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Why Seahawks' Jamal Adams and Saints' Michael Thomas are suddenly underrated superstars

Dec 13, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) reacts following the a missed field goal attempt by the New York Jets during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Venturing into the replies of high-profile Twitter sports accounts nowadays means indulging in boiled-down discourse about whichever athletes are commanding headlines that day. Few NFL players epitomize that trend more than Michael Thomas and Jamal Adams — stars who are often reduced to “Slant Boy” and “Blitz Boy,” respectively, on social media.

It doesn’t take long to find those two monikers being thrown around any time either Thomas or Adams is being discussed. Both were in the headlines this past week, with Thomas expected to miss a significant portion of the 2021 NFL season after undergoing ankle surgery in June and Adams potentially becoming the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

The labels “Slant Boy” and “Blitz Boy” are deployed as insults, implying Thomas wins only on slants and Adams provides value only as a pass rusher. It’s difficult to deny that Thomas and Adams are the gold standards at their respective positions in those two areas, though.

Most receptions on slant routes since 2016
Player Slant receptions
Michael Thomas 100
DeAndre Hopkins 68
Davante Adams 63
Keenan Allen 54
Allen Robinson II 51

No wide receiver is within 30 slant receptions of Thomas since he entered the NFL in 2016. His combination of route-running ability, physicality and feel for finding holes in the defense paired with Drew Brees’ accuracy made it difficult for opposing defenses to take the route away from New Orleans.

It’s a similar story for Adams when it comes to getting after the quarterback.

Most pressures by a defensive back since 2017
Player Quarterback pressures
Jamal Adams 78
Budda Baker 46
Mike Hilton 41
Malcolm Jenkins 41
Jabrill Peppers 38

Through 14 weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Adams was tied for the Seattle Seahawks’ team lead in pressures (26) with interior defensive lineman Jarran Reed. Adams — a safety who missed multiple games early in the season — was one of the team’s most effective pass rushers. But his dominance as a pass rusher relative to his position doesn’t mean he should be viewed as purely a blitzer. The same can be said for Thomas in regard to winning only underneath.

Underwhelming 2020 seasons, whether it be because of injuries or a new situation, has led to many underrating what Thomas and Adams bring to the table. Let’s start with Thomas.

Here are a few of his accolades across his first four NFL seasons:

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