This 8-part series counts down the top-200 players in the NFL. 200 might sounds like a lot, but with 53 players on 32 teams’ rosters, that’s 1696 players. Count guys on the practice squad, guys on the PUP or the IR, and guys who are free agents, but still on teams’ radar. That’s probably 2000 players. These guys are the top 10%. Positional value doesn’t matter because if it did, this list would be too quarterback heavy.
126. OLB Thomas Davis (Carolina)
Davis graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker, including #1 in coverage last season. There’s definitely concern though, whether or not he keeps this up though, as he’s going into his age 31 season with 3 torn ACLs on his resume. The fact that he’s even still able to play, let alone dominate like he did last season, is incredibly impressive, but his injury history is a serious elephant in the room with him. Thomas played a combined 9 games from 2009-2011 thanks to injuries. He’s missed just 1 game over the past 2 seasons, grading out 11th at his position in 2012 and then 3rd last season, so he could be fine going forward. He was also good prior to his injury, grading out above average in both 2007 and 2008. It’s just hard to expect a player to repeat the best season of his career at age 31 with essentially 3 seasons lost to injury in his career.
Last year: NA
127. OLB Junior Galette (New Orleans)
Junior Galette really benefited from the Saints’ scheme switch to a 3-4, breaking out last season in his first season as a starter, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker. The 2010 undrafted free agent flashed as a pass rusher in 2011 and 2012, grading out 31st and 17th among 4-3 defensive ends in that aspect in those 2 seasons respectively in a part-time role, but he was limited to 372 and 301 snaps in those 2 seasons respectively because the 6-2 258 pounder sucked against the run. Moving to 3-4 outside linebacker, the run game became easier for him and he was able to play 848 snaps. He still graded out slightly below average against the run, but it wasn’t as big of a deal at his new position, especially since he ended up ranking 10th at his position rushing the passer.
Last year: NA
128. WR Marques Colston (New Orleans)
Colston showed statistical decline last season, catching 75 passes for 943 yards and 5 touchdowns. It tied a career low for touchdowns and it was only the 2nd season of his 8-year career in which he went under 1000 yards, with the other season being a season in which he played just 11 games. However, he was still really efficient, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked wide receiver, catching 70.1% of his targets and averaging 1.77 yards per route run. He’s going into his age 31 season, but he’s graded out above average on Pro Football Focus in every season since they began in 2007. He should have another solid season and probably lead Saint wide receivers in catches and yards.
Last year: 135
129. TE Greg Olsen (Carolina)
The Panthers lost every single wide receiver who caught a pass for them last season. The good news is tight end Greg Olsen was their leading receiver last season and he’s still around. He will almost definitely lead them in receiving again this season. Last season, he caught 73 passes on 102 attempts (71.6%) for 816 yards and 6 touchdowns on 482 routes run, an average of 1.69 yards per route run. He ranked 9th among eligible tight ends in yards per route run and 4th in pure pass catching grade. He’s graded out above average in 6 of 7 seasons he’s been in the league since being drafted in the 1st round in 2007, including above average as a pass catcher in all 7 seasons. He hasn’t always been a great run blocker, but there have been seasons in which he showed himself to be strong in that aspect. He’s an above average tight end and one of the Panthers’ best offensive players.
Last year: 84
130. G Jon Asamoah (Atlanta)
The Falcons signed ex-Chief Jon Asamoah to a 5-year 22.5 million dollar deal to play right guard this off-season. It was a very good move at a position of need. Asamoah, a 2010 3rdround pick, made 41 starts over the past 3 seasons combined at right guard in Kansas City and graded out 16th, 10th, and 21st in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively.
Last year: 133
131. C Stefen Wisniewski (Oakland)
Stefen Wisniewski is probably the Raiders’ best offensive lineman and maybe their best player. A 2011 2nd round pick, Wisniewski has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 17th and 11th ranked center in the last 2 seasons respectively, after playing left guard as a rookie. The Raiders would be wise to extend him long-term, as he goes into his contract year.
Last year: NA
132. OLB Jerod Mayo (New England)
Jerod Mayo missed 10 games with a torn pectoral last season. The concern for his health going into 2014 should be limited as the 2008 1st round pick had missed 5 games in 5 seasons prior to this injury. It was also an upper body injury instead of a lower body injury and he’s already a full participant at OTAs. When healthy, Mayo is one of the better 4-3 outside linebackers in the game. He was Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2012 and 7th ranked in 2011, after converting from being a 3-4 middle linebacker, where he wasn’t quite as good.
Last year: 72
133. RB Eddie Lacy (Green Bay)
Last season, Eddie Lacy rushed for 1178 yards and 11 touchdowns on 284 attempts, an average of 4.15 YPC. He also added 35 catches for 257 yards, en route to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. That YPC doesn’t seem terribly impressive, but he consistently carried the load, got positive yardage, and moved the chains. He had 73 first downs on 319 targets, including 61 first downs on 284 carries. He was 5th among running backs in rushing first downs. He also graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked running back, grading out above average as both a runner and a pass catcher. On top of that, he played his best football when Aaron Rodgers was out of the lineup, helping to carry this team. He rushed for 666 yards and 7 touchdowns on 151 carries, an average of 4.41 YPC, and added 21 catches for 164 yards in the 8 games Rodgers missed. Going into his 2nd year in the league, Lacy could be even better, after playing most of his rookie year through an ankle injury and getting stronger as the year went on.
Last year: NA
134. QB Matt Stafford (Detroit)
Stafford, the first overall pick in 2009, struggled in his first 2 years in the NFL, missing 19 games and completing 54.5% of his passes for an average of 5.92 YPA, 19 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. However, he’s played all 48 games over the past 3 seasons, completing 60.6% of his passes for an average of 7.24 YPA, 90 touchdowns, and 52 interceptions. He’s also been better than his numbers, as he had 46 passes dropped in 2011 (most in the NFL), 49 passes dropped in 2012 (2nd most in the NFL), and 59 passes dropped in 2013 (most in the NFL). He was Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked quarterback in 2011, 13th ranked quarterback in 2012, and 7th ranked quarterback in 2013.
Last year: NA
135. DT Jared Odrick (Miami)
Jared Odrick had a fantastic season last year, grading out 16th among defensive tackles and excelling as a pass rusher. He remains a one year wonder, but he was a 1st round pick in 2010 and last year was the first season he was allowed to play his natural role as a 4-3 penetrating defensive tackle. It’s no surprise that he had by far his best season in that role. Odrick missed all but one game in his rookie season with injury and was just about average on 597 snaps in 2011 as a 3-4 defensive end. The Dolphins switched to a 4-3 going into the 2012 season, which should have helped him, but they decided to play him primarily at 4-3 defensive end, which was a bad fit for the 6-5 304 pounder. He struggled mightily, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th worst ranked 4-3 defensive end. He was solid against the run, but couldn’t generate any pass rush, ranking 3rd worst in that aspect. He could easily have another strong year as a 4-3 defensive tackle in 2014, which would set him up for a big payday going into free agency in 2015.
Last year: NA
136. C Nick Mangold (NY Jets)
Mangold was once inarguably the top center in the NFL, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ #1 or #2 center in every season from 2007-2011, something no one else could come close to saying. However, he “fell” to 6th in 2012 and then all the way to 19th in 2013, below average. He could bounce back this season, but his best years are probably behind him as he goes into his age 30 season. It’s a steep fall for a player who was 13th on this list last season.
Last year: 13
137. G Brandon Brooks (Houston)
As bad as the Texans’ season was last season, there were still bright spots. The breakout season of right guard Brandon Brooks was one of them. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked guard last season, in his 2nd year in the league after being drafted in the 3rd round in 2012. He was only alright as a pass blocker, but he excelled as a run blocker at 6-5 343, grading out 3rd at his position in that aspect. He’s still a one-year wonder, after playing 111 nondescript snaps as a rookie, but he could easily have another strong year this year, in his 3rd year in the league.
Last year: NA
138. WR Pierre Garcon (Washington)
Garcon missed 6 games and was limited in others in 2012, in the first year of a highly speculative 5-year, 42.5 million dollar deal (he had never surpassed 1000 yards in 4 seasons in Indianapolis despite playing primarily with Peyton Manning. However, Garcon still flashed in 2012 on 403 snaps, grading out well above average and catching 44 passes for 633 yards and 4 touchdowns on 215 routes run, an average of 2.94 yards per route run that was 2nd best in the NFL. Given that he did that with a bad foot, it was very promising for 2013. He wasn’t quite as efficient in 2013, but that’s to be expected considering he had significantly more playing time and his quarterback play was significantly worse. He was still really good, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked wide receiver. He caught 113 catches on 174 targets (64.9%) for 1346 yards and 5 touchdowns on 615 routes run, an average of 2.19 yards per route run, 12th in the NFL. He was largely a volume receiver, catching primarily underneath targets, with only 25 catches 10+ yards downfield, and finishing 2nd in the NFL in targets, so he wasn’t quite as good as his numbers suggested, but he was still very good.
Last year: NA
139. OT King Dunlap (San Diego)
Dunlap took a lot of heat in Philadelphia in 2012, when the 2008 7th round pick and career backup took over for an injured Jason Peters at left tackle. Dunlap was blamed for a lot of the Eagles’ problems on the offensive line and on the team in general. In reality, he actually played pretty well, grading out above average on Pro Football Focus, including 20th in pass blocking. The Chargers were able to get him on a 2-year, 3.95 million dollar deal and he proved to be more than worth it after he won the starting job in Training Camp. Despite missing 5 games with injury, Dunlap graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked offensive tackle. No offensive tackle played fewer snaps and graded out higher. Dunlap might not be quite as good in 2014, but he could also be even better if he’s able to stay healthy and on the field for more games.
Last year: NA
140. OT Andre Smith (Cincinnati)
There was concern going into last season that Andre Smith would coast once he received the 3-year, 18 million dollar deal he got from the Bengals to re-sign in the previous off-season. In fact, that concern is part of the reason why he didn’t get a bigger contract than that. Smith had weight and motivation concerns coming out of college and struggled mightily in his first 2 seasons in the league. The Bengals exercised an option in his contract after his 2nd season in the league to cut it from a 6-year to a 4-year deal. That seemed to wake him up, as he graded out 28th among offensive tackles in 2011 and 4th in 2012. There was concern that he’d go back to coasting once he got paid, but he graded out 20th in 2013, so he definitely quelled some of those concerns. Now with 3 straight solid seasons on his resume, the naturally talented right tackle seems poised for another strong year.
Last year: 143
141. WR Julian Edelman (New England)
Edelman finished the regular season with 105 catches for 1056 yards and 6 touchdowns. He averaged 1.76 yards per route run. For comparison’s sake, Wes Welker averaged 1.64 yards per route run in 2013. Edelman did get more targets as he was a bigger part of New England’s offense, but he also caught a significantly higher percentage of his targets (71.9% to 67.0%) even though he commanded more of the defense’s attention. As a result, Edelman was Pro Football Focus’ 21st ranked wide receiver in pass catching grade, while Welker came in at 39th. The Patriots gave Edelman a deserved 4-year, 17 million dollar deal this off-season as a free agent, as he goes into his age 28 season. Still, the Patriots do need to become less reliant on Edelman and have other receivers step up for Brady to throw to. Edelman is still a former undrafted one-year wonder who had 69 catches in the previous 4 seasons, while missing a combined 16 games over those 4 seasons.
Last year: NA
142. G Mike Iupati (San Francisco)
Iupati missed 4 games with injury and graded out just about average. He has a solid chance of bouncing back this season though. The 2010 1st round pick is going into his contract year so he has every motivation to play his best. Another strong season could make him one of the highest paid guards in the NFL. He also isn’t a one-year wonder, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked guard in 2010, 11th ranked guard in 2011, and 5th ranked guard in 2012. He’s only missed 4 games in his career, those 4 games last season, and last season was the fluke when looking at his career. He could easily have another strong season in 2014.
Last year: 45
143. QB Nick Foles (Philadelphia)
Foles broke into the lineup because of a Vick injury (what else) and took the starting job and ran with it, completing 64.0% of his passes for an average of 9.12 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He led the league in QB rating at 119.2, ahead of even Peyton Manning, and finished with the 3rd best QB rating season all time. In games in which Nick Foles started and finished the game, the Eagles moved the chains at a 78.69% rate, as opposed to 70.04% in their other games. That’s the difference between the 2nd and the 20th best offense last season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 17th ranked quarterback, which is less impressive than his statistics, which again suggests that much of his production was a result of the system, the coaching, and the talent around him. Still, he had a strong season last year and the Eagles have a great combination of quarterback and head coach.
Last year: NA
144. WR Victor Cruz (NY Giants)
An undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010, Cruz didn’t play a snap as a rookie. Over the past 3 seasons though, he’s caught 241 passes on 376 attempts (64.1%) for 3626 yards and 23 touchdowns on 1541 routes run, an average of 2.35 yards per route run. He hasn’t been quite as good as his numbers have suggested, grading out 28th on Pro Football Focus in 2011, 44th in 2012, and 44th in 2013, but he’s still a very solid wide receiver.
Last year: 101
145. QB Andrew Luck (Indianapolis)
In 2 seasons in the league, Andrew Luck is 14-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less, 15-2 if you include a one point comeback home win over the Chiefs in last year’s playoffs. The Colts have won 22 regular season games over the past 2 seasons. 14 of them have come by 7 points or fewer. That’s not sustainable. Luck’s statistics haven’t been that great, as he’s completed 57.0% of his passes for 6.85 YPA, 46 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions, while rushing for 632 yards and 9 touchdowns on 125 carries (5.06 YPC). However, Luck hasn’t had a lot of help in terms of his supporting cast. Luck was Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked quarterback in 2013, improved from 2012 when he was 16th. Going into his 3rd year in the league, he could be even better in 2014.
Last year: NA
146. WR Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay)
Jackson has graded out above average on Pro Football Focus in every season since their origin in 2007, maxing out at #1 with San Diego in 2009 and #6 in 2012 with Tampa Bay. Over the past 6 seasons, he’s caught 351 passes for 6227 yards and 43 touchdowns on 624 targets (56.3%) and 2835 routes run, an average of 2.20 yards per route run. He’s a deep threat and not a consistent volume receiver, but he’s one of the better wide receivers in the league. The one minor concern is that he’s going into his age 31 season, but that’s probably not a problem yet.
Last year: 92
147. DE Justin Tuck (Oakland)
Tuck has obviously had some great seasons, including last season when he was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked 4-3 defensive end, but he’s going into his age 31 season. He also was just about a league average starter in 2011 and 2012 and missed 5 games and was limited in several others during that time frame. The 6-5 268 pounder will continue to play defensive end in base packages and move inside to defensive tackle in sub packages.
Last year: NA
148. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (NY Giants)
The Giants signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a 5-year, 35 million dollar deal this off-season. That’s a risky move considering his inconsistent history, but it could pay off if he plays his best. A 2008 1st round pick, DRC made the Pro-Bowl in 2009 and looked on his way towards cementing his place as one of the league’s best cornerbacks, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked cornerback that year. However, 2010 was the exact opposite for him, as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ dead last ranked cornerback, which turned him into a throw-in to Philadelphia in the Kevin Kolb trade. His tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t good, as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 84th ranked cornerback out of 109 eligible in 2011 and 91st ranked cornerback out of 113 eligible in 2012 as part of a massively disappointing Philadelphia secondary. That earned him a one-year prove it deal in Denver, worth about 4 million dollars, but he did prove it, grading out 6th among cornerbacks. There’s no guarantee he doesn’t struggle and coast now that he’s gotten paid though.
Last year: NA
149. OLB Jason Worilds (Pittsburgh)
Worilds was Pro Football Focus’ 14th 3-4 outside linebacker last season on 792 snaps. The Steelers will pay Worilds 9.754 million on the transition tag this season, as they were been unable to reach a long-term deal with him. Worilds is still a one year wonder, after the 2010 2nd round pick played a combined 979 snaps in his first 3 seasons in the league, maxing out at 501 in 2011. However, he graded out above average 2 of those 3 seasons, so it’s definitely possible that the one-time highly rated prospect could continue this strong play into 2014. He’ll have to prove himself on a one-year deal, but he could command a lot of money in free agency this off-season if he repeats what he did last season, which would probably put him out of the cap strapped Steelers’ price range.
Last year: NA
150. OLB Terrell Suggs (Baltimore)
Terrell Suggs restructured his contract this off-season, coming off of a down year, but it was still a 5-year, 28.5 million dollar deal with 16 million guaranteed. He still had a good year last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker, grading out slightly above average as a pass rusher and grading out as Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked 3-4 outside linebacker, but he wasn’t as good he was previously was, when he was Pro Football Focus’ #2 ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2011 and #7 ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2010. He’s now going into his age 32 season, so his best days are probably behind him, and he could have ruined his body playing through two serious injuries in 2012, when graded out below average. He should still be an asset though.
Last year: 80