafford and Rivers). Ryan has 27 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and he’s doing it while the Falcons have suffered key injuries all over the offense.

Running Backs- Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens; Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

After being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Justin Forsett’s career was at a crossroads. He signed with the Ravens, expecting to fight for a roster spot on special teams and with circumstances being as they may with the Ray Rice legal situation as well as Bernard Pierce’s ineffectiveness, Forsett has made the most of his opportunity. Forsett may not have an elite skill set, but he’s leading all NFL running backs with 5.4 yards per carry and has gone over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. That’s despite receiving less than 15 carries in eight of the team’s 14 games.

Mark Ingram has finally looked like the dominant running back he was expected to be when he won the Heisman and the Saints traded up in the first round to select him in the 2011 NFL Draft. Ingram has already posted career highs in carries (199) rushing yards (869) and touchdowns (7). With Darren Sproles gone, Ingram has had more of an impact on the Saints offense and he’s ran hard and played well despite missing three games earlier this season.

Wide Receivers- Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers; Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

Jordy Nelson has been an excellent receiver for quite a while, but he’s still seen largely as a product of playing with an all-time great at quarterback. Although that might be true on some level, Nelson consistently beats coverage and gets open, and rarely drops passes. Nelson is more dynamic than he’s given credit for and he’s having an All Pro type of season with 83 receptions for 1,320 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nelson is certainly a household name with fantasy owners, but he’s not only a great fantasy receiver, he’s just a great receiver.

Jeremy Maclin bet on himself as he signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, and that gamble is paying off big time. Maclin has assumed the role of Philadelphia’s No. 1 receiver with the departed DeSean Jackson, and Maclin is having his best season as a pro. J-Mac has set career highs in receptions (78), yards (1,207) and is tied for his career high with 10 touchdowns.

Tight End- Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

The former Chicago Bears’ first-round pick seems to be aging like a fine wine as he’s having a career year despite a lack of efficiency from the Panthers’ quarterback position. Greg Olsen has turned into a guy that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night as he runs precise routes, is too fast for linebackers and is too big for safeties and cornerbacks. Olsen has set career highs in receptions (81) and yards (960) and has six touchdowns.

Offensive Tackles- King Dunlap, San Diego Chargers; Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens

King Dunlap has done well for himself as a former seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles back in the 2008 NFL Draft. Dunlap was exiled from Philadelphia in favor of the great Jason Peters, but he’s making a name for himself in San Diego as he’s tasked with protecting Philip Rivers blind-side. Although Dunlap plays with a veteran quarterback who has a quick release, Rivers isn’t going to outrun anyone and Dunlap has done a great job of keeping Rivers upright for most of the season.

Eugene Monroe was acquired by Baltimore via a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the former Top 10 pick is living up to his draft potential. Monroe has been the best Ravens offensive tackle since the great Jonathan Ogden and Joe Flacco feels confident every time he drops back to pass. Monroe has also been a key factor in the Ravens rushing attack which ranks fifth in the NFL.

Offensive Guards- Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles; Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore Ravens

Evan Mathis is an ultra-athletic interior lineman that is versatile and great in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. The 10-year veteran has found a home in Philadelphia, becoming a full-time starter in 2011 after toiling around with three teams in his first six seasons. Mathis has battled injuries this season but since returning the Eagles offensive line has gelled and much of it points to the veteran’s presence.

Kelechi Osemele should receive his first Pro Bowl selection in his third professional season in Baltimore. Osemele has turned into a stellar interior lineman, learning from one of the best opposite him in Marshall Yanda. Osemele has helped pave the way for Baltimore’s fifth-ranked rushing attack which has helped Justin Forsett gain over 1,000 yards.

Center- Jeremy Zuttah, Baltimore Ravens

After spending the first six seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jeremy Zuttah has proven that the Bucs offensive line struggles weren’t a fault of his. Zuttah has stepped in and played superior football as the Ravens’ center and this season is the first time since 2009 that Zuttah has only had to play one position. Zuttah has a nasty streak and he’s an athletic lineman who began his career as a left tackle.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.