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The Best Players You've Never Heard Of - ESPN.com


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The Best: Player you've never heard of


Jeffri Chadiha: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Oakland

After not intercepting a pass during his first three seasons in the NFL, Asomugha picked off eight last season for the Raiders. He didn't generate much notoriety from that production -- primarily because Oakland limped through a 2-14 season -- but he did turn some heads around the NFL with his maturation. Asomugha has great size for his position (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and he thrives in press coverage. He's also in position to void his contract after this season, so don't be surprised if he finds a fat payday in the open market next spring.

John Clayton: Luis Castillo, DE, Chargers

The best player you might not know about is Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo. Sure, people might know his name from his positive steroid test prior to the 2005 draft and his first-round selection by the Chargers. But what people might not appreciate is how good he is. Wade Phillips, his former defensive coordinator, considers him one of the best young defensive ends in the game. In practice and in games, he's almost impossible to block. Linebacker Shawne Merriman draws all the attention on the Chargers' defense because he's the double-digit sack guy, but Castillo will continue to gain more prominence. The Chargers have perhaps the best one-two punch on defense in football with Castillo and Merriman.

Merril Hoge: Aaron Smith, DE, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith is the best player in the NFL that most people haven't heard of. The reason for that is because he plays in the trenches on the line and doesn't put up the huge sack numbers that other ends may put up. But the Steelers defense wouldn't be nearly as effective without him on the team. He creates havoc for opposing offensive lines because he has the ability to power through blocks to get pressure on the quarterback and also disrupt the running game. He also does a decent job of occasionally dropping back into coverage and disrupting tight ends that come across the middle, which allows Troy Polamalu the opportunity to roam freely.

Len Pasquarelli: Kevin Williams, DT, Minnesota

It's difficult to maintain any degree of anonymity when you've been selected for a pair of Pro Bowl appearances. But outside the Twin Cities, it seems that not many folks are familiar with Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, or how good the four-year veteran really is. The Vikings' first-round choice in the 2003 draft, Williams began his NFL career playing mostly at end, then sliding down inside on passing downs. He collected 10

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Castillo is a roider

and I've heard of Aaron smith before too.

and Adrian Wilson was on my fantasy defense

Happend once while in college, obviously he is clean now, enough with that.

Not many people are die-hards and know of these guys.

The top guy is Wilson, and I've heard of them all but I'm sure some here have not.

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Reading the thread title i thought of Nnamdi right away, i'm surprised this breakout season didn't happen for him earlier. I think NFL teams will start leaning towards the bigger corners, more so than the speedsters with no brains.

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