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It’s impossible to please everybody when compiling an all-anything list among NFL players, but Ravens fans couldn’t have been happy for being left off of ESPN reporter John Clayton’s All-Underrated team of 2011.
Clayton’s criteria consisted of guys that are “performing under the radar who deserve recognition,” and the list did not include any Pro Bowlers or first-round draft picks.
Certainly some Ravens are deserving of that honor, as well.
As such, here are five representatives of the purple and black that BaltimoreRavens.com feels merit All-Underrated consideration.
P Sam Koch
Clayton did not have a punter on his original team, but if he did, Koch should be on there. He doesn’t get the publicity because of somewhat pedestrian averages on his punting distance, but Koch’s accuracy is a big-time weapon for the Ravens. In 2011, Koch landed 39 punts inside the 20-yard line, which was second-most in the NFL and succeeded in pinning opponents deep. The Ravens awarded Koch with a five-year contract extension before the lockout.
CB Chris Carr
In a secondary that was in flux for most of the 2011 campaign, Carr was the most consistent cornerback for the Ravens. He started all 18 games (including playoffs) and finished fifth on the team in tackles, intercepted two passes and forced three fumbles. The versatile Carr had been a nickelback and returner in the past, but his versatility and intelligence helped stabilize the Ravens’ back end.
LB Jarret Johnson
Recording at least 50 tackles in the past four seasons, the tough-as-nails Johnson is a bulldozer against the run and offers solid pass-rush ability off the edge. A stoic locker room leader, Johnson has played in 113 consecutive games, the longest in franchise history. On a defense with stars like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, Johnson seems to slip under the radar.
DT Brandon McKinney
The 350-pound McKinney is in a rotation with two-time Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata, stalwart Kelly Gregg and highly-touted second-rounder Terrence Cody, so it’s understandable how his name might not be on the tip of Clayton’s tongues. But, McKinney was immovable in the trenches last year, starting a career-high four contests and playing in 11 total. He might have only totaled 10 tackles, but he was a key contributor.
OT/G Marshal Yanda
Many analysts have said that retaining Yanda should be the Ravens’ top free-agency priority. The Ravens have even said as much themselves. Yanda has been a valuable Swiss Army knife for the Ravens, starting 16 games at right tackle last year when Jared Gaither got hurt (only netting four penalties all season) while playing guard in 2009. A third-round draft pick, Yanda has proven to be one of the Ravens’ nastiest players on the field and a workhorse off it.