2012 NFL Awards: Under-the-radar players

Now that the regular season is finished, we’ve briefly taken a step away from the Mike Shanahan bashing and the coach searching to deliver our end of the season awards.

Unlike our midseason awards, these awards are actually air-tight and unquestionably correct (for instance, unlike the midpoint of the season, I don’t believe the Texans had the best defense and I no longer predict the Steelers will make this year’s playoffs).

You can find the full award list right here (you’ll be shocked, by the way, at who unanimously won the defensive player of the year award, and Bruce Arians was so impressive that he won both the coach of the year and the assistant coach of the year awards). But here, let’s break down our offensive and defensive under-the-radar players heading into next season.

Under-the-radar offensive star heading into next season

Pete Prisco: Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. That speed is deadly.
Clark Judge: Ravens running back Bernard Pierce. The more carries he gets the better he looks.
Mike Freeman: Colts tight end Dwayne Allen. Will make an excellent pairing with Luck.
Jason La Canfora: Colts tight end Coby Fleener. The Colts TE is going to benefit hugely just by being on Andrew Luck's team. He will be a go-to guy in the red zone.
Pat Kirwan: Giants running back David Wilson.
Will Brinson: Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander. In lieu of someone like Randall Cobb (is he under the radar anymore?) how about the man known as DX, who came on bananas late in 2012? He had seven touchdowns after joining the Chargers post-Week 7 bye down the stretch.
Josh Katzowitz: Colts tight end Dwayne Allen. People forgot about him because the Colts tight end was drafted a round after Indianapolis tight end Coby Fleener, but Allen was better this season -- as a receiver and as a blocker.
Ryan Wilson: Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones. A fifth-round pick out of Cal in 2012, Jones is a big, fast wideout who could mature into another legit pass-catcher to line up opposite A.J. Green.

Under-the-radar defensive star heading into next season

Pete Prisco: Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. He played at high level this season, but could be a Pro Bowler next season.
Clark Judge: Philadelphia defensive end Brandon Graham. Once he saw the field, he started making plays. Expect more of the same next season.
Mike Freeman: Vikings safety Harrison Smith. He will be the next great defensive back in this league.
Jason La Canfora: Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones. He will be a beast and has the bloodline and dedication to do so. Excellent teaching under Belichick. I think he and fellow rookie Bruce Irvin explode as pass rushers in 2013.
Pat Kirwan: Chandler Jones.
Will Brinson: Bills safety Jairus Byrd. A playmaking safety who did lots of good things for the Bills during the season but went unnoticed largely due to Buffalo's defense being horrible. If the defensive line improves the way it should, he'll benefit.
Josh Katzowitz: Harrison Smith. The Vikings safety had a big year as a rookie, and I believe that next year he'll be even more consistent with his play and his tackling.
Ryan Wilson: Titans outside linebacker Zach Brown. The Titans rookie had just one sack in his first 10 games and finished with 4.5 over the final six games.

Again, if you want more of the awards (and the witty insight that comes with them!), click right here.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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