A team-by-team look at the most underrated players in the division.
Chris Myers, center: A team with a good deal of flashy names and stars needs quality players in support roles to be effective. The Texans don’t have enough of them, but Myers is certainly one. I’ve heard from scouts he’s underrated and good at what the Texans ask their line to do. He worked as the man in the middle for the line that helped a guy who wasn’t drafted, Arian Foster, to the NFL rushing title in 2010. Most fans couldn’t name a single Texans lineman, but Myers deserves more recognition. He'll be hard-pressed to get it, though, while Jeff Saturday is still playing center for the rival Colts.
Jerraud Powers, cornerback: His second season was cut short by a broken arm, but since entering the league in 2009, Powers has proved to be a very effective player. Colts corners are asked to keep plays in front of them in a relatively simple system in which they usually get safety help over the top. Still, doing that well and tackling consistently are necessities at the spot. He provides that, along with the sort of confidence and poise a team’s best defensive backs typically have. I expect him to continue to get better, to grow into a primary defensive leader and to have a long career.
Terrance Knighton, defensive tackle: He’s enormous but has nimble feet and moves very well for such a large man. Although his weight is a concern -- and he won’t last as long as the team wants if he doesn’t keep it under control -- Knighton’s a real headache for interior offensive linemen charged with stopping him. Linebackers coming up behind him and linemen beside him are likely to find room to operate and single-blocking because opponents must worry about keeping Knighton at bay. Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh was a phenomenal rookie, and his new Detroit teammate Nick Fairley will get a lot of attention. But conversations about the best young interior defensive linemen should include Knighton.
Michael Roos, left tackle: He played just one season of high school football and wasn’t part of the offensive line until his sophomore year at Eastern Washington. An early low profile has kept him from anything close to the notoriety of players like Joe Thomas and Jake Long, but I’ve had scouts tell me he’s as good as or better than those two. While coaching the Titans' offensive line, Hall of Fame lineman Mike Munchakhandpicked Roos as the successor to Brad Hopkins. He was a key piece of the line that sprung Chris Johnson for 2,000 yards in 2009, and he’s a building block for a team that’s starting over now and will revolve around Johnson and, eventually, 2011 first-round pick QB Jake Locker.