NFL: Top 5 underrated defensive players

The NFL Top 100 players always cause a stir. This year is no exception. Rachel Coltz reviews the most underrated defensive player of each position.

Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Donald landed with the gold medal on the NFL top 100 but not every defensive tackle had the same interest from their peers. Since his rookie season of 2016, the Mississippi State alum has been a wrecking machine for the Kansas City Chiefs defense.

Chris Jones saw a career-best season in 2018. Not only did he have a team-leading 15.5 sacks, but he broke the NFL’s record for consecutive games with a sack. Jones recorded a sack in 11-straight games. This allowed him to pass legends like Demarcus Ware, Simon Fletcher and Michael Strahan in the record books. He came in 36th in the NFL top 100 list but did not make it to the Pro Bowl last year. That came as a surprising snub for the defensive tackle.

Jerry Hughes, Defensive end, Buffalo Bills

Jerry Hughes has played six years with the Bills and has yet to find himself on a Pro Bowl roster. The Buffalo Bills number one pass rusher seemed to be going to a Pro Bowl in 2014 when, the then 26-year-old, recorded 54 tackles, 10 sacks and 20 quarterback hits but unfortunately, wasn’t selected to play.

Hughes has been very loyal and dedicated to the Bills since joining the team in 2013. He has also never missed a game since joining the Bills, yet Hughes has not received any Pro Bowl consideration.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes led all NFL edge defenders in 2018 in pass-rushing productivity with a rating of 10.9. The only defensive player in the league with a higher rating last year was the Rams’ defensive tackle, Aaron Donald.

Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, New England Patriots

In his second full season with the Patriots, the former Lions linebacker has become the kind of player Bill Belichick loves to have on his defense. He is fitting very well to the New England dynasty by playing many positions.

Most importantly, he made an impression in the league: “He’s been a nightmare for us, I know that” former Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Van Noy, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “He disrupts. He goes a great job setting the edge. If we ever try to run the ball to the edge, it’s getting to the point where it’s kind of pointless — he just shuts down the run to his side.

However, he is not always recognized as such. If it’s either because he is not afraid of speaking out or because his impact on wins is often overlooked, even Madden gave him a bad grade this year, only a 77 out of 100. Did they really watch the film from last year?

Chris Harris, CORNERBACK, Denver Broncos

These past five seasons have seen Harris go to four Pro Bowl while yielding a sub 75 quarterback rating when targeted, and 12 interceptions. Not bad at all. However, he is not even in the top 100 NFL list. Some speak already of disrespect by his peers but he has truly become one of the league’s best shutdown cornerbacks. For some reason, he does not get much attention, maybe because he does not intercept a lot. However, he is a player who has an impact on a game and quarterbacks know it.

Eddie Jackson, Safety, Chicago Bears

Because of the exceptional defense and players around him on the Chicago Bears, Eddie Jackson can be downgraded. Yes, he made the Pro Bowl last year alongside Mack, Fuller, and Hicks. However, some players in the league think of him like a splash player. In reality, in 2018, Jackson posted 51 tackles, 15 passes defended, six interceptions and two touchdowns.

He had like 10 first-rounders in front of him and lock-down corners who almost never needed help. And he got to sit back and cherry-pick overthrows,” a scout told’s Lance Zierlein in 2017.

Jackson is becoming one of the best safeties at 26 years old, and there is still space to grow. Scary!

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