2018 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2017 Season) - #50-41

Posted on: Jun 11, 2018   |   Posted by: German NFL Blog Refs4Pats.com

Welcome everyone to the 2018 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2017 Season) ranked from #50-#41. Today as we close out the top half of our list if you’ve missed anything you can head over the the Top 100 Hub Post to look back on all of the reasons you disagree with us and let us know! Quick note, due to some IRL obligations changing I am going to be suspending the Thursday threads for now, and at the end of this year’s list I will be stepping back entirely from the Top 100 list. It will be left in good hands next season with u/MikeTysonChicken taking over, so no worries about that. I just have not have much, if any time, and it’s been showing the last few weeks so take that and some burn out after 5 seasons of being involved and… yeah. It’s not fair to the rankers who put in a ton of time to give it sub-par presentation. SO… ANYWAY… with all of that out of the way, it’s time to see who was ranked from #50-#41 in the 2018 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2017 Season)! #50 - Brandon Graham - 4-3 Defensive End - Philadelphia Eagles Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 N/R N/R N/R N/R #32 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/MikeTysonChicken Some heroes wear capes, some heroes wear wings .. Brandon Graham went from likely draft bust current Super Bowl hero in what has been quite the career for the former first round pick. As detailed last year, the Eagles traded up in the 2010 NFL draft for the former Michigan Wolverine with Earl Thomas on the board when the Eagles were desperate for good safety play. While his career got off to a rocky start, Graham has certainly become one of the game’s best EDGE rushers placing 50 on this year’s list. Perhaps his journey from the rough start to his career to Super Bowl hero best describes the type of player Brandon Graham is and how he wins: constant pressure and relentless effort. After an okay rookie season Graham tore his ACL in 2011; it was an injury that required Graham to have Microfracture Surgery and really set his career back. Then of course the 2012 Eagles were an abomination as Graham started to get back into it before nearly losing his roster spot with Chip Kelly switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013. We look back at that transition now with angst and for good reason but Graham wasn’t nearly the player he is now despite some small flashes. With the endless pressure to perform teetering on the brink of being a draft bust, Graham enjoyed an excellent 2016 season finishing with 83 pressures per PFF. Graham followed that up this past season notching 60 pressures, 9.5 regular season sacks, and 9th among 4-3 DEs in Pass Rush Productivity while finishing 8th overall per PFF among all EDGE rushers. Additionally, Graham finished first among 4-3 DEs (min 70 snaps) in Run Stop Percentage and tied for 4th overall in total stops per PFF. Graham is no one trick pony and as good an EDGE rusher you will find in the NFL. Finally, Brandon Graham was the 4th rated 4-3 DE per NFL1000 for the season. The stats don’t lie when you check the tape. Graham consistently keeps offenses off schedule in the run game. Graham consistently sets the edge and cleans up in the run game. He is very difficult to block in all phases. Brandon Graham was under a lot of pressure early in his career and now brings a lot of pressure to each opponent he faces. It doesn’t really matter if his 1-on-1 match up is a 2nd Team All Pro, Brandon Graham is as relentless as they come. Pressure and Effort. These two things Graham turned into a hallmark of elite EDGE play the last two seasons. Now that he is entering the final year of his contract, BG looks to put together another successful season while finishing plays more becoming one of the sack leaders for the season. You won’t out work BG and it is very difficult to stop him. Just ask Shaq Mason. #49 - Alex Mack - Center - Atlanta Falcons Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 N/R #54 #78 N/R #27 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/Felix_Tholomyes Alex Mack was the big free agent signing that the Falcons built their dynamic run game on in 2016 as they made their way to the Super Bowl. Mack maintained his excellent level of play in 2017, again being named to the Pro Bowl roster. There were struggles around Mack in 2017 though, which were not there in 2016. In 2016 the Falcons managed the impressive feat of starting the same 5 OL players in every game. This was not the case in 2017 as many linemen were shuffled around due to injuries. Particularly, Mack had to deal with subpar play at the right guard position, often in the form of second-year player Wes Schweitzer. Perhaps free agent signing Brandon Fusco will be the answer to the RG question mark, perhaps Schweitzer will be given a chance to do better in 2018. Regardless, the Falcons can at least rest assured that they have one of the elite linemen in the league at center. #48 - Andrew Whitworth - Tackle - Los Angeles Rams Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 N/R #62 #26 #46 #29 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/yji Andrew Whitworth is no spring chicken at 36 years old, but you'd never know it watching him play. He's defied Father Time and if anything has gotten better with age, earning his fourth Pro Bowl berth and second First Team All-Pro selection in 2017. Bleacher Report's #3 LT was a key part in paving the way for Todd Gurley on his way to OPOY and protecting Jared Goff in his stunning bounce back year. With his help, the Rams produced the top offense in the league and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Rams ask a lot out of Whitworth as a lead blocker on the move, with their heavy usage of the screen game and outside zone runs. Even at 36 years old, he's still a top athlete and shines in this area with great angles. Time and time again, he's shown the ability to make blocks in space against LBs and DBs and it opened up many big plays for the Rams in 2017. These are tough assignments for any OT, but Whitworth consistently executes them with ease, and it's why he's such a great player. Another area Whitworth excels in is pass protection. He had another fine year here, only giving up 24 total pressures in 15 games, while getting very little help from scheme or personnel. The Rams often slid protection away from his side, leaving him on an island. Whitworth had good success against top pass rushers like Chandler Jones, showing the ability to keep up with them on speed rushes to run them out of the play and the patience to take away the inside move. He also shows the awareness and intelligence you'd expect from a grizzled vet, picking up stunts and blitzes effectively seamlessly. Whitworth is deserving of a top 50 spot on this list, and should continue to appear on these lists as he hasn't shown that he's declining anytime soon. #47 - Melvin Ingram - 4-3 Defensive End - Los Angeles Chargers Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 N/R N/R N/R N/R #58 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/malourbas Over the past few years, Melvin Ingram has established himself as one of the premier pass rushers in the league. With the addition of Joey Bosa in 2016, they have formed almost unarguably the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. In 2017, Melvin played all 16 games for the third year straight, forcing one fumble, recovering two (including one for a TD), notched 10.5 sacks (matching his career high), and recorded 43 tackles. He and Bosa would have most likely recorded a few more sacks on the year, but as the season went on and it became painfully easy for opposing teams to run on the Chargers, the coaches instructed the two to focus more on setting the edge rather than pinning their ears back and getting after the QB. That should change next year with the additions to the LB group and interior line. Outside of stats, Ingram is one of the longest tenured Chargers and is clearly a locker room leader for the young and rapidly improving defense. Chargers fans should be very excited for what 2018 has in store for SupaMel. #46 - Darius Slay - Cornerback - Detroit Lions Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 N/R N/R N/R #61 N/R Player Profile Card Written By: /u/Evilan “Oh my god! Darius Slay made an NFL Top 100 list! It’s a goddamn miracle!” – says every Lions fans and I. I’ve done this list for the past 3 seasons and Slay has made my list all three of those times. There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe how impactful Big Play Slay has been for the Lions. He’s a consistent one man covering crew and he is a huge reason for the Lions defensive improvements over the past couple of seasons. 2017 wasn’t Slay’s best year as a shutdown man cover corner surrendering 700 yds and 3 TDs to his targets. However, Big Play Slay wasn’t playing his coverages quite the same as he has done in seasons past. In 2017 Slay was considerably more aggressive covering receivers and played with more anticipation than what we normally see from him. He was constantly looking for ways to beat receivers and play the ball rather than cover them. Seeing as how he nabbed a league leading 8 interceptions and defended another 18 passes he certainly did a great job in his ever-expanding role. This type of play was also very handsomely rewarded to the tune of Slay's first ever Pro Bowl appearance and All-Pro. Even as I say Slay wasn’t at his best as a man cover guy, he was still phenomenal. He never let receivers get behind him and allowed only a single pass over 35 yards. The passer rating of QBs targeting him is also a staggeringly low 55.6 which easily places him into that top echelon of cornerbacks. 2018 will be an important year for Slay as a rising star at the cornerback position, but from what I've seen I have no doubt he continues to terrorize the NFCN for a while longer. #45 - Joe Staley - Tackle - San Francisco 49ers Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 #34 #68 #77 #84 N/R Player Profile Card Written By: /u/Maad-Dog Staley took his usual great years, and turned it up to elite this past season. For starters, Staley ranked as PFF's 2nd tackle across the season, behind only David Bakhtiari. Now Staley's biggest strength as a tackle was the run game, as PFF rated Staley as the best run blocking tackle in the entire league. If you take a look at another source, FO's adjusted line yards, and specifically look at runs directed towards the left tackle/end for the 49ers, we rank 5th and 6th in the league there, even though we were average/below average on runs to any other direction. That's all because of big man Staley. No team had a better average rank when running towards the left tackle/end. Now obviously if Staley's strength comes as a run blocker, his weakness must be his pass protection. But even there, he was great. Ranked as PFF's 9th best pass protector, he also had the 6th best pass blocking efficiency (PBE) among all tackles. But that was all with 10 games with bottom tier QB play. What happened in the 5 weeks where he was blocking for Jimmy G, his first taste of competent QB play in years? He had the highest PBE in the league, as well as graded out as the best pass protecting AND run blocking tackle. Not only that though, but according to PFF,only 3 players had a higher grade than Staley in the last 5 weeks of the regular season: Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and DeMarcus Lawrence. That's domination. If you're more of a watch and judge type of guy, this entire Niners-Jags highlight video is filled with Staley taking on some of the best edge rushers in the game (Campbell/Ngakoue) and winning. Check out this game-winning run against the Jags by Matt Breida, and peep #74 on the left, and how well he moves in space and then completely demolishes Myles Jack trying to make a game saving tackle. TL;DR - Staley was an absolute monster this year, a top 3 tackle no question, and he looked even better when with Jimmy GQ. I'm glad he was recognized for the ridiculous year he had. #44 - Kevin Byard - Safety - Tennessee Titans Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 --- --- --- --- N/R Player Profile Card Written By: /u/Naxter48 Kevin Byard went into his sophomore year with high expectations and a high drive for performance. After earning the starting gig towards the latter half of his rookie year, he strived to become the level of an All Pro and Pro Bowler long before the season had started. He was giving the coaching staff a lot to look forward as seemingly everyone was expecting him to have a standout performance. And sure enough in 2017, he had become the fan the catalyst on defense the team needed. Now being paired up with a brand new Titans secondary, Byard took the reins as leader on the defense, calling out positions and pre-snap movement even in training camp. As the season wore on, more and more was asked of Byard and he obliged. Even agreeing to cover the monstrous Gronk in a 14-35 losing effort to the Pats in the playoffs. A game where he still recorded 10 tackles. Byard finished with 87 tackles, sixth among free safeties and 12th among all safeties, and 24 passes defended. The most out of any safety in the league and only behind Darius Slay and Casey Hayward amongst all secondary players. He really transformed into a full on playmaking safety in his second year. Of course the biggest story about Byard this year was his breakout INT performance. He ended tied with Darius Slay for 8 INTs on the season. His performance was absolutely necessary for an otherwise turnover starved Titans D. Those 8 INTs along with 1 fumble forced accounted for 9/21 of the Titans takeaways in 2017. The NFL Top 100 video on him shows off a few of his biggest this year, including the game-securing INT in Week 17 in Jacksonville (his 2nd that day). That pick ensured the Titans would get into the playoffs. He also had a great outing vs the Browns and Deshone Kizer where he had 3 picks in one game. Following it up with a 2 pick performance against the Ravens in the next game after the bye week. Finishing first team AP and even getting the starting nod in the Pro Bowl, Byard's future looks very bright as he now enters his 3rd season. Hopefully he'll keep being the great ballhawk he showed us and can lead the Titans teams to a lot more victories. #43 - Kawann Short - 4-3 Defensive Tackle - Carolina Panthers Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 --- N/R N/R #40 #57 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/Bersinator Kawann Short earns his third top 100 spot in 2018 and that also happens to be his third in a row. Since blowing up in the Panthers 2015 run, KK Short has maintained that spectacular success putting up 7.5 sacks in his 2017 campaign at his interior defensive line position. The second highest total in his career. Short, one of the best interior pass rushers in the league, pressured the quarterback 51 times in 2018, only behind Geno Atkins and DeForest Buckner at his position. Where Short separates himself from many DTs happens to be his versatility. At a hefty 315 pounds, Kawann Short has still somehow shown the agility to clear hands and gain the edge on opposing offensive linemen to make a play. And if that doesn't work, he can take all 315 pounds of him and just straight up overpower you and disrupt the pocket. Speaking of that same versatility, Short, on top of those 51 pressures, also happens to be top five in both PFF's and Bleacher Report's NFL1000 run defense grading where he racked up 30 run stops. That dynamic playmaking ability is what earned him his top 50 spot on this list and his second highest landing spot next to 2015. #42 - David Bakhtiari - Tackle - Green Bay Packers Previous Ranks 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 --- N/R N/R N/R #66 Player Profile Card Written By: /u/eQuals91 David Bakhtiari's 2017 campaign proved that his 2016 breakout year was no fluke, he is here to stay as one of the elite offensive tackles in the NFL. For the second consecutive year he was the best pass blocking offensive tackle in the NFL. His remarkable lateral movement was complemented by an increasingly stout anchor, and he is by all accounts one of the premier technicians at the line. The early career struggles with power rushers looks to be firmly in the rear view mirror. The torch has been passed on from Joe Thomas, there is a new standard for pass protection in the NFL. Pro Football Focus credited Bakhtiari with the league's best pass blocking efficiency among qualifying OTs position at a stunning 98. He allowed 12 pressures on 455 snaps (12 games), the Packers allowed 181 total pressures on the season. 5 of those 12 pressures were protecting Hundley in a meeting with Everson Griffen, a match-up which Bakhtriari has historically dominated. Despite allowing 5 pressures he was graded an 80 in pass protection. His comprehensive skill set to defend the top pass rushers was demonstrated by his consistency. His lowest graded game came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a pass blocking grade of 77.2 and an overall grade of 72.4. Separating from the pack of very good to elite is more about the floor of play during a season than a ceiling. While it's exceptionally hard to pass block effectively on average, there is a different level required to simply never lose. Over the course of Rodgers career, Bakhtiari has allowed an exceptionally low number of hits and sacks. Among pass blockers with 2500+ snaps in the PFF era, Bakhtiari has the 4th lowest percentage of contact allowed to his QB. It's difficult to tell how much Rodgers helps or hurts his OT in this sense. He extends plays which require his OL to hold up for a longer average time, but he is also seemingly tapped into the matrix and leveraging his position in the pocket an entirely unique level. The case for Bakhtiari was settled in 2017 as Brett Hundley had the 4th lowest average time to throw at 3 seconds, in front of only escape artists Tyrod, Wilson, and Watson. Like Joe Thomas, Bakhtiari was tasked with one of the most difficult assignments in the league this season and performed at the highest level of his career. As a run blocker, Bakhtiari has the best season of his career. Still, if you had to pick a flaw in his game, this is it. He has developed into a quality blocker in the packers zone favored run scheme. He is very effective reach blocker, he is most dangerous on outside zone runs to the left. But wouldn't be any teams first choice to pull, or an RBs favorite people-mover in a gap scheme. In 2018's NFL, it is by far less important to be a quality run blocker than a pass protector, despite how much we all enjoy watching Tyron Smith pancake players. Bakhtiari's skill set is increasingly relevant with the rising share of outsize zone and RPOs. It's possible in the future we look back at his skill set as more prototypical, and wonder how he well he would have been regarded in a game less focused on inside running. But for now, you could make a fair case that he doesn't separate himself from someone like Trent Williams due to run blocking. In a very weak year for OT in the..

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