Everyone is aware of popular football skills, such as foot-speed and arm strength, but few are aware of the lesser known attributes that are just as important.
These are traits that only the best players in the game have. These are what separate the ordinary from the gifted.
So let's take a look:
This is when the first person who makes contact stops the forward progress and stands up to the ball carrier.
The purpose of this is to expose the ball so that teammates can strip it.
This is a very selfless act that is extremely hard to pull off with consistency. You basically are holding them in place while they are trying to get away.
The best player in the NFL at this would be Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears.
The ability for a corner to tackle anyone on the field is truly priceless.
It is one thing for a corner to tackle a wide receiver, but another thing to tackle a running back.
The elite teams in the NFL preach this to all of their corners—especially teams in 3-4 defense, where one missed tackle can result in a touchdown.
The best in the NFL is Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans.
Everyone is aware of the safeties that get free shots at wide receivers crossing the field.
What people forget is that in a majority of plays, the safety is not only the last line of defense against the run, but also the protectors of the deep ball.
Every team in the NFL wants a safety that won't be a liability on passing downs.
Every team, however, dreams of a safety that they can treat as a bigger, stronger corner—something that can lead to new and more exotic defenses.
The best in the NFL is Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens.
This seems pretty obvious when you think about it, but this is a feat that not many consider.
By breaking a tackle in the backfield, the quarterback not only extends the play, but also forces the defense to hesitate.
One of the greatest plays in NFL history was based off of a quarterback breaking away from a tackle. (I am referring to Manning to Tyree in Super Bowl 42)
The best in the NFL is Ben Roethisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is one of the more annoying skills to us fans, but nonetheless, it's underrated.
This one skill can take any offense to the next level.
It allows a quarterback take over a game and figure out a defense.
The best in the NFL is Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts.
This skill is priceless in not only a run-heavy offense, but also in any system.
It's a skill that young wide receivers do not even try to learn in most cases. They just run routes that are away from the run.
A great run-blocking receiver can turn a seven-yard run into a 60-yard touchdown run.
The best in the NFL is Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is so obvious it actually hurts.
Man coverage is one of the first things a cornerback learns, but one that can almost never be fully mastered.
Having a player that can cancel out a wide receiver is a godsend. This allows a team to risk more with the other players and truly go after the quarterback.
The best in the NFL is Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders.
This skill is equal parts physical and mental.
The ability to see and catch the ball while getting hit by a 200-plus pound man is one of the hardest things in football.
They are called safety nets because they can make catches no matter who is around them, and they will not drop the ball.
The best in the NFL is Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals.
It is not in their job description and most hate doing it, but it doesn't mean they should ignore it.
A running back reading a blitz and protecting the quarterback is extremely valuable.
The best in the NFL is Clinton Portis of the Washington Redskins.
This is by far the most underrated skill in the NFL.
Without these big monsters on the defense, there is no run defense.
They anchor the line and get almost no credit for it as individuals.
They take on one, if not two or three 300-pound monsters every play.
Then after they get hit by them, they have to worry about the guy who is running at full force.
And the best in the NFL is Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Raves (#92)