The Cincinnati Bengals had a lot of previously-unheralded players turn in big contributions en route to last year’s Super Bowl appearance. So, there are a lot of options when it comes to determining the underrated players on the roster.
ESPN/the staff at Football Outsiders recently took a stab at determining the Bengals’ most underrated player and to be honest, they made a rather odd choice in giving Eli Apple the title.
Below is what the FO staff wrote:
“Apple might have given up the touchdown that won the Rams Super Bowl LVI. However, he isn’t the first corner Cooper Kupp has caught passes on — and he won’t be the last. Apple played far better than his perception would indicate in 2021. His 60% coverage success rate placed him 17th among all corners (Denzel Ward was 18th), and with 10 passes defensed and two interceptions, Apple was getting his hands on plenty of footballs.”
What about Logan Wilson?
Or Von Bell? Or Mike Hilton? Or Chidobe Awuzie?
But, primarily, Wilson should be the lead candidate for “most underrated” on the Bengals. The third-year linebacker was solid for most of the regular season and then really turned it on during the team’s postseason run.
Per Pro Football Focus, Wilson graded out as the NFL’s 13th-best linebacker (including the postseason) among all linebackers with at least 864 snaps in 2021. Wilson was in the upper-half of PFF’s run defense grade, tackling grade, and coverage grade and he recorded five interceptions, which led all linebackers across the NFL.
Apple turned in a solid season, but he has a long way to go before it’s plausible to consider him underrated. Based off the column’s own reasoning, an underrated player is defined as either “a good player conventional wisdom tells us is mediocre, or it could refer to a useful player who doesn’t receive the star treatment from NFL fans.”
I don’t think Apple falls under either category. And I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority feels the same.
But Wilson, on the other hand, does.
While this can be debated, there’s one topic that’s hard to argue against: And that’s the fact that if Wilson plays like he did during the postseason, he most certainly won’t be considered as underrated in 2022 and beyond.
You can check out the full column, here.
Featured image via Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK