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Friday, June 10, 2011
Underrated players: NFC East

By Dan Graziano

NFC Underrated Players: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A team-by-team look at the most underrated players in the division.

Dallas Cowboys

Jay Ratliff, NT: He's been to the Pro Bowl the past three years, so clearly, people are catching on. But it's tough to find "underrated" players on a roster that gets as much attention as the Cowboys' roster does. And because of the position he plays, Ratliff doesn't get a lot of attention for the number of different ways he impacts the game. Opponents and opposing coaches fear and respect him, and the Cowboys consider him a versatile team leader who'd likely move to DE if they felt they needed him to help their pass rush next year.

New York Giants

Kevin Boss
Giants tight end Kevin Boss isn't flashy on offense but is a solid blocker.
Kevin Boss, TE: Boss gained attention during the Giants' Super Bowl run as a dependable replacement for the flaky Jeremy Shockey after Shockey went down with an injury. Because of the emergence of the Giants' wide receivers over the past few years, he hasn't factored into the offense as a pass-catcher as much as some may have liked. But he's there when Eli Manning needs him, and his more important role is as a blocker. The Giants have some of the best pass-protection numbers in the league, and Boss is a key to that.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jamaal Jackson, C: The Eagles' offense has suffered through Jackson's injuries late in the past two seasons, but neither the injuries nor the suffering are any coincidence. The Eagles don't give Jackson much help, trusting him to block opposing defensive tackles one-on-one almost all the time. As a result, he wears down. But when healthy, he's strong and athletic enough to handle the assignment. The offense simply runs better when he's in there. Jackson plays a position in which it's almost impossible to get noticed unless you mess something up, and when he's on the field, he doesn't.

Washington Redskins

London Fletcher, LB: Fletcher has fought an uphill battle for respect and attention since he entered the league, but in recent years people have begun to take notice of his role as a team leader and one of the most committed and productive defensive players on his teams. He's a relentless, reliable tackler whose determination and work ethic are likely the result of his having been underrated early on and throughout his career. The Pro Bowl recognition he has received in recent years may disqualify him from this list, but of all the players on the Redskins' roster, he may be the one whose reputation least lives up to his production.