Osa Odighizuwa Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

Every NFL Roster's Best-Kept Secret Heading into 2024 OTAs

Matt Holder

Growing up, you probably heard the phrase "Secrets don't make friends." It was always annoying when the other kids knew something you didn't. Everyone can likely relate to that scenario, or maybe it just says something about my social standing as an adolescent.

Every NFL roster has a secret on it and we're all about maintaining friendships and creating new ones here at B/R, so we're letting the cat out of the bag for every team in the league now that OTAs are underway.

To qualify as a "secret," players cannot have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro bid on their résumé or be a first-round pick, but they must be either a significant contributor or projected to be one for free-agent signings and other draft selections.

AFC East

D.J. Reed Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills: DT DaQuan Jones

Part of the reason why Jones is under the radar is because he missed a good chunk of last season with a pec injury. Also, he plays a somewhat unheralded position as a defensive tackle, but he's managed to make a significant impact for the Bills. He's earned grades of 72.6 and 86.0 from Pro Football Focus since signing as a free agent two years ago.

Miami Dolphins: CB Kendall Fuller

After spending the majority of his career in Washington, Fuller decided to head south in the offseason to replace Xavien Howard as the Dolphins starting cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey.

It's kind of surprising that the 29-year-old doesn't have many accolades on his résumé as he's logged 16 career interceptions and 75 pass breakups during his career.

Fuller is also coming off a season in which he earned an 83.1 PFF grade and has the versatility to cover on the boundary or in the slot.

New England Patriots: LB Ja'Whaun Bentley

There aren't many 250-pound linebackers in today's NFL, making Bentley the last of a dying breed to an extent. Regardless, the 27-year-old has been very productive in New England over the last few years with over 100 total tackles every season since 2020. He's also logged 8.5 sacks and seven passes defended during that timeframe.

New York Jets: CB D.J. Reed

While Sauce Gardner gets most of the attention in the Jets' secondary, Reed has been a quality corner on the other side of the defense. He finished the regular season a year ago with an 85.1 passer rating when targeted and earned a 79.5 coverage grade, per PFF.

NFC East

Milton Williams Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys: DT Osa Odighizuwa

Odighizuwa might not be much of a secret anymore after putting together a breakout campaign last year, but he wasn't named to any postseason teams so still qualifies for our list.

The 2021 third-round pick had an impressive showing as a pass-rusher in 2023. While he only accumulated three sacks, he was consistently in the quarterback's face with 43 total pressures and an 80.0 pass-rush grade, according to Pro Football Focus.

New York Giants: OL Jermaine Eluemunor

With other offensive linemen signing $20-plus million per year contracts this spring, the Giants got excellent value for Eluemunor, who inked a two-year, $14 million deal.

That will help stabilize the offense's pass protection issues seeing as the former Raider surrendered fewer than 30 pressures in each of the last two seasons, per PFF.

The 29-year-old also has the versatility to line up at guard or tackle and has been taking snaps on the inside during the early stages of New York's OTAs, according to the New York Daily News, adding even more value to the team.

Philadelphia Eagles: DT Milton Williams

It's easy to get lost in the shuffle on the Eagles' defensive line as that's been one of the deepest position groups in the NFL over the last several years. So, while Williams might be unheralded, he certainly isn't underappreciated.

The 25-year-old has been a quality run defender, racking up 18 TFL in three seasons. And while he only registered half a sack last year, he had six with just two starts in the two years prior.

This year could be Williams' time to shine after Philadelphia lost some defensive linemen in the offseason, including Fletcher Cox.

Washington Commanders: G Sam Cosmi

The Commanders had the second-most sacks allowed (65) in the NFL last season, so it's understandable why their offensive linemen don't get much love in the media and when it comes to Pro Bowl voting.

However, Cosmi isn't the problem as he only gave up one sack in 2023, per PFF. He also earned a good grade as a run-blocker (74.0) and started all 17 games.

AFC North

Michael Pierce Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens: DT Michael Pierce

Nose tackles are the offensive linemen of defenses in that they do a lot of the grunt work but don't get much glory.

So, it doesn't come as a surprise that Pierce has been plugging gaps in Baltimore for years but doesn't have an All-Pro or Pro Bowl bid to show for it.

He racked up 42 total tackles last year and had a solid showing as a pass-rusher with 31 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Cincinnati Bengals: CB Cam Taylor-Britt

Perhaps the best endorsement for Taylor-Britt is that the Bengals were willing to let Chidobe Awuzie, who was their top outside corner over the last few years, walk in free agency.

That should elevate the Nebraska product to the CB1 role, and he's coming off a strong season with four interceptions, 11 passes defended and a 67.6 passer rating when targeted, per PFF.

Cleveland Browns: DT Shelby Harris

Harris' name might be most recognizable as a bargaining chip in the Russell Wilson trade, but the defensive tackle has been a solid producer throughout his career with nearly 300 total tackles and 26 sacks.

Last year with the Browns, he logged 17 defensive stops or tackles that resulted in a "failure" for the offense, via PFF, while playing in a rotational role and recording under 450 snaps.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Elandon Roberts

Last season was Roberts' first with the Steelers, but it was arguably his best as a pro.

The eight-year veteran earned a good grade from PFF (72.5) and logged over 100 total tackles for the second year in a row. Also, he had several high-quality tackles with 10 TFL and a whopping 48 defensive stops.

NFC North

Graham Glasgow Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chicago Bears: LB T.J. Edwards

While Termaine Edmunds got the big contract in free agency last spring, the other linebacker the Bears brought in outplayed him in the fall.

Edwards was extremely productive during his first season in Chicago, ranking seventh in the league with 155 total tackles while recording a career-high three interceptions and seven passes defended.

Detroit Lions: OL Graham Glasgow

Glasgow has eight NFL seasons under his belt, including five with the Lions, so the Michigan product isn't a secret in the Detroit area. But he hasn't received much recognition outside of those parts, and he's been a solid interior offensive lineman throughout his career.

The 31-year-old proved to be valuable last season by taking reps at all three interior offensive line spots while earning a 75.1 grade from Pro Football Focus and recording over 1,000 snaps.

Green Bay Packers: OL Zach Tom

While he's only been in the league for two years, Tom has already taken snaps at all five offensive line spots during his career.

The 2022 fourth-round pick primarily played right tackle last year and fared well with PFF grades in the 70s across the board (overall, pass and run blocking).

This year, he will likely solve the Packers' center problem as ESPN's Rob Demovsky told the Wilde & Tausch podcast that the club believes Tom is a "potential Hall of Fame center."

Minnesota Vikings: S Camryn Bynum

After a nine-tackle and two-interception performance against the 49ers last year, Bynum earned some recognition as an NFC Defensive Player of the Week but didn't receive any for his strong campaign as a whole.

The California product set career highs with 137 total tackles, which also led all safeties, and nine passes defended.

AFC South

Denico Autry Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Houston Texans: DL Denico Autry

It's a little head-scratching how Autry has never spent more than four seasons with one organization. After being an undrafted free agent in 2014, all he's done is produce since his second season in the league, racking up 59 career sacks and 80 tackles for loss.

The 33-year-old is coming off a career-high 11.5-sack campaign with the Titans last year before jumping ship and signing a two-year, $20 million deal with a division rival.

Indianapolis Colts: DE Tyquan Lewis

While Lewis only has 16 career starts in six seasons and had none last year, he's been an effective pass-rusher off the bench and had a strong performance in 2023.

The 2018 second-round pick registered four sacks and 44 total pressures, per Pro Football Focus, which is impressive considering he only rushed the passer 259 times.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Foyesade Oluokun

How Oluokun hasn't made a Pro Bowl or earned an All-Pro bid is a mystery not even Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew could solve.

All the linebacker has done since entering the league six years ago is produce with nearly 820 total tackles. He led the league in back-to-back years with 192 in 2021 and 184 in 2022.

Granted, last season was a down year with only 173 takedowns, which ranked just fourth in the NFL. Additionally, the Yale product is on a streak of three consecutive years with triple-digit solo tackles and has topped the charts for the metric each of the last two seasons with 128 and 111, respectively.

Tennessee Titans: C Lloyd Cushenberry III

While the Titans lost Aaron Brewer in free agency this spring, the front office managed to replace him with Cushenberry.

That might be viewed as more of a lateral move, but the former Denver Broncos player is coming off a campaign in which he only surrendered 14 pressures in pass protection and earned a 72.4 run-blocking grade from PFF.

NFC South

Xavier Woods Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons: LB Kaden Elliss

The Elliss name is far from a secret in the NFL.

Kaden's father, Luther, was a two-time Pro Bowler in 1999 and 2000. His brother, Christian, is with the Patriots, while another sibling, Noah, was signed as a free agent by the Eagles after the 2022 draft. And younger brother Jonah was a 2024 third-round pick for the Broncos.

However, Kaden hasn't gotten much recognition as he took a few years to catch on in the NFL. That being said, the Falcons linebacker has made 29 starts over the last two seasons and racked up 11 sacks with 200 total tackles during that period, including a triple-digit tackle campaign in 2023.

Carolina Panthers: S Xavier Woods

Carolina hasn't done a lot of winning since Woods got there two years ago, which is probably part of the reason why he's under the radar. But the safety is a versatile player who can line up in the box and protect the back end of the defense.

He's also good against the run and pass, logging nine interceptions and PBUs combined with four tackles for loss in addition to earning an 81.7 coverage grade and 73.7 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus last season.

New Orleans Saints: CB Paulson Adebo

While Marshon Lattimore gets most of the recognition in the Saints' secondary, Adebo has been a good player in his own right over the last three years.

The 2021 third-round pick has shown impressive ball skills since entering the league, logging seven interceptions and 33 passes defended. His 18 PBUs a year ago were the third-most in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Jamel Dean

Dean has been a consistent presence in Tampa Bay since the organization spent a third-round pick on him in 2019. He burst onto the scene with 17 pass deflections as a rookie and has tallied 45 throughout his career.

AFC West

Quinn Meinerz Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Denver Broncos: G Quinn Meinerz

Meinerz gained popularity during the 2021 Senior Bowl and for his unique workout videos, but that hasn't led to any post-season recognition.

The Division III product has been an outstanding run-blocker, earning an 88.7 grade in that department from Pro Football Focus last year. He also only yielded 23 pressures.

Kansas City Chiefs: G Trey Smith

Between being on great teams throughout his career and consistent presence on Kansas City's offensive line since getting drafted there, Smith not being named to an All-Pro team nor a Pro Bowl is mind-blowing.

The 24-year-old has earned PFF grades in the low 70s during the regular season every year, including a 72.2 mark last fall.

Las Vegas Raiders: LB Robert Spillane

After signing with the Raiders in free agency, last season was Spillane's first as a full-time starter and he made the most of the opportunity.

The six-year veteran cracked triple digits in total tackles for the first time with 148 and a good portion of those were quality tackles as PFF credited him with 52 defensive stops. He also found a way to impact the passing game with three interceptions, another career high, and four passes defended.

Los Angeles Chargers: S Alohi Gilman

After a few pedestrian years to begin his tenure in the league, Gilman enjoyed a breakout campaign last fall that led to a contract extension during free agency. He earned an 89.2 PFF coverage grade due in part to logging a couple of interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Also, the 2020 sixth-round pick posted a 75.2 mark against the run.

NFC West

Trey McBride Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals: TE Trey McBride

McBride might not be a secret for much longer.

Now that Zach Ertz is no longer in Arizona and Kyler Murray is fully healthy, the Colorado State product should be in store for a big year after racking up 81 catches for 825 yards and three touchdowns last fall.

The 24-year-old was also a solid run-blocker with a 63.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, which is good for a tight end.

Los Angeles Rams: CB Darious Williams

Perhaps the best endorsement for Williams is that the Rams were willing to bring him back in free agency after two years away from Los Angeles.

The former Jaguar is coming off an excellent season in which he had 19 passes defended, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a 69.6 passer rating when targeted, per PFF.

San Francisco 49ers: OL Jon Feliciano

Feliciano has carved out a nine-year NFL career by being a versatile interior offensive lineman. That's how he added value to the 49ers last season, taking over as a starter from Week 10 to the Super Bowl and playing all three spots on the inside of the line.

The 32-year-old also posted an impressive 87.0 PFF grade as a run-blocker.

Seattle Seahawks: LB Tyrel Dodson

Replacing a legend like Bobby Wagner isn't easy, but Dodson might be the right guy for the job after being an under-the-radar signing in free agency. He inked just a one-year, $4.26 million deal with the Seahawks but had a strong showing with the Bills last season.

The Texas A&M product didn't become a starter until halfway through the year and finished with an 89.5 mark from PFF.

Dodson recorded career highs statistically, highlighted by 74 total tackles and eight TFL, profiling as an up-and-coming linebacker in the league.

   

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