Fitzpatrick leads Playbook’s all-unheralded team

In a league filled with stars, where every team has its marquee guys, it is the unheralded players that can truly make the difference in how teams fare year to year. In our 2010 film study, we have identified 22 players who stand out on tape but may not be the first names that come to mind when you think of their respective positions.

Some are on struggling teams and don’t get attention, while others are overshadowed by playmakers around them. The energy, passion, and skill these guys deliver on a weekly basis can only be appreciated through All-22 film study.

Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook, or send questions to

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
HB Bernard Scott, Bengals
FB Marcel Reece, Raiders
WR Donald Driver, Packers
WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers
TE Evan Moore, Browns
LT Duane Brown, Texans
LG Richie Incognito, Dolphins
C Scott Wells, Packers
RG Mike Brisiel, Texans
RT Tyson Clabo, Falcons

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions
DE Chris Clemons, Seahawks
DT Ziggy Hood, Steelers
DT Kyle Williams, Bills
OLB Jarrett Johnson, Ravens
OLB Clint Session, Jaguars
MLB James Farrior, Steelers
CB Ronald Bartell, Rams
CB Charles Tillman, Bears
S Jim Leonhard, Jets
S Louis Delmas, Lions

Below are seven players we felt deserved further explanation:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills: Despite being on a 4-12 team, the Bills’ signal-caller showed tremendous poise and courage for his team last season, even with a meager offensive line and an inexperienced receiving corps. With his intuition, accuracy, and ability to throw to open receivers, he should only improve on his 3,000-yard campaign in 2010. And after his impressive 2011 debut, he has proved he is more than capable of turning Buffalo into a contender.

WR Donald Driver, Packers: Though his consistent production is often overshadowed around the league by flashier playmakers, the 12-year veteran has remained a staple of the Pack’s success. He is a complete WR in every sense, and his route running, blocking, and grit are unparalleled. He could start on any team in this league.

TE Evan Moore, Browns: Moore is a versatile chess piece in the Browns passing game with his size and athleticism to line up at TE and split out at WR. He creates matchup nightmares for defenses and should flourish as a deep threat and red-zone weapon in Colt McCoy‘s first full season as a starter.

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions: The word “motor” gets thrown around too often when it comes to defensive linemen, but Vanden Bosch has a work ethic that is truly deserving of the term. Whether it is his backside run pursuit or bullying the left tackle on his way to a sack, Vanden Bosch makes his presence felt.

DT Kyle Williams, Bills: While he may have been a Pro Bowler in 2010, Williams is still better than most realize. He is one of the most physically dominant linemen in the NFL and is rarely blocked by just one guy. He didn’t get as much attention because of Buffalo’s defensive struggles, but he should get his due this year with the Bills’ upgraded D.

CB Ronald Bartell, Rams: Bartell is the embodiment of Steve Spagnuolo‘s aggressive defense. He is a physical corner, willing to step up and put a big hit on an RB at the point of attack. He is impressive in press coverage, shadowing the opposition’s No. 1 WR, which is crucial in the Rams’ heavy blitzing scheme.

S Jim Leonhard, Jets: It is hard to imagine that anyone can be unheralded on a Rex Ryan defense, but Leonhard is just that. He is the QB of the Jets’ defense and plays a critical role in blitz packages, coverage, in the run game, aligning frequently at the LB level, and contributes as a punt returner, as well.

Matt Hamilton, “Playbook” researcher

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