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NFL’s 10 Most Underrated Players For 2023 Season

Every active NFL player can name a handful of guys in the league — opponents or teammates — who are much better than the general public and media seem to realize. It was that way when I was a player and is still that way today.

Whether you call these players underrated or underappreciated or whatever, the fact is some of them are not properly respected for the incredible work they do. There are a lot of possible reasons for this. Some are overshadowed by teammates, play on a poor team or show consistency and durability that impresses fellow players more than it does the fans and pundits.

There are many players who fall into this category. I’m quite sure you will let me know in the comments or via social media about some players who I missed or about others who are deserving. But these are the 10 guys who first jumped out.

10 Most Underrated Players

Cam Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints

When people ask me about players I look up to, I always talk about any big man who lines up in the trenches and lays it on the line week after week for 10-plus seasons. Cam Jordan is the epitome of that.

He is second behind only Von Miller on the active players' sack list with 115.5. Jordan is arguably the best run defender in the NFL and almost certainly among defensive ends. He has played at least 16 games for all 12 of his NFL seasons.

These reasons are why the New Orleans Saints gave him another extension, his fourth with the team. Even though he’s been to eight Pro Bowls, you still don’t hear him mentioned among the elite defensive linemen in the league or as a Future Hall of Famer. He is very clearly both.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

You almost never hear Dallas Goedert’s name mentioned among the best tight ends in the NFL because he has never been the featured guy in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense.

First, he was behind Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz for a few years. More recently, Goedert is probably the third target in a loaded Eagles offense that includes one receiver who set the franchise record for yards last year (A.J. Brown) and another who set the Eagles’ mark for catches in a season (DeVonta Smith).

He’s not the No. 1 option like Travis Kelce in Kansas City or Mark Andrews in Baltimore, but Goedert’s efficiency tells you he could be. Goedert has led the NFL in yards per target in the last two seasons. It is insane for a tight end to be ahead of guys such as Justin Jefferson and Cooper Kupp.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ryan Jensen

Ryan Jensen, IOL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ryan Jensen is probably my favorite player in the NFL, and he has been for a while.

He plays with an edge and a physicality, unlike any other player I’ve seen. Those skills permeate throughout his team. Jensen has only been to one Pro Bowl, even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave him his second big-money contract last March. He started 81 straight games before suffering an unfortunate injury during training camp last season and rehabbed to miraculously get back for the team’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

There’s some concern regarding Jensen’s status moving forward because he hasn’t practiced in training camp thus far, which is not a good sign for the Buccaneers. The guy is a warrior, and they don’t make many like him anymore.

Frankie Luvu, LB, Carolina Panthers

Early in his career, Frankie Luvu was primarily a special teams player who toggled back and forth on the New York Jets’ practice squad and active roster. But last season, he got his first chance to be an every-week starter for the Carolina Panthers.

To say Luvu had a breakout year would be an understatement. He had 111 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Now, it’s safe to say the league knows about Luvu — and everybody else will probably find out about him this year.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

I know, I know. Kirk Cousins is not Patrick Mahomes but guess what, who is?

In a society where some think you are either elite or you stink, Cousins has been incredibly consistent. During the past eight years since he became the starter in Washington, Cousins hasn’t missed a single game with an injury and has provided top-15 quarterback play.

Do you know how many franchises would sign up right now to get top-10 or top-15 quarterback play every week for the next eight years?

Isaac Seumalo, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers

Isaac Seumalo had back-to-back injury-riddled campaigns before settling into right guard for the Eagles last year and playing at a high level.

That type of play barely gets noticed when you are between future Hall of Famers such as Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, but Seumalo is a Pro Bowl-caliber guard who will have a big impact for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.

Josh Sweat, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

It is easy to see why Josh Sweat gets lost in the shuffle in Philadelphia. When you list the Eagles who had double-digit sacks last season, he’s always the last person who gets mentioned after Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave.

Yet, one look at Sweat’s stats and you can see that his tackles (48), sacks (11) and quarterback hits (23) have all remarkably gone up every season of his five-year career, which bodes extremely well for both Sweat in Year 6.

Cleveland Browns Martin Emerson

Martin Emerson, CB, Cleveland Browns

People don’t realize how good the Cleveland Browns’ cornerback trio is. And one of the three, in particular, flies under the radar: Martin Emerson. Unlike Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome, Emerson wasn’t a first-round pick.

No matter. Emerson proved a quick study as a rookie last season. With an improved pass rush that includes Za’Darius Smith on the outside and Dalvin Tomlinson on the inside, Emerson should make some noise for a Browns bunch with eyes on a postseason berth.

Deatrich Wise, DL, New England Patriots

It kind of feels like Deatrich Wise has been with the New England Patriots forever. If he keeps playing like he did last season, he just might be. During the 2022 season, Wise had career-highs in sacks (7.5), tackles (59) and TFLs (7) as his improved play as a run defender helped him be named a team captain.

Expect more of the same from Wise this season.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Everybody knows Mike Evans and acknowledges he is a good player. Still, you never hear his name mentioned as being one of the league’s best wide receivers — despite the fact Evans has had more than 1,000 receiving yards every year for all nine seasons of his career. No other player has done that for more than six years to start his career.

That kind of consistency is incredibly impressive, but it will be tested this season behind a suspect offensive line and with Baker Mayfield at quarterback.

Ross Tucker is a former NFL offensive lineman who played seven seasons for the Cowboys, Bills, Patriots and Washington after graduating from Princeton University in 2001. He works as a color commentator for both CBS Sports and Westwood One in addition to hosting a number of podcasts, including the popular Ross Tucker Football Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @RossTuckerNFL.