The Most Overrated and Underrated Player on Every NFL Roster

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IMay 25, 2015

The Most Overrated and Underrated Player on Every NFL Roster

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Last week, we took a look at every NFL team’s offseason moves and declared one the best and another the worst.

    Here, we had a somewhat similar task as we designated the most overrated and the most underrated player on each of the 32 clubs in the league. Thanks to Pro Football Focus for a big assist when it comes to backing up our theories.

    Our definition of "overrated" means the player is an underachiever—be it due to his draft status, lack of production or, in some cases, overall reliability. As for the underrated, we took aim at up-and-coming performers or underappreciated players who have yet to get their proper due.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Overrated: WR Michael Floyd

    In three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, the former Notre Dame standout has totaled 157 receptions for 2,444 yards (an impressive 15.6 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns. But consistency still seems to be a problem for the big-play threat. Over the last two seasons, Floyd has been targeted a combined 212 times and totaled only 112 catches.

    Underrated: LT Jared Veldheer

    Few understood why the Oakland Raiders let the emerging tackle get away in free agency in 2014, and Veldheer rewarded the Cards with solid play in his first season in the desert. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best tackle last season and excelled in all aspects of his game.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Overrated: SS William Moore

    No team gave up more total yards or passing yards than the Atlanta Falcons last season, and Moore, who was limited to just seven games, wasn’t effective before or after he was injured. A Pro Bowler in 2012, Moore’s play began to decline the previous year, and it will be interesting to see if he’s capable of recapturing his previous standout form.

    Underrated: RG Jon Asamoah

    In 2014, Asamoah was one of the steadier players on an offensive front that improved its pass blocking from the previous season. The one-time Kansas City Chief allowed just one sack in his final 12 games last year.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Overrated: SS Matt Elam

    In two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Elam (the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 draft) has yet to distinguish himself. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun has the skinny on a player general manager Ozzie Newsome says “has to be a better football player for us next year.”

    Underrated: LG Kelechi Osemele

    While Pro Bowl teammate Marshal Yanda has earned his share of deserved accolades, the former second-round pick from Iowa State bounced back nicely last season after missing the final nine games of 2013. In three seasons, he’s already been a 14-game starter at both right tackle and left guard.

Buffalo Bills

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    Overrated: C Eric Wood

    After beginning his career at right guard, the one-time University of Louisville standout has been the Buffalo Bills' primary center the past four years and has started every game over the last two seasons. But as of late, Wood’s play has been erratic at best, and the former first-rounder was Pro Football Focus’ 25th-ranked center in 2014.

    Underrated: CB Corey Graham

    It seems no matter where the well-traveled corner winds up, he makes an impact. In his first season with the Bills, Graham finished third on the team with 84 tackles, picked off two passes and led the club with 15 passes defensed. While he did earn a Pro Bowl invitation as a special teamer with the Bears back in 2011, his best work has come the last three years in the secondary with the Baltimore Ravens and Bills, when he totaled eight interceptions and 35 passes defensed.

Carolina Panthers

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    Overrated: C Ryan Kalil

    Overrated or simply on the downside of an otherwise solid career? The Carolina Panthers' Kalil is a four-time Pro Bowler and graded out as one of the league’s better centers, but he was also one of the worst pass blockers. The eight-year veteran could simply be a victim of the players around him, but he has to do a better job protecting franchise quarterback Cam Newton.

    Underrated: OLB Thomas Davis

    Yes, Thomas is a former first-round pick, and injuries certainly derailed his career a few years ago. But now the biggest problem for the veteran defender is getting out of the vast shadow cast by star teammate Luke Kuechly. After missing a combined 39 games from 2009 to 2011 (including all of the 2010 season), the 10-year pro has totaled 100-plus tackles in each of the past three seasons.

Chicago Bears

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    Overrated: LT Jermon Bushrod

    A two-time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints, Bushrod was supposed to be one of the cures for an ailing Chicago Bears offensive line when he was signed by the team in 2013. Bushrod has made 30 starts in two seasons and has allowed not only nine sacks but also 73 quarterback hurries.

    Underrated: S Ryan Mundy

    In the chaos that was the Bears defense last season, Mundy was arguably the team’s best player on that side of the football. In his first season with the club, he led the team with 103 tackles and four interceptions and also knocked down six passes. He should adapt well to new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Overrated: DT Domata Peko

    The Cincinnati Bengals were a disappointing 20th in the NFL in 2014 when it came to stopping the run, and Peko was one of the worst defensive tackles in the league. Perhaps it’s not a big surprise that the team brought back fellow tackle Pat Sims, who spent the previous two seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

    Underrated: LG Clint Boling

    The four-year pro got a new contract this offseason just after the Bengals let him hit the free-agent market. Boling has been the team’s primary left guard the past three seasons, and last year, he helped Cincy finish sixth in the league in rushing yards per game.

Cleveland Browns

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    Overrated: DE Desmond Bryant

    The former free-agent pickup from the Oakland Raiders was considered a major acquisition two years ago. But while Bryant has posted a respectable 8.5 sacks in two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, he’s been a liability when it comes to stopping the run. Last season, no team gave up more yards on the ground than Mike Pettine’s squad.

    Underrated: LG Joel Bitonio

    File this one under "up-and-coming." The 35th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft was a 16-game starter as a rookie. And not only did Pro Football Focus rank him the fifth-best guard in the league last season, but he was a member of the service’s All-Pro Team.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Overrated: CB Morris Claiborne

    Injuries and inconsistent play have plagued the former LSU standout’s brief NFL career. Claiborne was the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and after a somewhat promising rookie season, he’s missed 18 games the past two seasons.

    Underrated: RB Lance Dunbar

    When you play for the Cowboys, it’s nearly impossible to be underrated. In limited playing time, Dunbar totaled 316 yards from scrimmage in 2014 on just 47 touches. He’s one of those players who seemingly always makes something happen when he gets the opportunity, and that could happen a little more this season after the departure of DeMarco Murray.

Denver Broncos

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    Overrated: RT Chris Clark

    Clark played superbly as the Denver Broncos' left tackle for the majority of 2013 after Pro Bowler Ryan Clady went down. He switched to right tackle in 2014, but he slipped from 22nd to 98th at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. Could he face a challenge from rookie second-round pick Ty Sambrailo this summer?

    Underrated: OLB Brandon Marshall

    Yes, there are two Brandon Marshalls in the NFL, and while the wide receiver began his career in Denver, it’s the linebacker who's opening eyes there these days. In 2014, he led the Broncos with 119 tackles, adding two sacks and nine passes defensed for the league’s third-ranked defense.

Detroit Lions

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    Overrated: TE Brandon Pettigrew

    You sometimes forget that Pettigrew was the Detroit Lions' other first-round pick in 2009, after No. 1 overall selection Matthew Stafford. The tight end has not been as spectacular as once advertised, hence the team’s decision to use the 10th overall pick in 2014 on Eric Ebron.

    Underrated: CB Rashean Mathis

    In 2013, Mathis joined the Lions after a long career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That year, he failed to total an interception but led the team with 16 passes defensed. Last season, he totaled 54 tackles, one interception and knocked down nine passes for the league’s second-ranked defense.

Green Bay Packers

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Overrated: OLB Nick Perry

    Back in 2012, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson loaded up on defense in the draft and tabbed Perry with a first-round pick. But he’s been underwhelming to date and hasn’t provided the pass rush many felt he would generate when he left USC. Perry has totaled just nine sacks in 32 regular-season games over three years with the Pack.

    Underrated: CB/PR Micah Hyde

    Never mind that the unsung performer returned a pair of punts for touchdowns last season. Hyde also totaled 62 tackles, one sack, seven passes defensed and a pair of interceptions for Dom Capers' defensive unit.

Houston Texans

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    Overrated: OLB Whitney Mercilus

    Despite the fact that the 2012 first-round pick recently signed a new contract extension, per HoustonTexans.com, the former University of Illinois standout has yet to develop into a complete player. Although he made great strides from 2013 to 2014 when it came to stopping the run, Mercilus still ranks among the worst 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Underrated: RT Derek Newton

    The Texans ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing offense last season and also allowed just 26 sacks. Newton, re-signed by the team this offseason, was a big part of that performance, per Pro Football Focus.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Overrated: OLB Erik Walden

    Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson added Walden in free agency in 2013, and he’s yet to make a significant impact. The former Green Bay Packer has not emerged as a reliable run defender or pass-rusher. While he did respond in 2014 with a career-high six sacks, he’s totaled only nine sacks in 30 games with the club.

    Underrated: SS Mike Adams

    Yes, Adams was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but his performance seemed to go relatively unnoticed, perhaps due to the fact that the Colts defense continued to disappoint while cornerback Vontae Davis enjoyed a fabulous season. Adams, the veteran safety, tallied 106 tackles to go along with five interceptions, 12 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Overrated: LG Zane Beadles

    Some were surprised when the Denver Broncos didn’t make a bigger effort to retain the reliable guard. But his play for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 was a head-scratcher, especially when it came to run blocking.

    Underrated: DT Sen’Derrick Marks

    The Jaguars were much-improved when it came to rushing the passer in 2014, totaling 45 sacks after amassing just 51 in their previous 32 contests. Marks led the club with 8.5 sacks and provided some heat from the interior of the Jacksonville defense.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Overrated: NT Dontari Poe

    The former first-round pick has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl years, but last season, while the Kansas City Chiefs ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense and gave up the second-fewest points in the league, Poe was at the center of a unit that ranked a disappointing 28th against the run. He also slipped from 11th to 49th in Pro Football Focus' defensive tackle and nose tackle rankings.

    Underrated: RB Knile Davis

    Davis emerged as an exciting performer in a 2013 AFC Wild Card Game loss at Indianapolis and took on a bigger role in 2014, spelling Jamaal Charles on occasion and finishing with 463 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

Miami Dolphins

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    Overrated: DT Earl Mitchell

    The Miami Dolphins defense has its share of standouts, but its play against the run in 2014 left a lot to be desired. The Dolphins ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing defense, and Mitchell, the former starting nose tackle for the Houston Texans, was a disappointment.

    Underrated: FS Reshad Jones

    Miami’s defense wilted down the stretch last season, but Jones was a steady performer, finishing second on the team with 80 tackles as well as three interceptions.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Overrated: LT Matt Kalil

    A Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2012, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Minnesota Vikings has had his issues as of late despite starting every game in his three-year NFL career. You will find Kalil’s name near the bottom of Pro Football Focus’ tackle ratings in 2014.

    Underrated: DT Tom Johnson

    The veteran defensive tackle recently hit the free-agent market, but the Vikings re-signed him after a solid season in which he finished second on the team with 6.5 sacks and played in all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career. In three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Johnson totaled five sacks in 40 contests.

New England Patriots

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    Overrated: LT Nate Solder

    The former first-round pick has spent the last three seasons at left tackle for the New England Patriots after beginning his career on the right side. But Solder has yet to wow us with his play and has been somewhat inconsistent, as pointed out by Pro Football Focus.

    Underrated: DE Rob Ninkovich

    Since joining the Patriots in 2009, the 2006 fifth-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints has made the most of his time in Foxborough. The consistent Ninkovich has totaled exactly eight sacks in each of the last three seasons and in six seasons with the team has amassed 35.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and an impressive 18 takeaways (13 fumble recoveries, five interceptions). 

New Orleans Saints

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    Overrated: LB David Hawthorne

    Only the Atlanta Falcons gave up more total yards than the New Orleans Saints last season, and while Hawthorne performed well against the run, Pro Football Focus reminds us that the onetime Seattle Seahawk was a big liability in pass coverage.

    Underrated: WR Marques Colston

    It’s hard to believe that the franchise’s all-time leader in catches (666), receiving yards (9,239) and touchdowns (68) has never been named to a Pro Bowl. Colston has been Mr. Consistency since his arrival in 2006, when he was the 252nd overall selection in the draft. In 2014, he finished third on the club with 59 catches, good for 902 yards and five touchdowns.

New York Giants

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    Overrated: WR Rueben Randle

    It's hard to get lost in the shuffle with the New York Giants if you are a wide receiver these days. Both Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. have been to Pro Bowls, and the latter was named 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. But Randle, a former second-round pick, has failed to wow anyone despite leading the team with six touchdown receptions back in 2013. He is coming off a year in which he hauled in a career-high 71 passes, but that number is inflated as both Cruz (10 games) and Beckham (four) missed time last season.

    Underrated: DT Johnathan Hankins

    After a rookie season in which he was basically a non-factor, Hankins was a 16-game starter on the league’s 29th-ranked defensive unit in 2014. The former second-round pick totaled 51 tackles, seven sacks and knocked down three passes as a bright spot on a dismal unit. Hankins has the look of a future Pro Bowler and may get there under returning defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

New York Jets

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    Overrated: LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson

    Nine NFL seasons and 144 starts will take their toll on the best of players. But the three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t been the force he once was, and his play has slipped significantly each of the past two seasons, most notably when it came to run blocking in 2014, per Pro Football Focus.

    Underrated: ILB David Harris

    While the Jets made cornerback Darrelle Revis the 14th overall selection in 2007, they came right back in the second round to grab Harris. Amazingly, in eight seasons, the former Michigan Wolverine has never been named to the Pro Bowl despite leading his team in tackles more times (six) than not (two). The Jets made sure the veteran defender never hit the free-agent market this year.

Oakland Raiders

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    Overrated: TE Mychal Rivera

    Perhaps it’s too early to put the young tight end on the list, but the Oakland Raiders' Rivera may be the victim of added publicity due to his more recognizable sister. In any case, the former sixth-round pick has hauled in 96 passes for 941 yards and eight touchdowns in 32 games but has also been targeted 159 times. A little more consistency as well as some improvement in terms of the 24-year-old's run blocking would likely fill new head coach Jack Del Rio with…glee.

    Underrated: C Rodney Hudson

    When you’re coming off a season in which you dropped your first 10 games and finished 3-13, finding any kind of a bright spot is a tall task. But this offseason the Raiders signed the emerging center away from the division rival Kansas City Chiefs, and his presence alone has upgraded Oakland’s offensive line, a unit that didn’t open many holes for the league’s worst ground attack in 2014.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Overrated: WR Riley Cooper

    Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked 218 wide receivers, and despite good marks for his blocking, the former Florida Gator finished dead last on the list.

    Underrated: DE Fletcher Cox

    Only four defensive ends (J.J. Watt, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Calais Campbell) who line up in a 3-4 graded out higher than Cox last season, according to Pro Football Focus. But the Eagles’ defensive force, unlike three of the aforementioned quartet of stars, was left out come Pro Bowl invite time.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Overrated: CB Cortez Allen

    Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had their share of problems when it came to stopping the pass, ranking 27th in the league in yards allowed through the air. In his fourth season, Allen totaled 41 tackles (36 solo), knocked down 11 passes and totaled two interceptions. But he seemed to take his lumps on an almost-weekly basis.

    Underrated: DE Cameron Heyward

    The Steelers defense hasn’t been what it once was, but this former first-round pick has been a bright spot in recent seasons. Similar to Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox (and again courtesy of Pro Football Focus), Heyward enjoyed a big year in 2014 but still failed to earn Pro Bowl accolades.

San Diego Chargers

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    Overrated: ILB Donald Butler

    How do you go from unsung to unreliable? Pro Football Focus rated 125 inside linebackers last season, and this Butler didn’t do it, ranking No. 123 on the list. It’s just one reason the Chargers ranked 26th in the league in rushing defense in 2014.

    Underrated: LT King Dunlap

    Dunlap has come a long way since his days with the Philadelphia Eagles. He had an efficient year in 2014, although he still has some work to do in terms of pass protection, per Pro Football Focus. This offseason, San Diego re-signed Dunlap to a King’s ransom, so to speak—inking him to a four-year, $28 million deal in late February.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Overrated: RT Anthony Davis

    Perhaps it’s the specter of playing opposite star left tackle Joe Staley. In any case, the San Francisco 49ers' Davis was a 16-game starter in each of his first four NFL seasons but missed nine games in 2014. Even when healthy, he has struggled with consistency from year to year, per Pro Football Focus, although he’s a very solid run-blocker.

    Underrated: ILB Michael Wilhoite

    Seemingly everyone got a chance to play linebacker for the 49ers last season. The former undrafted free agent wound up being a 16-game starter for the team in 2014 and responded with 87 tackles, the second-highest total on the team. Despite their issues, the Niners finished fifth in the NFL in total defense.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Overrated: LT Russell Okung

    The sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Okung was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012 but in five NFL seasons has yet to play a 16-game slate. He’s missed 10 games over the past two years, and his play, per Pro Football Focus, was less than impressive in 2014.

    Underrated: DE Michael Bennett

    You somehow knew that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would miss the unheralded defensive end once he opted to sign with the Seahawks in 2013. He’s played all 16 games for the team in each of the last two years and totaled 15.5 sacks over that span. Bennett seemingly spent the day in the New England Patriots backfield in Super Bowl XLIX.

St. Louis Rams

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    Overrated: WR/KR Tavon Austin

    We are all still waiting for that breakout season from the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. In two years with the St. Louis Rams, Austin has appeared in 28 games and scored nine total touchdowns. What is particularly distressing is that the speedster has 71 receptions for a paltry 660 yards in his brief career, a disappointing 9.3 yards per catch.

    Underrated: FS T.J. McDonald

    Following a rough rookie season, the 2013 third-round pick made great strides in 2014 and finished third on the Rams with 105 tackles. McDonald also totaled two sacks, knocked down seven passes, grabbed one interception and one fumble recovery and blocked a field goal and a punt in a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay. He’s a player to watch this upcoming season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Overrated: CB Johnthan Banks

    Perhaps it is unfair to put any Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback on this list given the lack of pass rush by the team in recent seasons. But Banks, a former second-round pick who has picked off a combined seven passes in two years with the club, has been hit-or-miss and can be found closer to the bottom rather than the top of Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings the past two seasons.

    Underrated: LT Demar Dotson

    He began 2014 at right tackle and finished the season by starting three games on the left side. Although Dotson saw his share of penalty flags, Pro Football Focus gave him high grades in all other aspects—this on an offensive unit that allowed 52 sacks last season.

Tennessee Titans

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    Overrated: LG Andy Levitre

    It wasn’t long ago that the Tennessee Titans shelled out big money to secure the services of the former blocker from Orchard Park. But Levitre hasn’t lived up to his billing (pun intended). He has started every game in his six-year career but was a disappointment last season in Nashville. Still, there’s time for the former second-round pick to get back on track.

    Underrated: TE Delanie Walker

    The former free-agent pickup from the San Francisco 49ers was a jack-of-all-trades with the Niners, and last season he emerged as the Titans’ leading pass-catcher with 63 receptions, good for 890 yards and four touchdowns. Exactly half (123) of his 246 career grabs and 10 of his 18 touchdown catches have come in his two seasons in Tennessee after seven in San Francisco.

Washington Redskins

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    Overrated: CB David Amerson

    A second-round pick in 2013, Amerson’s two-year stint in the Washington Redskins secondary has been somewhat erratic and a bit disappointing. You can find him at the very bottom of Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings from last season, when Washington allowed a league-high 35 touchdown passes.

    Underrated: C Kory Lichtensteiger

    A former fourth-round pick by the Denver Broncos back in 2008, the versatile Lichtensteiger has spent the past five seasons with the Redskins and has been a 16-game starter at both left guard and center. He played the latter position in 2014, when he earned high marks from the folks at Pro Football Focus.

    All free-agent information and player signings/transactions are courtesy of Spotrac. Depth-chart information comes courtesy of Ourlads. Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro-Football-Reference.com.