NFL

The Most Underrated Players in the NFL

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The NFL is made up of 32 teams consisting of 53 players; therefore, it is impossible for every player to receive the credit or blame that they deserve based on their play. Some players receive too much credit and others don’t receive enough. A lot of this is due to the personalities of said players or the media markets that they play in.

A player who is excelling in Tennessee won’t gain the notoriety that a similar player would get in New York. Furthermore, a player who has an outgoing personality is more likely to receive attention than a secluded and quiet personality. Is it fair? Not really, but that is the way it works.

Luckily for you, we at Football Insiders watch the tape and we are here to shed light on the most underrated players in the NFL.

Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers

The $100 million man, Cam Newton, may have just gotten paid, but he is still very underrated. When most analysts talk about the great, but not elite, quarterbacks in the NFL, Cam Newton is rarely mentioned. People point to the fact that his career competition percentage under 60; however, they fail to realize that he is a part of one of the least talented offenses in the NFL.

Newton is under constant duress because of the inadequacies of the offensive line. Newton rarely ever gets to drop back with rhythm and hit a wide receiver at the apex of his drop. He is always getting moved off his spot and he basically always operates in a muddy pocket. The fact that he has any significant production is a feat in of itself.

Not only is does Newton have to overcome poor offensive line play, but he is also devoid of weapons. Newton’s best receiver last year was a rookie in Kelvin Benjamin, which is pitiful.

Newton has led the Carolina Panthers, with the help of a stellar defense, to the playoffs in two straight years, despite the fact that he has almost no help on offense. It is about time that Newton received the credit he deserves for that feat.

DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans

When you think of great wide receivers on the Houston Texans, the first, and likely only, name that comes to mind is Andre Johnson. Nevertheless, Johnson is gone and a new wide receiver will take the mantle of the great Texans receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins is an athletic marvel who has hands like glue. In fact, over the last 3 seasons DeAndre Hopkins had the best hands of any WR, grabbing 97 percent (128/132) of catchable passes per Pro Football Focus. From a pure receiver standpoint, Hopkins is one of the best young receivers in the game. He runs precise routes and makes the routine and difficult plays on a consistent basis.

The reason Hopkins has received a ton of attention is because of the fact that he had subpar quarterbacks throwing him the ball on a consistent basis. This has limited Hopkins’ ability to produce at the same rate as other elite receivers in the NFL. If the Texans can somehow find a way to get competent quarterback play, you should Hopkins explode onto the national scene very soon.

Kyle Long – Chicago Bears

The fact that Kyle Long isn’t talked about as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL is a little bit puzzling. He has a brash personality that lends itself to the media and he is the son of a famous football legend, Howie Long. However for whatever reason, Long as received the attention that he has deserved.

If you want to see just how great of a player Long is, just turn on the tape of him going to battle against Ndamukong Suh when the Chicago Bears played the Detroit Lions in Week 13 of last year. Long did as good of a job as any offensive lineman did against Suh all year.

Long is a nasty offensive lineman that has the rare combination of athleticism and brute strength. This allows Long to be affected in numerous areas. He can get out and make blocks in space on a toss play or he can excel in a phone booth on a power run through the B-gap. Long is a truly exceptional talent who deserves to get an All-Pro nod soon.

DeAndre Levy – Detroit Lions

When you look at the best linebackers from last year, DeAndre Levy has to be mentioned. Levy had the courtesy of playing behind a very good defensive line in Detroit, but the production he put up was fantastic. Levy had an incredible 151 tackles last year and that doesn’t even begin to explain how dominant of a run stopper he was.

Levy has the athleticism to play sideline to sideline and he has the football intelligence to process the offense’s plays extremely quickly. This allows him to flow to the ball carrier and make plays for minimal or negative gains. Levy isn’t just a great run defender though, as he has the ability to drop into zone and cover a running back in the flat.

Levy is a great all-around linebacker who deserves to be mentioned with the best linebackers in the league like Lavonte David and Luke Kuechly.

Jurrell Casey – Tennessee Titans

You would never guess that one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL plays in Tennessee, but Jurrell Casey is that good. Because Tennessee has been an awful team as of late, you never hear about the disruption that Casey causes on a weekly basis.

Casey is a fantastic pass-rusher who can line up outside and win with power or inside and win with quickness. He is one of the few players in the NFL that can be a one-gap penetrator or a two-gap plugger. As a run defender, Casey uses his quickness to quickly get upfield and disrupt plays in the backfield.

Casey is a truly elite player that very few people have heard about, which is a shame. However, if you ask opposing offensive lineman about Casey, you can bet that they know his talent all too well.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com