Pernell McPhee: NFL’s Most Underrated Player?


Oct 19, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee (90) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Underrated: to underestimate the extent, value, or importance of someone or something.  It’s a concept that is mostly foreign in the NFL, America’s favorite sport.  But somehow, some way, certain players emerge and post noteworthy performances without receiving the credit they may deserve.  Pernell McPhee might just be the most glaring example in the NFL right now.

Not a whole lot of people outside of Baltimore know much about Pernell McPhee, and to their credit, he hasn’t done a whole lot to draw attention to himself in his previous three years in the the league.  A fifth round pick by the Ravens in 2011, McPhee appeared in 44 games from 2011-13, totaling 65 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

More from Ebony Bird

McPhee always had the ability and the desire to succeed, but he just couldn’t get it together on the field in any substantive way. His biggest headline from the offseason was the declaration that he was going to record double digit sacks in 2014, which elicited a bit of chuckling from the media.  After all, McPhee hadn’t reached double digit sacks in his three seasons combined.

But who’s laughing now?  Pernell McPhee has achieved the rare feat of actually living up to his talk, and he has a real shot at achieving his personal goal.  With four sacks in seven games, McPhee is on pace for just over 9 sacks this season.  Currently rated as the number four 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, McPhee also has 14 QB hurries and 8 hits.

What’s even more impressive is how much disruption McPhee has caused in what amounts to a limited, situational role.  He has played on only 50.8% of the Raven’s snaps, with 74% of those snaps coming in passing situations.  To put that in perspective, Terrell Suggs (the #1 3-4 OLB) has played on 75.2% of defensive snaps and has less sacks (3) and hurries (13), though more hits (10).

Everybody knows who Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are.  But how many of your friends, who aren’t Baltimore Ravens fans, know who Pernell McPhee is?  When you let them in on the secret, challenge them to name a more underrated player in the NFL this season.  We certainly can’t think of one.