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.
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 the usual suspects. You won't see Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher anywhere near this list.
You can view the first article on the Top Ten Most Underrated Offensive Players here.
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.
Bernard Pollard is a safety playing in a linebacker's body. At 6'1", 224 pounds he's a bruiser to be sure.
Now with the Houston Texans, the former Kansas City Chief continues to rack up tackles year after year. Pollard hasn't finished under 90 tackles since becoming a starter in his 2nd season.
His tackles have increased from year to year and he's on track to break his previous career high of 102 from last year. Pollard has 2.5 sacks on the year, as well as three forced fumbles. He has nine forced fumbles in his five-year career.
The only thing Pollard hasn't done this season is record an interception. Last season, he picked off four passes, and even returned one for a touchdown.
At 25, Pollard is only getting better and the Texans certainly got a steal when the Chiefs released him. He may be better suited as a linebacker, so perhaps he will make that change in time.
The 2007 first round pick piles up interceptions from year to year, yet he has no Pro Bowls to show for it.
He's able to make plays despite being a "lockdown" cornerback. That can possibly be attributed to the other noteworthy Bengals cornerback, Jonathan Joseph. Quarterbacks have to throw the ball to someone, after all.
Hall has 18 interceptions in 61 games for the Bengals, with a career high of six in 2009. He's on pace for five this season, which would make it three out of four seasons with five or more interceptions.
All Hall has done since joining the Bengals is make plays. He's lived up to his first round status thus far, and he certainly has room to improve at 26-years-old.
However, with that in mind, you'll likely hear about countless other cornerbacks before you hear Leon Hall's name mentioned.
New Orleans Saints
Jabari Greer won't fill up the stat sheets, but he deserves recognition as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
It's not out of the question to consider him as the best cornerback in the NFL, either.
Last season, Greer allowed ONE touchdown. That one touchdown was by Andre Johnson. He had the second lowest burn percentage last season at 37.9 percent (Darrelle Revis was 1st at 37.0%).
That's pretty good.
Greer has been elected to an astounding zero pro bowls, while Charles Woodson and Revis hog the spotlight.
Opposing teams only targeted Greer's side 64 times last season (compared to 108 with Revis), and only half of those targets resulted in receptions.
He did sit out two games this season, but he has two interceptions and a defensive touchdown as well—extending his streak to three consecutive seasons with a defensive touchdown.
The former third round selection of the Oakland Raiders has slipped into the shadows this season, but that won't keep him off this list.
Now with the Jaguars, Morrison averaged 126.4 tackles per season in his five years with the Raiders. He could routinely be found near the top of the league year-in and year-out.
This season, he's only at 73 tackles and hasn't really done anything else outside of that. His biggest game was a 10-tackle performance against the Colts earlier in the year.
Morrison is still second on the team in tackles this season despite having a "down" season. He's still the same guy---the tackles just aren't coming in bunches like they did in Oakland.
Last season, Grimes had the ninth most (or a tie for 5th) interceptions in the NFL.
He's making an impact yet again this season. His five interceptions have him tied for sixth in the league. Grimes also leads the NFL in pass deflections (22) after his big game against the Seahawks on Sunday.
The fourth year cornerback out of Shippensburg College is quickly becoming a guy that opposing quarterbacks want to avoid.
He's steadily improving from year-to-year with increased playing time and should continue to do so. Grimes has worked hard to get to this point, as he was an undrafted free agent by the Falcons in 2006.
Mathis has lived not only in Peyton Manning's shadow, but also fellow defensive end Dwight Freeney's as well.
Freeney is likely the guy that comes to mind when you talk about the Colts defense, but Mathis has been as good as Freeney—if not better.
Mathis has averaged 1.62 sacks per game in his 116 games played, while Freeney has averaged 1.41 sacks per game in 130 games played.
There's no doubt about what Freeney means to the Colts, but Mathis means just as much. It must be nice to have these two guys on one team.
Trent Cole has been a cornerstone of the Eagles defense since his arrival in 2002.
Cole has been a sack machine, averaging 9.33 sacks per year. Last season, Cole notched 12.5 sacks for a league-leading 117 yards for loss.
He just needs one more sack to record double digits in three of his six seasons. His value is probably noticed in Philly, but he is quite undervalued outside of the City of Brotherly Love.
He's broken the team record for most tackles in a season twice.
Beason broke his own record last season with 142 tackles and he's now in second place all-time for most tackles by a Carolina Panther. He trails Mike Minter by quite a bit, but if he sticks around for a few more years he will certainly become the franchise's leading tackler.
Beason lives in the shadows of Patrick Willis, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, but he's certainly better than two of those three, at least.
It's arguable to say that he's the best linebacker in the league, but he plays for a team that's 2-12. They've made the playoffs just once since Beason joined the Panthers in 2007.
Fletcher is quite possibly one of the most underrated linebackers in recent memory.
That's an opinion, of course, and debatable, but Fletcher has eclipsed 100 tackles in 11 consecutive seasons now. Eleven!!
Not even Ray Lewis has done that, which is a testament to Fletcher's ability to stay healthy.
Fletcher has averaged 122.5 tackles per season in his 13-year career, as well as 31.5 sacks and 16 interceptions.
His numbers have gradually declined over the past few years, but he is still a magnet for the football. Fletcher is tied for fifth place with 124 tackles this season, following an 11 tackle performance against the Cowboys on Sunday.
Perhaps the most shocking number of all is his number of Pro Bowl selections. Fletcher has been selected just once in his illustrious career. That selection came last year.
Maybe he's finally getting some well-deserved recognition.
Wake has taken the road less traveled in reaching the Miami Dolphins, but the NFL's leading sack getter is quickly becoming a monster at his position.
Wake has piled up 14.0 sacks this season, including two against the New York Jets last Sunday. He was in Mark Sanchez' face all game long and was a big reason the Dolphins were able to win that game.
In 2009, Wake showed an ability to make plays in limited playing time by grabbing 5.5 sacks. This season, he's recorded a sack in 10 of 13 games for the Dolphins.
Watch out for this young man in the coming years as he continues to establish himself as one of the premier pass rushers in the league.