It’s sometimes easy to spot the overrated players in the NFL. Fans and the media tend to “over hype” certain players based on popularity, flashy skills, or success at the college level. What can be difficult to spot are players who quietly have great seasons without anyone talking about them. You’ve seen the NFL’s all-overrated team. Now get ready for the all-underrated team. This article will focus on the offense.
The NFL’s All-Underrated Team: The Offense
Tackle: Marcus Gilbert
The Pittsburgh Steelers are mostly known for Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and the defense. When the offensive line is good, you really don’t hear much about them. Marcus Gilbert has consistently ranked as one of the best offensive tackles in the league, yet you never hear his name outside of Pittsburgh. Big Ben was only sacked 17 times last season, the fewest of his career, and Gilbert is a big reason for that.
Guard: Rodger Saffold
Rodger Saffold got off to a rocky start but started to look impressive as the season went on. The Rams are far from having a great offensive line (or even a good one) but Saffold is definitely something to build around. Along with his consistent run blocking, Saffold only allowed one hit in the last seven games and zero sacks.
Center: Justin Britt
The Seahawks had a pretty terrible season offensively in 2016 and it was mostly due to a poor offensive line. Justin Britt has been the team’s right tackle for the last two seasons but made the switch to center in 2016. The move paid off tremendously and Britt allowed zero hits or sacks on Russell Wilson.
Guard: James Carpenter
After struggling during his time with Seattle, James Carpenter has become a solid guard for the New York Jets the last two seasons. Carpenter has been a great run blocker and, in 2016, only allowed two sacks all season. On top of that, Carpenter was only responsible for three penalties all season as well. He’s definitely a diamond in the rough on that offensive line.
Tackle: Zach Strief
Terron Armstead gets most of the credit for the Saints offensive line, and most fans are too busy talking about Ryan Ramczyk to notice Zach Strief. Strief only allowed two sacks all season in 2016 out of 717 pass plays.
Tight End: Cameron Brate
Mike Evans gets a lot of the credit for the success of Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offense, and rightfully so. The player behind the scenes, making the big plays, is tight end Cameron Brate. Brate seems to be filling the shoes left behind by Austin Sefarian-Jenkins just fine. Brate quietly led the league in touchdowns by a tight end last season with eight. Winston knows he can rely on Brate who didn’t drop a single pass last season and proved to be a big red zone target.
Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas was able to come into a bad Saints team and lead the team in receptions as a rookie. Brandin Cooks may have been the number one receiver, but Thomas should have no problem taking that spot next season. Thomas had four drops but was pretty reliable on every other pass, including contested balls in the redzone. Thomas will look to silence any critics this season.
Wide Receiver: Adam Thielen
When you think of Minnesota receivers, Stefon Diggs immediately comes to mind. Adam Thielen had an incredible season last year, and nobody is talking about it. One-handed catches, sideline catches, huge catches in traffic, Thielen did it all. Thielen showed the ability to break away from defenders and make difficult catches. While Diggs gained 903 yards on 84 receptions, Thielen was able to gain 967 yards on only 69 receptions.
Running Back: Jordan Howard
If you were asked who the best rookie running back was from 2016, you would likely say Ezekiel Elliott. Elliot put up incredible numbers but there was another rookie running back who stayed close behind him without generating the media attention. Jordan Howard was only 320 yards away from beating Elliott for most rushing yards last season. Howard also had 70 less carries than Elliott and let’s face it, Chicago’s offensive line has nothing on Dallas.
Quarterback: Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers is quietly on pace to match Dan Marino‘s career numbers. Rivers only needs 15,528 more yards and 106 touchdowns to tie Marino. While this may seem like a far reach for Rivers, he’s averaging over 4,000 yards per season in the 11 years he’s been a starter for the Chargers. Rivers is also averaging 28 touchdowns per season as well. If Rivers can last 17 seasons, like Marino did, and keep up this pace, he could end up passing Marino. So ask yourself, is Philip Rivers a Hall of Fame quarterback? Marino is.
Be sure to check out the all-underrated team on defense and special teams.