11 of the Most Underrated Players in NFL History
We have done a few of these lists here at the Grueling Truth over the last year or so. This list will include guys that are not in the hall of fame but need to have their accomplishments remembered.
11) Gary Clark
Gary Clark won 2 Super Bowls, made 4 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams. He retired with 700 catches and almost 11,000 yards to go with 65 touchdowns. And this is with his first 2 professional seasons coming in the USFL. I will also state that I think Clark was better than Art Monk. Clark had the better prime of the two and was not purely an accumulator over a long period of time like Monk. In every single year that the 2 played together in Washington outside of Clark’s rookie season, he was the better player. The only seasons where Monk had an argument for being better were the 1988 and (maybe) the 1989 seasons. But outside of that, Clark outperformed him completely.
10) Matt Blair
Essentially a linebacker with a safety’s speed, he’s one of the best coverage linebackers to ever play the game of football. He made 6 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1977-82 yet was only an All-Pro once in 1980. Throw in the fact that Blair was maybe the greatest special teams player in NFL history and you have a player that deserves to be remembered.
9) Bryant Young
Young is the only defensive tackle on the 1990s All-Decade team not in the Hall of Fame. It is doubtful he ever makes it, as he was not even among the semifinalists in his first year of eligibility, which is a shame as he played in over 200 games and recorded over 600 tackles and 90 sacks. He was a great run stopper and, as his 90 sacks will attest, he was a more than capable pass rusher.
8) Ottis Anderson
Anderson was the NFL Rookie of the year in 1979, he was also named the NFL’s comeback player of the year later in his career. Plus, he was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXV. Not a bad resume if you ask me. Anderson gained over 10,000 yards in his career and was a great running back in the NFL. Not many men accomplished the things that Anderson did during his career.
7) Steve McNair
McNair was a statistically solid QB but what set him apart was his track record as a winner. He was 91-62 as a starter and led his teams to a record of .500 or better in seven of his eleven seasons. In 1999, he had the Tennessee Titans within a fingertip of a Super Bowl title. McNair played through multiple injuries and his toughness and tenacity are what have him on this list. In short, he was a GREAT leader.
6) Joey Browner
Browner not being in the hall of fame is laughable to say the very least! Browner was a 6 time Pro Bowler from 1985-90 and a 4-time All-Pro from 1987-90, with 3 of those being 1st team selections. He started every game in his career, up until his last season in Minnesota, including a string of 134 consecutive games played. He also made the 1980s All-Decade team. Yet somehow, he’s only been nominated for the Hall of Fame 5 times and has never been a finalist. He deserves another shot at it. He may end up getting the benefit of the doubt when he’s eventually up for induction as a senior member. And he should get in. He was a truly great player and deserves to be remembered that way.
5) Keith Jackson
Jackson’s rookie season saw him catch 81 passes for 869 yards and 6 TDs. He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned First-Team All-Pro honors, but was not named Rookie of the Year. That honor belonged to John Stephens of the Patriots. But despite Jackson never having another season that reached his statistical pinnacle that was 1988, he still remained one of the best tight ends in the league and just racked up more All-Pros during his Eagles tenure. Jackson finished his career strong in Miami and Green Bay. He was a complete tight end who may have been an even better blocker than he was a receiver.
4) Rod Smith
Smith is the greatest undrafted wide receiver in NFL history. He remains the only undrafted receiver to date to accumulate 10,000 receiving yards. Smith made 3 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro appearances in his career and led the league in receptions in 2001. He deserved a couple more accolades to his name. He was overshadowed on the Super Bowl-winning Broncos teams in 1997 and 1998 by Terrell Davis and John Elway. But in both years, he recorded 70 receptions for 1,180 yards and 12 TDs and 86 receptions for 1,222 yards and 6 TDs.
3) Darren Woodson
The Cowboys won it all in Woodson’s first 2 seasons. And beginning in 1994, Woodson was selected to 5 consecutive Pro Bowls and 3 straight All-Pro appearances. His 1994 season was one where he intercepted 5 passes and ran one back 94 yards for a touchdown. And he recorded 5 INTs in 1996 as well. Even after the dynasty days of the Cowboys had ended, Woodson remained consistent into his 30s and was a significant part of the #1 ranked defense in 2003. Woodson retired after the 2004 season as one of the greatest defenders in Dallas Cowboys history.
2) Corey Dillon
Dillon will be remembered by most people for his battles with the Bengals front office, which takes away from his legacy. It shouldn’t. Dillon was stuck in a miserable situation in Cincinnati with owner Mike Brown, who was either incapable of winning or just didn’t care. As a Bengal, he set a single-game rushing record for rookies in 1997. He set an NFL record with 278 yards later on his career. Dillon would be considered an all-time great running back if he hadn’t been stuck in Cincinnati with the incompetent Mike Brown.
1) Albert Lewis
Jerry Rice once called Lewis the toughest cornerback he ever played against. Despite a strong start to his career, Lewis was not selected to a single Pro Bowl until the 1987 season. He would make 4 straight Pro Bowls. The Chiefs would see a resurgence at the beginning of the 90s, culminating in a loss in the 1993 AFC Championship Game to the Bills. Lewis was the epitome of a shut-down corner, and that’s why he is on this list.