An article was posted on ESPN.Com today with John Clayton's "All-Underrated" team. Without posting the entire team, I will tell you that no Buccaneers players made this list and only 2 NFC South players were named (Brent Grimes, who I couldn't agree more with and Charles Johnson DE Carolina.)
I have a couple of disagreements with Clayton. The two biggest ones I could argue is Jacoby Ford over Mike Williams at WR and Doug Free over Donald Penn at LT. Ford and Free are both very nice players. Ford offers more speed than Williams, but Williams is more of a playmaker and his stats reflect that. Williams has a higher DYAR and catch rate than Ford, not to mention far more targets and yards. Williams was at a disadvantage to a quarterback in OROY voting, which is why I would say he is underrated. Ford offers more in the ST game, there is no doubt, but if we are strictly talking about underrated receivers, in my opinion, Williams is more underrated.
The second is Donald Penn being left off. This one is a little tricky. Penn is well regarded around the league. Most RDE would tell you he is probably one the best pass-blockers in the game right now. So it's hard to call him overrated, yet he is continually shafted in Pro-Bowl voting. I say he is overrated because the casual NFL fan doesn't give him the credit he's earned, therefor the media doesn't really pump him up much. It's easy to say that Doug Free is overrated. He replaced Flozell Adams and played pretty well. He is nowhere close to the talent level of Donald Penn (Penn is elite). He also plays on an often criticized offense.
Who are the other underrated players on the Bucs that didn't make the list?
Cody Grimm - He had a couple of plays where he just got lost in pass coverage and the results usually ended up on ESPN. He's a rookie with less physical tools than most FS. Yet he was probably one of the most sound tacklers in the NFC South and wasn't quite as big of a liability as some of those highlights may suggest.
Aqib Talib - When on the field, he is an elite cornerback. He does it all; provides run support when necessary and is one of the biggest playmaking corners in the NFL. He's not lock-down by any means. He's a gambler. He'll sell out on first cuts trying to get a jump on the ball and will chose going for the ball over going for the defender quite a bit on deeper routes. None of this goes to talk about his off-the-field problems. The reason I call him underrated is because I'm not sure that most see him as an elite corner. I think most media members and casual fans would lump him in the 2nd tier of CB's. He's a first tier guy, for sure.