Image is everything. Or so the saying goes. Oftentimes we fixate on the players with the big names, the ad campaigns and the clothing lines. Meanwhile there are scores of other players toiling in obscurity despite making major contributions to their teams. As the season hits its midpoint, it's time to shed some light on the NFL's most underrated players.
Judging a player as "underrated" is a relative exercise. Indeed, some of those listed below are better known than others. One was named as a second team All-Pro last year, and another two were first-round draft picks. Still, their production -- as measured by the metrics and analysis of Pro Football Focus -- should warrant far more recognition. And that is exactly what we hope to provide with our list of the NFL's top 10 most underrated players.
1. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
It seems a little absurd to call a Pro Bowl alternate and second team All-Pro underrated, but that's exactly what Atkins is. When the great players are mentioned his name is noticeably absent, despite being the preeminent player at his position by a huge margin. Not only is he the most productive pass-rusher among defensive tackles but he's also third in run stop percentage (the number of tackles he makes that constitute a loss for the offense on a per-snap basis). Until he's a fixture in the top 20 of the NFL's best players he'll still be underrated.