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Published: June 1, 2015 at 03:13 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2015 at 02:22 p.m.

All-Underrated Team

Chris Harris lined up for over 1,000 plays last season, and not one ended with his receiver carrying the ball in the end zone.

The Denver Broncos defender -- and former undrafted college free agent -- managed to put together the most impressive campaign among defensive backs in the NFL last season. He was the only corner to play that much and not give up a scoring toss ... and yet, he couldn't even make first-team All-Pro. That makes Harris underrated, folks.

The vast majority of players on our All-Underrated Team aren't on Harris' level; Harris and Justin Forsett are the only players on the entire list to have ever made the Pro Bowl. Some of these players are underrated on their own teams. Still, nearly everyone has performed consistently for at least the last couple of seasons.

Take a gander, and feel free to share your thoughts ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.

26 Photos Total

  • This was the easiest choice on the list. OK, OK; which quarterback is truly <i>underrated?</i> None of the decent ones. So Tannehill gets the nod, partially because <i>I</i> underrated him last season. Tannehill -- <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000493141/article/miami-dolphins-sign-ryan-tannehill-to-big-extension">who recently signed an extension</a> with the Dolphins through 2020 -- finished fifth in completion percentage in 2014, and his passer rating has steadily gone up in each of his three seasons (76.1, 81.7 and 92.8). 26

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

    This was the easiest choice on the list. OK, OK; which quarterback is truly underrated? None of the decent ones. So Tannehill gets the nod, partially because I underrated him last season. Tannehill -- who recently signed an extension with the Dolphins through 2020 -- finished fifth in completion percentage in 2014, and his passer rating has steadily gone up in each of his three seasons (76.1, 81.7 and 92.8).

  • One of only two Pro Bowlers on this list. While fantasy owners were well aware of his productivity with the Ravens in 2014 (1,266 yards, eight touchdowns), apparently those looking for a free-agent running back this offseason weren't, based on the lack of buzz Forsett sparked and the deal -- <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000478543/article/baltimore-ravens-agree-to-deal-with-justin-forsett">$9 million over three years</a> -- he finally landed to stay in Baltimore. Forsett has <i>always</i> been effective when given the chance. A decisive runner, Forsett averaged nearly 5 yards per carry even <i>before</i> his breakout last season. 25

    Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press

    Running back: Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens

    One of only two Pro Bowlers on this list. While fantasy owners were well aware of his productivity with the Ravens in 2014 (1,266 yards, eight touchdowns), apparently those looking for a free-agent running back this offseason weren't, based on the lack of buzz Forsett sparked and the deal -- $9 million over three years -- he finally landed to stay in Baltimore. Forsett has always been effective when given the chance. A decisive runner, Forsett averaged nearly 5 yards per carry even before his breakout last season.

  • Sherman is perhaps the best player on this list you've never heard of ... well, unless you're the kind of Chiefs fan who has a Tony Richardson jersey in your room. Though he's fully capable of blocking on passing or rushing downs, Sherman has been particularly effective leading the way for star running back Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs finished fifth in yards per rush in each of the last two seasons. 24

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    Fullback: Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs

    Sherman is perhaps the best player on this list you've never heard of ... well, unless you're the kind of Chiefs fan who has a Tony Richardson jersey in your room. Though he's fully capable of blocking on passing or rushing downs, Sherman has been particularly effective leading the way for star running back Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs finished fifth in yards per rush in each of the last two seasons.

  • Is anyone aware of the numbers Hopkins put up last year? The second-year pro caught 76 balls for 1,210 yards -- with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum and the legendary Tom Savage chucking him the ball. Hopkins only dropped three passes all season. 23

    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

    Is anyone aware of the numbers Hopkins put up last year? The second-year pro caught 76 balls for 1,210 yards -- with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum and the legendary Tom Savage chucking him the ball. Hopkins only dropped three passes all season.

  • Like Hopkins, Floyd had myriad mediocre quarterbacks ... a mediocrity melee ... a morass of mediocrity ... throwing him passes last season in Arizona. After Carson Palmer was hurt, Floyd was left to work with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley -- and yet, Floyd succeeded. Larry Fitzgerald still gets the headlines in the desert, but Floyd is the Cardinals' WR1. Also, unlike many wideouts, he can block. 22

    Michael Zito/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

    Like Hopkins, Floyd had myriad mediocre quarterbacks ... a mediocrity melee ... a morass of mediocrity ... throwing him passes last season in Arizona. After Carson Palmer was hurt, Floyd was left to work with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley -- and yet, Floyd succeeded. Larry Fitzgerald still gets the headlines in the desert, but Floyd is the Cardinals' WR1. Also, unlike many wideouts, he can block.

  • What a season for Walker, who was often at his best after catching the football; of tight ends with at least 40 catches, only Travis Kelce posted more yards after the catch per reception (7.5) than Walker (6.6) last year. Among tight ends in the AFC, Walker's total tally of 890 receiving yards was second only to Rob Gronkowski. 21

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Tight end: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

    What a season for Walker, who was often at his best after catching the football; of tight ends with at least 40 catches, only Travis Kelce posted more yards after the catch per reception (7.5) than Walker (6.6) last year. Among tight ends in the AFC, Walker's total tally of 890 receiving yards was second only to Rob Gronkowski.

  • How Castonzo has allowed just six sacks over the last two years is anyone's guess, considering the enormous amount of pass attempts (1,243) the Colts have racked up during that time. Castonzo played the most snaps among tackles last year and gave up all of two sacks. 20

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Tackle: Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts

    How Castonzo has allowed just six sacks over the last two years is anyone's guess, considering the enormous amount of pass attempts (1,243) the Colts have racked up during that time. Castonzo played the most snaps among tackles last year and gave up all of two sacks.

  • Despite playing on the best line in pro football, Free doesn't really get the credit he deserves -- and the signing of highly touted rookie La'el Collins won't change that, given that some have already ticketed Free for eventual replacement by Collins. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin will continue to overshadow Free's solid play. 19

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Tackle: Doug Free, Dallas Cowboys

    Despite playing on the best line in pro football, Free doesn't really get the credit he deserves -- and the signing of highly touted rookie La'el Collins won't change that, given that some have already ticketed Free for eventual replacement by Collins. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin will continue to overshadow Free's solid play.

  • Osemele might not be a household name, but Ravens fans certainly know his value. He and teammate Marshal Yanda formed the top guard tandem in pro football last year, as both were maulers in the run game. Osemele also allowed a scant two sacks. 18

    Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press

    Guard: Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore Ravens

    Osemele might not be a household name, but Ravens fans certainly know his value. He and teammate Marshal Yanda formed the top guard tandem in pro football last year, as both were maulers in the run game. Osemele also allowed a scant two sacks.

  • Brooks has given up just one sack in two years from his spot at right guard. Moreover, he is a principal figure in Houston's run game, creating seams for Arian Foster to knife through, time and again. Yet, how many fans even know who Brooks is? 17

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Guard: Brandon Brooks, Houston Texans

    Brooks has given up just one sack in two years from his spot at right guard. Moreover, he is a principal figure in Houston's run game, creating seams for Arian Foster to knife through, time and again. Yet, how many fans even know who Brooks is?

  • When Hudson received approximately $8 billion per year (OK, so it was <i>only</i> $8.9 million per year) <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000477331/article/raiders-to-sign-rodney-hudson-to-5year-445m-deal">from the Raiders</a> this offseason, some were left wondering how someone they'd never heard of before could make that kind of money. Hudson was solid in the run game and screen game in Kansas City last season; now he'll surely hope to make a name for himself for reasons beyond his salary. 16

    Tony Gonzales/Oakland Raiders

    Center: Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders

    When Hudson received approximately $8 billion per year (OK, so it was only $8.9 million per year) from the Raiders this offseason, some were left wondering how someone they'd never heard of before could make that kind of money. Hudson was solid in the run game and screen game in Kansas City last season; now he'll surely hope to make a name for himself for reasons beyond his salary.

  • Johnson has 52.5 sacks over the last five seasons -- and yet, he hasn't made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. That's baffling, especially when you remember he pre-dates Luke Kuechly and pretty much every notable defender in Carolina outside of Thomas Davis. 15

    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Defensive end: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers

    Johnson has 52.5 sacks over the last five seasons -- and yet, he hasn't made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. That's baffling, especially when you remember he pre-dates Luke Kuechly and pretty much every notable defender in Carolina outside of Thomas Davis.

  • <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000477318/article/buffalo-bills-jerry-hughes-strike-fiveyear-deal">Hughes received his net worth</a> in a new deal this offseason, and he earned it as a member of the best defensive line in football. Perhaps only the Jets can claim their unit is equal to the group in Buffalo, and Hughes' 20 sacks over the last two seasons have played a big part in that success. 14

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    Defensive end: Jerry Hughes, Buffalo Bills

    Hughes received his net worth in a new deal this offseason, and he earned it as a member of the best defensive line in football. Perhaps only the Jets can claim their unit is equal to the group in Buffalo, and Hughes' 20 sacks over the last two seasons have played a big part in that success.

  • Hard to believe that one of the NFL's premier run stuffers is now the <i>fourth</i>-best known player on the Jets' defensive line, behind Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams. Sacks might make headlines, but you can't get those if your opponents are facing too many third-and-shorts. Players like Harrison clog the middle, leading to early-down stuffs that turn into third-and-throws. 13

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Defensive tackle: Damon Harrison, New York Jets

    Hard to believe that one of the NFL's premier run stuffers is now the fourth-best known player on the Jets' defensive line, behind Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams. Sacks might make headlines, but you can't get those if your opponents are facing too many third-and-shorts. Players like Harrison clog the middle, leading to early-down stuffs that turn into third-and-throws.

  • Star Lotulelei was supposed to be the stud on the interior of the Panthers' defensive line, but fellow 2013 draftee Short has arguably been more effective. Opposing blocking schemes might have something to do with this. Still, there can be no question that Short has been a force inside in Carolina's rotation. Entering Year 3, he should only get better. 12

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    Defensive tackle: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers

    Star Lotulelei was supposed to be the stud on the interior of the Panthers' defensive line, but fellow 2013 draftee Short has arguably been more effective. Opposing blocking schemes might have something to do with this. Still, there can be no question that Short has been a force inside in Carolina's rotation. Entering Year 3, he should only get better.

  • Wright narrowly edges the Titans' Derrick Morgan, based on Wright's greater experience at the linebacker position and his versatility within Seattle's defense; he could play inside or outside, as we saw when he filled in for an injured Bobby Wagner last season. Speaking of Wagner, how many Seahawks defenders get at least 10 times the press given to Wright? Let's see, there's Wagner, Michael Bennett, Brandon Mebane, Bruce Irvin, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. And yet, Wright was the one who led the team in tackles (107) in 2014. 11

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Outside linebacker: K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks

    Wright narrowly edges the Titans' Derrick Morgan, based on Wright's greater experience at the linebacker position and his versatility within Seattle's defense; he could play inside or outside, as we saw when he filled in for an injured Bobby Wagner last season. Speaking of Wagner, how many Seahawks defenders get at least 10 times the press given to Wright? Let's see, there's Wagner, Michael Bennett, Brandon Mebane, Bruce Irvin, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. And yet, Wright was the one who led the team in tackles (107) in 2014.

  • Maybe playing behind Ndamukong Suh doesn't earn you much respect ... otherwise, there's no explanation as to why Levy didn't receive Pro Bowl honors, much less All-Pro recognition, for his standout play in Detroit last season. Oh well, he only finished with 151 tackles, second-most in the NFL. This after amassing 119 with six interceptions in 2013. "Such a fine player, he is." -- <i>Football Yoda</i> 10

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Outside linebacker: DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions

    Maybe playing behind Ndamukong Suh doesn't earn you much respect ... otherwise, there's no explanation as to why Levy didn't receive Pro Bowl honors, much less All-Pro recognition, for his standout play in Detroit last season. Oh well, he only finished with 151 tackles, second-most in the NFL. This after amassing 119 with six interceptions in 2013. "Such a fine player, he is." -- Football Yoda

  • When Smith hasn't been hurt, he's been consistent ... and consistently underrated. At 33 years old, the former Jaguar is the oldest player on our list, having entered the league back in 2004. He's always performed viably in coverage, as we saw <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000456152/Brady-intercepted-by-Daryl-Smith">when he picked off Tom Brady</a> in a key spot in <a href="http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2015011000/2014/POST19/ravens@patriots">last year's playoff thriller</a>. Rookie C.J. Mosley got all the pub last year in Baltimore, but Smith was just as good. 9

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Inside linebacker: Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens

    When Smith hasn't been hurt, he's been consistent ... and consistently underrated. At 33 years old, the former Jaguar is the oldest player on our list, having entered the league back in 2004. He's always performed viably in coverage, as we saw when he picked off Tom Brady in a key spot in last year's playoff thriller. Rookie C.J. Mosley got all the pub last year in Baltimore, but Smith was just as good.

  • Debated heavily whether or not Collins was "underrated," as a lot of people in my business speak highly of his impactful play and versatility. Yet, when you think about the reigning Super Bowl champs, Collins is probably the 10th player you think of. How did he not make the Pro Bowl? He racked up 116 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, two picks and two recoveries in 2014. 8

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Inside linebacker/outside linebacker: Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

    Debated heavily whether or not Collins was "underrated," as a lot of people in my business speak highly of his impactful play and versatility. Yet, when you think about the reigning Super Bowl champs, Collins is probably the 10th player you think of. How did he not make the Pro Bowl? He racked up 116 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, two picks and two recoveries in 2014.

  • As mentioned above, Harris is a Pro Bowler. So why is he here? Because he should be given the status of a Richard Sherman or a Darrelle Revis -- more so, I would say, than the widely lauded Patrick Peterson. According to the statheads at ProFootballFocus.com, Harris allowed just 7.7 yards per completion, far and away the lowest mark in the NFL. <i>Come on!</i> 7

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Cornerback: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos

    As mentioned above, Harris is a Pro Bowler. So why is he here? Because he should be given the status of a Richard Sherman or a Darrelle Revis -- more so, I would say, than the widely lauded Patrick Peterson. According to the statheads at ProFootballFocus.com, Harris allowed just 7.7 yards per completion, far and away the lowest mark in the NFL. Come on!

  • I'm happy to have found a place for Trufant -- who didn't make our <a href="http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap3000000476297">All-Under-25 team</a> from March because he will turn 25 on opening night this season -- right here. Given the intermittent (at best) support the Falcons' pass rush provided its corners, Trufant's standout 2014 was all the more special. He picked off more passes than touchdowns allowed. 6

    Paul Abell/Associated Press

    Cornerback: Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons

    I'm happy to have found a place for Trufant -- who didn't make our All-Under-25 team from March because he will turn 25 on opening night this season -- right here. Given the intermittent (at best) support the Falcons' pass rush provided its corners, Trufant's standout 2014 was all the more special. He picked off more passes than touchdowns allowed.

  • Nelson represents the true value of free agency, a reminder that it's not all about the Ndamukong Suhs of the world. No one gave a frog's fat behind about the Bengals bringing back Nelson -- for whom they'd traded in 2010 -- three years ago to a low-dollar deal. All he's done since then is intercept nine passes and force three fumbles. 5

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Safety: Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati Bengals

    Nelson represents the true value of free agency, a reminder that it's not all about the Ndamukong Suhs of the world. No one gave a frog's fat behind about the Bengals bringing back Nelson -- for whom they'd traded in 2010 -- three years ago to a low-dollar deal. All he's done since then is intercept nine passes and force three fumbles.

  • Blanton represents one of the few inexperienced players on our list. He faced stiff competition, edging out Mike Adams and James Ihedigbo, among others, simply because he is almost never mentioned on TV or radio or in print. Blanton secured over 100 stops last season, and you could count on one hand how many he missed. Vikings fans would much rather see Harrison Smith on this list -- a safety who's much better in coverage than Blanton is. The former Notre Dame first-rounder is also a well-known commodity whereas Blanton, who's effective against the run, is anonymous. Run support is still a big part of the job description for an NFL safety. So consider this a nod to anonymity and that function of the job. 4

    Scott A. Miller/Associated Press

    Safety: Robert Blanton, Minnesota Vikings

    Blanton represents one of the few inexperienced players on our list. He faced stiff competition, edging out Mike Adams and James Ihedigbo, among others, simply because he is almost never mentioned on TV or radio or in print. Blanton secured over 100 stops last season, and you could count on one hand how many he missed. Vikings fans would much rather see Harrison Smith on this list -- a safety who's much better in coverage than Blanton is. The former Notre Dame first-rounder is also a well-known commodity whereas Blanton, who's effective against the run, is anonymous. Run support is still a big part of the job description for an NFL safety. So consider this a nod to anonymity and that function of the job.

  • Gano has been a solid kicker in the NFL for a couple of years now. The problem is, the Panthers' offense doesn't provide him the opportunity to put up the big point totals that other, better-known kickers do. While last year wasn't his best in terms of field-goal percentage (82.9), he was outstanding in 2013 (88.9) -- and in both seasons, Gano led ALL kickers in average kickoff distance. 3

    Chris Keane/Associated Press

    Kicker: Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers

    Gano has been a solid kicker in the NFL for a couple of years now. The problem is, the Panthers' offense doesn't provide him the opportunity to put up the big point totals that other, better-known kickers do. While last year wasn't his best in terms of field-goal percentage (82.9), he was outstanding in 2013 (88.9) -- and in both seasons, Gano led ALL kickers in average kickoff distance.

  • You know a guy is unheralded when he is an underrated punter; punters are anonymous <i>already</i>. While Atlanta's defense struggled in 2014, Bosher did his part to help out. Last year, he induced more fair catches (28) than returns (26), and he finished at No. 6 in average net yards in both 2013 and 2014. 2

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Punter: Matt Bosher, Atlanta Falcons

    You know a guy is unheralded when he is an underrated punter; punters are anonymous already. While Atlanta's defense struggled in 2014, Bosher did his part to help out. Last year, he induced more fair catches (28) than returns (26), and he finished at No. 6 in average net yards in both 2013 and 2014.

  • Remember that long-haired dude who wore Don Meredith's (oh, and Quincy Carter's) No. 17 in Dallas while consistently putting Tony Romo and the offense in a better position? Enjoy him, Giants fans. DeMarco and Dez might have gotten the buzz this offseason, but Big Blue sure noticed Harris come free agency, <a href="http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2015/03/dallas-cowboys-wrreturn-specialist-dwayne-harris-signs-with-new-york-giants.html/" target="_blank">inking him to a five-year, $17.5 million deal</a>. Harris can cover kicks, too. <a href="http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/cowboys-still-looking-to-replace-dwayne-harris.html/" target="_blank">Nice signing for the Giants</a>. 1

    Evan Pinkus/Associated Press

    Returner/special teams: Dwayne Harris, New York Giants

    Remember that long-haired dude who wore Don Meredith's (oh, and Quincy Carter's) No. 17 in Dallas while consistently putting Tony Romo and the offense in a better position? Enjoy him, Giants fans. DeMarco and Dez might have gotten the buzz this offseason, but Big Blue sure noticed Harris come free agency, inking him to a five-year, $17.5 million deal. Harris can cover kicks, too. Nice signing for the Giants.

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