Showcasing the NFL's Most Underrated Rookies
The NFL always has it's fair share of rookies who make an impact on their respective teams, but there are always more gems to be found by digging deeper into rosters.
Most of these guys are diamonds in the rough who are beginning to become more proficient for their respective teams, whereas others had some sort of limited expectations coming into 2013.
You also have players like Jordan Reed who were drafted to take over the starting position down the road, but have managed to beat the learning curve and contribute right away.
There are tons of guys to choose from, but these six stand out among the rest.
*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*
A.J. Klein, LB, Carolina Panthers
Heading into training camp, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that rookie linebacker A.J. Klein could be Luke Kuechly 2.0. That was obviously high praise considering that Kuechly took home NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors at the conclusion of last season, but Klein has proven Rivera right.
Klein made his first start against the New England Patriots a few weeks ago, and hasn't looked back since. He first took over for starter Chase Blackburn in Carolina's game versus the San Francisco 49ers, and finished with five tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.
Klein has shown great progression these past few weeks and it's clear he adds another dimension to Carolina's fearsome front seven. He's great in run defense and is growing better in other aspects of his game.
Keep a keen eye on this young linebacker in the coming years.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Drafting Keenan Allen might be the best decision the San Diego Chargers have made in the past year. He's not a touchdown machine, but he's been Phillip Rivers' security blanket in many games this season and leads the Bolts' weakened receiving corps.
Allen has had five games of 100-plus receiving yards and looks like he's becoming the new No. 1 receiver in San Diego. He's pretty much become the big-bodied, big-play threat that Vincent Jackson once was for the Chargers.
Many thought that Allen was a steal when San Diego picked him up in the third round of the draft and they were right. Allen is for real.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Many fans of the Washington Redskins were surprised that they drafted a tight end in the third round of the draft, but now I'm sure they're glad they did.
Washington was once thought to be set at the position because of starter Fred Davis and the emerging Logan Paulsen, but Jordan Reed has come in and taken the starting spot away from Davis and Paulsen.
In fact, it was just about a year ago that the Redskins organization was worried Davis would leave the team in free agency following his Achilles injury, but those worries left when he re-signed in the offseason. Since then, the Redskins have actually tried to trade him because Reed has come in and made Davis expendable.
Although he's currently battling a concussion from the Redskins' game against the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks back, Reed's future with the team is mighty bright.
Larry Warford, OG, Detroit Lions
Interior lineman don't often get the credit they deserve, and that's the case with rookie guard Larry Warford. As a third-round pick, no one expected him to come in and be as dominant as he has been.
The difference in the Detroit Lions' running game between this season and last is almost blinding. Warford has been a big reason why Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are two of the league's most effective runners.
He's not only great at run-blocking, but also shines in pass protection. Warford has yet to allow a sack this season in 12 games for Detroit.
Paul Worrilow, LB, Atlanta Falcons
For a guy who went undrafted, Paul Worrilow sure is playing like a top-10 pick.
Worrilow has posted some crazy numbers, in terms of tackling, on a terrible Atlanta Falcons defense. Through 12 games, he's recorded 89 tackles, including three games with at least 16 tackles. He's not that great in coverage, but is an absolute tackling machine.
Worrilow been one of the lone bright spots for the Falcons this year, and surely has a great future in the NFL.
Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Here's another third-round pick who's beginning to make a name for himself. Although his numbers haven't been too flashy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Glennon has shown tremendous progression between September and now, and it's turning into wins.
Before losing to the Carolina Panthers this past weekend, the Buccaneers were on a three-game winning streak because of Glennon's progress. In his last three games, Glennon has a 4-1 touchdown-interception ratio along with 658 yards and a completion rate of 73.6 percent.
Many questioned whether or not he had any chance to be the quarterback of the future for Tampa Bay, but he's shown that with patience and a progressing team around him, he can succeed in the NFL.
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