Former Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott is one of the most underrated players in recent NFL history. A classic example of the hidden game of football, the numbers never did Scott justice.
A free agent at the time of this writing, the 32-year-old Scott has come a long way since entering the league as an undrafted free agent over a decade ago. He rarely got his proper due, but his elite play has not gone unnoticed.
The fine folks at ProFootballFocus.com, one of the best advanced football stat sites, recently compiled their list of their highest-graded players at the linebacker position since they started evaluating players in 2008.
Over the last five years, to no one’s surprise, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Patrick Willis is their highest-rated linebacker, and by a rather significant margin. They gave Willis an overall grade of +139.4 from 2008-2013.
However, perhaps the biggest surprise on the list is who they graded second: the one and only Bart Scott.
Yes, the Rex Ryan favorite graded out ahead of Ray Lewis, ahead of every other linebacker in the NFL from 2008-2013, per PFF’s intricate grading system that always gave Scott his proper due for his outstanding play.
Per PFF’s Nathan Jahnke:
Bart Scott’s place on the list might be a surprise. He was decent in coverage and at times as a pass rusher, but made his mark in the run game. While Scott was never one to compile a lot of tackles, 73.8% of his running game tackles over the five-year span were stops. This was the second highest rate for all inside/middle linebackers with at least 120 tackles.
In his last year with the Ravens in 2008, as well as his first two years with the Jets, he rarely missed tackles with just 11 misses in those three years. Over the past two years though, Scott has had his snaps decrease and missed tackles increase which led to his recent release. His greatness in those first three years was enough to counteract his recent decline to land him second on this list.
It’s fair to say that here in 2013, Scott is no longer the elite player he was from 2008-2010, but even as the rigors of the NFL took a toll on him physically, he still played admirably each and every snap, even as his play declined.
If Scott does not play another down in the NFL, he has a lot to be proud of. He made a career out of being a human wrecking ball, destroying fullbacks and making life miserable for running backs until the very end.
Only those with a keen eye for dissecting film can truly properly appreciate the greatness of Bart Scott. Thanks to the guys at ProFootballFocus, that knowledge is out there for all football fans to appreciate now.