Secret Superstars: 2013 In Review
On Monday we will roll out our Secret Superstars to watch out for in the 2014 season for each of the 32 teams in the league. The series highlights one player from each team who we feel performed better than the credit he was given, or a player who looks poised to impress further this year with a bigger role.
With that in mind, and with three years of the series under our belts, we thought it would be a good idea to look back on our picks from each year and see how we did. As you will have seen from previous recaps of our 2011 session and 2012 series there have been some impressive hits, and some wild misses, and that continues as we look at 2013.
Arizona Cardinals – Bobbie Massie, OT – MISS
A frustrating one for us because, while we felt Massie was ready for big things in 2013 after a strong second half to 2012, the Cardinals disagreed. With Eric Winston favored over him at right tackle, he saw just 57 snaps in 2013. Hopefully he gets his chance to shine again, but that only comes if the Cardinals believe he can replicate that late 2012 form.
Atlanta Falcons – Robert McClain, CB – MISS
McClain impressed with a +9.7 coverage grade in the 2012 season in his role as the Falcons slot corner but, like most of the Atlanta roster, failed to live up to his billing in 2013. It wasn’t that he was terrible, but there was a marked drop off from his 2012 level of play.
Baltimore Ravens – Bernard Pierce, HB – MISS
A victim of circumstance? Perhaps and, like all of these selections, there’s plenty of time for Pierce to prove us right going forward. Still, behind a terrible Ravens offensive line and dealing with niggling injuries throughout the year, Pierce just never got going in 2013. His Elusive Rating was better than his teammate Ray Rice, but it fell from 75.7 in 2012, to just 23.4 in 2013.
Buffalo Bills – Alex Carrington, DL – MISS
Carrington flashed some big games as an interior pass rusher in 2012, leading to us hoping he could excel there going forward. His 2013 season didn’t start well however, as he saw time as a starter and generated just two total pressures through three games. His season was cut short to injury at that point, so we never got to see if he could improve as the year wore on.
Carolina Panthers – Captain Munnerlyn, CB – HIT
Back in 2012, Munnerlyn caught our eye with some impressive showings for the Panthers and as a result had the starting job in 2013. Munnerlyn improved even further in 2013 as he showed more consistency and finished the year with just five games with a negative grade.
Chicago Bears – Nate Collins, DT – MISS
More of an incomplete than a miss, Collins looked solid early in 2013, but went down with a season ending injury in Week 5. He was the only member of the Chicago defensive line to finish the season with a positive grade, so there is hope that this will eventually be a hit.
Cincinnati Bengals – Adam Jones, CB – HIT
After reinventing his career in Cincinnati with an impressive 2012 season, Jones had another solid year in 2013. His coverage grade dropped, but then with a player his age we weren’t necessarily expecting him to break out, just remain a solid player, and he did just that.
Cleveland Browns – John Greco, G – HIT
Taking over as a starter midway through the 2012 season, Greco impressed us with his play as a run blocker, while his play in pass protection was pretty average. He improved slightly as a pass blocker in 2013 and, while his run blocking dipped, he showed he can be a solid starter in the league.
Dallas Cowboys – Bruce Carter, LB – MISS
We saw Carter as the perfect fit for Monte Kiffin’s defense but, while he had a good final three quarters of the year in coverage, he failed to offer much, if anything, against the run. He’s still young enough to turn it around, but he’ll need to improve rapidly to make that happen.
Denver Broncos – Rahim Moore, S – HIT
Though his second season was highlighted by a high profile mistake against the Ravens in the playoffs, Moore’s 2012 season was actually pretty good and he was solid in coverage again in 2013. He had our 8th highest coverage grade among safeties when he went down injured in Week 11, something he’ll hope to build on once healthy again.
Detroit Lions – Joique Bell, HB – HIT
Anyone who has read anything about the Lions on PFF over the past two years will know exactly how we feel about Bell. Tough to bring down, and an excellent weapon in the passing game, you wonder just what sort of numbers he could put up as a feature back. Nonetheless, he’s an excellent partner to Reggie Bush, and we expect to be impressed again in 2014.
Green Bay Packers – Brad Jones, LB – MISS
After a strong 2012 season, Jones began 2013 in much the same way, making us look smart over the first month of the season before it all went downhill. He finished the regular season with a grade of -6.7, struggling both in coverage and against the run.
Houston Texans – Kareem Jackson, CB – MISS
After a rough first couple of seasons in the league, Jackson turned it around with an impressive 2012 season that made us confident that he had turned the corner. That wasn’t to be the case however, as he finished the season with the 83rd highest coverage grade among the 110 cornerbacks with enough snaps to qualify.
Indianapolis Colts – Dwayne Allen, TE – MISS
A miss purely because he missed pretty much the full 2013 season through injury, we fully expect him to follow up his impressive rookie campaign when he gets back on the field. A rarity in today’s game, he looks good blocking and receiving, and was our second highest graded tight end in his rookie year.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Cecil Shorts, WR – HIT
It was a bit brave to opt for Shorts as the Jaguars’ Secret Superstar, given that he suffered a knee injury late in the 2012 season, but we’re happy enough with what he did on the field in 2013 to call this a hit. Bothered by a groin injury for much of the year, Shorts still managed to rack up 777 receiving yards and the team announced their intentions to extend his contract recently.
Kansas City Chiefs – Jon Asamoah, OG – HIT
Though the Chiefs won’t be reaping the benefits of this hit, with Asamoah moving to Atlanta as a free agent this year, they still got his help reaching the playoffs with some solid play in 2013. Not quite as impressive as a run blocker as he was in 2012, he has shown himself to be a more than capable starter on the offensive line.
Click over to Page 2 for the rest of the 2013 Secret Superstar Reviews…
Miami Dolphins – Chris Clemons, S – HIT
Given that he followed up a solid 2012 season with a similar showing last season and better in coverage, it was strange that Clemons didn’t attract more interest in free agency, especially with a few free safety needy teams. Still, he’s a solid player and the Texans are likely to be impressed by what they see when he takes the field.
Minnesota Vikings – Rhett Ellison, FB – HIT
For the second time in three years we went for a full back as the Vikings Secret Superstar and, like Jim Kleinsasser before him, Ellison didn’t disappoint. A willing blocker who has proved his worth two years in a row, he looks to have a bright future leading the way for running backs in the NFL.
New England Patriots – Ryan Wendell, OL – MISS
Starting at center in 2012, Wendell was nothing short of excellent, with just two negatively graded games all year. He looked overmatched in 2013 however, struggling both as a run blocker and in pass protection, despite playing all 1,351 of the Patriots offensive snaps.
New Orleans Saints – Junior Galette, OLB – HIT
Galette impressed as a pass rushing specialist in 2012, and made the jump to being a full time starter last year. His season had its ups and downs, but he once again stood out as a pass rusher, especially in the first half of the year.
New York Giants – Henry Hynoski, FB – MISS
Again more of an incomplete than a miss, Hynoski lasted just 29 snaps before going down with a season ending injury. Despite that, and having John Conner who impressed in his absence on the roster, the Giants re-signed him this offseason which should mean an interesting camp battle between the two.
New York Jets – Jeremy Kerley, WR – HIT
Kerley might not be a No. 1 receiver, and it’s unlikely he ever will be, but he has proved himself as a very solid receiver. Dropping just one pass from the 44 catchable passes thrown his way in 2013, he represents a safe pair of hands for whoever starts at quarterback for the Jets.
Oakland Raiders – Phillip Adams, CB – MISS
Stumped for a Secret Superstar in Oakland, we opted for Adams who had ended the 2012 season well. While the first of last season barely saw him on the field, he really struggled as his role grew in the second half of the season, with a -11.6 coverage grade from Week 10 onwards.
Philadelphia Eagles – Damaris Johnson, WR – MISS
With five missed tackles forced from 19 receptions in 2012, it’s easy to see why were excited about Johnson with Chip Kelly taking the reigns in Philadelphia. He barely saw the field last season however, playing just 53 snaps and catching all of two passes.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Cortez Allen, CB – HIT
Allen had his struggles in 2013, notably against the Vikings in London in Week 4, but he responded well to being demoted to the team’s third corner and still managed to finish the season with a positive grade in coverage. Still plenty of time for him to have a bright future in Pittsburgh.
St. Louis Rams – Trumaine Johnson, CB – MISS
A big performance from Johnson late in 2012 brought his coverage grade up and we should have seen the signs that his play may be a bit more up and down that we would like. That’s what happened in 2013, when he started for much of the year, with his midyear struggles meaning he finished the year with a -6.0 grade in coverage.
San Diego Chargers – Kendall Reyes, DL – MISS
The 2012 second round draft pick impressed us with some solid play in his rookie year, including holding his own as a starter late in the year. He couldn’t match that with an increased workload last year however, finishing the season as our lowest graded 3-4 defensive end.
San Francisco 49ers – Alex Boone, OG – MISS
The forgotten man on San Francisco’s offensive line in 2012, Boone failed to impress quite the same way in 2013. A much more up and down season, he definitely has the talent to rebound and have a 2012 like year in 2014.
Seattle Seahawks – Golden Tate, WR – HIT
Tate forced a whopping 21 missed tackles from 55 receptions in 2012, including the playoffs, and followed that up with 24 from 72 this past year. Dangerous with the ball in his hands, he moved to Detroit this offseason to finally give Lions fans something to get excited about alongside Calvin Johnson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Leonard Johnson, CB – MISS
As an undrafted free agent, Johnson started the final two games of the season for Tampa Bay, and performed well. That got us excited for what he could do in 2013, but sadly it wasn’t to be. After a quiet start to the year, things went downhill quickly for Johnson after a poor Week 7 showing in Atlanta, ultimately finishing the year as our third lowest graded cornerback.
Tennessee Titans – Taylor Thompson, TE – MISS
Standing out as a blocker in his rookie season, we saw the opportunity for an increased role for Thompson with Jared Cook departing to St. Louis in free agency. However, with the addition of Delaine Walker who, along with Craig Stevens gave solid accounts of themselves as run blockers, which opportunity just never materialised.
Washington Redskins – Will Montgomery, C – HIT
Though it never hit the heights of his impressive 2012 season, Montgomery was again very solid last year. Some may point to his release from Washington as a knock against him, but in truth he was never likely to fit the scheme of their offensive line after the coaching changes this offseason. He was signed by the Broncos after his release and figures to compete for a starting role in the interior there.
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