25 Most Underrated Players in Philadelphia Eagles History

Randy JobstSenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2011

25 Most Underrated Players in Philadelphia Eagles History

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    In the sports world, the debate on whether a player is overrated or underrated is a very tricky subject. Is a player like Tim Tebow underrated because he has so many critics or overrated because of all the media hype? Over or underrating someone is based solely on a person's perception of that player. A player is usually overrated if the majority of the fanbase thinks they are better than they actually are.

    Sam Bradford is a good example. He put up good numbers for a rookie quarterback last season, but he never really rose to the occasion in a big game. He is a nice quarterback, but he probably will never be in the discussion as a top 10 quarterback. However, he was deemed a great pick early in his rookie season. Now that the Rams offense is really struggling due to a poor offensive line and no dangerous skill players, you could now make the argument that he is underrated.

    In the Philadelphia Eagles' 79 years of pro football, they have had hundreds of players you could characterize as being either under or overrated. A guy like Freddie Mitchell who really had one good catch in his entire career but still got a lot of hype and air time was way overrated, while a guy like Al Wistert is an unknown to a very high majority of Eagles fans even though he was one of the best they ever had.

25. Chad Lewis

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    Chad Lewis never put up the big numbers the the tight ends of today put up like a Antonio Gates or a Rob Gronkowski. Lewis wasn't a fantasy football type player; he was just a consistently good tight end.

    Lewis finished his career with 229 receptions for 2,361 yards and 23 touchdowns, with all but 12 of those yards coming as an Eagle. He also was a consistently good blocker, rarely dropped passes and had just three fumbles in 116 career games.

    Chad Lewis was just your old-fashioned, blue collar type of tight end that didn't do anything great but did everything well.

24. Jeremy Maclin

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    DeSean Jackson may got all the hype and national title at wide receiver, but Jeremy Maclin is the better wide receiver. Jackson is definitely the more dangerous player, but Maclin has proven to be more consistnent and more well rounded receiver.

    Last season, Maclin had 23 more catches and four more touchdowns than Jackson did. Jackson will have his big games every now and then, but when he fails to make an impact in another game, Maclin is there to pick up the slack. Maclin's speed and route running skills have made him a complete receiver, although most of the NFL has failed to notice it behind Jackson's big play ability.

    Through Week 5, Maclin is on pace for over 100 receptions, over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin has become the consistent receiver and red zone threat that the Eagles have been in dire need of since Andy Reid was hired in 1999. The more Maclin grows as a receiver, the more dynamic the offense will become.

23. David Akers

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    David Akers was the most reliable kicker in the 2000s, where he made 259 field goals in 313 attempts. That's nearly 83 percent of his field goals during the previous decade. He is currently the Eagles' all-time leader in points and games played.

    In Week 4, Akers faced off against the Eagles with his new team, the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers won by one point thanks to two missed goals by new Eagles kicker Alex Henery.

    Kicker has always been a position that you don't really think about until you get inconsistency from it. Akers was a model of consistency at the position and should be remembered as one of the greatest Eagles of all time.

22. Keith Jackson

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    Keith Jackson was the Eagles tight end from 1988 to 1991, when he finished his career as an Eagles with 242 receptions, 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jackson was one of the best pass catching tight ends in the late 80s and early 90s.

    After leaving the Eagles for greener pastures in Miami and Green Bay in the mid 90s, Jackson struggled to equal the success he had with the Eagles in his first four seasons.

    Jackson mad the All-Pro team three times in four seasons as an Eagle and held the Eagles' rookie receiving record until DeSean Jackson broke it in 2008. Jackson will go down as one of the greatest Eagles receivers despite only playing four short seasons in Philly.

21. Mike Bartrum/Jon Dorenbos

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    The Eagles have had just two different long snappers since 2000. The long snapper is the type of player that you only know by name until he messes up. Lucky for the Eagles, they have had two solid long snappers for 11 seasons.

    Mike Bartrum was the Eagles long snapper from 2000 until he suffered a career ending neck injury in 2006. Jon Dorenbos was signed after Bartrum's neck injury and has been the Eagles' long snapper every since.

    Both players have made the Pro Bowl as long snappers during their career as an Eagle. Some people don't value long snappers as an important decision, but I'd bet that Matt Dodge does. Had the former Giants punter not gotten such a high snap in his final punt against the Eagles last December, he might still have a job.

20. Keith Byars

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    Keith Byars was the Eagles fullback from 1986 to 1992. Byars is still known as one of the most versatile fullbacks in NFL history. In seven seasons with the Eagles, Byars had 2,672 rushing yards, 3,532 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns.

    Byars excelled at every phase of the game as a fullback. The NFL doesn't have a player like Byars anymore and may never have one like him again.

19. LeSean McCoy

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    In just his third season in the NFL, LeSean McCoy is very quietly becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL despite playing in a pass happy offense. Adrian Peterson is a more physical runner and Chris Johnson is faster, but no one excels in as many areas as McCoy does.

    Five games into his third season, McCoy has already amassed over 2,000 rushing yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He has also excelled in pass protection. McCoy has become one of the best backs in pass protection, taking down defensive linemen when necessary.

    Often, McCoy gets forgotten about in a pass happy, star studded offense with playmakers like Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. McCoy is what makes this offense truly great, and that's what makes him so underrated.

18. Jeremiah Trotter

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    How different would the 2011 Eagles defense look if they had a player like Jeremiah Trotter manning the middle? Trotter was a force against the run for the Eagles from 1998 to 2001 and again 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009. In those eight seasons, Trotter amassed 564 tackles, 11 sacks and seven interceptions.

    It wasn't just Trotter's ability as a blitzer or his physicality against the run, but also his intensity on the football field. His energy rose the play of everyone around him. The Eagles could definitely use a player of his size and intensity against the run in 2011.

17. Troy Vincent

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    Troy Vincent was a model of consistency both on and off the field during his time in Philadelphia from 1996 to 2003. He was a part of one of the greatest secondaries in the early 2000s with Bobby Taylor and Brian Dawkins.

    He went to five straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2003. Vincent finished his career with 749 tackles, 47 interceptions and 5.5 sacks.

    Vincent would later go on to become the President of the NFLPA until 2008 and later became the Vice President of Player Engagement.

16. Harold Carmichael

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    Harold Carmichael was a dominant jump ball receiver 20 years before Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson made a name for themselves. He racked up 8,978 receiving yards and 79 touchdowns in his 13 years with the Eagles.

    Carmichael was a matchup nightmare at 6'8". He had good speed and route running skills to go along with his massive size.

    His skill set would have made him an even more dominant player than he was in the 1970s and 80s in a more advanced passing league.

15. Eric Allen

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    The Eagles had one of the greatest defenses in the late 80s and early 90s under Buddy Ryan. Eric Allen was a big part of that. The "Gang Green" defense was a very blitz happy defense that wreaked havoc on opposing defenses but would have never been possible without an outstanding cover corner like Allen.

    Allen was an outstanding cover corner and an absolute playmaker as well. He finished his NFL career with 54 interceptions and eight touchdowns. The only thing Allen hasn't accomplished in his career is getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Allen has been eligible since 2006, but has yet to receive the necessary votes to get into Canton.

    Allen is one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history, and it's only a matter of time until he gets his Hall of Fame nod, but until then, he will be one of the most underrated defensive players in the game.

14. Bill Bergey

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    Bill Bergey was the cornerstone of the Philadelphia Eagles teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s that was able to end a 17-year dry steak where the Eagles missed the playoffs. Bill Bergey was key for a defense that lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in the 1980 season.

    Bergey made the All-Pro team four times while with the Eagles and finished his career in Philly with 18 interceptions.

13. Duce Staley

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    Duce Staley was the last Eagles true power back. At 5'11", 242 pounds, Staley was a force running up the middle. The only thing that really held him back was his injury woes. He missed 14 games in the 2000 and 2001 season but was able to come back strong and rush for over 1,000 yards in the 2002.

    Staley finished with 4,807 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in seven seasons with Philadelphia. He also had 2,498 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns as well.

    A true power back like Staley is something that the current Eagles offense could really use.

12. Jon Runyan/William Thomas

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    There is no position more important in the game right now besides quarterback that is more important than offensive tackle, and between 2000 and 2009, the Eagles had a pair of great ones. William "Tra" Thomas and Jon Runyan were the Eagles' left and right tackles together for 10 seasons, and between the two of them, only Thomas missed one start in that span.

    A big reason why the Eagles have made it to five NFC Title games under Andy Reid since 2000 was because of the stellar play at tackle. Donovan McNabb had ample time to run the offense and make plays. The McNabb of today is running for his like the majority of the time.

11. Seth Joyner

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    Seth Joyner was one of the best blitzing linebackers of his time. Joyner took advantage of a loaded defensive line in front of him and racked up 52 sacks in his career.

    Joyner also had 24 interceptions in his career. Despite all the sacks and interceptions, Joyner is most famous for his Monday Night Football performance against the Houston Oilers in 1991, where he had a standout game despite a fever of 102. He finished the game with eight solo tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two sacks.

    His size and speed combo at the linebacker position made him one of the most underrated linebackers of all time.

10. Andre Waters

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    The Eagles defenses of the late 80s and early 90s were loaded with talented linemen and speedy playmaking linebackers, but the player that really made that defense truly scary was safety Andre Waters. Ronnie Lott got all the attention as a hard hitting safety in the 80s, but Waters was the player that truly put fear into receivers going across the middle.

    On Nov. 20, 2006, Waters took his own life. It is believed that Waters' aggressive play may have lead to several concussions during his playing career, which may have lead to depression.

9. Bill Bradley

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    Bill Bradley was a defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1969 to 1976. Bradley amassed 34 interceptions during his career with the Eagles and was the first player to lead the league in interceptions in back-to-back seasons in 1971 and 1972.

    Bradley was an outstanding cover safety in the 1970s the help rebuild the Eagles defense late in his career.

8. Wilbert Montgomery

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    The Philadelphia Eagles of the late 1970s were a team that was able to rebuild quickly under head coach Dick Vermeil.  One of the main reasons was the play of running back Wilbert Montgomery.

    Montgomery rushed for over 1,000 yards in three of his first five seasons with the Eagles. Montgomery is currently the Eagles' all-time rushing leader with 6,538 yards in eight seasons. His versatility was made clear in 1979, when he led the NFL in all purpose yards with 2,012.

7. William Thomas

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    Seth Joyner was the outstanding blitzing linebacker for the "Gang Green" Eagles in the 80s and 90s, but William Thomas was one of the greatest coverage linebackers of all time. Buddy Ryan's defenses were so successful because of the linebacking duo of Joyner and Thomas. The coverage ability of Thomas allowed the Eagles to really attack opposing quarterbacks.

    Thomas finished his career with 37 sacks and 27 interceptions.

6. Jerome Brown

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    Jerome Brown was the key to the most dominant defensive front in NFL history. During Brown's five years in Philly, defensive ends Clyde Simmons and Reggie White amassed 129 sacks while playing with Brown. He also added 29.5 during those five seasons.

    Brown wasn't the biggest or the fastest defensive tackle in the NFL, but he was certainly one of the most dominant.

    Brown died in a car accident in the summer before the 1992 season in Brooksville, Fla. He was 27 years old at the time.

5. Brian Westbrook

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    Other than Marshall Faulk, there was no other more versatile back in the history of the NFL than Brian Westbrook. In his Eagles career, Westbrook had 5,995 rushing yards and 3,790 receiving yards.

    The only reason Westbrook wasn't able to top Wilbert Montgomery on the Eagles' all-time rushing list was his failure to play a full season in his career. Westbrook's best season came in 2007, when he had 2,104 yards from scrimmage.

    Had Westbrook's knees held up better in his career, he would have put up numbers that would have rivaled any running back currently in the Hall of Fame.

4. Al Wistert

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    Al Wistert is one of the greatest offensive tackles that you probably never heard of. Wistert anchored the line the blocked for Steve Van Buren during two NFL title teams in the 1940s. Wistert started every single game from 1943 to 1949 and was selected to eight All Pro teams during his career.

    Al Wistert is currently 90 years old and has said the only thing that would make his career complete would be to get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

3. Steve Van Buren

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    Steve Van Buren was star of two Eagles championship teams in the 1940s. Van Buren lead the NFL in rushing three consecutive seasons in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and finished his career with 5,860 yards and 69 touchdowns.

    Van Buren is still widely unknown mainly because of the time he played football. On the day of the 1948 NFL title game, thinking the game wouldn't be played in the blizzard, Van Buren remained home until Eagles coach Earle Neale called him and told him the game was still on. He had to catch three trolleys and walk 12 blocks in order to make the game on time. That pretty much sums up pro football in the 1940s.

    Van Buren had track star and speed with the toughness of a fullback. His skills set would have allowed him to have similar success over 60 years later.

2. Chuck Bednarik

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    Chuck Bednarik was one of the greatest football players of all time in an era where football wasn't as glorified as it is today. Bednarik was the backbone of a team that upset the Green Bay Packers in the 1960 title game. He was one of the last "60 minutes men," as he played both linebacker and center.

    Bednarik was selected to 10 All-Pro teams during his 14 year career. He was one of the toughest players in the NFL. He knocked Frank Gifford out of football for 18 months and smashed Chuck Noll in the face back when he was a player for the Cleveland Browns.

    There was never a tougher player in the game than "Concrete Charlie." His ruthlessness and tenacity made him one of best players on both sides of the football.

1. Brian Dawkins

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    Brian Dawkins is one of the most underrated players in the history of football despite being one of the most beloved players in the game. Dawkins finished his Eagles career with 21 sacks, 34 interceptions and 723 tackles.

    Dawkins' intensity and leadership were even greater strengths than his athleticism and playmaking ability. He rose the play of everyone else around him. The Eagles defense has never been the same since he left for the Denver Broncos via free agency in 2009.

    There will never be a player quite like Brian Dawkins. Some players might match his physical ability, but no one will match his talent and intangibles. I can't imagine the defenses of the late Jim Johnson in the 2000s being as successful without a Brian Dawkins making plays and raising the bar of everyone around him.