Tale of the Tape

By on July 24, 2010

NFL Player Analysis by Position

 Kory and Matt rate the top two players at each position.

Quarterback– This is a relatively easy spot to pick, as the intangibles my two picks possess, keep them safely in front of the pack. Rogers and Rivers could have a lot to say about this in the near future and the ultimate wild card Tom Brady could creep back into the conversation. But for all things considered…

NFL Player Analysis by Position

 

Kory and Matt rate the top two players at each position.

Quarterback– This is a relatively easy spot to pick, as the intangibles my two picks possess, keep them safely in front of the pack. Rogers and Rivers could have a lot to say about this in the near future and the ultimate wild card Tom Brady could creep back into the conversation. But for all things considered…

  1. Peyton Manning- Is there really any question here. His leadership and dedication are legendary. He is the first one in the building in the morning and the last to go home. He makes that entire offense go. I’m sure you could put anybody with him and they will be better than they are with their current team. Conversely, you could put him on any team and I would bet pretty much everything he turns them into a Super Bowl Contender. In a sport that epitomizes team he is a one man gang.
  2. Drew Brees- His toughness and moxie earn his spot here.  You don’t have to be able to throw it 80 yards to be great, he proves that. Drew is likely the most accurate QB in the league. His teammates rally around him and thrive off his sheer joy of the game.
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    Drew Brees, #2, only to Peyton Manning

Matt’s Take—No argument here.  If you don’t agree, please join our fantasy league so we can take your money.

RB– I have such a hard time leaving Chris Johnson off this list. After all, he did just break Marshall Faulk’s record for most yards from scrimmage in a single season.  If you have read my other articles you know that fact is what bothers me. No one has ever repeated a season like that and there is the curse of 375 to be concerned about too.

  1. Adrian Peterson- 1,341-12,/1,760-10,/1,383-18. Those are Peterson’s yards -TDs through his first three years. He hasn’t had his breakout season and he is still widely considered the best. Big and fast, he is the prototypical work horse running back. The only knock on him is his proclivity for fumbling but nobody knows where his ceiling is. There was another back everyone knocked for fumbling and he did it at a higher rate than AP, his name? Walter Payton.
  2. Ray Rice – His 1,339 yards and 7 TDs didn’t exactly qualify as a surprise in 2009 as he was the feature back in Baltimore. Willis McGahee stole 12 TDs from the diminutive Rice. Yes, McGahee is back for 2010 but he has another year on those creaky knees and if Rice can get half those TDs back he is an All Pro again. Excellent receiver out of the backfield and a surprisingly willing and effective blocker.

Matt’s Take—Though I like Adrian Peterson as one of the top RBs in the league this year, I doubt he will finish among the top two.  I really see Maurice Jones-Drew having a monster year.  In his first year as the main man, he amassed over 1,750 total yards and is entering his 6th season.  His maturity and lack of supporting cast makes me believe he has yet to show us what he is fully capable of.

WR– This group is deep, but two players stand out above a solid group. Randy Moss has a great chance to prove me wrong, as does his teammate Wes Welker. In fact if Welker wasn’t coming back from injury, he probably jumps into the number two spot. Leaving Brandon Marshall off of this list is difficult but his immaturity and his knack to divide a locker room are just too much to overlook. Larry Fitzgerald is another glaring omission, but I feel he is really going to miss Kurt Warner.

  1. Andre Johnson- I love easy choices I don’t have to think about. He is the best, period. Size, check. Speed, check. Hands, check. Competitiveness, check. He is a total package and he is consistent to boot.  He had 101 receptions, 1,569 receiving yards and nine TDs in 2009. Considering he is entering his prime these numbers should only go up.
  2. Calvin Johnson- I really hope the Lions get better if just by a little bit. The rest of the country deserves to see ‘Megatron’ play on a day other than when they are fighting to stay awake after Thanksgiving Dinner.
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    Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, #2 WR

Matt’s Take—There are so many quality wideouts that are on the rise but you can’t deny the Johnson & Johnson picks here.  I do have to say that Randy Moss has a lot to prove this year.  Not that he had a bad year in ’09, but I think he is frustrated with the talk of him having a “down” year, is playing for his last big contract, and Brady is now two years removed from his knee injury.

TE– This is an absolutely stacked group with the young guys trying fiercely to displace the older talent who just keep trucking on.

1.   Dallas Clark- Peyton’s go to guy is only the second TE in history to catch over 100 balls. The scary part is he could be even more productive this year.

2.   Antonio Gates- He is coming off his best year with 79-1,157-8 and there is no reason to think he will slow down. Along with Vincent Jackson’s suspension and contract fall out Gates should receive even more attention from Phillip Rivers.

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Matt and Kory disagree on Gates, in photo Rivers throws to Gates vs KC November 29, 2009 in San Diego

Matt’s Take—I don’t see Gates as one of the top three in this year’s tight end group only because he has a history of injury and I think it’s going to finally catch up to him.  Jason Witten nearly broke the century mark in receptions but just had a tough time finding the end zone.  Tony Romo and Miles Austin are just beginning to reach their potential for that Dallas offense and Witten will only benefit from their production.

Tackle– With the retirements of Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden the mantle of best left tackle is clearly up for debate with the depth and youth of this group make it extremely hard to rate. Jake Long, Michael Roos and Jordan Gross will battle for All Pro teams for the next decade.

1. Joe Thomas- At 6’3” 321 he doesn’t have the mammoth size of some of his counterparts but he gets the job done. He has been to the Pro Bowl all three years and earned his first All Pro team last year. He is excellent in all aspects of his game and should be seen here for years to come.

2. Ryan Clady- At 6’6” 335lbs Clady is a beast. The scary thought is he is only 23       He regressed in his second season, giving up eight sacks and his run blocking deteriorated as the season went on but count on him to return to his rookie form where he didn’t allow a single sack.

Matt’s Take—I have to disagree with Kory on his Clady selection.  He injured his patellar tendon in an offseason basketball game (can you imagine bumping bodies with him in the paint?) and this kind of injury takes awhile to recover fully.  He is a monster talent but he won’t finish 2010 in the top five.  Jake Long will compete with Thomas for top honors at the tackle position.

Guard– Guards don’t get all the attention tackles do because they are lost on the inside. A team’s running success greatly depends on the guards ability to get a push up the middle and to tie up the LBs on the second level and in space.

1. Steve Hutchinson- Seven Pro Bowls and First team All Pro for six years says all you need to know. He has been considered the best for years and he’s an absolute mauler in the run game.

2. Jahari Evans- He’s a widely respected All Pro and the best lineman on the Super Bowl Champion Saints.

Matt’s Take—While I agree with both of these men as the best at their position, I have to give honorable mention to Kris Dielman.  He is entering his prime and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him overtake one of these two this year.

 

Center– This is a position on the line where being huge takes a back seat.  A center has to make all of the line call and adjustments, so having a high football IQ is of utmost importance. I almost put Andre Gurode in the second spot just because he is one of the few centers who has the size to adequately handle the middle and gets a great push in the run game.

  1. Nick Mangold- He is young, smart and talented while anchoring one of the best lines in the NFL. Always makes the right line adjustments and completely dominates the middle.
  2. Jeff Saturday- All you have to do is look at how Peyton plays when he is in and when he was hurt two years ago. Amazing in pass protection.

Matt’s Take—Spot on take, Kory.

DT– Defensive Tackle is not a glamour position and can be judged in many ways. I did this by watching games and seeing which defenses absolutely controlled the middle of the line. Sorry Albert Haynesworth, you may be the highest and most overpaid person in the game. With your childish and selfish ways, I can’t believe I even mentioned you.  I wish I could put Jay Ratliff and his six sacks on here too.

  1. Kevin Williams- Huge and unnaturally quick for his size he forms one half of the Williams Wall in Viking land. He even threw in six sacks last year for good measure. Opposing teams run to the sidelines and roll out their QB to avoid this guy.
  2. Haloti Ngata- Not a big number guy and a torn pectoral muscle is a little worrisome but teams don’t run on the Ravens for a reason. He is a HUGE part of that.

Matt’s Take—I have some concerns about Williams being able to produce as he could be facing a four game suspension this year (this story is beginning to sound like a broken record) but you can’t deny his strength when he plays.  I feel like Kris Jenkins gets little respect, though, due to the superstar status of his teammate, Darrelle Revis.  He helped anchor a D that allowed only 3.8 yards /rush last year.

DE– Naturally these are going to be 4-3 ends as they are expected to produce the pressure. For all the 3-4 ends that eat up blockers, I apologize but I can’t overlook the stats. I could have easily flip-flopped Dwight Freeney for Dumerville.

  1. Jared Allen- His 43 tackles and 14.5 sacks, stoutness against the run, non-stop motor and leadership make him the best DE in the league. If a teammate doesn’t give 100% they will have an angry 6’6”, 270lbs of angry mullet coming after him. Yes, I know he shaved the mullet but I’ll bet it will be back.
  2. Elvis Dumerville-49 tackles and league leading 17 sacks make this an easy pick. Even though he is undersized his amazing strength and relentless motor allow him to stand up against the run too.  1st Team All Pro.
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    Elvis works on his sack total vs. Jamarcus Russell in Oakland, September 27, 2009

Matt’s Take—I really want to take Allen off this list (I’m a big fan of the Packers) but I simply cannot.  The man is relentless.

MLB– Sorry Lewis and Urlacher, if this list was just a bit older and took into account more than 2010 you would not be excluded. Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to be on the receiving end of one of your tackles but youth is served on this list. Another apology to DeMeco Ryans and David Harris, watching these four go for All Pro honors for years to come should be fun to watch.

  1. Patrick Willis- This isn’t even close anymore. In his three years in the league Willis has lead the league in tackles twice and was second the other year. He added sideline to sideline range in 2009 and probably added something new for 2010.  Chad OchoCinco nicknamed him Bam-Bam because he hits everything. Adrian Peterson said he is the best hitter in the league and he has the speed to chase down WR, right Sean Morey? He will hold this spot for years to come.
  2. Jon Beason- A beast in the middle for a Carolina Panthers defense with question marks all over the field. He had a career high 141 tackles last year while earning his 2nd Pro Bowl appearance and earning 2nd team All Pro honors.

Matt’s Take—DeMeco Ryans gets the slight edge over Beason in my book, only because I think the loss of Julius Peppers and a poor offense will hurt the Panthers defense severely.  Houston has a much better front seven.

 

OLB– With about half the teams playing a version of the 3-4 this is going to be tilted toward the 3-4 OLB because they are the sack artists and, well, people love sacks.

  1. DeMarcus Ware- This is another easy choice as he is easily is the top OLB and could be in contention for best defensive player overall. He never misses a game. After spraining his neck against San Diego last year he came back a week later to lead Dallas over New Orleans by forcing two fumbles. He had 20 sacks two years ago and always requires a double, if not triple team. Any one player who requires this much attention from opposing offenses gets credit just for making everyone else’s job on defense that much easier.
  2. Lamar Woodley- this is just by hair over his running mate Jerome Harrison. Who are the only two players to have at least 11.5 sacks over the past two years? Woodley and Jared Allen. He is just now coming into his own and should surpass Harrison as the Steelers leading backer.

Matt’s Take—Ware and Woodley are easily the cream of the crop when it comes to OLB.

 

CB– There’s a few tough choices here. If this were the best for 2009 Charles Woodson would be here, what with nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. Players just don’t repeat years like that, especially at his age. This is 2010 and he barely misses the cut.

  1. Darrelle Revis- He shut down every WR he went against. Revis Island. Put him out there and forget about it. His stats might not measure up to some other CB’s but QBs where terrified to go anywhere near him so he lacked the opportunities. If you saw some of his interceptions I would put money he has better hands than most the WRs he goes up against.
  2. Nnamdi Asomugha- If it weren’t for a funny name he would toil in absolute obscurity. If I’m right and Oakland can make a little noise out west he will be a household name on the level of Revis and Woodson. His numbers in 2009 don’t speak of his greatness. Like Revis he takes away half the field and shuts down the opposing team’s best receiver.
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    01/03/2010 - Nnamdi Asomugha (21) - 2010 NFL - Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders (21-13) - January 3, 2010 - Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum - Oakland, CA

Matt’s Take—Another no-brainer here.  The only knock I have on Asomugha is that he doesn’t always take the best receiver, but that’s not his fault.  D-Coordinator John Marshall likes to keep him on one side of the field, allowing opposing offenses to send their best WR in motion away from Asomugha.

 

Safety– I’m only going to do two safeties as the line between FS and SS is greatly blurred. It’s tough to say who actually plays what as in most systems as they are interchangeable. Ed Reed is possibly the best safety in the game, if healthy. The hip injury and retirement talk keeps him off the list. The same goes for Bob Sanders who has only played eight games in two seasons.

  1. Troy Polamalu- If his value to the Steeler D was ever in question all you have to do is look at what happened when he was injured last year. The ever feared Pittsburgh D fell flat on its face. They fell from the number one D in 2008 with him down to number 20 without him. He only has one 16 game season in the past four years so Pittsburgh’s D’s hopes of claiming their spot as one of the league’s best, and their playoff hopes, rest squarely on Troy’s shoulders.
  2. Brian Dawkins- Yes, he’s 36 but he is still a fearless hitter and the unquestioned leader of the Broncos defense.

Matt’s Take—I don’t care about the hip, if he plays, Reed is the best in the game.

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