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All-Underrated Team: Chiefs Defense

Posted Jun 15, 2011

The most underrated defensive players at each position over the past five years

John Clayton of ESPN.com recently released his All-Underrated Team, identifying Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers as one of the NFL’s most underrated players.

“The deepest position on the underrated team was cornerback,” Clayton wrote. “Brandon Flowers of the Chiefs came into the league with Brandon Carr in what was a great draft class for the Chiefs in 2008. Carr was the man-to-man specialist. Flowers was more of a Cover 2 corner, who could read a quarterback and close on the ball to make an interception or tackle.”

Few Chiefs fans would argue with Flowers’ nomination. While he’s been a cornerstone in the Chiefs secondary upon arrival, Flowers has yet to earn any type of individual honor other than a 2008 Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team nomination.

Forget Pro Bowl snubs, Flowers has received essentially ZERO recognition outside of Kansas City. Brandon Carr may be one of the most underrated players on the Chiefs roster, but Flowers is among the most underrated in all of football.

With that, Clayton’s list got me thinking about the internal vs. external perception of Chiefs players.

Flowers, for instance, would never be considered an underrated player inside Kansas City’s fan base. Even the most casual Chiefs fan likely knows that Flowers is part of the club’s upper-echelon of talent. He’s a familiar name throughout the fan base.

Leave the friendly confines of The Kingdom and that’s obviously not the case. But let’s stay within the arena we’re most familiar with – Arrowhead Stadium.

Who are some of the most underrated players to strap on a Chiefs helmet over the past five years? There have been classic over-achievers, season-saving reserves and a handful of starters whose accomplishments have sometimes gone overlooked.

Flowers is underrated nationally, but who has gone underrated locally?

This is KCChiefs.com’s All-Underrated Chiefs Team from the last five years – not from a national set of eyes, but from a local perspective. Players are eligible as long as they played in a game from 2006-2010. We’ve selected one player at each position and some of the selections might surprise you.

Yesterday, we released the offense. Today, it’s time to unveil the defensive unit.

DE – Tamba Hali (2006- Present)

We’re not talking present-day Tamba Hali. The Tamba Hali from 2006-08 is the one who makes this list.

Remember when Hali played defensive end? It was as recently as two seasons ago and, although he didn’t lead the AFC in sacks like he did as an outside linebacker in 2010, Hali was still plenty effective.

Overshadowed on the defensive line by Jared Allen for each of his first two NFL seasons, Hali quietly turned in solid a solid stat-line while Allen established himself as one of the league’s elite pass rushers. What people tend to forget is that Hali actually out-sacked Allen as a rookie and led the 2006 Chiefs with 8.0 sacks.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Allen exploded with an NFL-best 15.5 sacks, but Hali has led the Chiefs in sacks every other season of his five-year NFL career. While much of the spotlight focused on a calf-roping right defensive end, the man on the left edge wasn’t any pushover. Hali has since proven that to be the case.

DT Ron Edwards (2006-Present)

Ron Edwards has never recorded more than 3.0 sacks for the Chiefs and 29 tackles represent his single-season high with the club. Despite those pedestrian numbers, Edwards has consistently performed the dirty work for the Chiefs defense over the last five years.

Edwards is always available, appearing in all 82 games the Chiefs have played since 2006. He’s also willing to do whatever is asked of him.

From 2006-07, Edwards was the primary starter at left defensive tackle before moving aside for a young Glenn Dorsey in 2008. When the Chiefs shifted to a 3-4 scheme in 2009, Edwards returned to a starting role as Kansas City’s 3-4 nose tackle.

Since signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2006, Big Ron has quietly and effectively gone about his business. Players like Edwards often aren’t appreciated until they’re gone.

LB Demorrio Williams (2008-Present)

Mike Maslowski isn’t eligible for this list, so we’re going with the next best option. Demorrio Williams makes the All-Underrated Team because of his competitive drive and willingness to adjust to a new role.

A year after leading the Chiefs with 142 tackles, Williams entered an intense training camp battle with Derrick Johnson for starting duties at inside linebacker. Williams would turn in a very solid preseason performance, but Johnson edged him out for the job and held onto the starting role throughout all of 2010.

Johnson’s play last season didn’t allow Williams to see much defensive action at all, limiting the former starter to less than 150 defensive snaps. Instead, Williams became one of the Chiefs best special teams performers and continued to push Johnson throughout the season.

He’s one of the better backup options on any NFL roster and has the ability to start any given week.

CB – Brandon Carr (2008-Present)

From NCAA Division II to the NFL, Brandon Carr has opened every game of his professional football career. Currently standing at 48 consecutive games started, Carr’s streak is the third-most of any Chiefs player to begin a career.

Chiefs Record Book, Most Consecutive Starts to Begin Career

Gary Barbaro: 101 (1976-82)

Art Still: 51 (1978-81)

Brandon Carr: 48 (2008-Present)

Tamba Hali: 41 (2006-08)

Greg Wesley: 37 (2000-02)

Constantly challenged, and having played his entire career on the island opposite Brandon Flowers, Carr is one of the most recognizable underrated players in the league (if there is such a thing). He was named to the USA Today All-Joe Team in 2008, joining Jared Allen as the only other Chiefs rookie to ever earn that distinction. Last season, Carr led the Chiefs with 22 passes defensed.

S – Jarrad Page (2006-09)

If it weren’t for his ugly exit, Jarrad Page’s legacy in Kansas City would be remembered much differently.

In his two seasons as a 16-game starter (2007-08), Page was a reliable tackler and possessed a knack for finding the football. He became known as a “Raider Killer”, ending games against Oakland with late interceptions on three different occasions. Five of his 11 interceptions with the Chiefs came inside the five-yard line.

Page finished his career in Kansas City with 39 starts and was the club’s first seventh-round draft pick to become a regular starter since G Dave Szott.

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