We all know about the big names….Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch etc…. (why do I feel like singing Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer all of a sudden) and these guys get all of the credit when things are looking good.
These are franchise players that get all of the accolades and attention, and if we weren’t a team that played in southern Alaska, would probably be national media darlings. They make the big game changing plays, and whether we win or lose pretty much depends on how these mainstays play.
But as Sherman said himself "We put it on film", and by putting on the film, there’s quite a few guys that stand out on film that perhaps do not get talked about as much.
So this blog post is dedicated to those guys.
I want to emphasize "this season" because some of these guys are ballers, historically speaking. But I haven’t heard their names being called out as much, largely due to the names called out above, so you kinda get overshadowed.
I’ll start with my most underrated and work my way down.
1.Chris Clemons. I’m not sure if people truly appreciate what a beast this guy is on an every down basis. He’s good for a sack lunch pretty much every single game….#nomnomnom.
2.Brandon Mebane. The human bowling ball. On tape, this is the guy that always gets the biggest push in the running game. His gravitational pull in the backfield is a big reason why our run defense has been effective this year.
3.Steven Hauschka. This is probably the most obvious pick, since kickers are more of an afterthought, but the guy is clutch. What else can you ask from a kicker than that? "Oh and by the way, I just added about 10 more yards of power on my kickoffs and field goals. No biggie."
4.Cliff Avril Quietly putting together a very solid season, has gotten overshadowed by his fellow free agent signee, Michael Bennett, but since Avril has been back, the pass rush has looked a lot better.
5.Walter Thurmond III-Another guy overshadowed by his "big brothers", WT3 just plays solid nickel coverage. I’m basing this on the fact that not many balls get thrown his way (which means he is blanketing his guy), and the ones that do are either short passes or incompletes.
6.Paul McQuistan-"Let’s see…..I know you’re working as a marketing specialist, but we’re going to try you out as a staff accountant, how does that sound?" The difference between guard and tackle in the NFL is huge…so let’s not underestimate the job that McQuistan has done so far. Oh, and so far he’s had to go up against Aldon Smith and JJ Watt. "Yeah, and if you could crunch together our entire fiscal year budget and do it by 12pm tonight, that would be great" –Lumberg voice.
7.Doug Baldwin-The Filipino wonder (he would probably hate that name, so don’t call him that) just makes the most difficult, clutch catches you will ever see. I only ranked him at 7 because I think most people realize how money this guy is. And let's face it, any player that dislikes Harbaugh is icing on the cake for us Hawk fans.
So those are the guys that jumped out to me on film so far. I’m convinced now, more than ever, that if we had Clem in the Atlanta playoff game, we would’ve been playing for the NFC championship in San Francisco.
What do you think? Any other players you’ve seen that fly under the radar?
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