NFC Underappreciated Players

Dec 27, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) attempts a pass as Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (53) rushes during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams all have at least one underappreciated player on the roster. We’ve already covered the AFC side of the organization, now let’s flip sides to the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals:

Kelvin Beachum, OT – This offensive lineman has been a stalwart for almost a decade in the NFL since being a seventh-round selection by the Steelers in 2012. He’s also seen some playing time with the New York Jets, and most recently, the Arizona Cardinals.

Atlanta Falcons:

Russell Gage, WR – Yes, I know Gage has been playing in the shadows of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but his production has been on the upswing over the past couple of seasons, including career-bests in 2020 with 72 receptions, 786 yards, and four touchdowns.

Carolina Panthers:

Brian Burns, DE – Burns has quietly put together a good first and second season, and in his sophomore campaign in 2020, he finished with nine sacks, 58 tackles, three forced fumbles, and four pass deflections.

Chicago Bears:

Tarik Cohen, RB – A season-ending knee injury derailed Cohen’s 2020 campaign in Week 3, but he is a versatile part of Matt Nagy’s offense that can run, catch, and kick return. He had a breakout year in 2018, and even though his production has seen a bit of a dip over the past couple of campaigns, he still is a viable option for touches in the Chicago backfield.

Dallas Cowboys:

Michael Gallup, WR – Another receiver who has playing been in the shadow of a star wideout, Gallup saw a slight dropoff in his production in 2020 but still finished with 59 catches for 843 yards and five scores.

Detroit Lions:

Taylor Decker, OT – Health has been a question mark for Decker during his first five seasons, but when he plays, he’s a solid tackle to protect Matthew Stafford, and now, Jared Goff. The former Ohio State Buckeye recently was listed in Pro Football Focus’s top 20 list ranking offensive tackles.

Green Bay Packers:

Marcedes Lewis, TE – Lewis has seen some fluctuation in the numbers he’s put up over the past few seasons, but the 15-year veteran will still have to deal with competition from Robert Tonyan for targets.

Los Angeles Rams:

Tyler Higbee, TE – Higbee saw some dropoff from his 2019 personal best, but he is still blossoming into one of the top tight ends in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings:

Mackensie Alexander, CB – A Clemson corner who often gets lost in the shuffle, Alexander missed three games due to injury as a part of the Cincinnati Bengals last season. But when he did play, he chipped in a career-best 47 tackles and an interception. Now back in his old stomping grounds with the Minnesota Vikings, Alexander will likely line up as a slot corner and should see a bigger boost in his production in 2021.

New Orleans Saints:

Demario Davis, LB – His production on the defensive side of the ball has been increasing since he first signed with New Orleans. If he continues to play this way, Davis could become a top-tier inside linebacker.

New York Giants:

James Bradberry, CB – His first season with the Giants was a solid one, and Bradberry has been a decent corner in his five seasons of play. He’ll more than likely be CB1 on the depth chart come September.

Philadelphia Eagles:

Miles Sanders, RB – This guy is comparable to that of a Tarik Cohen or Austin Ekeler. His rushing production slightly ticked up but receiving dropped in 2020, and he can be a versatile player on offense or kick returning for Philly.

San Francisco 49ers:

Javon Kinlaw, NT – Even though he missed the final two games of his rookie year due to a knee injury, Kinlaw displayed some flashes of success, including an interception return for a touchdown against the Rams on Nov. 2

Seattle Seahawks:

Will Dissly, TE – Dissly hasn’t seen as many targets in the Seahawks’ offense, but when he does get them, he usually makes them count. Dissly should be TE1 at the start of the season for the ‘Hawks, and he should see another increase in his production.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Cameron Brate, TE – Before Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski entered the fray, Brate was developing into a solid tight end. He still is, but with Gronk around, he probably won’t see as many targets.

Washington Football Team:

J.D. McKissic, RB – McKissic had his best season to date in 2020, posting career-highs in both rushing and receiving yards (365 on the ground, 589 through the air on 80 receptions), and he very well may get more touches in 2021 behind Antonio Gibson on Washington’s RB depth chart.

This season, every team will have a player who has something to prove. For these players, this season could make or break their careers.