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Most Underrated?

by Steve Savard

KMOV.com

Posted on May 27, 2008 at 4:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:26 PM

Pete Prisco of Sportsline.com has formulated an interesting list, naming the most overrated and most underrated players in the NFL. His most underrated player is Rams safety O.J. Atogwe and his most overrated is New Orleans Saint Reggie Bush.

Can't argue with the Bush pick. The injury to workhorse running back Deuce McAllister last season exposed Bush as a specialty-type player. He was totally incapable of carrying the load as a true halfback. He has trouble running between the tackles and isn't big enough to run through many tackles. That doesn't mean he can't have a good career. But, he'll need a complementary back like McAllister to ease his workload. Remember all those "experts" poking fun of the Texans for taking Mario Williams instead of Bush in 2006? Williams was twice maybe three times the player Bush was last season. Another example why it's a waste of time to try to draw concrete conclusions about a draft choice or choices in one season.

As for Atogwe, I think he's an emerging player. Is he the MOST underrated player in the league? Hard to say--that's a totally subjective observation. But, I do believe it's imperative that the Rams sign him to a long term deal in the next 12 months. How many "home-grown" defensive stars (meaning Pro Bowl players) have the Rams developed this decade? The answer is none. Atogwe could become the first. You don't let a guy like him walk in free agency when your draft track record is so spotty. Two things about Atogwe are most impressive--his ball skills and the fact that he's a sure tackler. His eight interceptions last season were second-most in the NFL. His open field tackling improved immensely. THE hardest thing to do as a defensive player is to make an open field tackle, especially on a running back with a 10 to 15 yard head of steam. And Atogwe does a great job of getting the ball carrier to the ground. Forget about form tackling and knocking a guy silly, it's a victory just to get a guy to the ground in that situation and Atogwe gets it done. He's also excellent at stripping the ball while he is securing a tackle. The Rams should be clearing cap space right now to make Atogwe a long term offer.

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