More than any other sport in the world, football is a team-oriented game in which a solid effort is needed from all 53 players on a roster. Contrary to what many fans believe, players don’t win football games—teams win football games.
What players can do though is put a team over the top. Teams know what they will get from their superstars—the Dallas Cowboys can pencil in 12 or more sacks from DeMarcus Ware this season and the Cleveland Browns know they’ll have a rock at left tackle with five-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.
But what about the unknowns? Teams that released a veteran and are going with an unproven rookie really don’t know what they’re going to get, which is what makes the following 32 players so crucial to their team’s success in 2012.