The National Football League is so large and complex that a vast portion of the players fly under the radar. Countless players deserve way more respect than they actually receive. That brings me to a fun exercise where I list the most underrated player at every position heading into the 2021 NFL season. Without further ado, here is my All-Underrated team as we approach training camps.
QB: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Despite being the butt of many jokes, Kirk Cousins is a legitimate top 10 quarterback in football right now. He is perennially underrated even though he has had a fantastic three seasons in Minnesota so far. Cousins finished sixth in the NFL with 35 passing touchdowns last season. His 91 passing touchdowns over the last three seasons rank him fifth in the league, behind only the likes of Mahomes, Wilson, Rodgers, and Brady. His 69% completion percentage ranks second in that time span behind only Drew Brees. In addition, his 67% career completion percentage ranks third – in all of NFL history. Kirk Cousins is extremely underrated and a consistent top 10 QB in the NFL today.
RB: Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens
Playing in an offense with the greatest rushing quarterback of this generation (and perhaps all-time) will make the actual running backs fly under the radar. Gus Edwards has been an efficiency monster running the rock for Baltimore since entering the league in 2018. Edwards is top five in the NFL among running backs in yards per carry over the past three seasons. He is efficient and explosive in a limited amount of carries. Gus Edwards is not talked about much but he is a fantastic running back.
WR: Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans
Julio Jones? Underrated? I know it is surprising to see such a premier player on this list. However, Jones has not been getting the full respect he deserves recently. The new member of the Titans is the NFL’s all-time leader in receiving yards per game. Jones did not have a season with less than 1350 receiving yards from 2014-19. He missed out on multiple All-Pro selections and received less respect due to his slight lack of touchdowns. His entire body of work should completely outweigh his red zone struggles. Matt Ryan, who ranks 32nd in red zone completion percentage over the last three seasons, should receive the blame for his lack of touchdowns. Jones missed seven games last season and had to miss tons of plays in the games he did play in due to injury. Despite that, he was still on pace for 1371 receiving yards over a full season. Julio Jones is still capable of being the best receiver in football when healthy, despite not being recognized as such.
WR: Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
Robert Woods is a great receiver who consistently does not get the respect he deserves. Woods ranks in the top 10 wide receivers in yards over the past three seasons. He can also add a layer to the Rams’ rushing attack, which helps rank sixth in yards from scrimmage by WRs over that time span. Woods has been consistently excellent in Los Angeles and a top 10 wide receiver. He deserves much more respect.
WR: Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
Since 2015, Brandin Cooks has been as consistent as just about any other wideout in football. Despite being on four different teams and facing a load of injuries, Cooks has had over 1000 receiving yards in five of the last six seasons. Cooks puts up huge numbers without fans even realizing. He is fifth in receiving yards among all wide receivers since 2015. Despite facing many obstacles, Brandin Cooks has been one of the NFL’s best receivers over the past half-decade. Him receiving no Pro Bowl selections during his career shows his lack of respect.
TE: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Goedert playing in the shadow of Zach Ertz in Philadelphia has made him fly under the radar a little bit. He has put up back-to-back very solid, top 10 tight end seasons in a row. His limited target share puts such a hamper on him, but even with that, Goedert has shined. He is very underrated and would explode even more with a larger role.
LT: Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
Taylor Decker is little known but has been absolutely elite since entering the league in 2016. Decker allowed just 2 sacks in 692 pass blocking snaps last season. That is a 0.003% sack allowed rate. That is an insane number and throw in the fact that he is also a great run blocker, Taylor Decker is a bona fide star.
LG: Laken Tomlinson, San Francisco 49ers
Laken Tomlinson is a stalwart on the San Francisco offensive line. He is an elite run blocker, one of the best at the guard position. His 80.9 PFF run blocking grade is fantastic. He also allowed just 3 sacks in 646 pass blocking snaps in 2020. Tomlinson is a fantastic player.
C: Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ryan Jensen is an extremely tough-nosed center who has been anchoring the Tampa line since 2018. He is a fantastic run blocker. He is the type of guy you want on your team to fight with and battle with in the trenches. Jensen allowed 4 sacks in 700 pass blocking snaps last season. He is such an underrated player.
RG: Graham Glasgow, Denver Broncos
Graham Glasgow is another underrated interior linemen. Glasgow had a great debut season at right guard in Denver after his first four solid seasons in Detroit. Glasgow is a quality run blocker and a great pass blocker. He allowed 1 sack in 452 pass blocking snaps in 2020. He is widely unknown but a very good player.
RT: Taylor Moton, Carolina Panthers
Taylor Moton is one of the best right tackles in football. Moton is an all-around blocker. He is a good run blocker and an elite pass blocker. He allowed 0 QB hits in 657 pass blocking snaps last season. Moton is a fantastic player but has zero Pro Bowl selections – just like Decker, Tomlinson, Jensen, and Glasgow. All these guys are fantastic yet underrated players.
EDGE: Carl Lawson, New York Jets
Carl Lawson did not get many sacks in Cincinnati, but he was a disruptive machine. Lawson had 64 pressures in 2020 – fourth among all edge rushers in football. Lawson also had 24 QB hits – which was second. He wreaks havoc off the edge with his twitchy explosiveness and energy. Lawson will bring juice to the Jets defensive line in 2021, entering his age-26 season.
IDL: Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons
Grady Jarrett is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He is a great run stuffer. He is also an elite pass disrupter – racking up 57 pressures last season, which was sixth among all interior defensive linemen. Jarrett is an interior force who keeps the Falcons defense afloat.
IDL: Folorunso Fatukasi, New York Jets
Folorunso Fatukasi is one of the best run defenders in the league. Fatukasi’s 86.2 PFF run defense grade was second among interior defensive linemen last season – behind only Aaron Donald. Good company for a very underrated defender.
EDGE: Montez Sweat, Washington Football Team
Playing opposite Chase Young takes some attention away from him, but Montez Sweat is a dominant edge rusher in his own right. Sweat had 47 pressures and 9 sacks last season. Sweat is developing into one of the best pass rushers in the NFL as he enters just his third season. Sweat and Young are a tantalizing edge rushing duo that should excite the Washington Football Team moving forward.
ILB: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even after winning the Super Bowl, Lavonte David is still severely underrated. The most underappreciated defender of the 2010’s received some more shine in 2020 and displayed his skills in the postseason. David is still under-hyped though. Nobody has more tackles than David over the past nine seasons. However, the most impressive part of David’s game is actually his coverage ability. He is still the best cover LB in the NFL as shown by his playoff performance. David stunningly has only one Pro Bowl selection in his successful career, and the grizzled veteran deserves so much more respect.
ILB: Foyesade Oluokun, Atlanta Falcons
Foyesade Oluokun is the best player that nobody has heard of. Oluokun had a monster 2020 season as he filled up all areas of the stat sheet. Oluokun had 117 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions last season. He can truly do it all from the linebacker position.
ILB: Alexander Johnson, Denver Broncos
Alexander Johnson is just a really solid player. Johnson does everything you want a middle linebacker to do. He is great in coverage, and a really stout run defender, racking up 217 tackles over the past two seasons. The undrafted budding star is just a very good and instinctual defender – the type of guy you want on your team.
CB: Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carlton Davis has been through the gauntlet as a cornerback over the past two seasons – garnering tons of targets and covering opposing #1 receivers. Davis has held his own as he had 4 interceptions and 18 pass deflections last season, as well as an 88.2 passer rating allowed in coverage. Davis has the confidence and short memory to be a very effective top corner for the Bucs.
CB: J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots
J.C. Jackson had always been good in limited snaps before 2020. In 2020, he truly burst onto the scene. Despite being mostly unknown, Jackson had a whopping 9 interceptions and a 62.7 passer rating allowed in coverage last season. Those are absolutely elite numbers. Jackson has the second-most interceptions in the league since being drafted in 2018 at 17. Yet, he has zero Pro Bowl nods to show for it. J.C. Jackson is vastly underrated.
S: Darnell Savage, Green Bay Packers
Darnell Savage is an electrifying playmaker in the Packers defensive backfield. Savage had 75 tackles last season, along with 4 interceptions and 12 pass deflections. He also allowed just a 53.4 passer rating in coverage. Savage is a truly elite safety who is fun to watch, yet still flies under the radar.
S: Kamren Curl, Washington Football Team
Kamren Curl entered the league as a rookie 7th-round pick last season with low expectations. He vastly overachieved as he wound up starting 11 games and playing in all 16 for Washington. He racked up 88 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 interceptions over the course of the season. It was a vastly surprising rookie campaign for the future star free safety. Kamren Curl is an unknown name, but one that NFL fans should begin to learn moving forward.
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