NFL fans love their linebackers. From Sam Huff to Dick Butkus to Jack Lambert to Lawrence Taylor and Ray Lewis, linebackers have always topped the list as fan favorites.
We know who the greats were (just look at the list above to start) but there are so many others who roamed the gridiron the past century who don’t get the recognition they deserve.
So, who might be in that group of the most underrated?
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero recently provided his top five most underrated linebackers.
Not a bad list. Larry Grantham was kind of hidden playing for the New York Jets in the AFL and was a huge part of their success, including a victory in Super Bowl III. Grantham was one of just 20 players to play in all of the AFL’s 10 seasons.
James Farrior started his career with the Jets but then went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers for over a decade. He was very reliable and productive but only was named to the Pro Bowl twice.
Otis Wilson was a key member of the 1985 Chicago Bears’ vaunted defense. He and Wilbur Marshall took a backseat to Mike Singletary but make no mistake, Wilson was a stud.
Mo Lewis played 13 seasons for the Jets and was regarded at one of the tops at his position for a good portion of that. He’s most famous for delivering the hit on Drew Bledsoe that ushered in the Tom Brady era.
That leads us to New York Giants great Carl Banks. He had the fortune/misfortune to play in the same unit as Taylor and another Hall of Famer, Harry Carson, but there were games (such as Super Bowl XXI) where he outshone both of them.
I’ve been around a lot longer than Pelissero, so my list would be a bit different but Banks would still be on it.