Poll of defensive players: Kirk Cousins most overrated QB, Cam Newton most underrated

It's well known by now that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton played a good chunk of the 2018 season with an injury, and NFL players took notice. Newton, who missed the last two games of last season, was named the most underrated quarterback in the league by a survey of 85 defensive players from 25 teams conducted by The Athletic.

On the flip side, the Vikings' Kirk Cousins -- signed to an $84 million contract last offseason -- was called the NFL's most overrated quarterback. The Vikings failed to make the playoffs this year after reaching the NFC Championship Game, and they put up just 10 points against the Bears in a must-win Week 17 game.

Cousins threw for 4,298 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Vikings this year. He also completed 70.1 percent of his passes. However, while the stats are perfectly acceptable, the fact that he couldn't get it done in the last (and biggest) game of the season is arguably a fair criticism.

As for Newton, he has a pretty full trophy case -- he won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and MVP in 2015 -- and yet doesn't seem to get mentioned among the higher tiers of quarterbacks. On top of that, Newton played a lot of games this year in which he clearly wasn't right. If there's one thing we know about defensive players, it's that they respect a guy who can take a hit.

Other votes were cast for Philip Rivers and Alex Smith in the top three of most underrated, and Russell Wilson, Mitchell Trubisky, Drew Brees and Lamar Jackson got votes. Eli Manning was the second-most overrated, while Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston and Sam Bradford had multiple votes as well. Why did it seem like there was a wider array of overrated QBs?

"Most quarterbacks are overrated," an anonymous defender said, per The Athletic. "People think they're great if they win even if there are a lot of other factors."

Cousins has two years on his contract to prove his doubters wrong, while Newton will try to prove his supporters right when he's hopefully back to 100 percent next year. In the meantime, defenders clearly think that quite a few NFL teams need to look at their quarterback situation closely.

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