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NFL All-Underrated Team

The term “underrated” is thrown around way too often in sports, particularly the NFL. In some cases (see: Hines Ward) players have been labeled underrated so often that they’ve become overrated. Regardless, with the NFL season still months away I need to write something about the league, so here you have it- The NFL All-Underrated Team.

QB- J.P. Losman
For all of you who haven’t seen the small-market Bills play over the past season, J.P. Losman was one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL last year, posting an 84.9 QB Rating (11th in the league), a 62.5% completion percentage (9th) and a healthy 7.11 yards per attempt (11th). He gets the nod here over Jon Kitna based on slightly better stats in an offense that doesn’t throw the ball like Martz’s system in Detroit.

RB- Travis Henry
There were a bunch of candidates for the runningback slot, but Henry edged out Rudi Johnson, Thomas Jones, Deuce McCallister and Chester Taylor. Henry’s whopping 4.5 yards per carry, good for 11th in the NFL, is better than all of the aforementioned backs and came behind an inferior line. Look for this relatively unknown back who was pushed out of Baltimore to make room for Willis McGahee to have a big season behind Denver’s snow plow of a line.

FB- Dan Kreider
Everyone knows that Lorenzo Neal is a powerhouse in the Chargers backfield, but Dan Kreider gets overlooked in favor of Neal and Seattle bruiser Mack Strong (who has the most appropriate name for a fullback). Kreider is more of an extremely athletic guard who lines up in the backfield, and while his running and receiving skills leave something to be desired, he is arguably the best run blocking fullback in the league.

WRs- Lee Evans and Donald Driver
Tough to leave off the likes of Andre Johnson, Mike Furrey, Javon Walker and Joey Galloway, but Evans and Driver have been incredibly productive with little notice, while Johnson’s finally gained notice in Houston. Driver and Evans finished 5th and 6th, respectively, in yards receiving. Driver was 5th in receptions while Evans tied for 16th, and Evans was 3rd among receivers with 60 or more catches in yards per catch. Both were 10th in TDs with 8.

TE- Algae Crumpler
The first easy choice on the list, Crumpler was 1st among TEs in YPC, 2nd in TDs and 4th in yards. He is a crushing blocker and does all this with the shaky Michael Vick as his quarterback. Still, he’s overshadowed by Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, Todd Heap and Kellen Winslow.

OT- Matt Lepsis and Bryant McKinnie
While Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden deservedly get tons of pub, Lepsis has been consistently great in Denver’s zone blocking scheme. His anonymity comes largely due to the Broncos’ linemen’s policy of not talking to the media. McKinnie is an absolute beast, standing at 6’8″, 335 lbs. He was a big part of a potent Minnesota rushing attack that lacked a great runningback.

OG- Mike Wahle and Larry Allen
In the considerably large shadow of Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca, Mike Wahle and Larry Allen have been pushing people around for a while now. Wahle, the anonymous anchor of the Panthers line, was finally selected to his first ProBowl last year, while Allen is a different story. Allen is an 11 time Pro Bowler, a member of the 1990s All Decade team and the consensus strongest man in the NFL, yet he is still not a household name.

C- Tom Nalen
Another Denver lineman, Nalen has resided in the shadows of Jeff Saturday, Jeff Hartings, Kevin Mawae, Olin Kreutz and Matt Birk, but Nalen may be the best blocker of them all. Hurt by his lack of exposure as a member of the mute Denver O-Line, Nalen has been a crushing run blocker and the anchor of Denver’s offensive line for over a decade.

DE-Aaron Kampman and Aaron Schobel
These two, while not as explosive as Dwight Freeney or Julius Peppers, are both phenomenal defensive ends. Not only are they great run stoppers (Kampman had a whopping 89 tackles, Schobel had 53) but they were 2nd and 3rd in sacks in the league behind the steroid fueled Merriman, and the top two among defensive ends with 15.5 and 14, respectively.

DT- Casey Hampton and Jamal Williams
Both 3-4 tackles aren’t as well known as past-his-prime Warren Sapp or Jaxonville beasts Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, but these two can flat out clog the run lanes. They may not record a lot of tackles, but they anchored the NFLs 3rd and 7th run defenses.

OLB- Bart Scott and Julian Peterson
While 3-4 system sack machines Joey Porter and Steroids Merriman get more attention, versatile OLBs Bart Scott and Peterson are scary good. Peterson is capable of lining up at any position on defense and totaled 10 sacks to go with 89 tackles and an INT. Scott, in the shadow of Baltimore LBs Ray Lewis and Adalius Thomas, had an even more ridiculous stat line: 103 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 9 Passes Defended. With Thomas in New England and Lewis on the decline, look for Scott to become a household name in the near future.

MLB- London Fletcher
Overshadowed by overhyped teammate Takeo Spikes, Fletcher was one of the best MLBs in the league last year. Not only was he 3rd in the NFL in tackles, but he was excellent in coverage, defending 14 passes and intercepting 4, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

CB-Nnamdi Asomugha and Rashean Mathis
Champ Bailey is hands down the best corner in the league and deservedly gets the most media coverage, but while these two should be mentioned right behind him, they never are. Overlooked for the likes of overrated DeAngelo Hall, Chris McCallister, system corner Asante Samuel and Charles Woodson, these two are lock down guys, as evidenced by the fact that they both picked off 8 passes this season and defended 19 and 21 passes, respectively.

S- Chris Hope and Kerry Rhodes
I was ready to put Adrian Wilson, one of the top 4 safeties in the league, in here, but decided that he has gained notoriety and is nowhere near as anonymous as Hope and Rhodes are. Hope’s departure caused the Steelers to drop from 4th to 9th overall defensively, and 16th to 20th, despite the emergence of corner Bryant McFadden. Hope was 2nd among safeties in passes defended, first in tackles and 2nd in INTs, while Rhodes was 6th in passes defended, 6th in INTs and 7th in tackles among safeties.

K- Jason Elam
Elam was perfect from 39 and in, and 7/9 from 40+, with a 27/29 mark on the year, but was passed over by Nate Kaeding for the Pro Bowl, despite Elam’s superior numbers.

P- Mike Scrifes
Moorman got the Pro Bowl pick, but Scrifes was phenomenal for the Chargers in 07, landing a mind blowing 50.7% of his punts inside the 20, a full 11% higher than the next best punter, and kicked only 2.9% for touchbacks, best in the league.

So there it is, your 2007 NFL All-Underrated Team. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to thank God that the Sox are kicking ass so I can enjoy this summer without going into cryogenic freezing for the NFL season.

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4 Responses to “NFL All-Underrated Team”

  1. Good stuff. I agree that Chris Hope was a big loss for the Steelers. Hope’s skill allowed Polamalu to do more roaming around.

    Agree on Lee Evans as well. He’s in my personal top 5 WR in the NFL, based on the fact that he catches what’s thrown to him, unlike, say, T.O. and Evans has the great stats as well.

    Can’t say I agree on Losman. Even though his stats tell a different story, he’s maybe top 15-20 among current NFL QBs. Thowing to Lee Evans helps out even an average QB, which is how I feel about Losman. Then again, perhaps you’re right in that my perception is off because I don’t see enough Bills games.

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