Top-200 NFL Players: 101-125 (2014)

101. WR Dez Bryant (Dallas)

Dez Bryant is the leader of the Cowboys’ receiving corps, though he’s not quite as good as his numbers would suggest. He was Pro Football Focus’ 24th ranked wide receiver in pass catching grade in 2010 as a first round rookie, 12th in 2011, 40th in 2012, and 14th in 2013. He’s averaged 1.97 yards per route run in his 4 year career and caught 63.1% of his targets, which is above average, but not fantastic. He’s averaged 2.09 yards per route run over the past 2 seasons, but he’s also dropped 22 passes. Still, he’s going into his age 26 season only and he could have a very big contract year.

Last year: 34

102. OT DeMar Dotson (Tampa Bay)

DeMar Dotson has been a very solid starter since becoming a starter in 2012. He was Pro Football Focus’ 40th ranked offensive tackle in 2012 and then he was even better in his 2nd season as a starter last year, grading out 14th among offensive tackles (2ndamong right tackles). He’s still a one year wonder as a top level player so he could regress a little bit this season, but he should still be one of the better right tackles in the game.

Last year: NA

103. DT Haloti Ngata (Baltimore)

Haloti Ngata should lead the Ravens’ defensive line in snaps played for the 5th straight season this year, playing at 3-4 nose tackle, 3-4 defensive end, and 4-3 defensive tackle. He played 714 snaps last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked defensive tackle. He’s graded in the top-18 among either defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends in each of the last 7 seasons, dating back to 2007. He maxed out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked defensive tackle in 2010 and 3rd ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2007. He’s primarily a run stopper at 6-4 340, but moves well for his size and generates some pass rush.

Last year: 108

104. CB Lardarius Webb (Baltimore)

Coming off a torn ACL, Lardarius Webb wasn’t quite his top self in 2013, as is often the case after an injury like that, but he still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 19th ranked cornerback. At his best, he’s one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, grading out 4th in 2011 before that 2012 injury. The 2009 3rd round pick was very impressive as a part-time player in 2009 and 2010 as well and played well before going down with injury in 2012. He’s only played 2 full seasons in the NFL as a starter, but he’s only going into his age 29 season and could easily bounce back to top form this season.

Last year: 68

105. OLB Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati)

Vontaze Burfict is an every down outside linebacker who broke out last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker last season, in his 2nd year in the league. The Arizona State product was heavily recruited out of high school and profiled as a potential 1st round pick going into his junior season in 2011, but he had a down year, a poor combine, and did not get good recommendations from his coaches, causing him to go undrafted. However, he’s shown his natural talent in Cincinnati, becoming a starter in week 3 of his rookie season, grading out about average as a rookie and then dominating last season. He’s still a one year wonder, which is especially a concern given his history. We don’t know how he’ll handle his success, after he got a 3 year, 19.43 million dollar extension this off-season. However, only going into his age 24 season, he could easily have another dominant season as an every down linebacker.

Last year: NA

106. CB Chris Harris (Denver)

Chris Harris tore his ACL back in January, which is going to make it tough for him to return for the start of the season. Even when he returns, he might not be 100% all season. At his best, he’s a great cornerback though. As a pure slot cornerback in part-time work as an undrafted rookie in 2011, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 22nd ranked cornerback on just 465 snaps. Over the past two seasons as a full-time starter, he’s graded out 5th and 8th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus. Only Richard Sherman has also graded out top-8 among cornerbacks in each of the last 2 seasons. Harris’ specialty is the slot as he’s ranked 2nd and 5th in 2012 and 2013 respectively in QB rating allowed on the slot. That’s where he’ll be missed the most, but he’s also an outside cornerback in base packages.

Last year: 144

107. WR Michael Crabtree (San Francisco)

Down the stretch in 2012, Crabtree looked on his way to finally becoming the top receiver the 49ers envisioned he’d become when they drafted him 10th overall in 2009. After Kaepernick took over as the starter full time in week 11, Crabtree caught 61 passes for 880 yards and 8 touchdowns in 10 games, including playoffs. That’s 98 catches for 1408 yards and 13 touchdowns over 16 games. The issue is he tore his Achilles in May of 2013, which caused him to miss 11 games in 2013 and limited him upon his return. Last season, he caught 34 passes for 487 yards and a touchdown in 8 games (including playoffs), 68 passes for 974 yards and 2 touchdowns over 16 games, which is nowhere near as good as he was down the stretch in 2012, but incredibly impressive considering he was just 6-8 months removed from that injury. The 49ers moved the chains at a 73.84% rate in games he played last season, as opposed to 69.13% in games he missed. He should be healthy, now 16 months removed from the injury.

Last year: NA

108. RB Marshawn Lynch (Seattle)

Over the past 3 seasons, Lynch has rushed for 4051 yards and 35 touchdowns on 901 carries (4.50 yards per carry) and adding 87 catches for 724 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air. However, there’s some reason for concern. Lynch is going into his age 28 season with 1753 career carries. Of the top-25 all-time leading rushers who have played in the last decade, the average one has his last 1000 yard season in his age 30 season at 2602 carrier carries. And after players have their drop off, they average just 169 carries per season at 3.52 yards per carry and just 5 touchdowns, so they’re really a non-factor as a back. Lynch is 52nd all-time with 7389 rushing yards. He’s not at the level where the Seahawks should be worried that his abilities completely fall off a cliff, but age is starting to become a factor. He could show some decline this season, especially since he’s had 988 regular season touches over the past 3 regular seasons combined. Last season, he had 403 touches including post-season, most in the NFL. That’s especially concerning considering his violent running style. On top of that, Lynch missed a significant amount of off-season practices with a holdout, which won’t help him.

Last year: 42

109. DE Jason Hatcher (Washington)

Jason Hatcher has experience in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 and has been dominant over the past 2 seasons, playing in a 3-4 in 2012 and a 4-3 in 2013. He was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2012 and 8th ranked defensive tackle in 2013. He was a deadly interior pass rusher in a 4-3, but he’s probably better suited to a 3-4. His all-around game was better in 2012 in a 3-4 as the undersized 6-6 285 pounder did struggle against the run in a 4-3 in 2013, grading out below average in that aspect. The late bloomer was also Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2011 as a talented reserve on 428 snaps, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out higher that season.

Last year: 134

110. QB Matt Ryan (Atlanta)

Matt Ryan really carried this team last season. Despite having no running game to help him, a crumbling offensive line, and a depleted receiving corps, he still led this offense to move the chains at a 73.69% rate, 11th in the NFL. He had his worst quarterback rating since 2009, but a quarterback rating of 89.6 is still really solid and most of his statistical decline can be attributed to the decline of his supporting cast. He completed 67.4% of his passes for an average of 6.94 YPA, 26 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked quarterback. That’s the 2nd worst season of his career in that aspect (3rd in 2008, 20th in 2009, 2nd in 2010, 4th in 2011, 5th in 2012), but he should bounce back and be a top-10 quarterback again this season. For his career, he’s completed 63.7% of his passes for an average of 7.14 YPA, 153 touchdowns, and 77 interceptions.

Last year: 99

111. OT Jared Veldheer (Arizona)

The 2010 3rd round pick was Pro Football Focus’ 16th ranked offensive tackle in 2011 and 15th ranked offensive tackle in 2012. The Cardinals signed him to shore up the blindside. Veldheer comes cheaper than he would have because of an injury that limited him to 335 snaps in 2013, as the Cardinals get him for 35 million over 5 years when he probably could have commanded upwards of 40 million over 5 years he had not been hurt. It was smart for the Cardinals to pounce on him after an injury plagued year because he doesn’t have much of a history of injury before last season, because it was an upper body injury (torn triceps), which usually doesn’t cause many long-term problems, and because he’s still young, going into his age 27 season. He should bounce back in a big way this season.

Last year: 105

112. DE Mario Williams (Buffalo)

Mario WIlliams been a solid, but unspectacular player in pretty much every season since he was drafted first overall in 2006 by the Texans, grading out well above average in each of the past 7 seasons, maxing out at 11th in 2009. Last season, he was 17th among 3-4 rush linebackers. He’s played both 4-3 end and 3-4 outside linebacker and has been equally good in both schemes. He’s very durable and has played all 16 games and 900+ snaps in 6 of 8 professional seasons. He might not necessarily be worth the 6-year, 96 million dollar deal the Bills gave him before the 2012 season, but he’s an obvious asset for them and should continue to be one this season.

Last year: 97

113. CB Desmond Trufant (Atlanta)

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Falcons in 2014 was 1st round rookie Desmond Trufant, who started all 16 games at cornerback and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked cornerback, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 53.4% of passes when throwing on him and tying for the league lead with 15 pass deflections. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle in their first year in the league, but Trufant looked like a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Even more promising is the fact that he played his best football down the stretch last season, grading out well above average in 4 of his final 6 games after doing so in just 2 of his first 10 games. He allowed 15 completions on 31 attempts in those 6 games and didn’t grade out below average once. He’s on the fast track to becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL if he stays on this trajectory.

Last year: NA

114. OT Phil Loadholt (Minnesota)

Phil Loadholt is a dominant offensive lineman. The 6-8 343 pounder is solely a right tackle, but he’s still a huge asset for them, dominating in run blocking and holding up well in pass protection. He’s been a 5-year starter for them since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2009, making 78 of 80 starts, and he’s graded out above average in 4 out of 5 seasons, including each of the last 3 seasons. He’s gotten better in each of the last 3 seasons, going from Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked offensive tackle in 2011, to 21st in 2012, to 11th last season, the best season of his career. He should have another strong season in 2014.

Last year: NA

115. C Mike Pouncey (Miami)

The 15th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft had a lackluster rookie year, but he has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked center in 2012 and 13th ranked center in 2013. His twin brother Maurkice is the bigger name, playing center for the Steelers and somehow making 3 Pro-Bowls and 3 All-Pros in 3 healthy seasons, but Mike is the better football player. The issue is that Pouncey has a bad hip and will miss the start of the season.

Last year: 94

116. DE LaMarr Houston (Chicago)

The Bears replaced the aging, expensive Julius Peppers with LaMarr Houston this off-season. The aging Peppers (going into his age 34 season) graded out below average last season, while Houston is still in the prime of his career (going into his age 27 season) and coming off of a season in which he was Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked 4-3 defensive end. That’s nothing new for him as the 2010 2nd round pick was 11th at his position in 2012 and 20th at his position in 2011. He’ll be an upgrade over Peppers for both the short-term and the long-term. Like he did in Oakland, he’ll move inside on passing downs.

Last year: 169

117. DE Mike Daniels (Green Bay)

The biggest bright spot on the Packers’ weak defense last season was the emergence of 2nd year player Mike Daniels at 5-technique. The 2012 4th round pick was Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked 3-4 defensive end last season on 517 snaps. The 6-0 294 pounder was primarily an interior pass rusher in sub packages and he should primarily be that again, though he will probably see more snaps. He played 275 snaps in the Packers’ final 8 games. He’s still a one year wonder, grading out below average on 231 snaps as a rookie, but he could easily have another strong year.

Last year: NA

118. S Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona)

Last season, Tyrann Mathieu, a 3rd round rookie, graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked cornerback, splitting time as a slot cornerback and a safety. However, Mathieu tore his ACL week 14 and his status for the start of the season is in doubt. Even when he returns, he could be less than 100% and completely behind the 8-ball after missing the entire off-season of practice. This year, with more depth at cornerback, the Cardinals want him to play full-time at safety, provided he’s on the field.

Last year: NA

119. MLB Bobby Wagner (Seattle)

Wagner was a 2012 2nd round pick and arguably was better than Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked middle linebacker, right behind only Patrick Willis. He graded out “just” 12th in 2013 thanks to injuries. He missed 2 games and was limited in others. He might not be as good as he was in 2012 again, but he should have a bounce back year.

Last year: 65

120. WR TY Hilton (Indianapolis)

Hilton caught 82 passes for 1083 yards and 5 touchdowns on 533 routes run, an average of 2.03 yards per route run. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 33rd ranked wide receiver. He’s no longer just a deep threat reliant on big plays to make an impact, as he was as a rookie when he caught 50 passes for 861 yards and 7 touchdowns on 479 routes run, an average of 1.80 yards per route run. Now going into his 3rd year in the league, a common breakout year for wide receivers, Hilton could be even better. The 2012 3rd round pick is going into only his age 25 season. He was dominant in the post-season, catching 17 passes for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 games. He’ll once again be the Colts’ #1 receiver in 2014.

Last year: NA

121. RB Matt Forte (Chicago)

He’s graded out above average in 3 of the last 4 seasons and last season he was the definition of a three-down back, leading the position in snaps played with 940, 50 snaps more than any other running back in the NFL. It’s rare to find a running back who is well-rounded enough to stay on the field for every down. He was Pro Football Focus’ 24th ranked running back in terms of run grade last season, rushing for 1339 yards and 9 touchdowns, 4.63 YPC. He was even better as a pass catcher, grading out 6th at his position in that aspect. He caught 74 passes on 86 targets (86.0%) for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns on 433 routes run (1.37 yards per route run). If he doesn’t get injured or decline, he should have another strong season, but there’s a good chance he does get injured or decline. He’s going into his age 29 season with 1892 career touches in 6 seasons so it’s starting to become a concern.

Last year: 123

122. G David DeCastro (Pittsburgh)

David DeCastro was a 2012 1st round pick. He missed most of his rookie year with injury and struggled on 138 snaps upon his return, but in 2013, fully healthy, he showed why some saw him as the best interior offensive line prospect of the decade, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked guard. He could be even better in 2014, in his 3rd year in the league.

Last year: NA

123. S Glover Quin (Detroit)

Glover Quin was one of the best safeties in the NFL last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked safety. The 2009 4th round pick has graded out above average in each of the last 4 seasons, playing cornerback in 2010 and then safety in 2011-2013. Last year was a career year for him so he might not repeat that kind of season, but he could easily have another above average season for a secondary that needs it.

Last year: NA

124. DE Arthur Jones (Indianapolis)

A 2010 5th round pick, Arthur Jones developed from a solid reserve in 2011 on 255 snaps to a solid starter on 536 snaps to a breakout player in 2013 on 530 snaps, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked 3-4 defensive end. He’s is a talented player, but he was overpaid by the Colts this off-season, getting 33 million over 5 years with 16 million guaranteed. At his best, he’s worth that kind of money, but he’s still just a one year wonder at this point in his career. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue to be this good. He’s never played more than 536 snaps in a season and he’s never been the key cog on Baltimore’s defensive line, rotating often and playing alongside Haloti Ngata.

Last year: NA

125. DE Jerry Hughes (Buffalo)

Jerry Hughes is a former 1st round pick of the Colts, going 31st overall in 2010, and looked like a bust in the first 2 years of his career with the Colts, struggling on just 240 snaps combined at 4-3 defensive end. He was a little better on 610 snaps in his 3rd year in the league as a 3-4 rush linebacker in 2012 on 610 snaps and broke out in Buffalo last season as a rush linebacker, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked 3-4 rush linebacker, including 3rd in pure pass rush grade, on 621 snaps. There’s obviously concern though with him switching back to 4-3 defensive end and with Mike Pettine being gone. He obviously has natural talent, which is why he went in the first round, but he’s still a one year wonder and losing both the defensive coordinator and the scheme in which he broke out last season has to be concerning.

Last year: NA

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