Secret Superstars: 2011 In Review
Looking back on the Secret Superstars we've named over the years, Gordon McGuinness reviews the 2011 selections.
Secret Superstars: 2011 In Review
It’s getting to the time of year when we 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 if granted 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. There were some impressive hits, and some wild misses, starting off with 2011.
Arizona Cardinals – Dan Williams, NT – HIT
Despite being drafted with the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Williams saw just 388 snaps in his rookie year. Still, he graded well in that limited duty, particularly against the run where he had a grade of +11.5. Given that he’s been restricted mainly to early downs, he hasn’t made the impact that some might have expected. He’s still a good run defender and has graded positively each year he’s been in the league.
Atlanta Falcons – Kroy Biermann, DE – MISS
We named Biermann as a Secret Superstar after a successful first few seasons in the league, where he had graded well in limited duty, and then impressed in his first year as a starter in 2010. That was to be his best season to date however, with three straight negatively graded seasons to follow. Last year he made the switch to linebacker, only to have his season ended 30 snaps into their Week 2 game against the St Louis Rams, so it’s tough to tell if he would have made the transition successfully.
Baltimore Ravens – Josh Wilson, CB – MISS
After being named our Ravens Secret Superstar, Wilson signed with the nearby Washington Redskins late in the summer. He’d graded well in Seattle earlier in his career but that 2010 season in Baltimore, where he had a +17.6 grade including the playoffs was the best we’d ever seen from him. He didn’t necessarily play poorly in Washington, but he was just never able to reach those lofty heights again.
Buffalo Bills – George Wilson, S – HIT
Wilson was just a bit part player for the Bills in 2010, but he had previously impressed us with a standout (+14.8) season in 2009. His 2011 was an up-and-down year but he rebounded to have an impressive season as a starter in 2012. On the downside of his career now, he was still serviceable for the team as a rotational player last year.
Carolina Panthers – Geoff Schwartz, OL – HIT
Anyone who has been a PFF subscriber for a few years will know how impressed we have been with Geoff Schwartz since his first stint as a starter in 2010. Grading very well (+19.2) while playing both right guard and right tackle, Schwartz then missed all of 2011 through injury. He impressed again in a limited role for Minnesota in 2012, and excelled when he took over as a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, and finally looks poised to get the recognition he deserves.
Chicago Bears – Daniel Manning, S – MISS
Manning played well for the Bears as a starter in 2010, but the +12.3 grade he earned during that season hasn’t been replicated since. Through three years in Houston, which weren’t poor but didn’t do much to get your attention either, he failed to regain that form and just recently signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati Bengals – Geno Atkins, DT – HIT
This one is about a big a hit as you can get. Drafted out of Georgia in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft, Atkins impressed us with his +17.3 grade on just 356 snaps, particularly as a pass rusher. He’s gone from strength to strength since assuming a full time rule, including a ridiculous +85.4 2012 season and was impressing again before his 2013 season was cut short through injury.
Cleveland Browns – Chris Gocong, LB – MISS
As right as we were on Atkins, we were at the opposite end of the scale with Gocong. His 2010 season showed some serious potential, grading positively against the run and in coverage. He followed that up with a -9.7 graded season, where he struggled against the run in particular and, after missing all of the 2012 season through injury, hasn’t played since.
Dallas Cowboys – Stephen Bowen, DL – MISS
Bowen graded out well early in his career but it was his 2010 season, where he had 33 total pressures from 391 pass rushing snaps, which caught our attention. He switched teams to the NFC East Rival Redskins in 2011, however, and hasn’t played to nearly the same level since.
Denver Broncos – Joe Mays, LB – MISS
It was Mays success against the run in limited duty for the Broncos that impressed us in 2010, but sadly he hasn’t progressed as we predicted. More limited to a running downs only role, he has at least still performed solidly in that regard, he just wasn’t able to make the same impact in coverage.
Detroit Lions – Lawrence Jackson, DE – MISS
Following on from an impressive 2010 season, where he recorded eight sacks from 196 pass rushing opportunities, we expected big things from Jackson. Perhaps we put too much stock into a strong second half to the season, because he hasn’t been able to regain that form since. Capable of flashing big performances, he just lacked the consistency to back us up.
Green Bay Packers – Scott Wells, C – HIT
Wells was named our Green Bay Secret Superstars after three strong seasons as a starter and, thankfully for us, he followed that up with his highest graded year to date in 2011. While his past two seasons in St. Louis weren’t as impressive, we are quite content that he backed us up in his final year in Green Bay.
Houston Texans – Offensive Line – HIT
Did we cheat here? Possibly, but after a stunning 2010 season, it wouldn’t have been fair to single out just one member of the Texans offensive line. The line’s success continued up until this year when, like the rest of the team, it wasn’t where it needed to be however, with success stories like Duane Brown and Chris Myers, the unit has definitely lived up to its Superstar billing.
Indianapolis Colts – Justin Tryon, CB – MISS
Tryon looked the part after taking over as a starter late in the 2010 campaign, finishing the year with a +6.4 grade on 537 snaps. Whether or not he could have continued that form remains a mystery however. Tryon saw just 81 and 52 defensive snaps in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Brad Meester, C – MISS
Center’s rarely get the credit they deserve, even less than their teammates on the offensive line, so while he was a veteran by the time we named him a Secret Superstar, Meester lived his career in relative anonymity. These past two seasons his career was definitely on the down slope, but he was still a good player in 2011.
Kansas City Chiefs – Wallace Gilberry, DE – MISS
Since registering seven sacks on 402 snaps in 2010 Gilberry has flashed the occasional big game as a pass rusher. The problem however, has been that it hasn’t come in nearly the volume we expected after 2010. A solid situational player for sure, just not the superstar we envisioned.
Click over to Page 2 for the rest of the 2011 Secret Superstar Reviews…
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.