20. Sam Bradford – Minnesota Vikings
Sam Bradford was one of the sexiest draft prospects of all time. His first two Sooners seasons were sublime: 86 touchdowns vs. 16 picks, and the grace of a Phoenician swashbuckler. Then came a debilitating shoulder injury that cost him most of his junior year. He still went #1 overall to the Rams, and proceeded to have a very lackluster four years in St. Louis. But he’s been a revelation with Minnesota, who took a flyer on him after erstwhile franchise savior Theodore Edmond Bridgewater went down, down like a mythical Fall Out Boy pugilist. Bradford’s been completing basically every single pass since that time, guiding a relatively meek Vikings offense to more wins than they deserve. He’ll always be as fragile as one of your grandmother’s porcelain figurines, but when he’s right, he sure can go 13/18 for 145 yards and a touchdown.
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19. Thomas Davis – Carolina Panthers
Fellow Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly gets all the headlines (and shirtless GEICO commercials), but prime Davis was every bit the player his fellow defender is. He plays on the strong side of the defense, which means fewer opportunities to rack up stats, but Davis has proven to be a rock in the Carolina front seven since he was drafted all the way back in 2005. This could be a Hall-of-Famer in the making, but he’s almost never talked about.
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18. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
I’m left wondering how good a consistently healthy Jonathan Stewart could have really been. He’s missed so many games to injury, that it’s not hard to project an extra few thousand rushing yards onto an already very strong career. Obviously durability is a skill – especially in the NFL – but Stewart makes this list because I feel his talent as a runner has been underrated. He was part of the two-headed monster Carolina backfield with DeAngelo Williams early in his career, racking up an insane 10 TDs and 836 yards as the second back on that team his rookie season. Sadly, the bad injuries hit just five years into what was on track to be a storybook career. Despite all the setbacks, Stewart is still chugging along at age 30, no easy feat for any running back.
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