Secret Superstars: 2013 In Review

Gordon McGuinness recaps the Secret Superstars of 2013 for each team in the NFL.

| 3 years ago

Secret Superstars: 2013 In Review

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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| 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.

  • name

    Pierce had niggling injuries all year? Might want to fix that one.

    • name
    • Brainless Sloth

      Niggling is as Niggling does….

      • ItsJustWerner

        You guys are children. It’s a common word I have no idea how you haven’t
        heard; it’s most commonly used to mean a minor, yet persistent problem.

        • Brainless Sloth

          Yes, and the etymology of it comes from Niggardly…which also spawned another well known word…so forgive us “children” for wondering why this word is used when there are so many others that could have been used instead.

  • Chad

    Niggling…. Whaaaaay?

    • thenextone82

      /ˈnɪglɪŋ/ [nig-ling]
      petty; trivial; inconsequential: to quibble about a niggling difference in terminology.
      demanding too much care, attention, time, etc.: niggling chores about the house.

      Our society is hyperfocused on race. You put on racial glasses and all of a sudden everyone looks like a racist.

  • [email protected]

    Detroit fans are going to enjoy Golden Tate, pound for pound the toughest guy in the NFL.