The All-Unappreciated Team: Awards Go out to the Unsung Heroes of the NFL
From unknown defensive linemen to mistreated quarterbacks, take a look at the NFL's All-Unappreciated team through the eyes of Josh Truelove.
This is not just a list of unappreciated players, it is an award given out to a player at each position (not including offensive line and special teams) who are underrated, unknown, mistreated and unappreciated.
Do not be offended if one of your favorite players who you think is underrated is not on this list; there are a lot of of underrated players throughout the league and not all of them can fit on this team.
So sit back, relax, and give some credit to the NFL's All-Unappreciated Team!
Cornerback: Jabari Greer, New Orleans Saints
Cornerback is the easiest position to find underrated players simply because it is a position that his hard to see on the television.
While casual fans grade cornerbacks by how many interceptions they get, anyone who pays attention can see that it is not all about interceptions.
Coverage skills are more important than ball hawk skills. Jabari Greer is one of the best cover-corners in the league. Jabari Greer is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
And rightfully so.
By signing Greer, the New Orleans Saints now have one of the best kept secrets in the NFL. Week after week, Greer shuts down wide receiver after receiver.
Playing for Buffalo did not help his popularity, but after signing with the Saints, Greer is becoming slightly more popular.
Even though he is known as "the poor man's Darrell Revis", Greer is still an unknown commodity to many NFL fans. Making him a perfect fit for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Free Safety: Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ryan Clark has been selected to represent the free safety position on the All-Unappreciated team.
He is not a superstar, he is not a Pro Bowler, he is not even a great player, but he is a darn good player who goes unnoticed because of the guy who plays beside him at the other safety position, Troy Polamalu.
Ryan Clark has been an underrated safety for years, but his strong play has helped the Pittsburgh Steelers reach three Superbowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories.
Being a good player on a great team with a great defense and going unnoticed has made Ryan Clark a perfect selection for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Strong Safety: Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens
Dawan Landry has made the All-Unappreciated team almost the same way that Ryan Clark did. Because of Ed Reed playing the other safety position, Landry's efforts go unnoticed.
With Ed Reed getting all of the interceptions and touchdowns, Dawan Landry's great ability to stop the run and his solid coverage skills go unnoticed.
With Ray Lewis in your ear all of the time, there is no margin for error, and Dawan Landry makes sure he does not hear it from Ray.
Dawan Landry's overshadowed good performances week in and week out have landed him a spot on the All-Unappreciated Team.
Cornerback: Terrell Thomas, New York Giants
Terrell Thomas broke out in 2010 and showed he can compete with the best.
But because everyone is so obsessed about the Giants getting sacks, Terrell Thomas' coverage skills and tackling ability go unnoticed. Terrell Thomas finished 2nd in the NFL with 26 pass deflections.
Terrell Thomas' play is very similar to the likes of Packers' cornerback Charles Woodson. He does not just cover well, but he is great at tackling.
Tackling is something that is very important for cornerbacks simply because you would be surprised at how many of them are not good at it.
Terrell Thomas has made the All-Unappreciated Team simply because too few people know how good he is.
To give some credit to Terrell Thomas for all of you statistics junkies out there:
Charles Woodson in 2010: 92 tackles, two interceptions, five forced fumbles, two sacks,13 pass deflections
Terrell Thomas in 2010: 101 Tackles, five Interceptions, four forced fumbles, one sack, 26 pass deflections
Outside Linebacker: Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs
With 14.5 sacks, 51 tackles, and four forced fumbles, Tamba Hali was one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL in 2010.
He helped bring the Chiefs to their first playoff appearance since 2006, and was a huge part of their 14th ranked total defense.
While 2010 was Tamba Hali's best season to date, not many people know that he has been a very solid player for years.
He started all 16 games his rookie season and has racked up 41.5 sacks over the past five seasons.
Tamba Hali is a very underrated defender and was one of the best outside linebackers in 2010. He is an excellent choice for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Middle Linebacker: London Fletcher, Washington Redskins
London Fletcher has been one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL for so many years that is is unbelievable that he has not been given the credit that he deserves.
Even at 35 years old, he is still one of the very best in the league. He has put together a hall of fame career and it seems as if nobody even knows it.
After 13 stellar seasons, he finally made his first Pro Bowl in 2010. That is sickening to anyone who watches Fletcher play and knows how good he really is.
An unnoticed Hall of Fame career makes London Fletcher a great fit for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Outside Linebacker: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins
Other than DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews, Cameron Wake was probably the best outside linebacker in the league last year.
He racked up 14 sacks, 57 tackle (49 solo) and forced four fumbles in just his first season as an NFL starter.
Besides from looking at the numbers, anyone who watched the Dolphins play last year could see how good this guy really is.
While he did make the Pro Bowl last year, there are still a lot of casual NFL fans who do not know how good Cameron Wake is. Some do not even know WHO he is!
Welcome to the All-Unappreciated Team, Cameron Wake.
Defensive End: Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers
While he is not necessarily unknown, the fact that Justin Smith plays in a 3-4 defense makes his defensive end play underrated.
He is one of the best defenders in the league and not a lot of people outside of San Francisco realize that.
In 2010, Smith racked up 8.5 sacks, which is an astonishing amount for a 3-4 defensive end.
He also had 70 tackles. Smith is one of the best run-stuffer's in the league and is a vital factor the 49ers sixth-ranked run defense in 2010.
Welcome to the All-Unappreciated Team, Justin Smith.
Defensive Tackle: Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills
Although Kyle Williams made the 2010 Pro Bowl as an alternate, he is still a very underrated player.
While his efforts did not go completely unnoticed in 2010, people do not realize that he played so well that one could argue that he is the best defensive tackle in the league.
Playing for Buffalo and being part of the NFL's worst run defense does not help Kyle Williams' popularity, but the fact that he was simply unblockable last season should make him more popular.
Anyone who watched Buffalo play last season could see that Kyle Williams was unstoppable, but not a lot of people watch the Bills.
Only 17 defenders (all linebackers) had more defensive stops than Kyle Williams.
Kyle Williams is a perfect fit for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Defensive Tackle: Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco 49ers
Aubrayo Franklin is one of the best nose tackles in the league and not a lot of people realize it because of the team he is on.
He is not just your typical nose tackle who is their to eat up blocks, he makes great plays on the ball and racked up 42 tackles in 2010.
He is one of the main reasons for the 49ers' sixth-ranked run defense and will get a huge payday once he hits the free agent market, whether or not it is with San Francisco.
Aubrayo Franklin's lack of popularity makes him a great fit for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Defensive End: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
Charles Johnson was one of the lone bright spots on the worst team in the league in 2010, the Carolina Panthers.
He was third in sacks for defensive linemen with 11.5 and his 62 tackles show his ability to make plays on the ball other than sacking the quarterback.
The fact that Johnson was on the worst team in the league made his great 2010 season go unnoticed. He had huge shoes to fill in Julius Peppers, and he played more than well.
Welcome to the All-Unappreciated Team Charles Johnson. You earned it.
Tight End: Benjamin Watson, Cleveland Browns
A lot of times, a guy's numbers will be a tad bloated and he becomes overrated because he plays for a great team.
Then they leave that great team and you wont hear from him again. This was not the case with Benjamin Watson.
Watson's best season with the Patriots was in 2006 when he finished with 49 catches for 643 yards and tjree touchdowns. In 2009 with the Patriots he finished with 29 catches for 404 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2010 with the Browns, Watson finished with 68 catches for 763 yards and three touchdowns.
Benjamin Watson is one of the few players who have left New England and was successful, and not of a lot of people realize it.
While Watson is not an elite tight end, he is a good player who's successful 2010 season went unnoticed and underrated.
Congratulations Benjamin Watson, welcome to the All-Unappreciated team. Sorry you had to suffer through games with Jake Delhomme.
Wide Receiver: Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens
While a bit more popular than the other players on this list so far, Derrick Mason is underrated in the same way that London Fletcher is.
Mason has put together a hall of fame career and nobody realizes it. Mason has always been one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league.
Even at 37 years old, Mason put up 802 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
The ageless Mason performed at the same level as his teammate Anquan Boldin last season, who is seven years younger than Mason and is considered to be a great player throughout the league.
Boldin had the same amount of touchdowns and only 35 more yards.
Derrick Mason's ability to play at such a high level at his age and his hall of fame resume that have gone unnoticed make him a great fit for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Wide Receiver: Davone Bess, Miami Dolphins
Davone Bess is somewhat unknown and very underrated. He is a very solid player and is arguably the best third-down wide receiver in the NFL.
Bess has been a solid player his whole career and is only getting better. His first three seasons in the league he finished with 554 yards, 758 yards and 820 yards along with five touchdowns in 2010.
Davone Bess' undeserving lack of popularity has earned him a spot on the All-Unappreciated Team.
Running Back: Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
A lot like Derrick Mason and London Fletcher, Thomas Jones had put together and unnoticed hall of fame career.
Last season, Thomas Jones finished with 896 yards and six touchdowns while splitting time with the second-leading rusher in the NFL, Jamaal Charles.
The fact that the Bears did not do enough to re-sign him and the Jets could not wait to get rid of him baffles me.
In 2009 with the Jets he finished with 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns, but the Jets did not want him anymore because they did not want to pay an aging running back, and then they signed LaDanian Tomlinson...
Thomas Jones has been treated with disrespect his whole career and has put together a hall of fame resume that has gone unnoticed; making him an excellent choice for the All-Unappreciated Team.
Running Back: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Unless you watch Buffalo play every week or he was on your fantasy team last year, you probably do not realize how good Fred Jackson is.
When he gets his fair amount of carries, he dominates.
A serious problem occurs because the Bills defense is so bad that the Bills are always playing catch-up, which leads to them abandoning the run, which leads to less production from Fred Jackson.
But anyone who watches Buffalo week in and week out knows how good this guy really is. He runs hard and fast and does it behind a so-so offensive line.
Barring injury, in 2011, Fred Jackson will finally be the starting running back for the whole season and will show everyone what he is capable of.
Fred Jackson being on a bad team hurts his popularity and he has made the All-Unappreciated Team.
Quarterback: Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins (for Now)
Donovan McNabb did not have a great season by any standards in 2010, but as usual, he received way too much of the blame.
He was behind a bad offensive line, with no running game and no great wide receivers. Once again McNabb has fallen victim to being the face of the blame for his team.
The fact that he was traded out of Philadelphia because they wanted to start Kevin Kolb is just a disgusting thought. McNabb was the face of that franchise for years.
He brought them to five NFC championships and a Superbowl. The disrespect McNabb received in Philadelphia over the last few years was uncalled for and ridiculous.
McNabb is getting disrespected again, this time by Mike Shanahan. The Redskins whole team is bad but Shanahan panicked and used McNabb as a scapegoat.
He eventually benched McNabb for Rex Grossman. REX GROSSMAN?! Being benched for Rex Grossman shows how much Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins like McNabb.
McNabb will find success again, most likely in Minnesota. And when he does, Washington will feel very stupid for treating him the way they did.
Donovan McNabb has been mistreated and unappreciated his entire career, making him the obvious choice as quarterback and leader of the All-Unappreciated Team.