View Full Version : Decades 25 most underrated players has 2 broncos

06-28-2009, 03:16 PM
I like this list. Espn usually ****s the bed on these, but this one is pretty good.

Football Outsiders analyzes the 25 most underrated players of the current decade, going back to 2000. Some of these comments will mention our advanced statistics, including DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) -- which takes every play during the season and compares it to the league average based on situation and opponent -- and DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) -- which uses a similar method to measure a player's total value compared to a "replacement-level" player. These and other advanced stats are explained here.

1. Derrick Mason: Mason has seven different seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and ranks seventh overall in total wide receiver DYAR for the decade. He ranked among the top 20 wide receivers in DYAR (total value) for five straight years in Tennessee, then did it again last year in Baltimore. He also ranked among the top four wide receivers in DVOA (value per play) three times in four years (2000, 2001 and 2003), and he has put up an above average catch rate every single year this decade, including two years over 70 percent. Yet somehow, he's only made two Pro Bowls.

2. Matt Lepsis: Lepsis anchored the fabulous Denver offensive line for five years at starting right tackle, starting left tackle for another four, but never made a Pro Bowl. Honestly, that's a little mind blowing.
3. Adrian Wilson: For three straight years (2004-2006) Wilson made his average run tackle closer to the line of scrimmage than any other safety. In 2005, he was the only safety responsible for at least 15 percent of his team's total tackles. He also had eight sacks that year. He was the first safety since 2001 with more than five sacks in one season. For years, he was one of the top two or three safeties against the run and the pass. The only reason we didn't put him at No. 1 is that recently he has started winning the acclamation he deserves.

4. Aaron Smith: A consistent performer in one of the league's most consistently strong defenses. Twice, Smith had eight sacks in a season, despite being a 3-4 end whose job isn't to get to the quarterback. He's only made one Pro Bowl because apparently, Richard Seymour always fills the quota for 3-4 ends who soak up blockers without impressive statistics.

5. Shaun O'Hara: O'Hara was fine as a guard in Cleveland, even better as a center in New York, holding down the middle of one of the best offensive lines in the league, but he never made the Pro Bowl until 2008 at age 31.

6. Dan Koppen: This 2003 fifth-round pick went right into the starting lineup, and won two Super Bowls in his first two seasons. The New England line has seen inconsistency at the tackle positions, but never at center. Still, Koppen has only one Pro Bowl selection, 2007.

7. Bobby Engram: The Third Down Machine. For most of this decade, nobody was better at moving the chains. Engram put up a 67 percent or better catch rate for six straight years, 2002-2007. He ranks 31st among wide receivers in receptions this decade, despite having only three seasons in which he started at least eight games.

8. Keith Bulluck: Bulluck is one stable anchor in a Tennessee defense that has had up and down performances because of salary cap constraints. Year after year, Bulluck has led his team among outside linebackers in highest percentage of defensive plays, with numbers similar to inside linebackers on other teams. He might be underrated because he rarely rushes the passer. Aaron Curry, this is your future.

9. Shawn Springs: Springs came out of Ohio State as the good Lord's gift to pass defense, and looked like a Hall of Famer in 1998-99. He got hurt in 2001, came back a little slower and suddenly everyone forgot about him. Fans often think of Springs as a guy who "used to be good," but the fact is that when healthy, he's still very good, and he's always been very good. He's just not the Hall of Famer people originally expected, and he's much better at coverage than at making big plays (only 19 interceptions since 2000).

10. London Fletcher: Tackle totals can be awfully misleading. You have to consider how many plays a defense is on the field, and the middle linebacker will almost always lead the team in tackles. Still, you have to give Fletcher some serious credit for leading his team in tackles for 10 straight seasons. He hasn't missed a start since 1999, but he's never made the Pro Bowl, partly because during his best years he was stuck behind Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas in the AFC pecking order.

11. John Abraham: Abraham ranks second in total sacks since 2000, behind Jason Taylor. He's had five seasons with 10 or more sacks, plus a sixth season with 9 in 12 games. He was a first-round pick and was later traded for a first-round pick, but he's oddly under the radar. He hasn't made the Pro Bowl since 2004, even with 16 sacks last season.

12. Al Wilson: Yes, he was a Pro Bowl regular, but few fans knew who he was. Perhaps he needed to jazz up his name with more apostrophes (D'Al Wil'son?) or let NFL Films mic him up every other game as it does with Ray Lewis. The Denver defense has completely imploded since a neck injury ended Wilson's career in 2006.
13. Chad Pennington: The NFL's version of Bret Saberhagen, Pennington always has been one of the league's best quarterbacks when healthy. The problem is that he only seems to be healthy every other year. Pennington ranked among the most valuable quarterbacks, according to Football Outsiders' DYAR stats, four times: 2002 (second), 2004 (10th), 2006 (seventh) and 2008 (sixth). That sound you hear is the 2009 Dolphins saying "Uh-oh."

14. Torry Holt: Everybody knows he's good, and he has made seven Pro Bowls. But at no time this decade did conventional wisdom hold that Holt was the best wide receiver in football, and for some reason nobody includes him in the conversation, even though he leads all receivers in catches and yards this decade and is fourth in total receiving value (by DYAR).

15. Brian Westbrook: People finally have realized how good he is and how important he is to the Eagles' offense, but guess what: he has been this good the whole time. In fact, he's been better in the past than his recent statistics show. Last year, Westbrook had career lows in both yards per carry and yards per reception, but he ranked among the top three running backs in our DVOA stats (value per play) three times -- 2003, 2006 and 2007 -- and ranked among the top five running backs in receiving DYAR (total value) for five straight seasons.

16. Kelly Gregg: Nose tackle is an underrated position in general, but is extremely important to the success of strong 3-4 defenses. Guys like Casey Hampton, Vince Wilfork and Jamal Williams have received that all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii and the accolades that go with it, but in Baltimore, Gregg spent six years quietly holding down the middle for one of the league's best run defenses and never made a Pro Bowl, partly because, with the 3-4 primarily an AFC-only scheme for most of the decade, he had to stand in line behind those other equally deserving players.

17. David Akers: If we're making an all-decade team, Akers should be the kicker, not Adam Vinatieri. No kicker has been as consistent and as well-rounded when it comes to both field goals and kickoffs than Akers. Philadelphia ranked 11th or higher in both placekicking and kickoffs every year from 2000-2004. For the decade, we estimate that Philadelphia has gained 31.4 points on field goals, compared to the average team, second only to Baltimore, and 65.0 points on kickoffs, second only to Atlanta.

18. Antonio Pierce: For an undrafted free agents to make it in the league, they need to get an edge any way they can. In Pierce's case, it's maniacal film study that leads to superior preparation and the ability to overcome his athletic limitations. The Giants defense rose from 21st to 11th in our DVOA ratings after his arrival in 2005, and has remained in the upper half of the league ever since. His single-handed read and stop of a screen pass against three Green Bay blockers in the 2007 NFC Championship Game was one of the plays of the decade.

19. Brad Meester: This second-round draft pick went straight into the starting lineup in 2000, and has been a consistent lineman for some excellent Jacksonville running games. He has never made the Pro Bowl.

20. Moe Williams: Williams was an astonishingly-underrated situational player, who excelled both running and receiving. His best year was 2002, in which he ranked fifth among all running backs in rushing value (by DYAR) on only 84 carries. That year, he averaged 7.9 yards on first-and-10 plays and converted 18 of his 24 carries in power situations (third down, fourth down or goal line, with 1-2 yards to go). The next year, 2003, was the only season in which he started more than two games, and he had 644 receiving yards, second only to Priest Holmes.

21. Gary Brackett: This undrafted free agent from Rutgers turned out to be the perfect middle linebacker for the Tampa-2 defense. Indianapolis finished 13th or lower in defensive DVOA every single season from 1994 through 2004, but has been in the top 10 three times since Brackett entered the starting lineup in 2005. He's still waiting to make his first trip to Hawaii.

2004 Packers With Grady Jackson

Situation Yd/Play DVOA % DVOA Rank
Vs. Pass 4.96 -21.6 5
Vs. Rush 3.96 -27.3 2
22. Grady Jackson: Halfway through the 2003 season, the New Orleans Saints suspended Jackson for "conduct detrimental to the team" and then released him. Green Bay picked him up off waivers.
He hasn't been quite that important over the last couple years, but there's no doubt the guy makes an impact.

23. Tarik Glenn: Glenn held down left tackle for the best offense of the decade, but didn't make the Pro Bowl until 2004. Even though he made three Pro Bowls, nobody ever included him in the discussion of "best left tackle in football."

24. Brian Finneran: His stats aren't that impressive until you look at them compared to the rest of his team. Finneran was the best receiver in Atlanta until Roddy White finally developed. Year after year, the Falcons drafted or traded for younger guys, gave them the starting jobs and benched them when Finneran was clearly outplaying them. In 2005, Michael Vick completed 59 percent of his passes to Finneran, 46 percent to his other wideouts. That was nothing compared to 2004 as Vick completed 70 percent of his passes to Finneran and only 45 percent to his other wideouts.

25. Trent Green: According to Football Outsiders' DYAR stats, Trent Green is one of the five most valuable quarterbacks of the decade, behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Drew Brees. He ranked among the top three quarterbacks for three years, 2002 to 2004, and was fifth in 2005. Green was also an excellent scrambler, who rarely took off unless he could get a first down.

06-28-2009, 03:20 PM
Aaron Smith is way underrated, good call.

06-28-2009, 03:31 PM
Wow. Damnit, thanks for reminding me how much I miss big Al :(

06-28-2009, 03:37 PM
I think Adrian Wilson runs away with this one.

eddie mac
06-28-2009, 04:28 PM
Lepsis above Wilson???

Must be because he was a UDFA and Wilson a late 1st rd pick cos for me Al had a far bigger impact on the Broncos and the league than Matt did.

06-28-2009, 04:50 PM
Lepsis above Wilson???

Must be because he was a UDFA and Wilson a late 1st rd pick cos for me Al had a far bigger impact on the Broncos and the league than Matt did.

Al was also a 4 time pro-bowler how underrated can he be?

06-28-2009, 05:29 PM
Al was also a 4 time pro-bowler how underrated can he be?

yes and IIRC Lepsis never went to a probowl.

06-28-2009, 05:53 PM
Wow. Damnit, thanks for reminding me how much I miss big Al :(

yeah. he was fearless. It sucked how noone ever knew him outside denver.