By Brady Henderson
Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane tops a list of the NFL’s most underrated players that was put together recently by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. That makes this as good a time as any to acknowledge what Mebane means to Seattle.
We pause for a moment to note that the notion of underrated (or overrated) is based on two criterion – how good a given player is and how good he’s considered to be – that are subjective and/or unquantifiable. That makes either label a bit dubious.
That said, there’s no argument here with Mebane. He’s a great player and doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves.
Such is life for many of the game’s top defensive tackles that are more run-stuffers than pass-rushers. Mebane falls into the first category, playing mainly on early downs and leaving the field when Seattle subs in its nickel package.
Sacks are often the stat by which defensive linemen are judged, which can belie their value. So while Mebane has only 13 of them in his seven seasons, he’s still been one of the more important members of a defense that has led the league in scoring two years in a row.
Here’s part of what Prisco wrote about Mebane:
“He doesn’t pile up big numbers, but Mebane is a key to the Seattle defense. His ability to choke off the run allows the Seattle pass rush to be so effective. When it’s third-and-long, you can do a lot of different things on defense.”
Consider this, too: Mebane is the longest-tenured Seahawk, having joined the team as a third-round pick in 2007. He’s survived two coaching changes since then, including in 2010 when Pete Carroll arrived along with general manager John Schneider and overhauled most of Seattle’s roster. And when the Seahawks released two higher-priced veteran defensive linemen this offseason, there was never so much as a whisper that the 29-year-old Mebane and his $5.5 million salary in 2014 were in any danger.