NFL Rankings: The Top 10 Most Underrated Offensive Players
This will be part of a series where I rank the most underrated players on offense and defense, as well as the most overrated players in the same format.
Here's a link to the Top 10 Most Underrated Defensive Players.
People will certainly be left off that may be deserving of making the list, but this is purely a subjective look into the NFL's most underrated players.
This is a list of guys who make the wheels turn, while falling under the shadows of some of the bigger stars on their respective teams. Maybe it's a player who consistently produces for a struggling team, yet he might be a big name elsewhere.
While this is a list of underrated players, I have tried to branch out and give credit to others rather than someone like the oft-mentioned Wes Welker.
Please feel free to comment at the end and make suggestions on who I left off or who shouldn't even be listed in the first place.
10. Austin Collie / Pierre Garcon
If you look past Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne, you will find two young stars in the making in 25-year-old Austin Collie and 24-year-old Pierre Garcon.
Austin Collie found success through opportunity when Anthony Gonzalez succumbed to injury in 2009 and has since established himself as the No. 3 wide receiver behind Wayne and Clark (No. 2 this season with the injury to Clark).
Unfortunately, Collie has missed significant time this year due to a concussion.
Still, Collie is an excellent route runner and one that Peyton has come to trust inside the red zone. He has averaged nearly a touchdown per game this season as well.
The other half of this underrated duo, Pierre Garcon, is a blend of power and speed. Garcon has shown flashes of being a dynamic playmaker. The future is bright for the sixth-round selection out of Mount Union.
Both Collie and Garcon were drafted late in their respective drafts, and both played a key role in the Colts' 2009 Super Bowl run.
9. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
His name is a chore to say, but one you are likely never to forget.
The undrafted free-agent out of Ole Miss is a tough, physical runner who currently leads the Patriots in rushing.
Green-Ellis seems to be taking on a role once possessed by Kevin Faulk. He doesn't possess explosive speed or burst, but he takes care of the ball and is a valuable commodity in short-yardage situations and the goal line.
Over a quarter of his workload has resulted in first downs (45) this year. That will earn points in Bill Belichick's book.
He is tied for second in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns despite receiving far less touches (163) than others above him.
Green-Ellis has yet to fumble in his career, albeit he has barely logged a full season's worth of playing time over the course of three seasons. It's still an impressive feat.
Injuries kept Green-Ellis out of action for most of the 2009 season, but he is running away with his opportunity this season.
8. Tashard Choice
Tashard Choice has found himself buried on the depth chart behind higher-profile names like Marion Barber and Felix Jones, though when given the opportunity, Choice produces.
Choice was given the opportunity to show what he can do this past Sunday when an injury sidelined Marion Barber. He promptly rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries, something Barber has failed to do all season long. It was only the second time a Cowboy running back ran for 100 yards in a game this year.
In his three-year career, Choice has touched the ball 15 times or more in a game only five times. Yet, in those games he has failed to top 100 yards once (80 yards on 19 touches in 2009). He's averaged 5.2 yards per touch in those games and scored three touchdowns.
It's probably best that he is used in a platoon, but Choice certainly needs to get more of the workload than Marion Barber. It's very likely that Barber will not regain his role if he returns this season. It's about time.
7. Ray Rice
The bruising third-year running back out of Rutgers continues to put up big numbers for the Ravens in 2010.
He's well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000 yard season on the ground--yet his most underrated asset is probably his receiving game. Last year, Rice finished with more receiving yards (702) than about three-quarters of the league.
His excellent vision more than makes up for what he lacks in speed.
Rice also does a fantastic job of protecting the ball, with just four fumbles in 733 touches.
He isn't matching what he did a year ago, but he's still a very underrated commodity in the revamped Ravens offense.
6. Kyle Orton
Orton continues to produce effective seasons in Denver quietly, despite posting a losing record as a starter there.
It's hard to blame Orton for the team's struggles when the Broncos defense is allowing the third most points per game (27.8) in the league.
Orton rarely makes mistakes, as evidenced by his six interceptions in 457 attempts this season and boasts a robust QB rating of 93.0, good for 10th in the league.
He's on pace for 4,600 yards passing this season, and he currently sits in fourth among NFL quarterbacks with 3,487 yards.
Orton is doing all of this despite having almost no running game to compliment the passing attack. The Broncos are the fourth-worst rushing team in the league at 86.2 yards per game.
The Iowa native is proving that his 2009 season was not a fluke as he continues to build on his successes.
5. Malcom Floyd
Floyd towers over the playing field at 6'5", and might be the best receiver under Antonio Gates.
He's freakishly athletic for his size and possesses the strength to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage. Floyd isn't afraid to go over the middle, either.
He was well on his way to a breakout season, when a hamstring injury sidelined him for the better part of five weeks.
Floyd caught 8 passes for 213 yards against Oakland in Week 5, one of the best pass defenses in the league. His 19.6 yards per catch is good for fourth in the NFL.
If you take away his injury-marred games, Floyd is averaging 95 yards receiving per game, which would land him in a tie for second with Roddy White.
He has certainly proven that the Chargers are fine without Vincent Jackson.
4. Greg Jennings
The former second-round pick is quickly becoming one of the premier receivers in the game, yet the focus hinges mostly around guys like Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Rarely do I hear Jennings' name mentioned when discussing the top receivers in the game. He is just that.
Jennings and his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, have established incredible chemistry and are becoming one of the dominant duos in the NFL.
He isn't very tall, but he's very athletic and a scouting report calls him deceptively strong.
Jennings will certainly eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season in the next two weeks and he's only one touchdown away from tying his career high (12).
In the past three weeks, Jennings has racked up 393 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns on just 18 catches.
3. Danny Woodhead
This is from his ESPN Scouting Report:
"The Jets have got him the ball some in the running game but he is a utility player at best in 2010. He hasn't been used as a returner much and he may have a tough time making the club in 2010."
That speaks for itself.
Woodhead is undersized at 5'8", 195 lbs., but try telling him that. The 27-year-old out of Chadron College makes up for his small frame by playing his guts out every Sunday.
Every time he touches the ball, he gives 100 percent effort. It's fun to watch.
So, as it goes, the guy whom the New York Jets let go comes to New England and flourishes. Woodhead has piled up 689 yards of total offense and 4 touchdowns this year. He's even got 9 tackles to go along with that.
This is exactly the type of player that finds a niche with the Patriots and helps them win Super Bowls, but you won't see his name in the headlines. He's the perfect fit for New England, bringing his hard-nosed, never-give-up attitude to the field every day.
2. Jamaal Charles
Who comes to mind when you think of the best running backs in the game today?
Chris Johnson? Maurice Jones-Drew? Michael Turner? Adrian Peterson? Maybe even Steven Jackson?
Unless you're a Chiefs fan, I'd almost be willing to bet that Charles doesn't breach the topic of conversation.
Charles is explosive to say the least, averaging a league best 6.2 yards per carry this season, and 6 yards per carry for his career. Last year, he tied Felix Jones with a 5.9 yards per carry--better than Chris Johnson (5.6), who rushed for 2,000 yards.
Charles has failed to reach 100 total yards in a game just twice this season, and he shredded the staunch San Diego Chargers defense in Week 1, averaging 8.4 yards per carry.
While proving to be a headache for opposing defenses running the ball, Charles is also a receiving threat. He's on pace for 500 yards receiving this year, easily his best total thus far in his career.
He is currently tied for third in the NFL in rushing yards, but he has considerably fewer carries (182), than the guys in front of him, who are all above 245 carries.
He'll probably never see an extremely heavy workload like some of the top backs get, but he doesn't need the extra carries or the added bruises that go along with them.
1. David Garrard
Garrard can usually be found near the top in several offensive categories each season, but everyone talked about how Jacksonville needed a new quarterback prior to last year's NFL Draft.
Yet he still puts up solid numbers year in and year out. He's finished with more touchdowns than interceptions four years in a row (on his way to five), and he tossed 18 touchdowns and a mere 3 interceptions in 2007.
In that same year, he posted a better QB rating than Peyton Manning. Garrard also finished 10th in passing yards in 2008.
This season, he has a 92.6 QB rating, which is better than Manning and Matt Ryan, and the same completion percentage as Tom Brady (66.8%).
Garrard has thrown for 3,000 yards two years in a row, but that is likely to change this season. You can attribute that to the Jaguars' having the second best rushing offense in the league.
His mobility is probably one of the more underrated qualities of his game. He's second on the team with 200 yards rushing, and he averages 3.9 yards per carry, not to mention he's scored 4 touchdowns as well. For his career, he averages 4.6 yards per carry and has 1,667 yards on the ground.
Garrard has produced in relative obscurity and will likely continue to do so.
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