There are times when the term “underrated” gets overused to the point where the term itself loses touch with reality.
But a tweet from good friend/WGN’s Michael Piff put me in a mindset around lunch time:
Who is the most underrated pro athlete that is currently on a Chicago team's roster?
— Michael Piff (@Mike_PiFF03) June 3, 2021
My gut reaction was to think which current Chicago Bears player fit the bill. From there, my mind immediately went to Cody Whitehair. Then, when I went to further rack my brain, no other names came to mind. And thus, this post was born.
Cody Whitehair is the most underrated player on the Bears. And I’m sure there is an argument to be made for him being the most underrated in the city. But for the sake of this post, let’s discuss what Whitehair means to this Bears team.
For starters, he has starting experience at three spots along the offensive line. Having reps at center – as well as both guard spots – isn’t inconsequential. Whitehair’s experience allows the Bears to mix-and-match in the trenches, all without downgrading. We have seen Whitehair play at a Pro Bowl level in 2018. His efforts at right guard before that were quite admirable. And when the interior of Chicago’s line needed an in-season overhaul, Whitehair’s ability to shift from center to left guard got the ball rolling for a late-season offensive surge.
PFF’s Sam Monson envisions a breakout campaign for Whitehair in 2021. He notes that Whitehair’s overall grade while at guard last season was 84.7. He even goes on to suggest he could put together a Pro Bowl caliber season if he spends the entire year at guard. That certainly counts as high praise. Especially when conversing about a player who earned Pro Bowl honors and a top-10 positional grade from PFF at a totally different position (center) in 2018.
In addition to being an excellent blocker, Whitehair is starting to get some love for being a consummate teammate. Rookie tackle Teven Jenkins gushed about soaking up everything he could from his future line-mate. Off the field, the Bears should consider themselves fortunate to have Whitehair go along with not one, but two contract restructurings that have aided in Chicago’s maneuvering of the salary cap. But in the end, we should love Whitehair because he can do stuff like this:
I could watch Cody Whitehair deliver this block on loop until the end of time. pic.twitter.com/c2GiDbyOHg
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) May 23, 2021
Whitehair should be widely thought of as one of the best and most versatile linemen in the league. Maybe playing on a Bears offense has clouded judgment from others. But we should know better than to fall into that trap. Cody Whitehair is good at football. And should he continue to play at a high level, an improved offense in Chicago this season could go a long way toward shedding the “underrated” tag.
So while that would leave me looking for another Bears standout to give that honor to, it would be worth it if it means Whitehair gets the love he deserves.