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B/R NFL 1000: Top 100 Players

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 24, 2014

B/R NFL 1000: Top 100 Players

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Who was the best player in the NFL during the 2013 season?

    That's the question the Bleacher Report NFL 1,000 team—Dan Bazal, Dan Hope, B.J. Kissel, Cian Fahey and myself—were tasked with answering this spring. We hope you found the write-ups informative and thought-provoking, even if they were at times at odds against what Pro Bowl voters or the media tells us.

    The goal of the NFL 1,000 has always been to give an honest look at how players performed and then grade and rank them justly. We didn't factor in potential—something hard for those of us with an NFL draft background to ignore—or past success. Even basic things like tackle stats were questioned. Did the film back up the stats? If not, we went with the film.

    The result was a scouting report, grade and ranking of the 1,000 best players in the NFL from this past season. Here we've compiled the top 100—with the same subjective tie-breaker in place—for a very snackable read.

    Thanks for coming back twice each week to view every positional breakdown and leaving your thoughts with us here and on Twitter.

100-96: Lacy, Atkins, McKelvin, Harris, Trufant

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    Geno Atkins
    Geno AtkinsJamie Sabau/Getty Images

     

    100. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

    86/100

    The best rookie back in the game, Lacy has the potential to eventually top the running backs list. He has room to improve and great coaching. It’s all on him. 

    99. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

    86/100

    An injury-shortened season keeps Atkins lower on the list because we evaluated fewer of his games. When healthy, he looked as elite as ever, but he wasn’t able to overcome a few average outings with a smaller sample size. 

    98. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Buffalo Bills

    87/100

    No longer “just” a speed player, McKelvin has developed into an upper-level cover man. Thanks to former Bills coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense, the former No. 11 overall pick has lived up to his draft stock.

    97. Chris Harris, CB, Denver Broncos

    87/100

    Harris may be penalized by some for playing in the slot, but not here. His ability to take away inside routes and keep up with the dynamic ability of the players he faces are key to us.

    96. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons

    87/100

    Few rookies step into the NFL and play like Trufant did in 2013. His play may have been overshadowed by the team’s surprising struggles, but he was a legitimate top-five cornerback. 

95-91: Casey, Poe, Houston, Wake, Chancellor

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    Kam Chancellor
    Kam ChancellorChristian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    95. Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee Titans

    87/100

    Casey will be Ray Horton’s new best friend, as the Titans’ defensive coordinator will love the versatility of his pass-rushing tackle.

    94. Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

    87/100

    Poe is among the most athletic nose tackles in the game, and in a one-gaping system, he flourished in 2013. His needle is pointing way up.

    93. Lamarr Houston, 4-3 DE, Oakland Raiders

    87/100

    One of the best all-around defensive ends in the game, Houston will be much more recognizable now that he’s signed with Chicago. As an ideal left defensive end, his impact against the run will be huge for the Bears defense.

    92. Cameron Wake, 4-3 DE, Miami Dolphins

    87/100

    One of the NFL’s best pass-rushers since coming into the league from Canada, Wake has the speed and athleticism to be perennially ranked in the top five at his position.

    91. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks

    87/100

    One half of the league’s best safety duo, Chancellor has the size, range and instincts to be great. While Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas share the headlines, he is great in his own right.

90-86: Gore, Johnson, Decker, Cruz, Jones

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    Victor Cruz
    Victor CruzJeff Gross/Getty Images

     

    90. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers

    87/100

    The ageless wonder, Gore continues to be great at finding small cracks in the line to run through while flashing the burst, power and agility to consistently challenge the defense.

    89. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs

    87/100

    Johnson’s impact on the Chiefs defense has been huge since the team moved to a 3-4 scheme. Now he’s the smart veteran with the young pups growing around him, and that’s a role he’s playing as well as any linebacker in the AFC.

    88. Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos

    87/100

    A top-tier No. 2 wide receiver, Decker, who signed as a free agent with the New York Jets, will be out to prove he can be a legitimate No. 1 in a new offense. The talent is there for him to be a major producer if he gets the looks and targets.

    87. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

    87/100

    Cruz has emerged as a true No. 1 threat in New York without having ideal size or NFL readiness coming out of college. His speed, quickness and aggressive style of play make him a dangerous playmaker on the outside or inside of the formation.

    86. James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers

    87/100

    The term "possession receiver" has some negative connotations, but that perfectly describes Jones. He’s a great No. 2 target who will have some big games and can consistently produce on the outside. 

85-81: Wayne, Jackson, Dietrich-Smith, Tolbert, Long

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    Reggie Wayne
    Reggie WayneAndy Lyons/Getty Images

     

    85. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts

    87/100

    Injuries ended Wayne’s season after seven games, but we’re grading what he did while on the field. Even as a 13-year pro, he still has the hands and superb route-running skills to be a No. 1 target for the Colts.

    84. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers

    87/100

    Jackson has the size, reach and understanding to be a dominant receiver on the outside. He’s the type of weapon you build an offense around. 

    83. Evan Dietrich-Smith, C, Green Bay Packers

    87/100

    The Packers needed a consistent, stable player to anchor the middle of their line, and they had one in Dietrich-Smith. No matter who lined up around him or who took his snaps, his play was at a high level week after week. He'll be suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 after signing a four-year contract. 

    82. Mike Tolbert, FB, Carolina Panthers

    87/100

    While most teams seldom use their fullbacks and largely feature them as lead blockers, Tolbert led all NFL fullbacks in snaps in 2013 while playing a variety of roles. He is a jack of all trades whose combination of rushing productivity, receiving reliability and blocking makes him versatile and valuable.

    81. Jake Long, LT, St. Louis Rams

    87/100

    Still regarded by many as an elite left tackle, Long struggled to find his rhythm when the season began. By midseason, he was back to his old form, showing the technique and strength needed to be a pillar on the left side before an ACL injury ended his year. He has to find a balance between quickness and strength, though, as that continues to be an issue in pass protection.

80-76: Monroe, Romo, Cutler, Whitner, Kuechly

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    Tony Romo
    Tony RomoPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

     

    80. Eugene Monroe, LT, Baltimore Ravens

    87/100

    The Ravens found a steal in Monroe when they traded with the Jaguars to acquire his services. He didn’t miss a beat, stepping in and maintaining his status as a top-10 left tackle on our list. His balance as a blocker and experience instantly made him a must-sign player for the Ravens this offseason.

    79. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

    87/100

    The Cowboys are heavily invested in their quarterback, and he appears to still have a few more good years left in him. The polarizing signal-caller is an upper-level player in Dallas. 

    78. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

    87/100

    Although Josh McCown was productive in relief of Cutler in 2013, there was no real comparison between their performances on the field. It's easy to see why the Bears invested in him with a long-term contract.

    77. Donte Whitner, S, San Fransisco 49ers

    88/100

    Whitner had a legitimate claim at All-Pro status in 2013. The question now is whether he can succeed with the Cleveland Browns without the vaunted 49ers pass rush in front of him.

    76. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Carolina Panthers

    88/100

    Kuechly took home Defensive Player of the Year honors after the 2013 season, but in our system his missed tackles and lack of impact as a pass-rusher keep him ranked lower than those voting for postseason awards might like.

75-71: Welker, Boldin, Bryant, Thomas, Sullivan

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    Anquan Boldin
    Anquan BoldinTom Pennington/Getty Images

     

    75. Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

    88/100

    Welker didn’t have the dominant statistical season that many expected, but his overall play was up to par with previous seasons. He’s still the best slot wide receiver in the NFL.

    74. Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    88/100

    Boldin became the go-to receiver the 49ers needed after Michael Crabtree was lost to injury. His size, strong hands and precision route running made him a huge part of the team’s success in 2013.

    73. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    88/100

    Bryant has the physical gifts to be one of the absolute best and most productive wide receivers in the NFL. But to reach that status, he has to play smarter and limit his drops and blown assignments.

    72. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos

    88/100

    A nice surprise for the Denver offense during its Super Bowl run, Thomas has the athleticism and upside to consistently rank among the best players in the game at tight end. The key to his development is to focus on improving as a blocker and route-runner.

    71. John Sullivan, C, Minnesota Vikings

    88/100

    Sullivan is one of the smarter centers in the NFL and does a great job running the Vikings’ line. He’s patient, shows excellent balance and has the strength to be a factor opening rushing lanes for Adrian Peterson, the game’s most athletic running back.

70-66: Solder, Smith, Gross, Orakpo, Witten

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    Jason Witten
    Jason WittenRonald Martinez/Getty Images

     

    70. Nate Solder, LT, New England Patriots

    88/100

    Solder has the length and footwork to cut off most pass-rushers. He also showed better leverage and push in the run game, which is why he’s moving up in our rankings. 

    69. Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys

    88/100

    One of the best young tackles in the game, Smith could easily be atop the left tackle rankings next year. He shows the length, timing, spatial awareness and athleticism to dominate defenders in both the passing and run games. He’s one more great year away from top recognition.

    68. Jordan Gross, LT, Carolina Panthers

    88/100

    The Panthers' comeback in 2013 wasn’t all about Cam Newton. Gross had a huge hand in keeping the offense rolling and allowing the unit to be versatile and balanced in the way it attacked a defense. Even as a veteran player, he showed remarkable improvement in 2013. He announced his retirement after the season. 

    67. Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins

    88/100

    Back after losing 2012 to injury, Orakpo quickly reminded us why he’s one of the best outside rushers in the NFL.

    66. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

    88/100

    One of the most consistent players of this era, Witten is once again ranked as one of the best tight ends in the game. He’s not as athletic or flashy as his peers or competitors, but he gets the job done as well as anyone.

65-61: Forte, Thomas, Johnson, Roethlisberger, Davis

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    Ben Roethlisberger
    Ben RoethlisbergerJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    65. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears

    88/100

    Too often forgotten in the conversation about the NFL’s best backs, Forte has third-down ability and is a major force to be reckoned with.

    64. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos

    88/100

    Thomas continues to round into one of the game’s best targets. It helps to have Peyton Manning throwing passes his way, but we’re seeing the fourth-year star develop his route running, awareness and the finer points of the position along the way.

    63. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans

    88/100

    Even after 11 seasons, Johnson’s still got it. In a 2013 campaign without consistency at quarterback, the former Miami Hurricane proved his greatness once again. Soon, he’ll leave these lists for a more important one: the Hall of Fame wait list.

    62. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

    88/100

    The Steelers' up-and-down season mirrored Roethlisberger’s play. The big quarterback struggled as the season began, but he and the offense settled into a consistent, productive rhythm and were a team to beat by Week 17.

    61. Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts

    89/100

    You might not think of Davis as a top-five cornerback, but he was in 2013. His ability in man coverage—and without much of a pass rush—stands out as top-tier.

60-56: Campbell, Raiola, Jones, Brown, Kelce

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    Calais Campbell
    Calais CampbellChristian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    60. Calais Campbell, 3-4 DE, Arizona Cardinals

    89/100

    One of the top 3-4 defensive ends for the last several years, Campbell had another big season in 2013. In an aggressive, versatile Arizona defense, he’s arguably its most important player.

    59. Dominic Raiola, C, Detroit Lions

    89/100

    Raiola showed that experience, angles and leverage are just as valuable as youth and strength. His 2013 season showed patience and near-dominance in pass protection.

    58. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    89/100

    If healthy for the entire season, Jones could have come close to setting records for catches and yards in a season at the rate he was producing. However, the year ended in disappointment for him and the team, but his play while on the field was once again magnificent. 

    57. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

    89/100

    Brown doesn’t do any one thing great, but put all of the traits needed to excel at wide receiver together, and he does them all well enough to excel. His production, impact and skills all add up to him earning a top ranking.

    56. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles

    89/100

    Not even ranked in our 2013 series, Kelce was the ideal center for the Eagles’ offensive scheme. Chip Kelly wants an agile mover in space, and Kelce does that as well as anyone. He’s one of the best up-and-coming centers in the league.

55-51: Crabtree, Mathieu, Burfict, Ware, Staley

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    Michael Crabtree
    Michael CrabtreeJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    55. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers

    89/100

    Crabtree was limited during the 2013 regular season due to injury, but we grade what players do when they’re on the field. And for Crabtree, his impact when healthy was as good as we’ve come to expect.

    54. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Arizona Cardinals

    89/100

    A move to free safety is likely for Mathieu in 2014. But playing as a third cornerback during his rookie season, we saw a potentially dominant long-term player.

    53. Vontaze Burfict, 4-3 OLB, Bengals

    89/100

    Burfict has moved from undrafted free agent to top outside linebacker in just two seasons. What’s scary is that he may be even better as a middle linebacker.

    52. DeMarcus Ware, 4-3 DE, Dallas Cowboys

    89/100

    Ware, who was released by the Cowboys and signed by the Denver Broncos this offseason, might not garner the same recognition he did two seasons ago. But when healthy, he still has the goods to be the best pass-rusher in the NFL. We saw those flashes in 2013 and remain convinced that he is still a top-tier defensive end.

    51. Joe Staley, LT, San Francisco 49ers

    89/100

    Long known as just a great run-blocker, Staley's game became more balanced in 2013. He’s one of the quicker, more agile tackles in the game, and it easily shows up on film just how important he is to the 49ers offense.

50. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Accuracy

    34/35

    One of the top quarterbacks in the game, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (6’4”, 217 lbs, six seasons) enjoyed another season of excellent accuracy in 2013 despite his team's struggles. His ability to thread the ball into tight spaces, lead a receiver open or launch a pass deep for his man to run under are near the best in the league. A high-percentage passer to every level, Ryan is one of our highest rated players in this area.

    Arm Strength

    13/15

    Put a pass in the playbook, and Ryan can make it. There’s not an area of the field he can’t reach. He has shown the velocity needed to knife the ball into tight windows over the middle. 

    Decision Making

    26/30

    As was noted last year, Ryan has a habit of throwing the ball up late and betting on his receivers to make a play. That works when you have Julio Jones in the lineup, but the Falcons didn’t for 2013. Ryan’s decision making has to adapt to the talent around him, and this year it didn’t.

    Mechanics

    14/15

    Ryan’s mechanics from the waist up are impeccable. He has a smooth, sharp, quick delivery and does so from a high release. There’s no dip in the ball. There are no hitches. The only knock in his game is a heavy-footed tendency in the pocket that causes him to throw off balance at times.

    Mobility

    2/5

    Definitely not a runner, Ryan does his best work in the pocket when he has time to see and feel the rush coming. He’ll slide laterally and can step up to deliver passes, but don’t expect him to make plays with his feet.

    Overall

    89/100

    The Falcons had a terrible year in 2013, but that wasn’t on Ryan. He remains one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. From a pure scouting perspective, his accuracy and mechanics are near the best of them all. We’ll see a bounce-back for Atlanta, and Ryan’s national reputation, in 2014.

49. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Hands

    46/50

    The 2013 season was Josh Gordon’s (6’3”, 225 lbs, two seasons) coming-out party. The 2012 supplemental draft pick emerged as the Browns’ best offensive weapon, even as their play at quarterback was far from settled. Gordon can improve his hands on passes thrown to him over the middle, as that was the only area where we charted a drop for the talented wideout. His body control, vision and concentration on deeper throws were impeccable. 

    Route Running

    26/30

    As a second-year pro, Gordon is still developing as a route-runner. Remember that he was a late add before his rookie year as a supplemental draft pick, then missed the first two weeks of the 2013 season due to suspension, so his upside is big. On the field now, we see Gordon as an athlete but not yet a technician in routes. Once he gets his timing down, he’ll start working on setting up defenders and learning countermoves and fakes. Effort is the key. If Gordon wants to be great, he can be.

    Speed

    17/20

    Not only is Gordon fast, but he’s strong as a runner and looks for contact. While he’s not blindingly quick, he is incredibly explosive. He gets to his top speed faster than most, even if that top speed isn’t elite.

    Overall

    89/100

    In one season, Gordon went from "the guy the Browns gave up a second-round pick for" to "the guy they’re building this offense around." He’s truly an elite-caliber wide receiver and looks like a perennial lock inside our top 10.

48. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    Hands

    46/50

    The Chicago Bears offense took off in 2013, thanks largely to the emergence of Alshon Jeffery (6’3”, 216 lbs, two seasons). The second-year player became a go-to threat and red-zone nightmare for defenses with his big, strong hands and catch radius. He made the impossible catch look routine while high-pointing pass after pass and beating defenders over the top. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    Jeffery’s evolution as a route-runner has been impressive. He’s gone from really only having a deep route under his belt to being a controlled runner on breaking routes, comebacks and fades. He can still work on his balance when changing direction, but the improvement in 2013 was dramatic.

    Speed

    16/20

    The biggest knock on Jeffery coming into the NFL was his lack of speed, but the big wide receiver separates from defenders without being a sprinter. He’s not a top-end runner, but he has good initial quickness and shows the burst needed to track the ball deep.

    Overall

    89/100

    Jeffery closed out 2013 as one of the league’s most improved players at any position. He’s well on his way to becoming an elite wide receiver and true go-to threat. As soon as his hands and routes become more consistent, he’ll be on A.J. Green's level.

47. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Hands

    43/50

    Brandon Marshall (6’4”, 230 lbs, eight seasons) caught 100 passes and dominated in press coverage during the 2013 season. He also dropped a league-high 15 passes. The catches he made did make up for it, but you’d like to see him improve his ability to bring in the ball over the middle. While still one of the game’s best at high-pointing and making plays in the red zone, Marshall can be even better.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Marshall is among the best in the game when pressed at the line of scrimmage and asked to still get into his route. He’s big enough to box out defenders and also has nimble enough feet to make tough adjustments on the fly.

    Speed

    16/20

    When evaluating Marshall’s speed, it’s important to remember that he weighs 230 pounds. He isn’t an elite runner down the sideline, but he has good burst off the line of scrimmage and uses his quickness in conjunction with his size to make plays.

    Overall

    89/100

    Marshall doesn’t have the best speed or hands. He just gets the job done. The total package he brings consists of incredible balance, body control and toughness. That adds up to plenty of impact and production.

46. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Hands

    38/40

    Drops have long been a problem for Rob Gronkowski (6'6", 265 lbs, four seasons), but his 2013 season saw an improvement in this area. Of course, we’re looking at a smaller sample size, but his drop rate went down. With just two drops in 64 targets, he made big improvements on the field. We attribute this to better concentration. Too often he tried to make plays before securing the ball, but in 2013, he wasn’t as focused on running after the catch. That meant a big improvement in his drop rate.

    Blocking

    5/10

    A solid blocker when he can get the angle, Gronkowski is what we call a "move-blocker." He’s able to move defenders off their spot but won’t pancake-block or drive defenders to the sideline. Instead, he’ll turn their shoulders and seal off rush lanes as needed. He’ll struggle against defensive ends in one-on-one situations unless he’s able to cut them.

    Route Running

    30/30

    A balanced route-runner with a mix of speed, agility and size to separate from the defense. Gronkowski is smart in using all of his available tools to get open. He may be the best in the NFL at creating separation with his frame.

    Speed

    16/20

    Injuries took away much of his burst in 2013, but Gronkowski still has good speed for his size. He’ll create in space and is faster with the ball in his hands than when running through a route.

    Overall

    89/100

    An injury-plagued season robbed Gronkowski of his normal production, but when he was on the field, there was no denying his value. As a blocker and receiver, Gronk is one of the most valuable assets in the game if healthy.

45. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Accuracy

    29/35

    The key to quarterbacking is accuracy, and Cam Newton (6’5”, 245 lbs, three seasons) showed remarkable improvement here in 2013. His ball placement was much more consistent. When asked to throw deep, he continued to put the ball over the top and into a place where his man could run under it to make the play. Newton can still improve here, especially over the middle on intermediate timing routes, but his development continues to impress.

    Arm Strength

    15/15

    One of the stronger arms in the league, Newton can make every throw you can design. He’s one of the top-five arms in the NFL. The velocity he brings is enough to scare the hands of wide receivers.

    Decision Making

    27/30

    A big area of improvement this fall, Newton was able to cut down on turnovers and poor plays while remaining aggressive. That’s not easy to do. He also learned to involve other players on offense, getting away from locking onto Steve Smith and working in secondary targets like Ted Ginn Jr.

    Mechanics

    13/15

    The quick, strong delivery of Newton’s passes is a sight to see. The football leaves his hand with power, and he’ll spin it with a quick wrist flick at the end of his motion. You’d like to see him throw less from his shoulder and more over the top, and he has to learn to set his feet more when throwing under pressure. But Newton continues to improve here each season.

    Mobility

    5/5

    Newton’s legs made for some of the best plays of the year in 2013. He’s a skilled, exciting runner and uses that trait to confuse and gouge defenses. But his development means picking and choosing when and where to run, and Newton did a great job of that.

    Overall

    89/100

    Newton's evolution as a quarterback was one of the best storylines of 2013, and it made for some of the biggest performances too. No longer seen as an athlete playing quarterback, Newton is truly a poised, accomplished, capable passer. His future is among the brightest in the game.

44. Louis Vasquez, G, Denver Broncos

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    Associated Press

    Pass Block

    48/50

    Louis Vasquez's (6’5”, 335 lbs, five seasons) pass protection was already strong in San Diego, but his move to Denver in free agency allowed him to excel. In a spread-out pass-protection scheme, he was able to use his agility to fan out defenders while still showing the strength to lock horns with a defensive tackle and shut down bull rushes. Vasquez has the foundation to play with power, and he is tough to beat once he gets his hands on you. 

    Run Block

    42/50

    Playing with ideal leverage remains the only issue for Vasquez in the run game. He did show improvement here, but at the second level he’s too high when engaging defenders. You want to see him get his shoulders down and balanced on pulls and traps. That said, his strength is exceptional and allows him to drive-block and clear paths in the run game. When matched up with a head-up defender, he is exceptional at moving him off his spot with strength.

    Overall

    90/100

    Vasquez flourished in Denver. Having Peyton Manning's quick release helped, but he improved as a run blocker as well. He is a high-potential player who performed at an All-Pro level in 2013.

43. Jason Peters, LT, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Pass Block

    44/50

    The 2013 season featured the return of Jason Peters (6’4”, 328 lbs, nine seasons), and right in time for the introduction of Chip Kelly’s offense. Peters has the quickness you want in the position, and he slides off the line with excellent balance and speed. He’s into his pass pro set before most defensive ends are into their first step. He’ll use that advantage to get his feet set and prepare for a countermove. His strength can be iffy when a defender comes at him head-on, but he’ll usually get his hands under the defender's pads and arch his back to absorb the move.

    Run Block

    46/50

    The ideal left tackle for Kelly’s game plans, Peters is among the most athletic movers at the position in the league. He fires off the line with balance and burst and uses that to kick out defensive ends or reach a weak-side linebacker in the run game. He isn’t the strongest tackle in the league, and he will get tossed aside here and there, but he’s often too quick for defenders to beat. Once he arrives at his target, he wins with that surprising speed and by getting underneath defenders and then driving his legs and turning their shoulders. If you want lateral quickness and finishing power in a run-blocking tackle, Peters is your guy.

    Overall

    90/100

    Peters made a great return to the NFL after missing the 2012 season with an injury. His status as one of the most athletic tackles in the game is intact, as is his reputation as one of the more balanced, versatile linemen on the field.

42. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Pass Block

    50/50

    The perfect technician when it comes to pass blocking, Joe Thomas (6’6”, 312 lbs, seven seasons) receives a perfect score here. The quickness with which he moves off the ball is impressive given his size, but he’s not just a finesse blocker. Thomas does a great job shuffling and sliding his feet to square his shoulders and brace for impact. He’s also rarely baited into mistakes. Where other pass protectors might fall for a false move, he is rock-solid in his pass sets.

    Run Block

    40/50

    The entire Cleveland run game took a step back in 2013, but Thomas actually saw his score improve. The inability to seal off holes on the left side did show up on film, but you still see why he’s one of the best in the game with his quickness to get to the second level. He has the power to be a mountain-mover, but he was inconsistent with his pad level and drive strength.

    Overall

    90/100

    Thomas is still the model by which incoming draft picks are graded at left tackle. His size, strength, vision and quickness are all ideal. While he didn’t dominate as a run-blocker in 2013, he’s still the best pass protector in the NFL.

41. Randy Starks, DT, Miami Dolphins

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Run Defense

    45/50

    Randy Starks (6’3”, 305 lbs, 10 seasons) displays high-level intelligence, awareness and a combination of strength and quickness against the run. He doesn’t get fooled by misdirection and is agile enough to get into the backfield to give chase. At the point of attack, he can get pushed off his spot, but when Starks plays with leverage he can be impossible to move.

    Pass Rush

    45/50

    With a quick first step and smart hand use, Starks is able to split blockers and make plays in the backfield. He’s also strong enough to generate a push off the ball and get linemen moving backward. His speed isn’t elite, but he’ll get players on their heels. Starks can struggle to shed blockers if he gives up his leverage—and that did show up at times—but he has a proven ability to collapse.

    Overall

    90/100

    One of the more balanced defensive tackles in the game, Starks is able to stop the run as a gap-penetrating force and affect the pocket as a pass-rusher. He’s valuable. That’s why the Dolphins re-signed him this offseason.

40. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

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    Run Defense

    42/50

    Few defensive tackles have the natural gifts that Ndamukong Suh (6’4”, 307 lbs, four seasons) can boast. How he uses those, though, is the question. While he has improved as a run defender, too often he explodes off the line of scrimmage and looks to attack the quarterback while missing the running back. Suh can make incredible plays in the backfield, though, because he’s able to get through the line so quickly. In pursuit he’s unstoppable and fast enough to chase down ball-carriers.

    Pass Rush

    48/50

    Suh is the master of first-step burst and has the ability to beat blockers with speed. He’s among the most athletic defensive tackles in the game. He also has the raw strength and quickness to win with power rushes or with speed moves. If you need him to get through a gap, Suh does it by being faster than blockers. He creates panic in offensive linemen because of his speed. The downside is that he can play recklessly and take himself out of the play by going out of his way to get to the quarterback.

    Overall

    90/100

    In any given year, Suh could be the top-ranked defensive tackle or outside the top 10. His physical abilities are off the charts, but his discipline and consistency can move up and down. In 2013, we saw the dominant Suh.

39. Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots

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    Coverage

    40/40

    A former cornerback, Devin McCourty (5’10”, 195 lbs, four seasons) has the range and coverage skills you want from a free safety. His route recognition is top-notch and allows him to get in position to make a play on the ball in the air. He doesn’t convert many interceptions, but he does a great job limiting catches in his space.

    Run Defense

    10/15

    McCourty lacks the size to mix it up in the box, but the Patriots employ him as a single-high safety and more of a coverage threat. He will make tackles at the secondary level but not many down inside the box.

    Tackle

    16/20

    When a catch is made in space, McCourty does a good job pulling down receivers and tight ends. He doesn’t play the run as well due to a lack of size and strength with blockers, but he will be aggressive against players one-on-one.

    Speed

    24/25

    McCourty doesn’t lack for speed. He’s fast with change-of-direction skills to attack all angles of the field.

    Overall

    90/100

    The move to safety may have seemed like a downgrade for McCourty, but he’s quickly become one of the game’s best coverage men at the position and a top player for the Patriots defense.

38. Evan Mathis, G, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Pass Block

    40/50

    Evan Mathis (6’5”, 298 lbs, 10 seasons) is fluid, balanced and athletic in pass protection. He does a great job using his length to keep defenders off his frame, and that’s really where he is at his best. His smaller, leaner build allows power rushers to move him off his spot, but he is great at adjusting and resetting. His hand use can be a bit inconsistent, but he’s generally quick enough to beat most defenders with his athleticism.

    Run Block

    50/50

    The highest-graded run-blocker in our 2014 series, Mathis is excellent in space. He’s often asked to move down the line and does so with a composed balance and great understanding of space and timing. If asked to pull and hit an outside linebacker, he shows off his speed, aggressiveness and accuracy in getting to his man. He dominates at the second level with his quick first step and a tenacity in locking his hands on a defender.

    Overall

    90/100

    Mathis is the ideal fit for a guard in the Chip Kelly offense. He’s an athlete with exceptional movement skills and can be dangerous to the defense when he’s pulling and trapping.

37. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers

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    Hands

    36/40

    Vernon Davis (6’3”, 250 lbs, eight seasons) is one of the game’s most explosive athletes. In 2013, he saw his production skyrocket as his chemistry with Colin Kaepernick grew and as the offense relied on him more. He scored 13 touchdowns, showcasing the soft hands we’ve come to expect. He’s the best at the position when tracking the ball over his head and is deadly on crossing routes with his no-fear mentality. His catch-radius limitations led to a few fingertip drops, but Davis is otherwise rock-solid.

    Blocking

    6/10

    Davis is at his best when moving to close the door on a block. Ask him to crack a defensive end, and he’ll earhole them; ask him to drive-block down the field, and he’ll attack the safety or cornerback with ease. When playing in-line (next to the offensive tackle), he can be overpowered, but his angles and leverage are textbook.

    Route Running

    28/30

    Davis runs a variety of routes and runs them all well. He has the cleanest wheel route you’ll see at tight end and moves with excellent body control up the field. He’s great on breaking routes too, thanks to his ability to quietly push off and then accelerate into space.

    Speed

    20/20

    Davis is one of the fastest players in the game, regardless of position. He explodes off the line and can quickly accelerate into his route. What’s best about him is that second gear he hits with the ball in his hands. 

    Overall

    90/100

    Davis has the production, traits and impact to once again rank near the top at the position. His value as a blocker and receiver makes him among the most important players on one of the NFL’s best teams.

36. Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns

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    Pass Block

    45/50

    Alex Mack (6’4”, 311 lbs, five seasons) has the length, timing and strength to be excellent at center in pass protection. As good as he is at closing the door on pass-rushers, he’s just as effective at getting the offensive line organized and calling the adjustments for the front five. Mack has the speed to slide and move at center and is among the most agile at the position.

    Run Block

    45/50

    Mack uses his athleticism to get off the ball and attack defenders. Not only is his first step good, but he’s also agile enough to find his way into space and get to the second level. One of the most important traits for a center in run-blocking is balance, and Mack does a great job playing controlled in space.

    Overall

    90/100

    Mack’s placement atop the list of NFL centers is because of his balance as a player. No matter the down, distance or situation, he excels as a blocker. That ability to dominate the defense on every type of play has huge value.

35. Aldon Smith, 3-4 OLB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Pass Rush

    29/30

    Aldon Smith (6’4”, 265 lbs, three seasons) is big, long-armed and one of the most naturally gifted pass-rushers in the NFL. He uses his combination of power and speed well, and that duality throws off blockers who try to mentally prepare for one of his moves. Especially when working with defensive end Justin Smith, he is nearly unblockable when looping underneath or outside a left tackle. He’s too quick and strong to handle in a one-on-one situation, and he is best held in check with a chip or double-team.

    Coverage

    6/10

    Smith is not often asked to drop into coverage, but when he is you see a bit of stiffness and a lack of fluid movement throughout transitions. He’s at his best moving toward the passer and not away into coverage.

    Run Defense

    20/20

    Smith’s strength shows up against the run. He’s long enough to lock out blockers and keep them off his frame, then he shows the ability to shed and attack the run. He’s also strong enough to hold anchor off the right edge and shows elite pursuit skills.

    Tackle

    35/40

    When asked to bring down a runner in space, Smith can be stiff and struggle to change direction. If making a tackle in traffic or attacking the ball, he looks outstanding.

    Overall

    90/100

    Smith had his struggles off the field in 2013, and they have continued in 2014. But when he was on it, few players had a bigger impact coming off the edge.

34. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Accuracy

    29/35

    In his second season, Andrew Luck (6’4”, 234 lbs, two seasons) showed improved ball placement and timing on all passes. The stats may not show him as being an elite quarterback, but given the talent around him and a change in offensive scheme, Luck displayed the touch and poise all quarterbacks want. He can improve in this area, but the biggest boost to his numbers and production will come once he’s comfortable with his receivers, offensive line and the game plan.

    Arm Strength

    14/15

    It was trendy pre-draft in 2012 to talk down Luck’s arm strength. Those people are hiding under rocks now. He has the strength to deliver the ball to every plane on the football field. He’ll throw a tight spiral underneath and can pop the ball into his receiver’s hands, even though he prefers to throw with touch and allow his guys to make a play post-catch.

    Decision Making

    28/30

    Evaluating Luck’s decision making is a tale of two seasons. During the regular season, he was dominant, putting his team into the best positions to win. Turn on the playoffs, and he struggled to limit turnovers and was throwing to the opposition as much as to his own offense. Take the whole of the year, and Luck is still elite, but he has to stop pressing and work on throwing the ball away or running when there are no options.

    Mechanics

    15/15

    Luck looks, moves and delivers like an ideal quarterback. He’s smooth in the pocket, with fluid footwork to get away from center or operate on rollouts and waggles. He has the consistent motion and release quarterback coaches dream of.

    Mobility

    4/5

    A good designed runner or scrambler, Luck is an athlete with the size to put his pads down and run over defenders. He’s elusive and fast enough to make gains as a designed runner. He’s still improving in the pocket, where he’ll need to learn to slide and step up more as he continues to develop.

    Overall

    90/100

    Luck can’t compete with other quarterbacks’ statistics, but he also doesn’t have the supporting cast of the players ranked ahead of him. From a pure scouting standpoint, Luck is the quarterback most scouts prefer. He’s the ideal athlete for today’s game.

33. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

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    Accuracy

    33/35

    One of the most accurate quarterbacks of this era, Drew Brees (6’0”, 209 lbs, 13 seasons) continues to impress. His ball placement and ability to lead a receiver into daylight is still eye-opening even this late in his career. There were times when his intermediate passes sailed due to pressure in the pocket, but Brees remains one of the best in the game.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    Not a fastball thrower, Brees wins with touch and placement. That doesn’t mean he can’t put the ball down the field, because he does so with great accuracy, but his intermediate passes don’t come out hot or spin with a ton of velocity. He can get the ball to any spot on the field, but when compared to the biggest arms in the game, Brees is noticeably different.

    Decision Making

    27/30

    Normally one of the highest graded players in this category, Brees struggled more in 2013 than in any year since the NFL 1000 debuted. As pressure built from the edge and in the A-gaps, he had a harder time finding the right receiver and getting the ball out on time. How well a quarterback adjusts to pressure and finds his target are keys to decision making, and Brees was hot and cold in this area during the season.

    Mechanics

    14/15

    Brees is picturesque in his ability to step up in the pocket and release the ball. He throws with a squared base and ideal balance. His throwing motion is super clean and compact, without any delays or hitches. And when the ball comes out of his hand, it does so with his index finger spinning the football and a follow through you can’t teach.

    Mobility

    4/5

    As both a runner and a mover in the pocket, Brees does an excellent job extending the play with his feet. The only knock on his game would be his struggle to feel and move away from outside pressure if the inside gaps are clogged. But most quarterbacks will struggle to find a way out of that scenario.

    Overall

    90/100

    Sean Payton's return made a noticeable difference for Brees in 2013, but so too did the lack of talent at the offensive tackle position. In his 13th season, we continue to see excellent quarterback play from him.

32. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

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    Accuracy

    30/35

    New faces at the wide receiver and tight end position meant a less accurate Tom Brady (6’4”, 225 lbs, 14 seasons) in 2013. The timing and chemistry shown in previous seasons wasn’t there early on, and both Brady and the Patriots struggled because of it. While he was back on point per usual by season’s end, we can’t ignore the early-season struggles to put the ball on target with his receivers.

    Arm Strength

    14/15

    Whether it’s a deep 9-route or a hard-thrown dig route, the ball leaves Brady’s hand with impressive zip. He’ll spin the ball underneath and can be known to throw the ball too hard at times, but when he needs to put the ball in a tight window, he can get it done.

    Decision Making

    29/30

    A tough category to grade given all of the changes in personnel this season, Brady’s decision making looks to be as sound as ever. He limited turnovers, and as the season went along, he found a rhythm and chemistry with new faces. And while his numbers didn’t show it, Brady was consistently putting the ball into the right man’s hands, even if the ball wasn’t always caught.

    Mechanics

    15/15

    If you’re teaching a kid how to play quarterback, Brady’s mechanics are the textbook example of what to do. From his tall stance in the pocket to the squared feet pre-release, he does it all right. His motion is quick and strong, and he’s always stepping up and pointing his lead toe at his targets.

    Mobility

    2/5

    We all know Brady isn’t fast. He’ll never be a great runner, but he does move well for a player with heavy feet. When asked to slide laterally in the pocket, he does it with grace. Ask him to pop up and find a passing window, and he’ll do it.

    Overall

    90/100

    Undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time, Brady’s 2013 season was a rough one as he learned to play with a new cast of characters around him. That affected his production and his on-field impact. Still, what Brady did in 2013 was very impressive.

31. Brandon Mebane, DT, Seattle Seahawks

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    Run Defense

    48/50

    The Seattle Seahawks love versatility on the defensive line, and having Brandon Mebane (6’1”, 311 lbs, seven seasons) allowed them to move many players around him while maintaining a consistent force in the middle. With a big enough body and naturally low leverage, he is able to make plays by cutting through gaps or standing-up blockers and pushing them off the ball. What you won’t see is Mebane getting pushed back, as he anchors when engaged by a blocker. With power, leverage, great arm-locking technique and high-level awareness, he is one of the best run-defending tackles we saw.

    Pass Rush

    43/50

    Mebane didn’t record a sack in 2013, but his ability to generate pressures and hurries was impressive. Again, we’re looking at the results on film and not only relying on stats, and he stood out for his ability to flush the pocket. As part of the Seahawks’ defensive line rotation, Mebane’s consistent play allowed them to create great matchups and alignments, but he also excelled on individual talent. His quick first step allows him to get the jump on blockers. He’s doesn’t have elite speed and sustained quickness, but he is good enough to beat interior linemen.

    Overall

    91/100

    Mebane could be considered a situational defender given the way Seattle rotates its linemen, but when he’s on the field his impact and production were high-level.

30. Terrance Knighton, DT, Denver Broncos

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    Run Defense

    47/50

    Terrance Knighton (6’3”, 335 lbs, five seasons) has the size and strength to shut down rushing lanes as a one- or two-gap defender. His strength when engaged by blockers is top tier, and he’s able to shed and get to the backfield to trap ball-carriers. Knighton is also adept at simply holding his ground and preventing blockers or backs from getting through the line.

    Pass Rush

    44/50

    The man they call "Pot Roast" can struggle to generate push off the line if he comes out of his stance high, which is something you’ll see on film. When given the chance to push and use power, he can dominate. He is agile in short areas and can beat blockers if given room to operate with a stutter step and smart hand use. He’s more agile than you’d think but doesn’t show great chase ability.

    Overall

    91/100

    You can’t measure Knighton’s impact in 2013 with just stats. His ability to crash the backfield opened up opportunities for the entire Denver defensive line and gave the team a pass rush with Von Miller out of the lineup.

29. Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills

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    Run Defense

    47/50

    As the nose tackle in Buffalo’s versatile scheme, Marcell Dareus (6’3”, 331 lbs, three seasons) was asked to do many things in Mike Pettine’s defense. He excelled at them all. Against the run, he holds point as the anchor, and he’s quick enough to be a one- or two-gap tackle. He’s strong, stout and big enough to dominate the point of attack. You’d like to see Dareus make a few more plays behind the line of scrimmage, but he was one of the best nose tackles against the run.

    Pass Rush

    44/50

    Dareus uses his hands well to break free from blockers and then attack. That’s a valuable asset as the Bills move him around depending on the down and distance their defense is facing. He may be over the center or in a 3-technique, but he shows burst and vision at either spot. Dareus blows off the ball and isn’t afraid to slam into a blocker to create pressure or penetration. He doesn’t have great moves in space, but he is a tough man to handle in close quarters.

    Overall

    91/100

    Dareus’ versatility is a major boost to the Buffalo defense. It allowed the entire unit to perform well above expectations in 2013. He’s a young player on the rise.

28. Michael Bennett, 4-3 DE, Seattle Seahawks

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    Run Defense

    34/40

    If you want a big-bodied defensive lineman, Michael Bennett (6’4”, 274 lbs, five seasons) is your guy. During the 2013 season, he played left and right end while moving inside to tackle at times. When stopping the run, he’s best on the edge, where he won’t get overrun by big pulling guards in traffic. Bennett is a sure tackler with a long reach, and that allows him to shut down runners in space. As a gap-plugger, he’s average. But playing strong-side defensive end, he’s able to penetrate and make enough plays in the backfield.

    Pass Defense

    57/60

    Watch Bennett split blockers, and you see his value. He’s quick out of his stance and has great leverage and instincts. He’ll use his hands to fight off blockers, but more times than not, he can win with that first-step speed. You don’t see Bennett looping outside to beat a blocker as often as crashing on the inside, which makes sense given his experience at both defensive end and defensive tackle. He brings the pass-rushing skill of both to his unique alignment on the Seattle defensive line and mixes up his rushes well enough to keep blockers—inside or out—off balance.

    Overall

    91/100

    Bennett’s build, quickness and strength make him a versatile pass-rusher and valuable asset along the defensive line. His play on defense was a huge reason the Seahawks were able to panic and pressure Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII.

27. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks

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    Power

    25/25

    The NFL’s best pure power back, Marshawn Lynch (5’11”, 215 lbs, seven seasons) is an angry runner. That’s bad news for NFL defenders and great news for the Seattle Seahawks. He relishes contact and not only seeks out bone-crushing hits on defenders, but is also elite in his ability to bounce off initial contact and pick up yards. Lynch’s penchant for always falling forward is the best in the business.

    Speed

    20/25

    Lynch doesn’t have great speed, but he does have good speed. Too often his power and yards-after-contact running lead people to forget that he’s able to run away from defenders too. Remember his 40-yard run against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game?

    Vision

    38/40

    When evaluating vision, we want to see a runner recognize alternate rushing lanes on the go. That’s what Lynch does. As much as he lowers his head to carve out his own paths, he’ll also spot a cutback lane and flip his hips to get upfield. 

    Receiving

    8/10

    Did you know Lynch had 36 catches for the Seahawks in 2013? Many think of him as “just” a bowling-ball rusher, but he’s a solid all-around athlete with soft hands and good use in the screen and dump game.

    Overall

    91/100

    Raw power, toughness and vision have made Lynch into the NFL’s version of a wrecking ball. And in a rarity for NFL players, he seems to just get better with age.

26. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Power

    20/25

    Jamaal Charles (5’11”, 199 lbs, six seasons) may not be very big, but he can pack a punch when met by a defender. With his burst and lower-body power, he’ll hit a defender and bounce off to continue picking up yardage. He’s not a bruiser, but he uses his power well in conjunction with his speed to make himself tough to bring down in the open field.

    Speed

    25/25

    Charles may be the NFL’s fastest running back—both on and off the field. When the ball is in his hands and there’s daylight in front of him, he can truly take the ball to the end zone in a blur. If he gets loose, defenders aren’t catching him from behind.

    Vision

    39/40

    Excellent at finding cutback lanes, Charles is great at seeing openings on the move. Given his speed and acceleration, his ability to see openings to his left or right is amazing. His vision isn’t so much between the tackles as it is in the open field.

    Receiving

    7/10

    A talented receiver and versatile route-runner, Charles did put the ball on the ground a few times in 2013. But when he’s on, he can be the team’s best pass-catcher. 

    Overall

    91/100

    As dynamic and dangerous as any running back in the NFL, Charles is tied for the No. 3 spot in this year’s running back rankings. He’s biting at the heels of our No. 1- and No. 2-ranked backs, though.

25. Justin Houston, 3-4 OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Pass Rush

    29/30

    Justin Houston (6’3”, 258 lbs, three seasons) is one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers, and he’s just getting started. He has the raw speed to beat tackles off the edge, often gaining an advantage with an unreal first step. His ability to get into the backfield before blockers are set is off the charts. He also has enough strength to impact the game with bull rushes and power moves.

    Coverage

    9/10

    You won’t see Houston dropping back into coverage often, but when he does (and that’s what we’re grading), his impact was surprisingly high. He shows fluid movement skills and high awareness to affect the passing game.

    Run Defense

    18/20

    With 42 hurries, eight quarterback hits and 11 sacks, Houston was one of the NFL’s most dangerous pass-rushers. After a fantastic start to his season, he did taper off before missing major time to end the season. His injury in Week 12 had a huge, negative impact on the Chiefs defense, but he was one of the best when healthy.

    Tackle

    35/40

    A strong tackler, Houston does a good job of bringing down ball-carriers in space. He can be timid at times in attacking the ball, but he has form and was an active, productive tackler.

    Overall

    91/100

    Houston didn’t finish the season as well as he started it, but he was one of the absolute best pass-rushers in the NFL.

24. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Hands

    44/50

    A.J. Green (6’4”, 207 lbs, three seasons) has all the talent in the world. He also dropped 11 passes, the fifth most in the NFL. Even considering the high number of targets thrown his way, that’s too many. Green can make the spectacular catch and dominate the highlight reels, but he has to get better at making the routine catch with defenders closing in on him. 

    Route Running

    30/30

    Green is incredibly fluid for a big man and has elite body control when getting through his routes. His ability to plant and go to leave a defender makes his breaking routes top-notch. He’s also impossible to cover on fade routes, thanks to his reach and balance.

    Speed

    17/20

    You won’t see elite speed from Green, but he’s more than fast enough to run away from a defender. He may not have track-and-field speed, but he accelerates well to attack the ball in flight.

    Overall

    91/100

    Green has the route-running ability, hands, size and speed to eventually challenge to be the top-ranked wideout. To do that, he’ll have to minimize his drops and continue to dominate in single coverage.

23. Darrelle Revis, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Coverage

    78/80

    He's now with a new team, the New England Patriots, but it was the same old Darrelle Revis (5’11”, 198 lbs, seven seasons) in 2013. The former Pitt Panther is still one of the elite cover men in the league. With exceptional short-area quickness and awareness, Revis is able to stick with wide receivers no matter the route he sees. His hand use is high-level, and he has the footwork to run with all types of receivers. While he only recorded two interceptions in 2013, that’s as much a credit to the lack of targets thrown his way as a knock on his playmaking ability.

    Run Defense

    7/10

    Revis isn’t known for his run-defending abilities, but he’s stout when the ball comes his way. He won’t shy away from contact and can be an effective edge defender and backfield-crasher.

    Tackle

    6/10

    In the open field, you’ll see Revis make tackles. He’s looking at limited plays coming his way, which has to be taken into account if you’re only evaluating production.

    Overall

    91/100

    Many people will tell you that Revis took a step back in 2013, but we didn’t see that. He still commands the respect of offenses and is one of the greats at eliminating a wide receiver from the game plan.

22. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

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    Accuracy

    35/35

    Aaron Rodgers (6’2”, 225 lbs, nine seasons) is the picture of accuracy in the NFL today. No player does a better job putting the ball where only his receiver has a chance at it. He has an innate feel for where the ball needs to go, and he can get it there on time and in a spot where his target can make a play after the catch.

    Arm Strength

    14/15

    While not known for having a cannon of an arm, Rodgers’ velocity is some of the best you’ll see. When he has time to set his feet and step into the throw, he’ll put it into the chest of his targets with zip and a snap at the end. If you need a deep-ball passer, Rodgers is still one of the best at putting it up for his man to go get it.

    Decision Making

    26/30

    Rodgers runs the Green Bay offense like a field general. But in 2013, we saw him forcing more plays and pressing. That could be a result of a banged-up offensive line or the injuries that hit his receiving corps.

    Mechanics

    13/15

    Reworked mechanics have been the core of Rodgers’ success in the NFL. He has a high hold on the football and does a good job never letting it come down before releasing it. His motion is quick and without any hitches. Footwork can still be an issue for Rodgers, as he tends to throw in the air as opposed to with squared feet.

    Mobility

    3/5

    A good athlete, Rodgers can pull the ball down and run if need be. His mobility score is impacted by his tendency to hold on to the football too long in the pocket. Feeling the rush is something he continues to work on.

    Overall

    91/100

    Still one of the best in the game, Rodgers took a step back in 2013 as he and his offense battled injuries. It’s a safe bet to think No. 12 will be back inside the top three at his position next season.

21. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Power

    22/25

    LeSean McCoy (5’11”, 208 lbs, five seasons) isn’t the biggest running back in the NFL, but he plays with surprising power for his size. He consistently causes defenders to miss tackles—and even breaks tackles—thanks to his lower-body power and his agility in space. When met head-to-head by a defender, McCoy is versatile enough to lower his shoulder or shake them and take off.

    Speed

    23/25

    When McCoy takes off in space, he’s gone. He wouldn’t be the fastest back in the game in a 100-meter dash, but with the ball in his hands and pads on, he has the burst and acceleration to pull away from tacklers when he hits the edge or when he finds daylight.

    Vision

    40/40

    McCoy is supernatural in terms of vision. He sees the entire field so well and processes the information in a nanosecond. When faced with defenders, he finds openings that don’t seem to exist. With his agility—a trait we deem to be the best in the NFL—and his vision, he can be nearly impossible to tackle in space.

    Receiving

    7/10

    A talented all-around player, McCoy is used often in the passing game. He can play coming out of the backfield and can even be put in motion to play in the slot. He runs good routes and catches the ball on the go with soft hands.

    Overall

    92/100

    McCoy took home an All-Pro vote from me this year and was truly the most productive running back in the game. When based on a scouting profile, such as this, he comes in slightly outside of the No. 1 spot for his position. 

20. Josh Sitton, G, Green Bay Packers

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    Pass Block

    50/50

    Josh Sitton (6’3”, 318 lbs, six seasons) plays offensive guard the way the position is supposed to be played. His athleticism allows him to consistently be in position to meet defenders, but he also plays with great power when asked to sit and handle a bull rush or power move. His vision is top tier, and he’s rarely (if ever) caught off guard or surprised by a counter move. With his length and timing, Sitton can mirror, slide and even stand up and punch pass-rushers in the interior of the line.

    Run Block

    42/50

    You want offensive guards to be a little mean on the field, and Sitton is that way. He’s not a finesse blocker and will get his hands dirty when needed. His athleticism and flexibility are impressive when firing off the ball, and he backs that up with strength to drive-block defenders out of the hole. The Packers often do ask him to move from his spot, and he does so with balance.

    Overall

    92/100

    Sitton rises to the top of our board at his position in a season in which he didn’t have Aaron Rodgers behind him every game. The way he handled defenders, especially in the passing game, is must-watch film for interior linemen.

19. Trent Williams, LT, Washington Redskins

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Pass Block

    45/50

    A smooth, fluid athlete at left tackle, Trent Williams (6’5”, 325 lbs, four seasons) comes off the ball like a tight end. But make no mistake, he blocks like a left tackle. In pass protection, he slides his feet well to cut off outside rushers, but he has the presence of mind to keep his inside shoulder protected. Quick, strong hands allow him to punch and redirect pass-rushers and win by stunning them off the ball. He can get bent backward at times and isn’t exceptionally strong, but his quickness and agility are elite.

    Run Block

    47/50

    One of the best in the league at getting to the second level of the defense, Williams' best asset in the run game is his agility. He’s quick and balanced in space and doesn’t lunge or overextend when trying to get to outside linebackers. He shows nice reach and has a light step and calm footwork when coming down the line of scrimmage.

    Overall

    92/100

    One of the most athletic and patient left tackles in the NFL, Williams' play doesn’t receive the national attention it should. His balance as a pass-blocker and run defender made him the best and most valuable left tackle in the game in 2013.

18. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Run Defense

    42/50

    Gerald McCoy (6’4”, 300 lbs, four seasons) emerged in 2013 as the NFL’s best defensive tackle. When playing the run, he shows quickness off the snap and the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s aware and fast, but not overly stout at the point of attack. The way to counter McCoy is to put an angle block on him off the snap and then chip with a guard or center. If you’re able to contain his first step, you can win. That’s easier said than done, though.

    Pass Rush

    50/50

    The first step McCoy shows in the run game is also his best asset in the passing game. He’s incredibly quick, fluid and smart in his explosion at the snap. He plays low for his size and has the ability to get underneath the hands of a blocker. When asked to shoot a gap, McCoy can win with speed or hand use—or a combination of both. He’s fast enough to close in on the quarterback in space and has relentless pursuit skills.

    Overall

    92/100

    McCoy is the ideal 3-technique defensive tackle. His quickness, agility and awareness make him nearly unstoppable as a pass-rusher.

17. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    Hands

    50/50

    How many passes did Larry Fitzgerald (6’3”, 218 lbs, 10 seasons) drop of the 129 thrown to him in 2013? One. That’s why he comes in with a perfect score on hands. 

    Route Running

    27/30

    Timing is such a key to route running, and Fitzgerald excels in that area. He’s precise and consistent with his steps, two big keys to establish a connection with a quarterback. The only knock on his routes would be a subtle stiffness when breaking to his right. Other than that, he’s nearly flawless.

    Speed

    15/20

    Burning speed has never been what makes Fitzgerald, who is now a 10-year veteran, a great wide receiver. That he can perform at such a high level without being an elite runner speaks to his world-class abilities.

    Overall

    92/100

    Fitzgerald isn’t the fastest wide receiver in the game, but he is a technician with high-level athleticism. That makes him a dangerous threat, even if his numbers don’t always match the top-producing wide receivers.

16. Robert Mathis, 3-4 OLB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Pass Rush

    30/30

    Robert Mathis (6’2”, 246 lbs, 11 seasons) was a man possessed in 2013. From the first week of the season through the team’s loss in the playoffs, he produced. The veteran put up an All-Pro season that saw him dip, drive and explode his way into the backfield. Mathis excels with his first-step quickness but also with a low center of gravity and an exceptional ability to dip his shoulder to get underneath the hands of blockers. Stopping him was impossible, as even top-tier athletes were prone to overextending and allowing him to counter with spin moves and inside rushes.

    Coverage

    8/10

    Mathis is the type of player you want rushing the quarterback on passing downs, not sinking into coverage. He does show the quickness to play in space, but he is much better moving forward than going after the ball in man coverage. That said, when passes were thrown in his direction, he did perform well at eliminating targets.

    Run Defense

    18/20

    Mathis has the vision, awareness and edge-setting ability to be a factor against the run. He holds the corner and does a nice job locking out blockers with his hands. While he doesn’t have the best length, he gets into the backfield with the same quickness we see against the pass.

    Tackle

    36/40

    A top-tier open-field tackler, Mathis has the ability to break down in space and put ball-carriers on the ground. He will miss a few tackles from ducking his head, but he’s an explosive athlete and tackler.

    Overall

    92/100

    Mathis was the man in 2013, emerging as a do-it-all rush linebacker in the Colts defense. The loss of Dwight Freeney was cushioned by the play of a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

15. Lavonte David, 4-3 OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Pass Rush

    16/20

    A legitimate All-Pro performer in 2013, Lavonte David (6’1”, 233 lbs, two seasons) has arrived. During the first four weeks of the season, he blew away offenses, posting five sacks and eight hurries. He did slow down after that but still totaled eight sacks on the season. His burst and closing speed are dangerous when he gets loose around the edge, but a lack of length and strength shuts him down if blocked head-up.

    Coverage

    20/20

    David excelled as the Bucs’ best coverage linebacker. He’s fluid, fast and instinctive, and he shows top-notch hands to pull down the ball. His five interceptions showed just how well he closes on the ball and reads the quarterback.

    Run Defense

    17/20

    Playing the weak-side linebacker, David was able to excel in pursuit and in taking away cutback lanes. He’s not quite stout enough to step into rushing lanes and shut them down, but he has the speed to run down backs and be great in space.

    Tackle

    39/40

    David did have 11 missed tackles, but given the number of solo tackles (110) and attempts he had, that number isn’t a big concern. He is a strong, sure tackler in space or in traffic.

    Overall

    92/100

    As the weak-side linebacker in Lovie Smith’s defense, we expect even bigger things from the now-elite outside linebacker moving forward.

14. Von Miller, 4-3 OLB, Denver Broncos

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    Pass Rush

    20/20

    Von Miller (6’3”, 250 lbs, three seasons) may have missed all but nine games in 2013, but we’re grading his on-field play, and that was as impressive as usual. He showed improved strength to disengage from blockers and used his trademark speed and flexibility to attack off the edge. He’s strong, technically savvy and does a great job setting up blockers and using countermoves to produce.

    Coverage

    14/20

    Miller is used most often to attack the quarterback in passing situations, but he has shown spacial awareness when asked to play in zone coverage. He’s athletic and fast but does struggle with route identification and reaction time.

    Run Defense

    20/20

    You might not think of Miller as a run-stopper, but he showed up big anchoring the edge for the Broncos. He is strong enough now to play assignment football and will take on blockers to hold the corner. He’s also quick enough to shoot into the backfield and make a play on the ball before the runner can get into space. Overall, Miller is one of the best outside linebackers we saw against the run.

    Tackle

    38/40

    A strong, active and aggressive tackler, Miller uses his top-tier closing speed to come in and make stops. His awareness and reaction time are great, and the only knock we saw was from his habit of going in too hard and bouncing off a runner before securing the tackle.

    Overall

    92/100

    Miller may have missed a good amount of the 2013 season, but when he was on the field, the former Texas A&M stud proved he’s still the best at his position.

13. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Run Defense

    30/30

    The template from which all inside linebackers are now graded, Patrick Willis (6’1”, 240 lbs, seven seasons) is one of the best all-around athletes at the linebacker position. Against the run he’s strong and able to shed blockers and get to the football. Willis is great at dipping his shoulder and driving to the ball but is also fast enough to simply tuck and run to make a play. Whether it’s an inside lead or an outside toss, he has the tools to be a wrecking crew.

    Pass Rush

    7/10

    Willis is able to bring heat on the backfield rushing between the center and guard, and he shows high-level flexibility and agility in his hips to dip and drive around blockers. He isn’t used as much anymore as a blitzer, but he can still get the job done when called to attack.

    Coverage

    18/20

    One of the game’s best in coverage, Willis is able to move well throughout transitions and has upper-level instincts and awareness in the passing game. Take away the Week 16 Falcons game—when Matt Ryan was throwing underneath on almost every route—and Willis was extremely effective in eliminating targets.

    Tackle

    37/40

    A wrap-up tackler with big range, Willis is a super-productive tackler. He’s great when asked to make solo tackles in space or when gang-tackling in the pile. Our only gripe was his 11 missed tackles, which keeps him from a perfect score.

    Overall

    92/100

    Tied for the top overall spot at his position, Willis has the strength, vision and reaction skills to take away whatever the offense throws at him.

12. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

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    Accuracy

    29/35

    Seattle’s Russell Wilson (5’11”, 206 lbs, two seasons) was one of the most dominant players at the position, but he has room to improve. His accuracy suffered at times as he was asked to do more down the field. Cleaning up his footwork will help get passes more on target, as his 63.1 percent completion mark is on the low end for a top-tier quarterback.

    Arm Strength

    15/15

    You don’t expect a ton of arm strength from a player Wilson’s size, but he has plenty of it. His velocity is among the best in the league when asked to throw inside of 25 yards. He also has the strength to throw the ball with great arc to any level. Wilson can drop back and throw on a line to the sideline—something few quarterbacks can do.

    Decision Making

    29/30

    Wilson showed his command of the entire offense this season. From his ability to work through progressions and read the defense to his knowing when to pull the ball down and run, he showed patience, maturity and a load of intelligence in his decision making.

    Mechanics

    14/15

    Compact, smooth and fast, Wilson’s delivery is textbook. The only knock on his mechanics, and the reason he’s a 14 and not a 15, is that he’ll forget to set his feet or step into a throw at times. That leads to overthrown passes, especially to the flats and sideline. 

    Mobility

    5/5

    The 2013 season saw Wilson used more as a runner behind an injury-plagued Seattle offensive line. Both as a designed rusher and scrambler, the sophomore quarterback was a difference maker with his legs.

    Overall

    92/100

    Wilson continues his march toward the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. His maturation on the field, as well as his ability to make big plays with either his feet or his arm, make him one of the best players in the league at his position.

11. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

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    Accuracy

    34/35

    Few quarterbacks displayed the timing, ball placement and accuracy that Philip Rivers (6’5”, 228 lbs, 10 seasons) did in 2013. His passes were on point and allowed his targets to pick up yards after the catch. Even under pressure, he was rarely rattled and threw with command and deadly accuracy.

    Arm Strength

    15/15

    Arm strength is one of Rivers' top assets. He has a big arm and uses that to easily push the ball to all levels of the field. He’s not just a deep-ball thrower. He also throws underneath and intermediate routes with the ideal velocity you want to make sure the pass isn’t floating into the hands of a defender.

    Decision Making

    29/30

    The biggest area of improvement for Rivers in 2013 came in his decision making. He no longer forced the ball into traffic. His patience, vision and pre-snap recognition made for a dramatic difference in production. He limited his mistakes and consistently put his offense in a position to win.

    Mechanics

    11/15

    His sidearm delivery may not be conventional, but it gets the job done. Rivers does tend to drop his release point, but he finds a way to get the ball to his target.

    Mobility

    3/5

    Rivers isn’t an exceptional runner, but he slides well in the pocket to avoid the rush and does a good job stepping up if the edges collapse. 

    Overall

    92/100

    Rivers made an amazing comeback in 2013, thanks largely to a better offensive line and reliable targets at receiver. From a talent and production perspective, he is clearly still one of the best in the league.

10. NaVorro Bowman, ILB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Run Defense

    27/30

    NaVorro Bowman (6’0”, 242 lbs, four seasons) made a strong case for being named the Defensive Player of the Year. Against the run, his speed—especially coming downhill—is impressive. He attacks the ball with speed and power, but more importantly he takes smart angles. Bowman is effective enough against the run that the 49ers can clear out their defensive line, keeping just one down lineman and letting the inside linebackers lock down the gaps between the center and guard plus guard and tackle.

    Pass Rush

    10/10

    Bowman posted a career-best five sacks in 2013 and showed that pressure between the center and guard is the key to frustrating a mobile quarterback. He’s a terrorizing pass-rusher thanks to his blend of speed and strength.

    Coverage

    20/20

    Bowman is so smooth and quick in space that he’s able to take away tight ends or third wide receivers in coverage. He’s able to turn and run upfield or quickly change direction to attack underneath routes. And he has the hands to pull the ball down and create interceptions.

    Tackle

    35/40

    Bowman is a hard hitter, as evidenced by his four forced fumbles in 2013. He’s a sure tackler in space, but he did struggle with running backs coming at him head-on. That led to 12 missed tackles.

    Overall

    92/100

    Bowman’s season unfortunately ended with a gruesome leg injury in the NFC Championship Game, but not before he made yet another huge play. His all-around game and athleticism put him over teammate Patrick Willis.

9. Greg Hardy, 4-3 DE, Carolina Panthers

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    Run Defense

    35/40

    A big, stout defensive end, Greg Hardy (6’4”, 290 lbs, four seasons) has the size, speed and strength defensive coordinators love and offensive tackles hate. He’s long enough to keep blockers off his body and can close on ball-carriers with excellent speed. The only knock on his game would be missed tackles in space when zeroing in on the ball.

    Pass Defense

    58/60

    Hardy was nearly unstoppable coming off the right side of the defense. His burst and power allowed for a wonderful variety in his pass-rushing sets. Hardy fires off low, fast and aggressive. That’s what led to 15 sacks, 27 quarterback hits and 45 hurries. Even when he can’t get to the quarterback, he is creating pressures and setting up sacks for his teammates. When scouting his film, you have to love the way he mixes up speed, power and the right blend of fakes to throw off blockers.

    Overall

    93/100

    Hardy had an exceptional season, putting himself in the discussion as the best defensive end in the game. Big things are expected from the Panthers’ franchise player in 2014.

8. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

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    Hands

    40/40

    After leading all NFL tight ends in drops during the 2012 season, Jimmy Graham (6’7”, 265 lbs, four seasons) rebounded with just six drops on 136 targets in 2013. He has long arms, soft hands and an excellent catch radius. And like the former basketball player that he is, plucking the ball out of the air is easy for him. Talents like Graham rarely improve the way he did in 2013.

    Blocking

    4/10

    A flex tight end—and arguably more of a wide receiver—Graham doesn’t contribute much in the blocking game. He does have the length and power to crack an outside linebacker or stalk-block a safety, but asking him to handle a player head-up isn’t what he does.

    Route Running

    30/30

    Graham excels at breaking off routes and leaving defenders in his dust. He’s quick enough in space to run away from coverage and shows great change-of-direction skills when sticking his foot in the dirt on an option route. When asked to break off his route stem and explode, he separates better than any tight end in the NFL. Thanks to his ability to box out defenders, he’s almost always open.

    Speed

    19/20

    Graham has speed and agility, a deadly combination when you look at his size and catch radius. He’s able to hit the jets and run away from defenders after a catch and will also use that speed to get open in his route tree.

    Overall

    93/100

    While Graham was a source of much internal debate during the 2012 season, there was no choice but to put him at No. 1 for his position in 2013. He was among the NFL’s most dominant players during the regular season and continues to be a nightmare for most defenses.

7. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Power

    25/25

    One of the most powerful players in the NFL, Adrian Peterson (6’1”, 217 lbs, seven seasons) has the natural gifts to beat any defender. Despite being a naturally high runner, he has the flexibility to lower his pads and attack defenders. He’s also strong enough to drive through a would-be tackler at the point of contact. Peterson’s power, pad leverage and leg drive are epic.

    Speed

    24/25

    Many people think of Peterson as a power runner, but the other aspect that makes his game so dominant is his speed. He’s fast enough to pull away from defenders in space and has a second gear that allows him to break big runs and run past defenders.

    Vision

    38/40

    There are players with better vision to find holes and openings, but Peterson finds them at 100 mph. He’s able to see the field on the move and doesn’t have to throttle down to cut back or attack a crease.

    Receiving

    6/10

    A solid receiver out of the backfield, Peterson can be a threat on dumpoffs and in the screen games. He’s not the type of receiver you flex out or play in the slot, though.

    Overall

    93/100

    Peterson remains the standard by which we judge all running backs. His 2013 season may not have been his most productive, but he also played with three quarterbacks in an offense that wasn’t able to throw the ball. Based on talent alone, he’s still the best at his position.

6. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks

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    Elaine Thompson

    Coverage

    80/80

    The NFL’s best coverage cornerback, Richard Sherman (6’3”, 195 lbs, three seasons) has emerged as the prototype at the position. It’s rare to command the respect from quarterbacks that he receives and still be able to attack the ball and create turnovers, but his eight interceptions in 2013 are evidence of that. Sherman’s speed, length and aggressive use of his body make him nearly impossible to beat. He’s excellent at coming underneath the hands of a receiver—on jump balls especially—to break up the pass. And when running with receivers, he is able to play step for step to limit targets. Sherman’s length and how aggressive he is from the second the ball is snapped allow him to always be in position to affect the pass.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Aggressive, but thin and lean, Sherman will put himself in a position to make a play on ball-carriers in the run game. He doesn’t show up as a great traffic-shedding run defender, but he can crash the edge and take away outside runs.

    Tackle

    7/10

    In the open field, Sherman is a good tackler. He shows natural strength, long arms and the willingness to get physical. He’ll dip his head too often and miss on hits, but there’s little to complain about here.

    Overall

    93/100

    Sherman’s 2013 season may go down as one of the best you’ll see from a cornerback. Not only did he limit targets by intimidating quarterbacks and erasing wide receivers, but he also generated turnovers. That combination is rare, and Sherman continues to do it.

5. Robert Quinn, 4-3 DE, St. Louis Rams

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    Run Defense

    34/40

    Robert Quinn (6’4”, 264 lbs, three seasons) made a legitimate case for Defensive Player of the Year with his performance in 2013. As a run defender, he shows speed and aggression coming off the ball. He’s able to get into the backfield and take away outside runs while showing excellent vision and awareness when coming down the line. Quinn’s lean, sleek body type means blockers can overpower him at times. But as a weak-side end, he’s very impressive.

    Pass Defense

    60/60

    Quinn established himself as an elite pass-rusher with a dynamic 2013 season. His 19 sacks, 21 quarterback hits and an astonishing 51 hurries combine to be the best in the league—by far. He has an unreal burst off the line of scrimmage and shows the lower-body flexibility to bend the edge, dip his inside shoulder and explode past blockers. He’s also strong enough to engage blockers when they get into his frame and shed their hands. Quinn’s nose for the ball is exceptional, and he has the athletic tools to back it up.

    Overall

    94/100

    Quinn’s 2013 season ranks as one of the best you’ll see from a defensive end. That’s why he comes in so high on both the defensive end and overall player list.

4. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks

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    Coverage

    40/40

    Earl Thomas (5’10”, 202 lbs, four seasons) comes in with a perfect 40 in coverage. His speed allows him to have ideal range when asked to cover tight ends or help in bracket coverage on a wide receiver. There’s no part of the field he can’t reach. And when the ball is in the air, he’s a consistent threat to go up and make a play on it.

    Run Defense

    12/15

    Range is a big part of run defense, and Thomas has tons of that. He attacks the field and runs clean angles and won’t back down from a ball-carrier. The only knock is that he can be too aggressive and overrun the play.

    Tackle

    17/20

    Thomas plays with a controlled recklessness that makes him a fun tackler to watch. His lack of elite size will always limit him in some situations, but given his profile as a playmaking free safety, his missed tackles are quite low.

    Speed

    25/25

    A burner on the field, Thomas is fast enough to line up at cornerback and keep pace with top-flight wide receivers. In space or locked in coverage, he owns the secondary with his speed.

    Overall

    94/100

    Not only the best safety in the NFL, Thomas might be the best defender in the game. His blend of speed, power and instincts make him a can’t-beat player at safety.

3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

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    Hands

    47/50

    Calvin Johnson (6’5”, 236 lbs, seven seasons) is the premier NFL wide receiver. His production, impact and importance are among the best in the game regardless of position. That said, he will drop some easy passes. His ability to reel in the impossible pass is well known, but his routine drops keep his score down.

    Route Running

    27/30

    The Lions offense hasn’t asked Johnson to be an elaborate route-runner, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run routes well. When used on slants and breaking routes, he has shown the necessary agility, burst and body control. He’s still a bit stiff at times, but most men his size will be in space.

    Speed

    20/20

    A man with Johnson’s size shouldn’t run as fast as he does. His ability to run past defenders is underrated, and he uses that speed to excel at getting behind coverage. If used on more breaking routes, his speed would be even more obvious.

    Overall

    94/100

    He’s the total package at wide receiver. It will likely be a long time before anyone challenges Johnson for the top spot at his position. 

2. J.J. Watt, 3-4 DE, Houston Texans

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    Run Defense

    46/50

    Houston’s J.J. Watt (6’5”, 289 lbs, three seasons) is the standard by which all defensive linemen are evaluated. In the run game, he’s both strong and long, which allows him to keep blockers off his frame and then shed their hands to make a play on the ball. His vision is near-flawless, and when he locks on the ball, his speed in pursuit is elite. The only reason Watt doesn’t score a perfect grade here is that there are times when he can be washed down the line. That’s not to say we’d recommend running at him if you’re an NFL offensive coordinator.

    Pass Defense

    49/50

    Watt is exceptional at not only getting to the quarterback and producing sacks, but in generating impact rushes. He’s a constant disruptor in the backfield and does as much damage as any player in the NFL with sacks, quarterback hurries and quarterback hits. No matter where he’s lined up—over the outside shoulder of a tackle or guard—he has the strength, speed and technical ability to beat blockers. His first step is jaw-droppingly quick, and he’s rare in his ability to rally with power if his speed move is met by a blocker. Watt’s versatility as a pass-rusher makes him truly unique.

    Overall

    95/100

    You could make a legitimate case for Watt being the best player in the NFL regardless of position. Even as his numbers and the Texans’ wins were down in 2013, his impact was great as usual.

1. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

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    Accuracy

    35/35

    When you think about accuracy, you think about Peyton Manning (6’5”, 230 lbs, 16 seasons). His ability to put the ball in tight spaces is legendary. So too is his capacity to lead receivers and put them in a position to make a play after the catch. His touch and timing are as elite as they come.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    Manning has never been known for an overly powerful arm, but as he enters the later stages of his career, it’s becoming more obvious that he no longer rips passes to the flats with regularity. But as you might expect from Manning, when the game is tight, his arm strength improves.

    Decision Making

    30/30

    No quarterback in the game is better at making pre- and post-snap decisions to get the ball to the right player. Manning is the definition of a coach on the field, and he lives up to that cliche. His vision in attacking the defense and finding the best possible matchup on a weekly basis is perhaps his best quality.

    Mechanics

    15/15

    Make fun of Manning for being robotic all you want, his mechanics are how the position should be played. From his evenly spaced feet to the height he holds the ball before he releases it, Manning’s motion and release are picturesque.

    Mobility

    3/5

    Manning is not fast. At all. But mobility is about more than speed. It’s about being able to evade the pass rush and extend the play. That is something he excels at. While he’ll never outrun Colin Kaepernick, Manning’s pocket movement extends the play.

    Overall

    95/100

    The best of the best, Manning continues to improve with age. His 2013 season will go down as one of the greatest in NFL history.

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