There are about 8-11 bad teams in the NFL right now. With every bad team, there is almost always at least one great player. Unfortunately, because these players are on a bad team, they’re often overlooked, as bad teams tend to not play on primetime, where more fans can watch them.
Take Matthew Stafford for example. For years, Stafford played on a terrible Detroit Lions franchise and the year he was sent to the Los Angeles Rams, he won the Super Bowl. One great player can’t single-handedly carry a bad team.
These players may be great, but the teams they play for are anything but.
10 Quinnen Williams (New York Jets)
CJ Mosley? Elijah Moore? Finding a player for the Jets was hard.
New York almost wasn’t featured on the list, but Quinnen Williams is the clear choice for the Jets. Only 24 years old, the last two seasons Williams has compiled 13 sacks and 108 tackles as an interior defensive lineman.
On a Jets roster with not many bright spots, Williams has shown that he can be one of the pillars their defense can build around for the foreseeable future. They just need to figure out pretty much everything else.
9 Penalties Sewell (Detroit Lions)
Penei Sewell is pretty much exactly as advertised coming out of Oregon. It took him a few games, but once the 2021-22 season came to a close, he was viewed as a top three offensive line rookie.
He may not be elite right out of the gate like Rashawn Slater or Creed Humphrey, but for a brutally bad Detroit Lions team, he is the shining light. D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson make a case, but Sewell is the way to go.
Sewell was a unanimous all-American and winner of both the Morris and Outland Trophies in his final season at Oregon and made the PFWA All-Rookie Team this past season. He has the accolades and his versatility di lui on the line makes him a cornerstone of Detroit’s line for years to come.
8 Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
Can the notion that Saquon Barkley is a bad player be dismissed?
In his only fully healthy season, Barkley posted 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns behind a routinely horrible New York offensive line, winning 2018 offensive rookie of the year. Yes, Barkley has proven to be injury prone, but that doesn’t make him a bad player.
He dominates the highlight reel when he does play and creates something out of the nothing that is the Giants team. If he has another bad season like he did this past season (not fully healthy), maybe then he can be dismissed.
7 James Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Remember how Saquon put up great numbers behind a terrible offensive line? That’s James Robinson.
The clear best player on the Jaguars the first two years of his career, Robinson has found a way to put up 1,837 yards and 15 touchdowns through two seasons for a team that’s won four games since he’s been there. It really is a shame he tore his Achilles at the end of this past season.
If Robinson can return to the player he was before the injury, he’s a top 10 running back in the NFL. If he can’t return, the Jaguars have Travis Eenga and… not much else.
6 Laremy Tunsil (Houston Texans)
Laremy Tunsil played five games for the Texans last season, and he was still their best player.
After his draft night fiasco, Tunsil proved over the course of three seasons with the Dolphins that he was one of the best young offensive lineman in the NFL. Once traded to Houston, he made two pro bowls and allowed only four sacks in 33 games played.
This comes at the most important offensive line position for a right-handed quarterback led offense, left tackle. He’s protected a plethora of quarterback’s blindside and has done it at an elite level.
5 Terry McLaurin (Washington Commanders)
Through his first three seasons, Terry McLaurin has put up just over 3,000 yards being thrown to by the likes of Dwayne Haskins, Taylor Heinecke and Kyle Allen (among others). For comparison, over that same span, Tyreek Hill has put up just 285 more yards than McLaurin, and he’s being thrown to by the NFL’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
The point is, Scary Terry is one of the NFL’s best receivers and is getting wasted in a Washington franchise that has hardly made an effort to get an elite or even average quarterback to lead their offense. McLaurin has succeeded in spite of the Redskins, Football Team or the Commanders, whatever they want to be called.
Once Washington gets a quarterback or McLaurin leaves the team, he will get the recognition he deserves.
4 AJ Terrell Jr. (Atlanta Falcons)
When you’re mentioned in the same breath as Jalen Ramsey, Trevon Diggs and JC Jackson in your second season, it’s clear you’re the future of the cornerback position.
In this writer’s humble opinion, Terrell is a better cornerback than Diggs; he just doesn’t put up the otherworldly interception numbers. However, the Clemson alum put up four interceptions in the 2021-22 season for a brutal Falcons defense.
Terrell was a second team all-pro by the AP and first team by PFF. He allowed 4.4 yards per target, good for first in the NFL and only 280 total yards over 16 games.
3 Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)
Christian McAffrey is in a similar situation to Saquon Barkley. When healthy, he is a top five running back in the NFL, and he provides a great receiving threat on top of that.
In 2019, McCaffrey was a fantasy football savior, putting up 1,000+ yards rushing and receiving. Fantasy football aside, McCaffrey is a game changer when he’s on the field.
Since that 2019 season, McCaffrey has played 10 games in two seasons, battling injury for two years. Once he gets back to full health, he’s the clear best player on Carolina and when he’s not, the results show how much the Panthers miss him.
2 Khalil Mack (Chicago Bears)
Talk about a player whose career has been wasted on a bad franchise.
With the Oakland Raiders, Khalil Mack quickly became one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, winning DPOY in his third season. His career took a turn once joining the Bears. With Chicago, the misconception is that Mack has not been elite. Putting up 36 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and 52 QB hits isn’t elite?
No; he is elite, and the Bears are not. With his career likely winding down, he should look to move to find team and individual success with a contender.
1 Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Russell Wilson didn’t have a typical Russell Wilson season in 2021-22. Like Saquon Barkley, he shouldn’t be dismissed as anything less than an elite quarterback.
A former Super Bowl champion and nine time Pro Bowler, Russell Wilson is one of the great quarterbacks of the 2010s, and he has yet to play behind a good offensive line. On the Seahawks, Wilson has played with great players (The Legion of Boom) but he’s been the captain for 10 seasons for a reason.
Russell Wilson has Hall of Fame talent, but with no MVPs and only one ring, has he put together a Hall of Fame career? Whether he has or not, there’s no denying his talent di lui, and maybe he won’t be on a bad team much longer.
So show it to us already …
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