Okay, there isn’t a clear-cut reply to this query. The primary title that involves thoughts for me is Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. However possibly Haden is extra underappreciated or undervalued than underrated.
Ever since Haden arrived in Pittsburgh through free company (thanks, Cleveland!), he’s carried out yeoman’s work, a lot in order that his play usually goes unnoticed. In reality, his contributions turn into extra evident when he’s absent; that’s when the group’s cross protection slips just a few notches—or extra.
However different NFL analysts have recognized stable ‘most underrated participant’ selections, too.
Stephon Tuitt Will get a Vote (or Two)
Contemplate defensive finish Stephon Tuitt. Conor Orr of Sports activities Illustrated votes for Tuitt, noting that “the Steelers quit extra yards per rush when Tuitt is off the sphere than they do when Cameron Heyward, undoubtedly their finest defensive lineman, is off the sphere.”
In fact, Tuitt missed the final ten video games of 2019 with a torn pectoral muscle. The excellent news is that Mike Tomlin stated Tuitt “is doing rather well,” referring to his restoration and rehab.
That bodes nicely for the Steelers protection in 2020, as “Tuitt, over six video games final 12 months, had seven quarterback hits, two quarterback knockdowns, 10 pressures and three.5 sacks (two of which have been towards Russell Wilson, one of many hardest quarterbacks to carry down within the NFL),” Orr writes.
NFL Community Analytics Skilled, Cynthia Frelund, has additionally recognized Tuitt as “underappreciated.” In March, Frelund stated: “My spatial information reveals that the power of the Steelers’ total entrance to generate strain might have resulted in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree combining for 26 sacks, however it was brought on by strain from a number of instructions concurrently, which Tuitt was a key in producing.”
Steven Nelson, Too
However one other good candidate for Pittsburgh’s most underrated participant is cornerback Steven Nelson, who’s Professional Soccer Focus’ selection for that distinction. In line with PFF information, Nelson allowed solely 33 receptions in 500 protection snaps final season, making him the sixth-rated cornerback within the NFL.
And with the Steelers’ robust cross rush—to not point out Joe Haden on the alternative facet—it’s cheap to suppose that Nelson could possibly duplicate that sort of efficiency in the course of the course of the subsequent two seasons, the final two years of a three-year $25.5 million contract he signed in the course of the offseason in 2019. By no means thoughts the presence of different standout gamers within the secondary, together with security Minkah Fitzpatrick, and rising abilities like Cameron Sutton, who got here to Pittsburgh within the group’s top-rated 2017 draft (together with T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner).
What about James Washington?
In the meantime, the title James Washington most likely involves thoughts for a smattering of Steelers followers.
The third-year vast receiver’s star appears to be rising, too. As just lately famous by PFF: Washington “began to place issues collectively in direction of the tip of the  season … incomes a receiving grade of 73.four from Week 9 by means of the tip of the season (28th amongst vast receivers).”
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