Every NFL team’s most underrated player heading into 2022

The NFL has no shortage of superstars who are the face of the league. But there are plenty of impact players in the NFL who don’t necessarily get the recognition they deserve.

Whether overlooked or ignored all together, these players are significant contributors for their respective teams. They’ve had proven success but haven’t necessarily gotten the praise they deserve.

Our NFL Wire editors examined the most underrated player for each team heading into the 2022 season, highlighting why they’re deserving of recognition.

Arizona Cardinals: S Jalen Thompson

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Thompson gets almost no attention because he plays alongside four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro Budda Baker. A former supplemental fifth-round selection, he had 121 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass breakups in 2021. He is a fantastic tackler, a big hitter, can play in coverage, has ball skills and is versatile enough to play in the slot if needed. Jess Root, Cards Wire

Atlanta Falcons: CB Isaiah Oliver

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Atlanta selected Oliver in the second round of the 2018 draft and after a slow start to his NFL career, the former Colorado standout played well in the slot last season. Oliver posted a career-high coverage grade of 76.3, according to Pro Football Focus, but he wound up suffering a knee injury that would cut his 2021 campaign short. Despite playing in just four games, the Falcons saw enough out of Oliver to bring him back on a one-year deal over the offseason. Oliver will enter the year as the team’s starting nickel corner in what should be an improved Falcons secondary. Atlanta signed former Pro Bowl CB Casey Hayward to start on the outside opposite A.J. Terrell. Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Baltimore Ravens: S Chuck Clark

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Clark is a player that doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves. He wears the green dot for the Baltimore defense, and is one of the smartest players on the Ravens’ roster. He can play up in the box as a dime linebacker or back at the strong safety position, offering plenty of positional versatility as well. He is one of the key pieces that holds the Baltimore defensive unit together, and a big part of the team’s success. Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire

Buffalo Bills: DT Ed Oliver

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A classic case of the eye test, Oliver had a breakout year in 2021. He did not put up a career high in terms of sacks, but Oliver undoubtedly had his best year last season in the middle of Buffalo’s defensive line. Currently the Bills’ front is focused on Von Miller and rightfully so considering his Hall of Fame resume. But think… Aaron Donald. Oliver won’t ever put up those kinds of numbers (who will?) but Oliver could be the player that benefits the most from Miller’s signing. Oliver played well prior to Miller’s arrival and there should be much more excitement about his future following Miller’s arrival. Nick Wojton, Bills Wire

Carolina Panthers: WR DJ Moore

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If we’re being frank, Panthers fans bring up how underrated Moore is so much that he might actually be perfectly rated at this point. But, the man still deserves his flowers. The dynamic pass catcher has refused to be a victim of circumstance over his four-year career, having amassed 4,313 receiving yards with seven different (and mostly awful) starting quarterbacks throwing to him. Moore is also the NFL’s only wideout to record at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage in each of the last three seasons. Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire

Chicago Bears: WR Darnell Mooney

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Mooney, a former fifth-round pick, has shown in just two seasons that he’s capable of becoming a legitimate playmaker in the NFL. Yet, he’s ridiculously underrated by many in the league, who belittle his ability as a WR1 following the departure of Allen Robinson in free agency. When it comes to receptions, Mooney (142) ranks only behind Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson (196) and Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb (158) among receivers drafted in 2020, and they were both first-round picks. Mooney emerged as Chicago’s top wideout last season, where he recorded his first 1,000-yard season. He’s now the top guy for Justin Fields, which will bring its own set of challenges as he’ll be the subject of double teams. But Mooney has the potential to thrive in Luke Getsy’s offense, where perhaps he’ll finally garner the praise he deserves. Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

Cincinnati Bengals: WR Tyler Boyd

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This one probably won’t go over too well with fans, but Boyd has been swept up in the hype of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins a bit. No doubt the Bengals have a wicked three-man set at wideout and Boyd is a superb slot guy. And yes, he had to function as the No. 1 receiver for two years during a slog of a rebuild while A.J. Green floundered. But he might be off the field if the offense wants Chase in the slot or to only run two wideouts. He’s great, but he’s not in the same bracket as the likes of Cooper Kupp and Hunter Renfrow. Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Cleveland Browns: CB Greg Newsome II

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Newsome showed the ability of an elite cornerback as a rookie and will now also slide inside as the team’s nickelback in situations. Newsome’s ability to mirror receivers, play physical and still be able to turn and run is impressive. With Denzel Ward on the otherside, Newsome’s rookie season didn’t get the attention it deserved and Ward’s presence may keep him underrated for some time. Jared K. Mueller, Browns Wire

Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott

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How could this be possible? The public-perception meter has wildly swung against Elliott in both the analytics community and social media. People have lost faith in Elliott’s ability to be an impact player and that shouldn’t be the case. While he has not been able to display the home-run ability that was present his first few years in the league, Elliott was on a great pace to start 2021 until injuries impacted him and his offensive teammates. Elliott suffered a knee injury in Week 4 and played the entire season hobbled. Through six games (Dak Prescott’s calf injury) he was on pace for over 1,400 rush yards and 17 total touchdowns. A resurgence could be right there in the ailments can be avoided. K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Denver Broncos: WR Tim Patrick

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Patrick had a humble start to his NFL career, joining the Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2017. He didn’t even make it to training camp in Baltimore before being cut. Patrick was then picked up by the 49ers, only to be cut after preseason. Patrick then spent his rookie season on Denver’s practice squad, and he was a bit player from 2018-2019. Patrick finally got a real opportunity in 2020 and he had a breakout year, catching 51 passes for 742 yards and six touchdowns, and he posted similar numbers in 2021. Patrick also ranks among the best hands in the NFL. Despite posting better numbers than Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton over the last two years, Patrick is often overlooked by NFL fans, and he’s arguably one of the most underrated receivers in the league. Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

Detroit Lions: LT Taylor Decker

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Decker rarely gets mentioned with the top tier of offensive tackles. His play in the last two seasons indicates Decker definitely belongs in that listing. He’s allowed just three sacks in the last two seasons and does so despite almost never getting extra help from a tight end. The penalties that dogged his earlier career have diminished too, and Decker remains one of the better people-moving left tackles in the run game. Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire

Green Bay Packers: RB A.J. Dillon

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Dillon’s standout second season showed why the Packers were willing to use a second-round pick on him in 2020. The 247-pounder proved to be an old-school battering ram between the tackles, ranking first in Football Outsiders’ Success Rate as a runner, and he was highly effective as a pass-catcher, hauling in 34 of 37 targets and averaging 9.2 yards after the catch. Dillon led the team in rushing, produced over 1,100 total yards and scored seven touchdowns. Expect a bigger workload and more scores in 2022. Dillon is just scratching the surface of his incredible potential in Matt LaFleur’s offense. There’s a chance – given his size and ability – that Dillon could emerge as a Derrick Henry-like player once he has a full-time role. Zach Kruse, Packers Wire

Houston Texans: QB Davis Mills

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The former 2021 third-rounder from Stanford was taken as the first pick in the Nick Caserio era, and the eighth QB at that point in the draft. Mills’ 2-9 record is viewed as part of the Texans’ 4-13 disaster last year that got first-year coach David Culley canned. However, Mills went 2-3 in his final five starts with a 9-2 touchdown to interception ratio and a 102.4 passer rating. Consider he led Houston to a 41-29 win over the playoff-challenging Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16, and made the Tennessee Titans sweat in Week 18 for their 28-25 win to secure home-field advantage. Mills gets overlooked because of how terrible the Texans have been, but he could be the reason Houston regresses towards the mean in 2022. Mark Lane, Texans Wire

Indianapolis Colts: CB Isaiah Rodgers

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The former sixth-round pick has a chance to explode in his third season as he competes for a starting role in nickel packages. Rodgers may not be the biggest or most physical cornerback, but he’s coming off of a stellar campaign that showed immense improvement. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers allowed just a 72.2 passer rating and 10.7 yards per reception on 61 targets. He could stand to be a little stronger at the catch point, but Rodgers is set for a breakout campaign in his third season. Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Christian Kirk

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The Jags received a lot of criticism for the four-year deal worth $72 million they gave Christian Kirk, but it actually might pay off in the end. As pointed out by Next Gen Stats, he ranked second when it came to their CROE metric (catch rate over expected) with a 9.4% figure, which signals he made a lot of difficult catches in 2021 with the Arizona Cardinals. That’s a big plus for a young quarterback like Trevor Lawrence, who already seems to be connecting with Kirk and referred to the veteran as a “quarterback friendly” target in organized team activities. James Johnson, Jaguars Wire

Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs: DT Derrick Nnadi

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Run-stuffing defensive tackles hardly get the credit they deserve in the NFL, but Nnadi has been particularly good at his job. His ability to command and defeat double-teams in the run game is vastly underappreciated. According to PFF, Nnadi’s 73.2 career run defense grade is the second-highest of any Chiefs defender since 2018. In the passing game, Nnadi does more to free up Chris Jones than he’s given credit for. The four-year veteran also showed improvement as a pass-rusher in 2021, setting a career-high in sacks (4). Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Las Vegas Raiders: PK Daniel Carlson

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It might feel strange to put a kicker as the team’s most underrated player, but the Raiders absolutely do not make the playoffs last year without. Carlson was money at the games, make four game-winning kicks during the 2021 season. In the final eight games of the season, Carlson made all 23 of his kicks. He was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week four times last season, but because his name isn’t Justin Tucker, he didn’t quite receive the attention and national coverage that he deserved. Since joining the Raiders in the 2018 season, he’s made 89 percent of his kicks and has only improved each season with the team. With the Raiders expected to play in a ton of close games again this season, he’s going to be a real difference-maker for this team once again. Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

Los Angeles Chargers: G Matt Feiler

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Acquired last offseason after spending the first portion of his career with the Steelers, Feiler quickly became an integral piece on the offensive line, starting all 16 games. He allowed 25 pressures on 737 pass-blocking snaps and helped pave the way in the running game on a weekly basis. While he won’t be in the All-Pro category, Feiler massively upgraded an offensive line in desperate need of it, all while being acquired at a great value. Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire

Los Angeles Rams: C Brian Allen

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At this point last year, Allen appeared destined for another year as a backup. But thanks to a strong showing in training camp, he regained his starting role. And last season, he played the best football of his career, even being selected as a Pro Bowl alternate. Yet, he’s still the Rams’ most underrated player on a team filled with stars. His chemistry with Matthew Stafford and work in pass protection made a huge difference for the Rams, and he was well-deserving of the extension he signed this offseason. The Rams should feel good about the center position for years to come with Allen operating in the middle. Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

Miami Dolphins: DL Zach Sieler

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The fanbase gives Sieler the respect he deserves, but he hasn’t received national recognition just yet. He finished 2021 with a career-high 62 tackles (six for a loss), two sacks and a forced fumble. He’s strong against both the pass and the run and provides the ability to play at multiple spots along the line at defensive end and tackle. Pro Football Focus graded Sieler as an 84.9, just third for interior defenders behind perennial Pro Bowlers Aaron Donald and Cameron Heyward. For the $2.575 million cap hit he has in 2022, he’s a steal. Mike Masala, Dolphins Wire

Minnesota Vikings: RB Kene Nwangwu

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There has been so much talk about Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison that backup running back/return specialist Kene Nwangwu has flown completely under the radar heading into the 2022 season. It’s too bad considering he’s the real-life Barry Allen with the ball in his hands, and then he turns into the Flash when he’s leaving defensive players choking on his smoke in the rearview. The game-breaking speed is there, along with the ability to make defenders miss tackles in the open field. Even if he doesn’t take Mattison’s job as the lead backup, the former Iowa State standout will consistently find his way on the field more than he did last season. There’s far too much playmaking ability for the Vikings to look the other way. Jordy McElroy, Vikings Wire

New England Patriots: WR Kendrick Bourne

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If there’s one player I’d bet will have a breakout seasons, it’s Bourne. Mac Jones favored three pass-catchers in 2021: Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry and Bourne. But Bourne seemed like the most explosive of the bunch. Meyers moved the chains. Henry scored touchdowns. Bourne was a more unpredictable weapon, which was what made him harder to defend. Even with more mouths to feed in the passing offense (the additions of receiver DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton and the return of injured running back James White), Bourne is likely to put up big numbers in 2022. Henry McKenna, Patriots Wire

New Orleans Saints: LB Demario Davis

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It feels weird to call someone who has made the All-Pro list in each of the last three years an underrated player, but Davis deserves more recognition across the league. Proof of that is him not even getting a Pro Bowl nod. Davis has captained the Saints defense from his first day in the facility and so much of their success is a credit to his leadership. Beyond that, though, he’s done a fantastic job running communication between the secondary and the front defenders to frustrate opposing offenses each week. And he’s the only player in the NFL with 100-plus tackles, 10-plus tackles for loss, and three or more sacks in each of the last four seasons. And he still hasn’t made it to the Pro Bowl. John Sigler, Saints Wire

New York Giants: S Julian Love

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A jack of all trades, few stand to benefit more from the arrival of Wink Martindale than fourth-year safety Julian Love. He had been a bit overshadowed by depth at the position in recent years but that no longer exists. In 2022, Love will step into a larger and more pronounced role defensively, although he is still expected to play a multitude of positions. Whether or not he earns the starting nod opposite of Xavier McKinney will ultimately be irrelevant – Love is going to see plenty of playing time in a key role.Dan Benton, Giants Wire

New York Jets: DE John Franklin-Myers

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Franklin-Myers isn’t a star (yet), but he’s made a name for himself in New York after surprisingly being cut by the Rams in 2019. Last season, Franklin-Myers put together an impressive campaign with six sacks, 14 QB hits and six tackles for a loss – by far his best season to date. A former fourth-round pick from Stephen F. Austin, Franklin-Myers has the build and athleticism to become one of the better defensive linemen in the league, even if he doesn’t put up huge numbers year in and year out. Don’t be surprised if he makes his first Pro Bowl in 2022. Cameron DaSilva, Jets Wire

Philadelphia Eagles: DE Josh Sweat

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Sweat is the Eagles’ most underrated player and it’s warranted after a Pro Bowl season. The former FSU pass rusher still doesn’t get his credit for leading the team in sacks (7.5) and pressures in 2021, and he’ll likely take the next steps after Philadelphia added Haason Reddick via free agency. Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Cameron Sutton

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While everyone is talking about the Steelers re-signing Ahkello Witherspoon and adding Levi Wallce, Cameron Sutton remains the most consistent and versatile defensive back on the roster. He’s also got the most experience in the system among the team’s top three and his ability to play both inside and outside cornerback as well as work in as a safety in sub packages is going to make him invaluable this season.Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire

San Francisco 49ers: FS Jimmie Ward

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Ward has pretty consistently been the 49ers’ most underrated player over the last few years while San Francisco’s front seven has taken center stage as the heart of a very good defense. While the accolades heaped upon the pass rush and linebacking corps are well-deserved, Ward’s work in the back end of the secondary can’t go overlooked. He’s an eraser on the 49ers’ defense and a big part of the reason that unit allowed only three touchdowns of more than 30 yards last year. Ward doesn’t generate a ton of turnovers which is why he hasn’t gotten a ton of shine, but he’s very versatile, a good tackler and San Francisco’s best defender in man-coverage. The box score may not always show it, but Ward is an excellent player. Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Seattle Seahawks: FS Quandre Diggs

Quandre Diggs
Quandre Diggs

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A strong case can be made here for WR Tyler Lockett, but I’ll go with Diggs, who is one of the most underappreciated defenders in the league. Much of his impact on the game can’t be seen on the broadcast angle on TV and doesn’t make it into the box score. However, Diggs plays his position about as well as anyone and his ball skills have been a massive difference-maker for this team. Since coming over in a lopsided trade with Detroit, Diggs has posted 13 interceptions in 38 games in Seattle. – Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Mike Edwards

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A third-round pick out of Kentucky in the 2019 NFL draft, Edwards was targeted by the Bucs because of his knack for creating turnovers and big plays. Despite being a rotational player, Edwards has lived up to those expectations over his first three years in the league. He’s grabbed five interceptions over the past two seasons, including multiple pick-sixes in last year’s Week 2 win over the Atlanta Falcons, proving to be a valuable asset whenever he’s on the field. The offseason additions of veterans Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal might keep Edwards a part-time player in 2022, but don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay keeps getting plenty of bang for their buck with this ballhawk. Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire

Tennessee Titans: DL Denico Autry

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You can go either way with Autry or cornerback Kristian Fulton, but it’s safe to say the former flew under the radar more in 2021. Autry was Tennessee’s best offseason acquisition and one of the team’s best defenders, making a major impact in the Titans’ defensive revival, especially as a pass-rusher with nine sacks, the second-most on the team. He should have garnered Pro Bowl consideration for his efforts, but didn’t even get a mention outside of Nashville. Expect another big year from Autry on a defense that stands to be elite in 2022. Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

Washington Commanders: C Chase Roullier

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There were multiple players under consideration for this honor, including left tackle Charles Leno and safety Kamren Curl. However, it is Roullier, the one constant on Washington’s offensive line since 2017, who flies under the radar. Last season, Roullier suffered the first major injury of his NFL career in Week 8 and missed the remainder of the season. Washington started multiple centers after his departure. Roullier was the first player head coach Ron Rivera extended in Jan. 2021 — and for good reason. You won’t hear Roullier mentioned as one of the best centers in the NFL but he is one of the best. Bryan Manning, Commanders Wire

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire