Pro Bowl 2013: Overlooked Players Who Will Become NFL's Next Wave of Superstars
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Just because a player received a Pro Bowl selection does not mean they have received the utmost recognition throughout pro football.
In terms of ability as a player for that particular season, yes.
But regarding those who got snubbed or players who are simply more well known, the following go overlooked.
One we view is Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks.
He's one of the NFL's best safeties, but isn't anywhere as well known as some of his teammates. Unsurprisingly, the same can be perceived for everyone else here as well.
Trent Williams: OT, Redskins
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The offensive tackle position continues to increase in importance with each new season.
With the NFL becoming even more reliant on the passing game, protecting a quarterback's blindside remains the highest of priorities.
And that especially holds true when that quarterback is Robert Griffin III.
Well, Trent Williams of the Washington Redskins was the only other player from Mike Shanahan's offense selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Lorenzo Alexander was picked for special teams.
RG3 was sacked only 29 times through the first 15 games and the Redskins enter Week 17 ranked No. 1 in rushing offense. Without question, most of that is because of Griffin's complete skill set.
Nevertheless, Williams' consistent dependability and impact is among the best tackles around. And his name deserves to be one of the first mentioned for the position.
Patrick Peterson: CB, Cardinals
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When we think of the Arizona Cardinals, Patrick Peterson is not one of the first names to come to mind.
Then again, receiver Larry Fitzgerald does remain the heart and soul of the team.
Looking back on 2012, though, Arizona was constantly giving up sacks and simply not producing on offense. That lack of execution was so unbelievable, it led to Peterson and the defense going significantly overlooked.
Even with the offense's unreliability, Arizona ranks No. 3 in pass defense and allows only a 54.1 completion percentage. Peterson upped his totals from 2011 this season, as he has collected seven picks with 15 defended passes thus far.
In addition, the former LSU Tiger has logged 53 tackles to this point. Before we know it, Peterson will keep climbing the defensive back rankings as he continues to develop.
Not to mention he went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Geno Atkins: DT, Bengals
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It's way too easy to overlook Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals.
For one, the AFC on defense alone presents standout front seven players in Von Miller and J.J. Watt.
Secondly, Atkins can go underrated on the Bengals as Cincy is also represented by receiver A.J. Green. Interestingly enough, Green and Atkins were the only two Bengals selected to the Pro Bowl.
Having collected 50 tackles, 12.5 sacks and forcing four fumbles with Week 17 left, Atkins took his game to another level in 2012. And this came after a really solid performance in 2011.
The guy does everything for Cincy in the trenches, which has allowed the Bengals to rank No. 2 in sacks (47), No. 8 against the run and No. 6 in total defense. Factor in that Atkins works from the interior line and his numbers are off-the-charts impressive.
If there's one guy not receiving enough props for being a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Atkins is that guy.
Earl Thomas: Safety, Seahawks
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Earl Thomas is making his second straight Pro Bowl appearance for the Seattle Seahawks.
Still, it's easy to overlook the safety because of other stud defenders such as Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman and Chris Clemons.
Include the Seahawks offense with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch and that adds to a reduction in Thomas' recognition. Plus, the safety position can be shunned unless a guy such as Ed Reed is mentioned.
He remains the current standard.
At the same time, Thomas is gradually encompassing that as well. He's only 23 years old and has compiled 63 tackles, three picks, nine defended passes and one touchdown thus far in 2012.
Thomas' elite consistency stands out the most, because his presence back deep allows for Sherman and Co. more playmaking opportunities. In short, Thomas steps up to the task when challenged downfield.
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