For those who don’t know the name Kevin Byard, you should. He is a safety that plays for the Tennessee Titans and is one of the best in the game. The problem is that he is being constantly overlooked. Not only by coaches and scouts, but also by his opponents.
This stat shows last season he graded at an 88.4 overall on the season according to Pro Football Focus. This ranked 4th among all safeties in the league, yet he was only a Pro Bowl alternate. The year prior, he made the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro.
Byard vs Sanders
The spark of this debate really took off on Twitter over a year ago before the start of the last NFL season. Byard has proven to be vocal on social media. When the time came, he did not shy away from the opportunity to call out one of the most prestigious players of all time in Deion Sanders.
This was coming fresh off of Byard’s All-Pro sophomore season. Sanders happened to come across this and gave a response.
At the time, this caused a huge uproar on social media. People couldn’t tell if Sanders was being disrespectful or if he genuinely didn’t know who Kevin Byard was. Either way, the disrespect of calling an All-Pro safety a “fan” was one primary example of how Byard is underrated.
Behind the Numbers
To call someone underrated is an open-ended topic unless given evidence. Byard has a sample size of three seasons to go off of, but his last two years are when he was given his most playing time.
First of all, he is a safety. Therefore, his primary objective is to prevent the opposition from catching the ball. In terms of passer rating when quarterbacks are throwing to Byard, he’s the best in the AFC South. This includes studs such as Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey.
Not all safeties can come in the box and do as great of a job as Byard has done either. He is able to come in and help stuff the run.
The main difference in Byard’s last two season involves his interception rate, which dropped from 8 to 4. However, efficiency is what matters, and he improved in just about every other aspect.
Snubbed from Top 100
Perhaps one of the most shocking displays of Byard being underrated is the fact that this year, he was excluded from the top 100 players list. The fact that he didn’t even feature, while six other players at the same position did, is astonishing.
The players are the ones who vote on this list, which makes it even that much more surprising.
Highest Paid Safety in NFL History
Over the summer, the Tennessee Titans and Kevin Byard came to a 5-year, $70M contract extension, including $30M guaranteed. Once this contract was agreed upon, and it saw Byard become the highest paid safety in NFL history.
Titans Took a Chance
Byard was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, which means every other team had the opportunity to draft him. He wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine after declaring for the draft.
Jon Robinson, the general manager of the Titans, was sold on Byard from Middle Tennessee. He knew what he wanted and didn’t need a combine to see that. He took a chance and made a great investment with just a third round pick.
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