AFC Players: The Underappreciated Bunch
When looking at an NFL team and how it plays, fans of the sport will often point to stars that highlight the production and success. However, some players get glossed over or don’t often receive a second look at how they contribute to the squad.
NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund does her own list and research to determine some underappreciated players for both AFC and NFC teams. That being said, here’s my list of underappreciated players on the AFC side of the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens: Devin Duvernay, WR/KR – This wide receiver is almost kind of like his teammate in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. He’s got speed, and he can be dangerous in the open field. He also is an explosive kick returner, as he took one back for a score against the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 of last season.
Buffalo Bills: Jordan Poyer, S – For someone who started his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Poyer has really found his niche playing for the Bills. The former Oregon State Beaver has fit in nicely with Sean McDermott’s secondary since 2017, and with Micah Hyde next to him in safety positions, the Buffalo secondary will still be a problem for any NFL team to deal with.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Evans, LB – I was going to put Giovani Bernard or Alex Erickson here, but both of those players are no longer with the team. So instead, I’ll put a former Oklahoma Sooner linebacker in the slot. Evans’ production may have dropped off over the past couple of seasons, but he can still be dangerous rushing the passer or playing coverage. He did have a pair of sacks and an interception in 2020.
Cleveland Browns: Wyatt Teller, OG – The Browns acquired Teller in a trade with Buffalo a couple of years back, and he has thrived at the right guard position for Cleveland. His presence has been an anchor for the interior of the offensive line for Baker Mayfield, and his play was one of the main reasons why the Browns made it as far as they did in 2020.
Denver Broncos: Bryce Callahan, CB – Callahan’s production has fluctuated from year to year, but he still could be a top corner in the AFC. Now entering his seventh season in 2021, he can lineup at any cornerback position, and could be seen as dangerous to opposing offenses.
Houston Texans: Randall Cobb, WR – Cobb is certainly not what he once was when he was paired up with Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson in Green Bay, but he still has put together some solid seasons over the past few years, including 38 receptions for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2020.
Indianapolis Colts: Zach Pascal, WR – Pascal’s starting to blossom in Indianapolis, as he has finished with 40+ catches and over 600 yards in both 2019 and 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, DE/LB – The other Josh Allen in the NFL (not talking Buffalo’s QB), his numbers did see a bit of a drop-off in 2020, but he still is an explosive pass rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG – Though he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, Duvernay-Tardif is a stalwart on the right side of Kansas City’s O-line, and he was a big reason why Patrick Mahomes is staying afloat and dynamic on offense.
Las Vegas Raiders: Damon Arnette, CB – A 2020 rookie, Arnette didn’t show as much explosiveness as hoped, finishing with 25 tackles and four pass deflections. He still has plenty of time for his career to take off.
Los Angeles Chargers: Joshua Kelley, RB – This guy was a solid option as a third-down running back in the Chargers’ system last year, but he didn’t see much playing time with Kalen Ballage and Austin Ekeler getting a majority of the snaps. With Ballage now in Pittsburgh, Kelley should see more time potentially as an RB2 in his second season with LA.
Miami Dolphins: Jakeem Grant Sr., WR – Grant is comparable to the aforementioned Devin Duvernay. He’s dangerous when it comes to receiving and kick returning. He posted a career-best 36 receptions for 373 yards and a touchdown last year.
New England Patriots: Justin Bethel, CB – Bethel’s numbers have taken a dip the last three seasons, but he’s still a solid corner. If he can just regain his form from when he played with the Arizona Cardinals, he could be a tough test for opposing offenses.
New York Jets: Braxton Berrios, WR – Berrios had a breakout season last year, finishing with 394 yards on 37 catches and three scores. With Zach Wilson expected to take the reins at QB, look for Berrios to continue his upsurge.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Diontae Johnson, WR – Another player who broke out in 2020, Johnson had an impressive sophomore campaign with 88 catches for 923 yards and seven touchdowns. Johnson will be a favorite target amongst Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks again this season.
Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB – Evans is blossoming into a top linebacker for Tennessee, finishing third on the team in total tackles with 96 last season.
There were some tough decisions to be made, but this list compiled should give fans
some players look forward to having breakout years.