Which NFL Studs Are Coming off Great Years Many Didn't Even Notice?
Sometimes, it's easy to understand. Other times, it's not so easy to explain why great NFL seasons go relatively unnoticed.
Nevertheless, it happens every year, and, well, it just isn't right.
Now's the time to shed light on studs coming off fantastic 2011 campaigns who didn't receive the notoriety they undoubtedly deserved.
Certainly, sports writers, die-hard football nuts and ProFootballFocus subscribers noticed them, but sadly, many others didn't.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
A 15-1 win-loss record, an epic season from the eventual MVP of the league and a slew of dynamic and historically productive receivers gives reasonable clarification as to why Nelson's amazing 2011 season didn't get the exposure from the media it should have.
The emergence of Greg Jennings over the last three years has made him the most recognizable receiver on the Packers' roster. However, Nelson, not Jennings, was Green Bay's most productive target last year.
He set team highs across the board. Nelson had 68 catches for 1,263 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns, which was the third-highest total in the NFL.
The 6'3'', 217-pound former Kansas State Wildcat finished with a ridiculous 18.6 yards-per-catch average—a mere tenth of yard behind Victor Cruz's average.
Despite a clearly remarkable breakout campaign, Nelson failed to make the NFC Pro Bowl roster, lending further credence to the majority's view that the All-Star exhibition is a total farce.
Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
At the ripe age of 23, Geno Atkins was a dominant pass-rushing force for the Cincinnati Bengals from his defensive tackle spot in 2011. He played in all 16 games and racked up 47 total tackles (10 tackles for loss), two forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks.
He was named to the Pro Bowl and was a second-team All-Pro, but for the most part, Atkins was overshadowed by more recognizable and more experienced defensive tackles around the league.
Call me crazy for placing a reigning All-Pro on this list, but guys like Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork and Justin Smith are much more identifiable to the common fan.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had this to say about Atkins in his famed B/R 1000 rankings: "He's a penetrator who can also stop the run. A big body who knows how to rush the passer. There's really nothing that Atkins can't do."
Entering what should be the prime of his career, Atkins should be a perennial All-Pro and hopefully will become a household name sooner rather than later.
Lardarius Webb, Baltimore Ravens
Webb plays on one of the few NFL defenses synonymous with intimidation and vast productivity every season. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Ngata deservedly get the headlines, but Webb's a key figure in the vaunted unit.
He tore his ACL near the end of the 2009 season and was clearly slowed and not himself for the entire 2010 campaign.
Fully recovered last year, Webb totaled 67 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and five interceptions for the Ravens. More importantly was his overall play as a cornerback in coverage. ProFootballFocus.com listed him in a "Pack Chasing Darrelle Revis" article and said the following:
Including the playoffs, teams had a QB rating of 42.0 when throwing at Webb, bettering the mark of Revis–the only player to do so with significant playing time. It would not take much improvement at all for him to enter Revis territory, and in fact, simply maintaining and repeating 2011’s play may well justify that kind of talk. Webb looks like the complete cornerback, and 2012 could well be his year.
Though there's some changeover along Baltimore's front seven, and Terrell Suggs is likely out for the year, Webb, a notable 2011 Pro Bowl snub, is ready to stake his claim as a truly elite defensive back.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Curtis Martin was recently inducted to the Hall of Fame, and his illustrious career was defined by longevity and annual consistency. The New England Patriots and New York Jets runner had 10 consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards on the ground—quite the feat.
How many more years will Steven Jackson run for over 1,000 yards?
Though he's not to Martin's benchmark, Jackson's finished with over 1,000 rushing yards in seven straight seasons—a stat often overlooked by the masses.
He's been a part of some quality Rams teams, but the majority of his career has been spent on bottom-feeding clubs in St. Louis, which is a shame.
In 2011, the former Oregon State back had 1,145 yards rushing at a respectable 4.4 yards-per-carry clip and added another 333 yards receiving. His 1,478 yard from scrimmage total was 13 yards higher than Chris Johnson's total and 52 yards higher than Marshawn Lynch's total.
Bet many people outside of St. Louis wouldn't have guessed that.
At 29 and after over 2,100 career carries, Jackson could be entering the twilight of his career. But don't forget about him just yet, at least not until the streak of 1,000-yard seasons is broken.
Brandon Browner, Seattle Seahawks
Browner can't tell you he made the Seahawks roster the traditional way. After starring at Oregon State from 2002 to 2005, he went undrafted and was eventually signed by the Denver Broncos.
That August, Browner opened eyes in training camp but fractured his forearm in a preseason outing, was placed on IR and was cut the following season.
He moved on to the CFL and shined with the Calgary Stampede. Browner was a three-time All-Star, and his career in Canada was highlighted by a Grey Cup title in 2008.
Prior to the 2011 season, he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks, where Browner proved his achievements North of the border could translate to the NFL. The monstrous 6'4'', 220-pound cornerback had 54 tackles and six interceptions, two of which were returned touchdowns.
Yes, he was named to the Pro Bowl, but Browner didn't garner nearly enough media attention after his premier ball-hawking campaign.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?