The 2021 NFL season was one of the most exciting in recent years and culminated with the Los Angeles Rams winning the Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. Many of the league's superstars stood out, including Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, who took home his second consecutive NFL MVP award.
But for all the stars strutting their stuff, there were just as many under-the-radar players across the league who had fantastic seasons in 2021. Here are five of them.
Five heroes of the 2021 NFL season that remained unacclaimed
#5 - Tyler Boyd
The Cincinnati Bengals made it to the Super Bowl in 2021, and as Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins took home plenty of the credit, the team's unsung hero was Tyler Boyd.
In the regular season, Boyd had 828 receiving yards and five touchdowns and caught a crucial touchdown in the Bengals' AFC Wildcard playoff victory against the Las Vegas Raiders. Also, before the Divisional Round, quarterback Joe Burrow owned a perfect passer rating when targeting Boyd on intermediate passes.
#4 - Cordarrelle Patterson
Cordarrelle Patterson came into the 2021 season as an elite special-teamer but never established himself as a starter on offense. The Atlanta Falcons took a punt on him during the offseason, and the move paid off as Patterson had career-highs in both receiving and rushing yards.
Patterson had 548 receiving yards, 618 rushing yards, and 11 total touchdowns. He was unfortunate to miss out on the 2021 Pro Bowl.
Heroes of the 2021 NFL season that remained unacclaimed
#3 - Davis Mills
Davis Mills was up there with the best rookie quarterbacks during the 2021 NFL season, but he didn't get nearly enough recognition due to the Texans having such a poor year.
Mills was in-and-out of the lineup, often switching with veteran Tyrod Taylor. But in 11 starts, Mills passed for 16 touchdowns with a passer rating of 88.8. His completion percentage was also 66.8 percent, which according to StatMuse, ranks him third in league history for rookies, behind Dak Prescott and Mac Jones.
#2 - AJ Terrell
Atlanta Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell was one of the best corners in football during the 2021 NFL season, but many fans may have overlooked the second-year star due to the Falcons' 7-10 record.
Terrell allowed opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of just 47.5 and permitted just 29 catches for 200 yards all season. He had three interceptions, allowed receivers just 6.9 yards per reception, and was another shocking Pro Bowl snub.
#1 - Hunter Renfrow
Hunter Renfrow blossomed into a top-level wide receiver during the 2021 season, but it can be argued he's still massively underrated. Renfrow had 1,038 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as he was voted to the first Pro Bowl of his career.
The Clemson product has also developed into one of the best route-runners in the NFL, making quarterback Derek Carr's life a whole lot easier as he's consistently open.