Cam Newton, Daryl Washington headline All-Underrated Team

Associated Press
Cam Newton, Brandon Myers and Daryl Washington (from left to right) merit more respect on a national scale.

Underrated. What exactly does this word mean?

Catch Me If You Can was an underrated movie. John Mayer certainly is not underrated. Merriam-Webster defines "underrate" as "to rate too low; undervalue."

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OK, cool. But how does that apply to the NFL? Well, there are those players who don't seem to receive the attention they deserve, some to varying degrees. We endeavored to compile a list of those guys who seem to be batting well below .300 when it comes to getting the proper accolades, be it in terms of Pro Bowl voting or on their own team. On that note, here are some considerations:

» "Underrated" is obviously a subjective style term. With some of these guys, you might stop and say, "People know that guy is good!" True that, but one Pro Bowler on our list receives the sixth-most attention on his own team.

» Speaking of the Pro Bowl, no player listed below has been selected to more than one Pro Bowl. (Alternate/replacement nods don't count in these parts.)

» These players are all major contributors, not glorified backups. We tried not to confuse underrated with "never heard of." While you know most players, these are guys who deserve some more props.

Oh, and one last thing: All you Vikings fans who were raging mad about Blair Walsh's exclusion from the All-Under-25 Team ... He didn't make this list, either. But two of his teammates slid in easily.

As always, send your thoughts -- especially additional suggestions for this team -- to @Harrison_NFL. Looking forward to your choices.

Enough with the accounting (what an awful class in college). Let's get to it!

(Click on player name to see complete 2012 statistics.)

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
While Newton received too much credit after his rookie season, he took too much blame last year and was dwarfed by RG3's emergence. Carolina won five of its last six with Cam notching 14 TDs.

Running Back
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Probably because he's part of a Patriots backfield-by-committee and partially because he takes handoffs from Tom Brady, Ridley's 1,263 yards and 12 TDs in 2012 were somehow overlooked.

Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
Reece is a do-everything guy who only catches the attention of fantasy football owners. He can play fullback, tailback, tight end -- viably. Reece had 52 grabs and averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

Wide Receiver
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Lost in all the Mike Wallace talk: the gifted receiver still on the Steelers' roster. Brown caught 66 balls and five touchdown passes despite missing three games. He had 1,108 yards in 2011.

Wide Receiver
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A former fourth-round pick, Williams has been a consistent, productive wideout in Tampa Bay. He's caught 65, 65 and 63 balls in three years. He was just short of 1,000 yards in 2012.

Tight End
Brandon Myers, New York Giants
One of the new Giants, Myers was the Raiders' most effective offensive performer in 2012. His 79 catches from the tight end position led the AFC, yet a lot of people don't know who he is.

Duane Brown, Houston Texans
Insiders know Brown can play. Still, where does he rank on his own team in terms of attention garnered? Behind J.J. Watt, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Johnathan Joseph ...

Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
Not all Eagles performed miserably last season. Mathis has put together a couple of nice campaigns in Philadelphia, allowing just a sack and a half -- total -- since 2011.

John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings
Sullivan played a hand in Adrian Peterson's incredible success in 2012. In addition to being a fine run blocker, he allowed just 1.5 sacks and was called for one holding penalty all season.

Jon Asamoah, Kansas City Chiefs
Asamoah made our All-Under-25 Team, yet he's still unknown. He's a solid run blocker who allowed just two sacks. Too bad K.C. QBs were better off being sacked than throwing the ball.

Gosder Cherilus, Indianapolis Colts
Cherilus is another member of this team who now resides in a new city (Indy). He came into his own in 2012, allowing just four sacks even though the Lions easily led the NFL in pass attempts.

Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
Gould has been one of the best NFL kickers since he came into the league eight years ago. Over his career, he's made 86 percent of his kicks, averaging over 110 points per season.

Marcus Sherels, Minnesota Vikings
Nobody seems to know who he is, but Sherels has been solid. He averaged nine yards per punt return and over 26 yards per kick. His punt-return TD in Detroit led the Vikings to a 20-13 victory.

Defensive End
Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys
While the rest of Dallas' defense landed in the infirmary last year, Hatcher put together a quality season from the 3-4 defensive end slot. He's really come into his own in the past two years.

Defensive End
Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
You take a look at the guys who have averaged over 10 sacks per season over the past three years, and then you'll realize you didn't take a very long look. Johnson has 33 sacks during that time.

Defensive Tackle
Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills
Williams replaced Haloti Ngata (Super Bowl absence) in the 2013 Pro Bowl. The funny thing? He should've made it over Ngata in the first place. Blame it on playing in Buffalo. This dude's a force.

Defensive Tackle
Henry Melton, Chicago Bears
Melton is just starting to get credit because of the free agency news cycle. (The Bears franchised him.) The Peppers-Briggs-Urlacher triumvirate had been stealing Melton's thunder in recent years.

Outside Linebacker
Philip Wheeler, Miami Dolphins
After performing very well in the Colts' small-ball scheme in 2011, Wheeler posted 109 tackles and six pass breakups for Oakland. The Dolphins gave him a hunk of guaranteed money for a reason.

Outside Linebacker
Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
Another Pro Bowl alternate who was better than any LB in the AFC in 2012, save Von Miller. While Houston gets a little buzz, he's not even the most well-known linebacker on his own team.

Inside Linebacker
Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals
Of all the players on this list, Washington has the most impressive numbers. Last season, he had 134 tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles at inside linebacker -- typically not a "stat position."

Inside Linebacker
Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
Another fallen Cowboy, another undervalued stud. Lee got hurt early last season, but he's considered by NFL insiders to be one of the two or three best ILBs in football. Fans are catching on ... slowly.

Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers
Taylor has played a big role on several top-ranked defenses and three Super Bowl teams, yet he's never made a Pro Bowl. Last year, he allowed 29 completions in 73 pass attempts.

Greg Toler, Indianapolis Colts
If there was one CB who really played well in 2012 without anyone knowing his name, it was Greg Toler. He was thrown at 40 times and gave up just 13 catches. A free agency coup for Indy.

Kenny Phillips, Philadelphia Eagles
My editor is ticked at me for replacing Kam Chancellor with Phillips at the last minute. Love Chancellor, but Phillips has been under the radar for years. Philly got a bargain in free agency.

Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
Jones, like Asamoah, also made our All-Under-25 Team. Jones put together a fine 2012 season, complete with four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Brandon Fields, Miami Dolphins
Fields edges out the Broncos' Britton Colquitt. Fields has been stellar over the past two years without Colquitt's advantage of kicking in Denver. Fields averaged 50.2 yards per punt in 2012.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.



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