|ESPN.com: AFC South||[Print without images]|
Nothing beats a list, especially an NFL list in June or July.
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders hooked recently with the 25 most overrated and the 25 most underrated players of the decade.
He gives a taste of the list here.
I'm allowed to look specifically at AFC South issues from the two ESPN.com posts, which are available to Insiders only. Unsurprisingly, the division had a bigger contingent of underrated than overrated.
5. Adam Vinatieri: Yes, he hit two Super Bowl-winning field goals, but the main reason Vinatieri has the most clutch field goals of any kicker in recent history is that nobody else comes close in clutch field goal attempts. Since 1995, he's had 30 chances to tie or win a game in the final two minutes or overtime. Jason Elam is the only other kicker with more than 22 chances, and by the way, Elam hit a higher percentage (89 percent vs. Vinatieri's 80 percent) from a longer average distance (38.7 yards vs. Vinatieri's 34.3). Vinatieri is perfect on clutch kicks in the playoffs, but so is the only other kicker with at least three playoff attempts (David Akers). Research has shown that the field goal percentages of kickers are virtually random from year to year, and Vinatieri is no different, going from 74 percent to 94 percent to 80 percent to 89 percent to 79 percent in five seasons (2003-2007). Kickoff ability is markedly consistent, though, and Vinatieri has never been impressive there.
8. Keith Bulluck: Bulluck is one stable anchor in a Tennessee defense that has had up and down performances because of salary cap constraints. Year after year, Bulluck has led his team among outside linebackers in highest percentage of defensive plays, with numbers similar to inside linebackers on other teams. He might be underrated because he rarely rushes the passer. Aaron Curry, this is your future.
14. Torry Holt: Everybody knows he's good, and he has made seven Pro Bowls. But at no time this decade did conventional wisdom hold that Holt was the best wide receiver in football, and for some reason nobody includes him in the conversation, even though he leads all receivers in catches and yards this decade and is fourth in total receiving value (by DYAR).
19. Brad Meester: This second-round draft pick went straight into the starting lineup in 2000, and has been a consistent lineman for some excellent Jacksonville running games. He has never made the Pro Bowl.
21. Gary Brackett: This undrafted free agent from Rutgers turned out to be the perfect middle linebacker for the Tampa-2 defense. Indianapolis finished 13th or lower in defensive DVOA every single season from 1994 through 2004, but has been in the top 10 three times since Brackett entered the starting lineup in 2005. He's still waiting to make his first trip to Hawaii.
23. Tarik Glenn: Glenn held down left tackle for the best offense of the decade, but didn't make the Pro Bowl until 2004. Even though he made three Pro Bowls, nobody ever included him in the discussion of "best left tackle in football."