NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 9

Doug FarrarNFL Lead ScoutNovember 10, 2016

NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 9

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    In 2015, the San Diego Chargers went 4-12a disastrous season that was an all-around disappointment. Perhaps no player was more of a letdown than first-round rookie running back Melvin Gordon, who amazed the NCAA in 2014 with 2,740 yards from scrimmage and 32 total touchdowns.

    But his transition to the NFL was a rough one. In Gordon's rookie campaign, pro-strength defenses frequently looked like they overpowered him, and he gained just 641 rushing yards on 184 carries. That 3.5 yards-per-carry average was far more pedestrian than expected.

    2016, therefore, has been a revelation for those watching the Wisconsin alum. Gordon has already beaten his 2015 rushing total with 768 yards in nine games, and he leads the league in carries (193) and rushing touchdowns (nine). He’s showing more power and acceleration to and through the hole, looking far less tentative in space and finally helping to define the offense in the way the Chargers intended. His 32-carry, 196-yard performance against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday placed him fourth overall in Week 9's NFL1000 rankings.

    Gordon’s improvement has had a positive effect on quarterback Philip Rivers, who has shown he can be transcendent even when he has little help around him. Rivers completed 24 of 33 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans, a highly efficient performance that put him at No. 2 behind Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in our rankings. The Chargers are now 4-5 and looking up at three great teams in the AFC West after a series of heartbreaking last-second losses.

    Why was Donald our top man? Because as great as he’s been since he came into the NFL in 2014, his performance against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday was even better. Donald was a one-man wrecking crew with two sacks and seven quarterback hurries. The 6'1", 285-pound tackle used his finely honed attributespeerless strength, acceleration through gaps and the ability to split double-teams with hand movesto reassert his status as the best defensive lineman in the league, regardless of position.

    Part of Bleacher Report's NFL1000 player rating methodology that matters is the ability to look at our grades from week to week (as you, dear reader, can) and suss out which patterns are turning into trends and which are flukes in the relatively small sample size of an NFL season.

    There are many ways to dissect and learn from what the NFL presents on the field every week, and the NFL1000 goes as deep as any to tell you just what's going on.

    With a 17-person crew of experienced evaluators, we'll comb through the game tape each week to bring you concise, clear evaluations of every player in the NFL. We'll tell you which rookies are rising and which undrafted players are coming out of nowhere to make an impact. We'll tell you which players are rising and falling in performance and why.

    There is no predetermined narrative with these grades. No mysterious clutch factor. No tweaked-out quarterback ratings that defy explanation. Our grades are based on pure scoutingand lots of it. We grade the key criteria for each position based on a series of attributes and add in a score for positional importance.

    In the case of a tie, our scouts ask, "Which player would I want on my team?" and adjust accordingly.

    Is it a subjective process? Of course—that's what scouting is. And as we like to say, ties are no fun.

    Each player is evaluated and graded by our crack team of scouts, who possess more than 100 combined years of experience in playing, front-office work, coaching and media. Cian Fahey, John Middlekauff, Alex Kirby, Mark Schofield, Duke Manyweather, Ethan Young, Joe Goodberry, Justis Mosqueda, Charles McDonald, Zach Kruse, Derrik Klassen, Jerod Brown, Ian Wharton, Kyle Posey, Mark Bullock, Chuck Zodda and Doug Farrar have watched tape for months to bring you these grades, and we'll be bringing you player grades based on the game action every week.

    Here are the NFL1000 player grades for Week 9 of the 2016 NFL season.

       

    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

    All cornerback statistics obtained through self-charting by Wharton and Posey.

Methodology

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The NFL1000 team of scouts was given a series of important attributes to grade for every player in their positional review. Using a grading scale starting at 0 and going up to anywhere from 10 to 50 based on the position and the attribute, our scouts have graded each player based on their own expertise and countless hours of tape review over the years. Our evaluators received specific positional assignments based on their proven fields of expertise.

    We observe and grade every NFL player with snaps in offensive and defensive roles based on a multitiered process that marks specific attributes per position. As we're combing through All-22 footage to assess each performance, there are additional factors we consider.

    We'll adjust for opponent based on the obvious notion that the cornerback we're grading is doing a better job if he's shutting down Antonio Brown than if he's negating the efforts of a seventh-round rookie receiver.

    We'll also adjust for players with multiple responsibilities in the course of a game and over the course of time. Think of guys such as J.J. Watt and Michael Bennett on the defensive line and how they seamlessly switch from gap to gap. Or how cornerbacks such as Chris Harris Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu dominate outside and in the slot. Or how receivers such as Doug Baldwin and Larry Fitzgerald bedevil those cornerbacks from multiple field positions.

    That's more important than ever in today's NFL, and we pay attention to it.

    We will not adjust for injuries. If a player is underperforming because of an injury, that's part of his performance, fair or unfair, and we'll grade him accordingly.

    Grading any player is a subjective process, but with a series of attributes per position and a specific direction as to what to grade and how, we'll make it as definitive as possible.

Top 50 Overall from Week 9

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    We’ve already talked about three of the four top players in this week’s NFL1000, but how great was it to see Carolina outside linebacker Thomas Davis, an 11-year veteran who’s come back from multiple ACL injuries, play some of his best football at age 33?

    Against the Rams on Sunday, Davis was his usual brilliant self. He had an awesome strip-sack in the second quarter with a perfectly timed blitz in which he demolished running back Benny Cunningham, and he grabbed an interception of a Case Keenum pass late in the third quarter. It was an errant throw and a bad read by Keenum, but Davis played his role perfectly, following the tight end up the seam and dropping off into zone coverage. Davis should be an inspiration to everyone on his team.

    Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith should come as no surprise as our fifth-ranked player. He’s been blowing up defensive ends and linebackers all season, and he was as advertised Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, allowing no sacks, hits or hurries on 69 snaps and run-blocking with his usual combination of power and agility.

    It was a bit surprising to see Russell Wilson work his way to the sixth overall position in this week’s rankings, but the Seattle Seahawks quarterback earned it with his performance Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Over the last month, Seattle’s offense had been conservative with the big play, preferring quick drops and shorter passes to mitigate its league-worst offensive line.

    Not that the line was any better against the Bills (see: the second play of the first drive, when left tackle George Fant blew two blocksa singularly awful achievement), but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell finally took the training wheels off and let Wilson throw deep. As a result, Wilson—who had just two throws of 20 yards or more in the previous four weekshad four such throws against Buffalo, and tight end Jimmy Graham caught 17- and 18-yard touchdown passes.

    And when Wilson throws deep, he shows a touch and velocity that few NFL quarterbacks possess.

    Here, without further ado, is the top 50 for Week 9's NFL1000.

        

    Top 50 Overall from Week 9
    RankPlayerPos.TeamNFL1000 ScoreLWMoving
    1Aaron DonaldDTLA87NR
    2Philip RiversQBSD84411
    3Thomas Davis4-3 OLBCAR8382
    4Melvin GordonRBSD82102
    5Tyron SmithLTDAL821
    6Russell WilsonQBSEA82519
    7Lorenzo Alexander3-4 OLBBUF81504
    8Ha Ha Clinton-DixFSGB8164
    9Tyrod TaylorQBBUF81298
    10James Harrison3-4 OLBPIT81NR
    11Bryan BulagaRTGB8121
    12Joe ThomasLTCLE8012
    13Ramik WilsonILBKC80401
    14Janoris JenkinsCBNYG80NR
    15Jimmy GrahamTESEA80482
    16Jason PetersLTPHI806
    17Luke KuechlyILBCAR8028
    18Cordy GlennLTBUF8030
    19Zach StriefRTNO8036
    20Richie IncognitoOGBUF79141
    21Cameron Wake4-3 DEMIA79NR
    22Kenny VaccaroSSNO79245
    23Ezekiel ElliottRBDAL7924
    24Byron JonesFSDAL7989
    25Jason WittenTEDAL79701
    26David BakhtiariLTGB799
    27Darius ButlerFSIND79646
    28Marcus GilbertRTPIT79NR
    29Paul PoslusznyILBJAX79720
    30Earl ThomasFSSEA7992
    31Matthew StaffordQBDET78560
    32Brandon LinderCJAX78437
    33Leonard WilliamsDTNYJ78191
    34Khalil Mack4-3 DEOAK784
    35Latavius MurrayRBOAK78166
    36Trumaine JohnsonCBLA78NR
    37Aaron RodgersQBGB788
    38Brandon FlowersCBSD7887
    39LeSean McCoyRBBUF78NR
    40Mike EvansWRTB78526
    41Donald PennLTOAK7874
    42Bobby WagnerILBSEA7814
    43Andrew AdamsFSNYG78NR
    44Julio JonesWRATL77473
    45Brett JonesOGNYG77NR
    46Max UngerCNO77325
    47Clayton GeathersSSIND77198
    48Matt PraterKDET77728
    49Jerry Hughes3-4 OLBBUF77339
    50Sam MartinPDET77850

Quarterbacks

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    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Russell Wilson looked like the caliber of quarterback we're used to seeing him be Monday night. He didn't run for big gains or scramble regularly, but he was more comfortable with his mobility and planted his feet to deliver accurate passes downfield. 

    Both of Wilson's touchdown connections with Jimmy Graham were perfectly placed throws into the end zone that led the tight end to space. Graham made tough catches, but Wilson put the ball where it needed to be. The Seahawks quarterback had another precise deep throw to Jermaine Kearse the receiver couldn't control, while Doug Baldwin drew multiple pass-interference penalties downfield on good throws.

    Seattle may have outlasted Tyrod Taylor's Bills, but the Buffalo quarterback was just as impressive as Wilson. Taylor showed off great arm strength and precision throwing into windows downfield while also escaping pressure repeatedly.

    Detroit Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford led a game-tying (then game-winning) drive against the Minnesota Vikings. Stafford's ability to perform against pressure and fit the ball into tight windows with his arm strength allowed the Lions offense to function in difficult situations, but the consistency of his ball placement remains a concern. He had an off-target throw that led to an interception in Detroit territory.

    At the bottom of the rankings, Blake Bortles once again failed to execute his offense. He repeatedly missed open Jacksonville Jaguars receivers and ran himself into pressure. He had one awful interception deep in his own territory but was fortunate to escape three more interceptions with errant throws. One of those errant throws was a pass he threw into the stomach of a defender after breaking the pocket. The Jaguars should consider benching Bortles to give sixth-round pick Brandon Allen a chance.

    Nick Foles played in the same game and was similarly unimpressive. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback overshot a deep ball early that went straight to a Jaguars defender before another knocked the ball loose from his grasp. Head coach Andy Reid's offense limits the quarterback's impact, so Foles rarely had to make difficult plays. Had Foles been in a tougher offense, his opponent would have taken advantage of his lack of arm strength and accuracy.

       

    Grading Scale

    Acc: Accuracy (Graded out of 25)

    Arm: Arm Strength (Graded out of 25)

    Press: Pressure/Run Threat (Graded out of 20) (pressure weighted at 15, run threat at 5)

    Dec: Decision-Making (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Quarterback Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamAccArmPressDecPosOvr
    1Philip RiversSD202017171084
    2Russell WilsonSEA202314151082
    3Tyrod TaylorBUF202315131081
    4Matthew StaffordDET172215141078
    5Aaron RodgersGB172315131078
    6Drew BreesNO172015151077
    7Matt RyanATL192012161077
    8Dak PrescottDAL171915161077
    9Eli ManningNYG162214141076
    10Ryan TannehillMIA171916141076
    11Andrew LuckIND202214101076
    12Derek CarrOAK162014141074
    13Cam NewtonCAR142114141073
    14Sam BradfordMIN161914141073
    15Trevor SiemianDEN141912131068
    16Jameis WinstonTB131812141067
    17Marcus MariotaTEN151913101067
    18Cody KesslerCLE161710131066
    19Colin KaepernickSF141812121066
    20Carson WentzPHI112013111065
    21Ben RoethlisbergerPIT14201291065
    22Mike GlennonTB161710101063
    23Joe FlaccoBAL131711101061
    24Case KeenumLA131711101061
    25Ryan FitzpatrickNYJ121612111061
    26Nick FolesKC121510121059
    27Blake BortlesJAX11171191058

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Tom Brady—bye
    • Kirk Cousins—bye
    • Jay Cutler—bye
    • Andy Dalton—bye
    • Brock Osweiler—bye
    • Carson Palmer—bye

Running Backs

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    Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

    As mentioned earlier, despite having a terrible rookie season, San Diego's Melvin Gordon has rebounded in a big way during his sophomore campaign. Gordon, the highest-graded running back of Week 9, dominated by having his most consistent performance of his career Sunday against the Titans.

    He’s turned into an excellent inside runner and is excelling in short-yardage goal-line situations. He has done a much better job of playing low, breaking tackles and getting downhill quickly. In 2015, he often danced instead of getting north and south. This season, he has played violently, making defenders pay when they attempt to tackle him. He has a chance to be a big-time player. 

    In arguably the biggest game of his career, Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray picked a good night to be on. It was easily his most physical performance over three NFL seasons. He excelled in the red zone, scoring three touchdowns and diving over defenders like Marcus Allen used to. If the Raiders are going to win the AFC West, they need Murray to play at a Pro Bowl level. On Sunday, he showed he is up for the task.

    After missing last week with an injury, Buffalo's LeSean McCoy looked healthy against a great Seattle defense Monday night. His short-area burst and ability to make defenders miss in space are still elite. McCoy needs to lead the charge in November and December for Buffalo to think playoffs.

    The Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman ran through a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense like Swiss cheese in an easy victory Thursday night. Jay Ajayi had another big game against the New York Jets, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, while his offensive line continues to dominate up front. After starting 1-4, the Miami Dolphins have turned around their season, and Ajayi is a major reason.

    While Matthew Stafford is having an MVP-caliber season, the Lions play better when running back Theo Riddick is rolling. He is a big-play threat even against top fronts like the Vikings. New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram embarrassed a terrible San Francisco 49ers defense for a 75-yard touchdown, the longest run of Week 9 and his NFL career.

        

    Grading Scale

    In: Inside Running (Graded out of 25)

    Out: Outside Running (Graded out of 25)

    Rec: Receiving (Graded out of 20)

    Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Running Back Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamInOutRecBlkPosOvr
    1Melvin GordonSD22191817682
    2Ezekiel ElliottDAL19201618679
    3Latavius MurrayOAK19191717678
    4LeSean McCoyBUF18201717678
    5Devonta FreemanATL19181716676
    6Jay AjayiMIA19181716676
    7Theo RiddickDET18181716675
    8Mark IngramNO20171616675
    9Bilal PowellNYJ17181717675
    10Ty MontgomeryGB19171815675
    11Todd GurleyLA18171716674
    12T.J. YeldonJAX17181716674
    13Chris IvoryJAX18181517674
    14Matt ForteNYJ18171716674
    15Darren SprolesPHI18171617674
    16DeMarco MurrayTEN18161717674
    17Frank GoreIND18161717674
    18Ben CunninghamLA16171816673
    19Jalen RichardOAK19171615673
    20DuJuan HarrisSF18161716673
    21Mike GillisleeBUF17171516671
    22Jonathan StewartCAR18161516671
    23Isaiah CrowellCLE17161616671
    24Damien WilliamsMIA17171615671
    25DeAndre WashingtonOAK17161616671
    26Duke JohnsonCLE15171715670
    27Tim HightowerNO17161615670
    28Le'Veon BellPIT16141717670
    29Christine MichaelSEA15171517670
    30Charcandrick WestKC15151716669
    31Fozzy WhittakerCAR15171515668
    32Kapri BibbsDEN16141715668
    33Kenyan DrakeMIA14161616668
    34Ryan MathewsPHI17151515668
    35Wendell SmallwoodPHI17151515668
    36Peyton BarberTB15161615668
    37Terrance WestBAL17151415667
    38Matt AsiataMIN16141516667
    39Paul PerkinsNYG16141615667
    40Antone SmithTB16141516667
    41Robert TurbinIND16141615667
    42Terron WardATL16151514666
    43Alfred MorrisDAL15141615666
    44Ronnie HillmanMIN14161515666
    45Rashad JenningsNYG15141615666
    46Kenneth FarrowSD16141515666
    47C.J. ProsiseSEA15141615666
    48Kenneth DixonBAL15141416665
    49Knile DavisKC15141515665
    50DeAngelo WilliamsPIT15141515665
    51Travaris CadetNO15141515665
    52Dwayne WashingtonDET15141415664
    53Devontae BookerDEN15141414663
    54Don JacksonGB15131415663

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Doug Martin—injury
    • Thomas Rawls—injury
    • Carlos Hyde—injury
    • Danny Woodhead—injury
    • Shane Vereen—injury
    • LeGarrette Blount—injury
    • Adrian Peterson—injury
    • Jamaal Charles—injury
    • Ameer Abdullah—injury
    • C.J. Anderson—injury
    • Matt Jones—bye
    • Jeremy Hill—bye
    • David Johnson—bye

Fullbacks

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    It wasn’t a big stat weekend for the NFL fullbacks, but they remain a staple on good teams.

    Oakland's Jamize Olawale might be the most unknown good player in the league. He was excellent Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. Not known as a physical blocker, Olawale brought it in isolation blocking situations. He handled an athletic Denver linebacking unit, and his ability to move bodies helped the Raiders have a breakout running performance. 

    Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco was very good against a bad Tampa Bay defense, helping Freeman explode on limited carries.

    New Orleans' John Kuhn and Carolina's Mike Tolbert have only gotten stronger as the season has progressed. Both players have helped resurrect running games the last several weeks.

        

    Grading Scale

    Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 50)

    Run: Running (Graded out of 25)

    Rec: Receiving (Graded out of 15)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Fullback Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamBlkRunRecPosOvr
    1Jamize OlawaleOAK461610476
    2Kyle JuszczykBAL451411474
    3Patrick DiMarcoATL441511474
    4Zach LineMIN441610474
    5John KuhnNO441510473
    6Derek WattSD45168473
    7Mike TolbertCAR45159473
    8Aaron RipkowskiGB44169473
    9Jerome FeltonBUF44149471
    10Keith SmithDAL43149470
    11Michael BurtonDET43158470
    12Jalston FowlerTEN44148470
    13Andy JanovichDEN42158469
    14Will TukuafuSEA43148469
    15Anthony ShermanKC42148468

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jay Prosch—bye
    • James Develin—bye

Wide Receivers

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    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Atlanta's Julio Jones dominated the Tampa Bay secondary Thursday night, bringing in eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. In Minnesota, Golden Tate was all over the field for Detroit against a tough defense. He made an incredible catch-and-run in overtime to hand the Vikings their third straight loss. 

    Buffalo's Robert Woods had a big night against some tough competition Monday's game against the Seahawks, catching 10 passes for 162 yards. He was impressive on his routes and after the catch, but he also played a role as a blocker.

    In his team's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Wallace of the Baltimore Ravens had a big touchdown that showed some speed and strength after the catch, which helped boost his grade this week.

    San Diego's Tyrell Williams and Oakland's Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree all turned in good performances, displaying that the AFC West not only has veteran talent, but some young talent at the wide receiver position as well.

        

    Grading Scale

    Route: Route Running (Graded out of 25)

    Hands: Hands (Graded out of 25)

    YAC: Yards After Catch (Graded out of 20)

    Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Wide Receiver Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Mike EvansTB22211412978
    2Julio JonesATL22221410977
    3Golden TateDET21221410976
    4Odell BeckhamNYG20211610976
    5Robert WoodsBUF20201412975
    6Jordy NelsonGB20191511974
    7Stefon DiggsMIN20201311973
    8Mohamed SanuATL2120139972
    9Doug BaldwinSEA20201211972
    10Taylor GabrielATL19181510971
    11Kelvin BenjaminCAR20191211971
    12Amari CooperOAK19181213971
    13Mike WallaceBAL17191411970
    14Terrelle Pryor Sr.CLE19181113970
    15Cole BeasleyDAL19191310970
    16Cordarrelle PattersonMIN18161512970
    17Michael CrabtreeOAK18171313970
    18Antonio BrownPIT19181311970
    19Tyrell WilliamsSD19191112970
    20Quinton PattonSF20181310970
    21Marquise GoodwinBUF18181113969
    22Demaryius ThomasDEN18191112969
    23Allen RobinsonJAX19181211969
    24Brian QuickLA19181310969
    25Adam ThielenMIN20181210969
    26Brandin CooksNO19191210969
    27Brandon MarshallNYJ18181212969
    28Dontrelle InmanSD18181212969
    29Emmanuel SandersDEN18181112968
    30Marqise LeeJAX18181211968
    31Jarvis LandryMIA17181212968
    32Michael ThomasNO19191110968
    33Eli RogersPIT18191111968
    34Jermaine KearseSEA19171211968
    35Adam HumphriesTB19171310968
    36Steve Smith Sr.BAL17181112967
    37Ted Ginn Jr.CAR19181110967
    38T.Y. HiltonIND18171112967
    39Quincy EnunwaNYJ17171113967
    40Robby AndersonNYJ17191111967
    41Dez BryantDAL19171110966
    42Randall CobbGB17171310966
    43Albert WilsonKC17171112966
    44Kenny BrittLA19171110966
    45Sterling ShepardNYG18171210966
    46Victor CruzNYG18171210966
    47Jalin MarshallNYJ17181111966
    48Nelson AgholorPHI18171210966
    49Tajae SharpeTEN18171111966
    50Rishard MatthewsTEN17171112966
    51Kamar AikenBAL16171112965
    52Chris ConleyKC16161113965
    53Charles JohnsonMIN17151113965
    54Willie SneadNO18161210965
    55Seth RobertsOAK17171111965
    56Jeremy KerleySF18171110965
    57Walter PowellBUF15161113964
    58Devin FunchessCAR18151210964
    59Corey ColemanCLE16161112964
    60Terrance WilliamsDAL17171011964
    61Jordan NorwoodDEN16171111964
    62Donte MoncriefIND16161112964
    63Andre HolmesOAK15161113964
    64Torrey SmithSF18161110964
    65Anquan BoldinDET18161010963
    66Davante AdamsGB16171110963
    67Phillip DorsettIND16151112963
    68Tyreek HillKC15161211963
    69Tavon AustinLA17161110963
    70Brandon ColemanNO17161110963
    71Roger LewisNYG18161010963
    72Harry DouglasTEN16161111963
    73Andrew HawkinsCLE14161112962
    74Marvin JonesDET16151111962
    75Allen HurnsJAX16141112962
    76DeVante ParkerMIA15151112962
    77Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI18141110962
    78Bryce TreggsPHI16161110962
    79Griff WhalenSD16141112962
    80Cecil ShortsTB16151111962
    81Kendall WrightTEN16161110962
    82Breshad PerrimanBAL15151111961
    83Justin HunterBUF14151112961
    84Jordan TaylorDEN15151111961
    85Tyler LockettSEA16151110961
    86Brice ButlerDAL15151110960
    87Arrelious BennJAX15141111960
    88Pharoh CooperLA15151110960
    89Jordan MatthewsPHI16141110960
    90Philly BrownCAR15141110959
    91Bennie Fowler IIIDEN14141111959
    92De'Anthony ThomasKC14141111959
    93Kenny StillsMIA14141111959
    94Leonte CarrooMIA14141111959
    95Charone PeakeNYJ14141111959
    96Sammie CoatesPIT15131111959
    97Darrius Heyward-BeyPIT14141111959
    98Cobi HamiltonPIT14141111959
    99Travis BenjaminSD14141111959
    100Jeremy ButlerSD14141111959
    101Paul RichardsonSEA15151010959
    102Geronimo AllisonGB14141110958
    103Lucky WhiteheadDAL13131111957
    104Andre RobertsDET14141010957
    105Trevor DavisGB14141010957
    106Laquon TreadwellMIN14141010957
    107Dwayne HarrisNYG14141010957
    108Aaron BurbridgeSF14131010956
    109Rod StreaterSF13131010955
    110Freddie MartinoTB13131010955

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Andre Johnson—retired
    • Sammy Watkins—injury
    • Eric Decker—injury
    • Keenan Allen—injury
    • Vincent Jackson—injury
    • Larry Fitzgerald—bye
    • Michael Floyd—bye
    • John Brown—bye
    • Alshon Jeffery—bye
    • Eddie Royal—bye
    • A.J. Green—bye
    • Brandon LaFell—bye
    • DeAndre Hopkins—bye
    • Will Fuller V—bye
    • Julian Edelman—bye
    • Danny Amendola—bye
    • DeSean Jackson—bye
    • Pierre Garcon—bye
    • Jamison Crowder—bye

Tight Ends

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    In case you didn’t know, Jimmy Graham is back. 

    The 29-year-old looked exactly like the guy the Seahawks were expecting when they traded for him in 2015. On Monday night, he tore the Buffalo secondary to shreds, hauling in eight receptions on eight targets for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

    Meanwhile, while Golden Tate got a lot of coverage for his game-winner at Minnesota, Lions tight end Eric Ebron contributed a lot to the victory, giving Stafford a big target (6'4", 265 lbs) in the middle of the field. He hauled in seven catches for 92 yards.

    The 36-year-old Antonio Gates continues to chug along at this point of his career, catching five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers' victory over the Titans.

    Kansas City's Travis Kelce was on track for a big day, and his numbers likely would have been higher had he not thrown a towel at an official and been ejected. 

    Jack Doyle played a big role for the Indianapolis Colts in their road victory over the Green Bay Packers, as did Clive Walford for the Raiders in their AFC West showdown with the Broncos.

        

    Grading Scale

    Route: Route Running (Graded out of 20)

    Hands: Hands (Graded out of 25)

    YAC: Yards After Catch (Graded out of 20)

    Blk: Blocking (Graded out of 25)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Tight End Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Jimmy GrahamSEA18231617680
    2Jason WittenDAL16201621679
    3Zach ErtzPHI18211418677
    4Antonio GatesSD15191420674
    5Eric EbronDET17181418673
    6Richard RodgersGB19211116673
    7Travis KelceKC15191419673
    8Lance KendricksLA16201218672
    9Greg OlsenCAR16201217671
    10Jack DoyleIND13181319669
    11Coby FleenerNO15171218668
    12Trey BurtonPHI15181217668
    13Will TyeNYG14181217667
    14Austin HooperATL13161120666
    15Virgil GreenDEN13161318666
    16Vance McDonaldSF14171316666
    17Garrett CelekSF14171217666
    18Jerell AdamsNYG14171216665
    19Clive WalfordOAK12151319665
    20Brandon WilliamsSEA13171118665
    21Delanie WalkerTEN14171117665
    22Charles ClayBUF13161217664
    23Ed DicksonCAR13171117664
    24Gary BarnidgeCLE13151119664
    25Geoff SwaimDAL12141022664
    26MarQueis GrayMIA13161118664
    27Josh HillNO14141119664
    28Marcedes LewisJAX12151218663
    29Julius ThomasJAX12151218663
    30Kyle RudolphMIN12151020663
    31Cameron BrateTB13151217663
    32Tyler HigbeeLA12151217662
    33Dominique JonesMIA13151117662
    34Rhett EllisonMIN12151118662
    35Jesse JamesPIT12151118662
    36Anthony FasanoTEN12151118662
    37Nick O'LearyBUF11141119661
    38Dwayne AllenIND12151117661
    39Ben KoyackJAX11141119661
    40James O'ShaughnessyKC11151118661
    41Xavier GrimblePIT12151117661
    42Levine ToiloloATL10131021660
    43Demetrius HarrisKC11141118660
    44Austin Seferian-JenkinsNYJ11141118660
    45David JohnsonPIT12151116660
    46Mychal RiveraOAK11141117659
    47Dennis PittaBAL13161112658
    48Jeff HeuermanDEN11141116658
    49Erik SwoopesIND11141116658
    50Brandon BostickNYJ11141116658
    51Sean McGrathSD11141116658
    52Nick VannettSEA11141017658
    53Darren WallerBAL12151113657
    54Randall TelferCLE11141115657
    55Seth DeValveCLE11141115657
    56A.J. DerbyDEN11141115657
    57Justin PerilloGB12151113657
    58Phillip SupernawTEN11141115657
    59Asante ClevelandSD1141114656
    60Luke StockerTB10131016655
    61Brandon MyersTB10131014653

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Nick Boyle—suspension
    • Jordan Cameron—injury
    • Dion Sims—injury
    • Crockett Gillmore—injury
    • Maxx Williams—injury
    • Hunter Henry—injury
    • Jacob Tamme—inactive
    • Jermaine Gresham—bye
    • Zach Miller—bye
    • Tyler Eifert—bye
    • C.J. Fiedorowicz—bye
    • Rob Gronkowski—bye
    • Martellus Bennett—bye
    • Jordan Reed—bye
    • Vernon Davis—bye

Left Tackles

8 of 22

    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Once again, Tyron Smith was the top performer at left tackle in Week 9. The Cowboys All-Pro tackle played as close as a player can get to a flawless game, surrendering no sacks and no pressures in 69 snaps as Dallas cruised to a 35-10 victory over the Browns.

    Perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas turned in a terrific performance for Cleveland. Thomas was as smooth as ever in pass protection, surrendering only one pressure in 44 snaps when he failed to mirror and post down inside on a late inside spin move. The Browns could not manage to establish the running game, but it wasn't Thomas' fault.

    For the second consecutive week, the Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Peters grabbed the third slot in our rankings with his performance against the New York Giants. Peters was faced with the task of bookending against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, and he did not disappoint.

    PFF credited Peters with surrendering a quarterback hit, but on film, the hit appeared to be the result of a weakness in the protection scheme and not a missed assignment by Peters. The Eagles tackle was also stout in the running game, helping pave the way for close to 100 yards on the ground.

    If you are a fan of tough, physical smashmouth football, go study Oakland's Donald Penn against the Broncos. Penn was dominant as a run-blocker and highly effective in pass protection. It doesn't always look pretty, but it's fun to watch him get after it. He has a unique story, as he went undrafted in 2006 out of Utah State. But since, he has started 149 games, been selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl and has four career touchdowns. 

        

    Grading Scale

    Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)

    Power: Power (Graded out of 20)

    Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Left Tackle Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Tyron SmithDAL21201716882
    2Joe ThomasCLE21171618880
    3Jason PetersPHI19211616880
    4Cordy GlennBUF21181716880
    5David BakhtiariGB20181617879
    6Donald PennOAK18211714878
    7Eric FisherKC20171615876
    8Jake MatthewsATL19171615875
    9Andrus PeatNO18181614874
    10Anthony CastonzoIND18181515874
    11Taylor LewanTEN18171515873
    12Taylor DeckerDET17191415873
    13Kelvin BeachumJAX18171514872
    14Ereck FlowersNYG17171515872
    15King DunlapSD17181415872
    16Joe StaleySF17171514871
    17Branden AlbertMIA17181414871
    18Mike RemmersCAR17171414870
    19Jake LongMIN18151414869
    20Greg RobinsonLA16161613869
    21Ben IjalanaNYJ15181413868
    22Alejandro VillanuevaPIT18161313868
    23Russell OkungDEN16161413867
    24Ronnie StanleyBAL16161313866
    25Donovan SmithTB14141512863
    26George FantSEA13151014860

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Bradley Sowell—injury
    • Matt Kalil—injury
    • Luke Joeckel—injury
    • Michael Oher—injury
    • Trent Williams—bye/suspension
    • Jared Veldheer—bye/injury
    • Charles Leno Jr.—bye
    • Ty Nsekhe—bye
    • Andrew Whitworth—bye
    • Duane Brown—bye
    • Nate Solder—bye

Right Tackles

9 of 22

    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga was the top performer at right tackle in Week 9. As mentioned in last week's installment, Bulaga has remained healthy and has been fantastic, which should put the seventh-year man out of Iowa in strong consideration for the players' vote for the Pro Bowl. There has not been a more consistent right tackle through the first nine weeks.

    New Orleans' Zach Strief continues to turn in solid yet gritty performances, this time against San Francisco. For the second week in a row, Strief is second in our rankings.     

    Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert returned to action after missing several weeks to face AFC North rival Baltimore. Gilbert showed no signs of rust or injury and flashed moments of physical dominance both in pass protection and in the running game. 

    Dallas' Doug Free is often the forgotten man on the Cowboys' outstanding offensive line, but he turned in a solid performance against Cleveland, especially in the running game. 

    Breno Giacomini, whom the Jets activated from the PUP list prior to Week 8's contest, was in the starting lineup again after seeing limited time in his 2016 regular-season debut. He had a rough game against Miami. It is evident, especially in pass protection, that he is still a ways from getting back to being even consistently serviceable.

        

    Grading Scale

    Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)

    Power: Power (Graded out of 20)

    Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    Right Tackle Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Bryan BulagaGB21191717781
    2Zach StriefNO20211715780
    3Marcus GilbertPIT19191717779
    4Ryan SchraederATL18191616776
    5Doug FreeDAL19191614775
    6Mitchell SchwartzKC18191615775
    7Trenton BrownSF18191614774
    8Demar DotsonTB18181417774
    9Ricky WagnerBAL19181515774
    10Halapoulivaati VaitaiPHI18181515773
    11Jack ConklinTEN17181614772
    12Daryl WilliamsCAR18171513770
    13Austin PasztorCLE17171515771
    14T.J. ClemmingsMIN16181415770
    15Joe HaegIND17161415769
    16Joe BarksdaleSD16181414769
    17Rob HavensteinLA16161514768
    18Jermey ParnellJAX15171414767
    19Austin HowardOAK15181512767
    20Corey RobinsonDET16181312766
    21Garry GilliamSEA15161315766
    22Donald StephensonDEN14141514764

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Riley Reiff—inactive
    • Andre Smith Jr.—injury
    • Derek Newton—injury
    • Joe Reitz—injury
    • Marshall Newhouse—insufficient snaps
    • Menelik Watson—insufficient snaps
    • Lane Johnson—suspension
    • Marcus Cannon—bye
    • Cedric Ogbuehi—bye
    • Bobby Massie—bye
    • Morgan Moses—bye
    • D.J. Humphries—bye
    • Chris Clark—bye

Offensive Guards

10 of 22

    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    The story of the week at guard had to be the play of the Giants' Brett Jones after Justin Pugh got hurt in the first quarter against the Eagles.

    Jones, who played in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Giants, was a menace up front. His physicality didn't do much to spring the Giants' running game, though, which continues to struggle largely because of bad play design and poorly designed run-blocking schemes.

    But without him, New York may have had a worse day on the ground. Considering it only averaged 2.3 yards per carry this week, that is saying something.

        

    Grading Scale

    Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run-Blocking (Graded out of 25)

    Power: Power (Graded out of 20)

    Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

          

    Offensive Guard Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Richie IncognitoBUF20191815779
    2Brett JonesNYG20181814777
    3Andy LevitreATL17191815776
    4David DeCastroPIT19161717776
    5Brandon BrooksPHI19161716775
    6Alex LewisBAL19171616775
    7Graham GlasgowDET19171616775
    8Marshal YandaBAL16191815775
    9John MillerBUF16191715774
    10Josh KlineTEN18191713774
    11Orlando FranklinSD17191813774
    12Kelechi OsemeleOAK16191714773
    13T.J. LangGB19161615773
    14Laremy TunsilMIA16181616773
    15Ronald LearyDAL17181714773
    16Ali MarpetTB17161617773
    17Zane BeadlesSF15181616772
    18Lane TaylorGB16181516772
    19Zack MartinDAL17161715772
    20Denzelle GoodIND16181714772
    21Mark GlowinskiSEA17151616771
    22D.J. FlukerSD16181713771
    23Chris ChesterATL17161714771
    24Spencer DrangoCLE16171714771
    25Max GarciaDEN17171713771
    26A.J. CannJAX15191713771
    27Brian WintersNYJ17141616770
    28Denver KirklandOAK15181713770
    29Jeremiah SirlesMIN16151616770
    30Stefen WisniewskiPHI18171612770
    31Gabe JacksonOAK15181713770
    32Jermon BushrodMIA15171614769
    33Jahri EvansNO15181712769
    34James CarpenterNYJ17161712769
    35Larry WarfordDET17151614769
    36Brian SchwenkeTEN16171613769
    37Zach FultonKC15171614769
    38Ramon FosterPIT15161713768
    39Joshua GarnettSF16161613768
    40Senio KelemeteNO16171612768
    41Patrick OmamehJAX16161613768
    42Jonotthan HarrisonIND15171613768
    43John JerryNYG16141614767
    44Laurent Duvernay-TardifKC13151517767
    45Kevin PamphileTB16151613767
    46Brandon FuscoMIN16141613766
    47Andrew NorwellCAR14141614765
    48Michael SchofieldDEN16131415765
    49Cody WichmannLA13151315763
    50Germain IfediSEA13141513762
    51Trai TurnerCAR14111612760
    52Alvin BaileyCLE11131513759
    53Rodger SaffoldLA12121512758

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Justin Pugh—insufficient snaps
    • Brandon Scherff—bye
    • Shawn Lauvao—bye
    • Joe Thuney—bye
    • Shaq Mason—bye
    • Clint Boling—bye
    • Kevin Zeitler—bye
    • Jeff Allen—bye
    • Xavier Su'a-Filo—bye
    • Ted Larsen—bye
    • Eric Kush—bye
    • Earl Watford—bye
    • Mike Iupati—bye
    • Kyle Long—DNP
    • Josh Sitton—DNP
    • La'el Collins—DNP

Centers

11 of 22

    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Injuries are starting to pile up at center. The Panthers felt the brunt of that this week with Ryan Kalil out. Last week, Gino Gradkowski filled in pretty nicely for Kalil, particularly in the ground game, where he was a stabilizing force on the second level.

    He didn't fare well against Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive line, though. Gradkowski failed to establish any sort of anchor in pass protection. The offensive line felt the missing leadership and communication Kalil provides as well. 

        

    Grading Scale:

    Pass: Pass Protection (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Blocking (Graded out of 25)

    Power: Power (Graded out of 20)

    Agl: Agility (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

       

    Center Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Brandon LinderJAX19191816678
    2Max UngerNO19201715677
    3Rodney HudsonOAK16191817676
    4Eric WoodBUF19181814675
    5Ryan KellyIND18161717674
    6Mitch MorseKC16181617673
    7Alex MackATL16181716673
    8Weston RichburgNYG19161814673
    9Matt ParadisDEN18161814672
    10Travis FrederickDAL17171714671
    11Maurkice PounceyPIT17161715671
    12Wesley JohnsonNYJ18161713670
    13Corey LinsleyGB17161516670
    14Joe BergerMIN17151714669
    15B.J. FinneyPIT18141615669
    16Matt SlausonSD15171615669
    17Jason KelcePHI16151516668
    18Daniel KilgoreSF15161615668
    19Ryan GroyBUF15181712668
    20John GrecoCLE17151613667
    21Travis SwansonDET17141614667
    22Ben JonesTEN16141416666
    23Jeremy ZuttahBAL17131415665
    24Evan SmithTB16141514665
    25Justin BrittSEA14151614665
    26Mike PounceyMIA16131415664
    27Tim BarnesLA15141613664
    28Joe HawleyTB15141513663
    29Gino GradkowskiCAR13141513661

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Cody Whitehair—bye
    • Russell Bodine—bye
    • Greg Mancz—bye
    • A.Q. Shipley—bye
    • Spencer Long—bye
    • David Andrews—bye
    • Cameron Erving—insufficient snaps
    • JC Tretter—DNP
    • Nick Mangold—DNP
    • Ryan Kalil—DNP

3-4 Defensive Ends

12 of 22

    The Post-Crescent-USA TODAY Sports

    When Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and the Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell are on bye weeks, this position group loses two of its top performers.

    Luckily, Packers defensive end Mike Daniels was a human wrecking ball, and the Titans' Jurrell Casey put together another well-rounded effort. We also may have lost the Broncos' Derek Wolfe from the 3-4 elite, as he suffered an injury Monday night and has told reporters he could miss up to four weeks.

    If you're looking for Joey Bosa, the Chargers moved him around a bit more this week and used him as a stand-up rusher. You'll find him listed as a 3-4 outside linebacker. 

        

    Grading Scale

    Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 15)

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 30)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    3-4 Defensive End Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Mike DanielsGB13192014773
    2Jurrell CaseyTEN12162114770
    3DeForest BucknerSF13161915770
    4Quinton DialSF13162014770
    5Stephon TuittPIT11162213769
    6Emmanuel OgbahCLE12132016768
    7Jaye HowardKC10142314768
    8Timmy JerniganBAL11162013767
    9Chris JonesKC11152014767
    10Denico AutryOAK11142113766
    11DaQuan JonesTEN10151915766
    12Tony Jerod-EddieSF11151814765
    13Ronald BlairSF11141815765
    14Corey LiugetSD10141914764
    15Derek WolfeDEN11141813763
    16Carl NassibCLE12131712761
    17Cameron HeywardPIT9131913761
    18Lawrence GuyBAL9131813760
    19Karl KlugTEN11141513760
    20Mike PennelGB10131614760
    21Kendall ReyesKC8121715759
    22Leger DouzableBUF10121812759
    23Brent UrbanBAL9121912759
    24Adolphus WashingtonBUF11121712759
    25Billy WinnDEN9121712757
    26Xavier CooperCLE9121612756
    27Angelo BlacksonTEN8121712756
    28Jamie MederCLE7111713755
    29Jared CrickDEN9121413755
    30Zach KerrIND8121612755

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • J.J. Watt—bye/injury
    • Jadeveon Clowney—bye
    • Christian Covington—bye
    • Chris Baker—bye
    • Ziggy Hood—bye
    • Calais Campbell—bye
    • Robert Nkemdiche—bye
    • Akiem Hicks—bye
    • Arik Armstead—insufficient snaps

4-3 Defensive Ends

13 of 22

    Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

    After a slow statistical start to his season, Oakland's Khalil Mack is heating up with five sacks over the last three weeks. That story is reflective to the league as a whole, as pass-rushers are finally catching up with their name brands.

    For example, Miami's Cameron Wake, a 34-year-old, had zero starts and one sack in his first five games this year. Wake has since added four sacks in three starts in the last month.

    Emerging pass-rushers such as Atlanta's Vic Beasley, Minnesota's Danielle Hunter and Philadelphia's Brandon Graham again head the list, while Minnesota, Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta each had a pair of defensive ends in our top 14 this past week. 

        

    Grading Scale

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 20)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

        

    4-3 Defensive End Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunSnapTklPosOvr
    1Cameron WakeMIA23131817879
    2Khalil MackOAK23151616878
    3Vic BeasleyATL22131814875
    4Danielle HunterMIN23131516875
    5Lorenzo MauldinNYJ22141515874
    6Everson GriffenMIN22131714874
    7Jason Pierre-PaulNYG21141615874
    8Brandon GrahamPHI22141614874
    9Cliff AvrilSEA24131614875
    10Adrian ClaybornATL21141613872
    11Dante FowlerJAX18131517871
    12Connor BarwinPHI21131514871
    13Noah SpenceTB20131515871
    14Frank ClarkSEA21131514871
    15Yannick NgakoueJAX21121514870
    16Kerry HyderDET21131414870
    17Ezekiel AnsahDET19131416870
    18William HayesLA20121515870
    19Robert QuinnLA20131514870
    20Brian RobisonMIN20121515870
    21Cameron JordanNO22121414870
    22Vinny CurryPHI20131514870
    23Cassius MarshSEA21131414870
    24Charles JohnsonCAR20131414869
    25DeMarcus LawrenceDAL19131415869
    26Olivier VernonNYG20131414869
    27Brooks ReedATL19131414868
    28Wes HortonCAR20121513868
    29Kony EalyCAR19131414868
    30Jack CrawfordDAL19131414868
    31Benson MayowaDAL19131414868
    32Eugene SimsLA20121414868
    33William GholstonTB21121413868
    34Damontre MooreSEA20131314868
    35Andre BranchMIA21121511867
    36Mario AddisonCAR19131413867
    37Tyrone CrawfordDAL19121513867
    38Brandon CopelandDET18131414867
    39Devin TaylorDET19121414867
    40Ethan WestbrooksLA19121414867
    41Darryl TappNO19131314867
    42Marcus SmithPHI19131313866
    43Robert AyersTB19121413866
    44Romeo OkwaraNYG18131313865
    45Muhammad WilkersonNYJ18141114865
    46Sheldon RichardsonNYJ20131014865
    47Kasim EdebaliNO19121313865
    48Davonte LambertTB18121313864
    49Mario WilliamsMIA18121113862
    50Jason JonesMIA17121015862
    51Anthony ZettelDET17121312862
    52Paul KrugerNO21101310862

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Carlos Dunlap—bye
    • Margus Hunt—bye
    • Michael Johnson—bye
    • Will Clarke—bye
    • Wallace Gilberry—bye
    • Jabaal Sheard—bye
    • Chris Long—bye
    • Trey Flowers—bye
    • Jared Odrick—inactive
    • David Irving—ejected
    • Owa Odighizuwa—insufficient snaps
    • Michael Bennett—injury
    • Dwight Freeney—injury
    • Armonty Bryant—suspension
    • Randy Gregory—suspension

Defensive Tackles

14 of 22

    William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

    Aaron Donald had his best game of the season against the Panthers. He routinely annihilated Carolina's interior on his way to four tackles, two sacks and seven hurries. Donald also caused a pressure that allowed his teammate Cam Thomas to notch his first sack of the season.

    On the other side of the field, the Panthers' Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei had strong games, as they shut down the Rams running game, allowing just 3.5 yards per carry.

    Shutting down Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell isn't an easy task, but Baltimore's Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce continued their strong seasons against the run as they played a key part in Bell's lackluster performance. These two are performing at a level reminiscent of Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa when the Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2001. They routinely build a wall at the line of scrimmage and have bullied opposing offensive lines all season; Sunday's game against the Steelers was no different.

    The game between the Giants and the Eagles had two strong performances in the defensive trenches. The Eagles' Fletcher Cox and the Giants' Damon Harrison overwhelmed the opposing offensive linemen. Cox danced around John Jerry in his pass rush and had a few impressive plays versus the run. Harrison made life hell for Eagles center Jason Kelce as he bulldozed through the offensive line multiple times. So far, Harrison has been the imposing force the Giants surely expected when they signed him from the Jets in the offseason.

    Leonard Williams of the Jets looks like an emerging star. He plays with consistent leverage and hand technique, and he always knows where the ball is. When the Jets line up in their "Bear" front with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson at the 3-techniques and Williams at the nose, Williams has free rein to beat down the center. The 22-year-old gave Mike Pouncey all he could handle and looked like the top-10 pick the Jets expected him to be when they drafted him last year. 

     

    Grading Scale

    Snap: Snap Explosion (Graded out of 25)

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 15)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

     

    Defensive Tackle Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Aaron DonaldLA22232213787
    2Leonard WilliamsNYJ19182113778
    3Gerald McCoyTB19181913776
    4Ndamukong SuhMIA19191812775
    5Brandon WilliamsBAL17152213774
    6Fletcher CoxPHI18181912774
    7Kyle WilliamsBUF18171912773
    8Damon HarrisonNYG17172012773
    9Kawann ShortCAR17162011771
    10Linval JosephMIN17142013771
    11Grady JarrettATL16161913771
    12Michael PierceBAL17142013771
    13Star LotuleleiCAR16171912771
    14Maliek CollinsDAL17161713770
    15Malik JacksonJAX17171613770
    16Jordan PhillipsMIA17181611769
    17Johnathan HankinsNYG17161811769
    18Michael BrockersLA16161911769
    19Cam ThomasLA16171613769
    20Terrell McClainDAL15151813768
    21Jerel WorthyBUF16151712767
    22Darius LathamOAK15121914767
    23Brandon MebaneSD17131713767
    24Cedric ThorntonDAL16131713766
    25Tyson AlualuJAX15161513766
    26Sen'Derrick MarksJAX18161411766
    27Javon HargravePIT16131812766
    28Kyle LoveCAR16131712765
    29Khyri ThorntonDET16131712765
    30Dominique EasleyLA17141611765
    31Tom JohnsonMIN16141612765
    32Nick FairleyNO16151512765
    33Sheldon RankinsNO16161511765
    34Justin EllisOAK15131713765
    35Tyrunn WalkerDET15141612764
    36Steve McLendonNYJ15161412764
    37Jarvis JenkinsNYJ14151612764
    38Jarran ReedSEA15141612764
    39Jonathan BabineauxATL15131612763
    40Kenny ClarkGB16141412763
    41Dontari PoeKC17151410763
    42Jay BromleyNYG14151512763
    43David OnyemataNO14131612762
    44Dan WilliamsOAK13111813762
    45Beau AllenPHI14131612762
    46Stefan CharlesDET16131510761
    47Abry JonesJAX14121612761
    48Jihad WardOAK14131611761
    49Tony McDanielSEA14131512761
    50Akeem SpenceTB14131413761
    51Courtney UpshawATL14151311760
    52Paul SoliaiCAR14121611760
    53Haloti NgataDET14131511760
    54A'Shawn RobinsonDET14121511759
    55Hassan RidgewayIND15131410759
    56Sheldon DayJAX13131412759
    57Tyeler DavisonNO13141411759
    58Tyson JacksonATL12141510758
    59Letroy GuionGB13121412758
    60Shamar StephensMIN13131411758
    61Ahtyba RubinSEA13141311758
    62Glenn DorseySF15141210758
    63Leon OrrMIA14121311757
    64Destiny VaeaoPHI13121410756
    65T.Y. McGillIND13121310755
    66Sylvester WilliamsDEN14111210754
    67Mike PurcellSF14121110754
    68Danny SheltonCLE13121110753
    69Al WoodsTEN1412119753
    70Adam GotsisDEN1312119752
    71John HughesTB1113129752
    72Sealver SiligaSEA1211129751
    73David ParryIND119109746

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Bennie Logan—injury
    • Caraun Reid—injury
    • Clinton McDonald—injury
    • Marcell Dareus—injury
    • Corbin Bryant—injury
    • Vernon Butler—injury
    • Earl Mitchell—injury
    • Sharrif Floyd—injury
    • Ra'Shede Hageman—inactive
    • Stephen Paea—inactive
    • John Jenkins—inactive
    • Stacy McGee—inactive
    • Geno Atkins—bye
    • Vince Wilfork—bye
    • Malcom Brown—bye

3-4 Outside Linebackers

15 of 22

    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Of all the impressive games breakout star Lorenzo Alexander played this season, Monday night's was probably his best. The NFL's sack leader added to his tally with a takedown of Russell Wilson, giving him 10 sacks this season and at least half a sack in eight of nine games in 2016. He consistently pressured Wilson, and his toughness on the edge played a big part in the Bills shutting down the Seahawks running game. For his efforts, Alexander earned the top grade at 3-4 outside linebacker this week. 

    The ageless wonder that is James Harrison joined Alexander at the top. Even at 38 years old, Harrison remains a handful on the edge. He sacked Joe Flacco twice (including a strip-sack) and made four tackles near the line of scrimmage against the run.

    Other standouts from Week 9 include Jerry Hughes, who had a sack and a blocked punt against the Seahawks; and Kansas City's Dee Ford, who tied Alexander for the top pass-rushing score after he terrorized Blake Bortles for two sacks, three hits and four hurries. Meanwhile, five crushing tackles from Jarvis Jones helped him earn the week's highest tackling grade.

    The week's top rookies were Shaq Lawson and Matt Judon, who both produced third-down sacks.

     

    Grading Scale

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 15)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 25)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

     

    3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunCvgTklPosOvr
    1Lorenzo AlexanderBUF27171019881
    2James HarrisonPIT2618920881
    3Jerry HughesBUF26141019877
    4Von MillerDEN2515918875
    5Dee FordKC2713918875
    6Jarvis JonesPIT1815923873
    7Tamba HaliKC2314918872
    8Nick PerryGB2313918871
    9Eli HaroldSF2015919871
    10Brian OrakpoTEN2014919870
    11Terrell SuggsBAL2115917870
    12Shaq LawsonBUF22141016870
    13Jamie CollinsCLE1815919869
    14Anthony ChickilloPIT18141118869
    15Shaquil BarrettDEN1913919868
    16Albert McClellanBAL16131118866
    17Derrick MorganTEN2013818867
    18DeMarcus WareDEN2112917867
    19Matt JudonBAL21111017867
    20Za'Darius SmithBAL1714918866
    21Arthur MoatsPIT16151017866
    22Erik WaldenIND2112817866
    23Lavar EdwardsIND2111917866
    24Joey BosaSD1912917865
    25Akeem AyersIND19121016865
    26Shane RayDEN2011916864
    27Melvin IngramSD16131017864
    28Cam JohnsonCLE1910818863
    29Datone JonesGB1811917863
    30Frank ZomboKC16141015863
    31Tank CarradineSF1711917862
    32Tourek WilliamsSD15121017862
    33Julius PeppersGB1711916861
    34Kyler FackrellGB1811816861
    35Robert MathisIND1811816861
    36Joe SchobertCLE16141012860
    37David BassTEN1512915859
    38Ahmad BrooksSF1511816858
    39Kevin DoddTEN1611815858
    40Chris LandrumSD1511915858

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Corey Lemonier—inactive
    • Aaron Wallace—inactive
    • Clay Matthews—injury
    • Justin Houston—injury
    • Jerry Attaochu—injury
    • Aaron Lynch—injury
    • Markus Golden—bye
    • Chandler Jones—bye
    • Alex Okafor—bye
    • Elvis Dumervil—injury
    • Leonard Floyd—bye
    • Pernell McPhee—bye
    • Willie Young—bye
    • Sam Acho—bye
    • Whitney Mercilus—bye
    • John Simon—bye
    • Ryan Kerrigan—bye
    • Preston Smith—bye
    • Trent Murphy—bye

4-3 Outside Linebackers

16 of 22

    Thomas Davis (right)
    Thomas Davis (right)Harry How/Getty Images

    Thomas Davis is officially back. After a roller-coaster start to the season, he topped off a quality stretch of play with a stunning performance. He was far and away the best linebacker in Week 9. 

    Davis was the catalyst to Carolina's defensive performance. Players such as Luke Kuechly and Kawann Short had excellent showings as well, but Davis was a dominant force in all phases of the game. In coverage and as a pass-rusher, he made quarterback Case Keenum's day a nightmare. Not only did Davis have an acrobatic interception, but he had a strip-sack on a fiery blitz.

    Davis' performance blended efficiency with spurts of game-changing plays, such as the turnovers and the plays at or behind the line of scrimmage in the running game. By all accounts, he was transcendent Sunday.

    The top 10 of this week's list had a handful of unfamiliar names in the mix: Josh Bynes of the Lions at No. 5, Chad Greenway of the Vikings at No. 6 and Keenan Robinson of the Giants at No. 7. None of those players had a boisterous impact in any one area, but all three of them had well-rounded performances in which they were net positives across the board. They played sound assignment football and kept big plays from happening. As quiet as their performances were, they were effective.

     

    Grading Scale

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 15)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 25)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

     

    4-3 Outside Linebacker Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Thomas DavisCAR21211322683
    2Bruce IrvinOAK16201320675
    3Sean LeeDAL1820821673
    4Nigel BradhamPHI1920820673
    5Josh BynesDET1719919670
    6Chad GreenwayMIN1918720670
    7Keenan RobinsonNYG1718720668
    8K.J. WrightSEA1518821668
    9Devon KennardNYG1619818667
    10Damien WilsonDAL16171017666
    11Mark BarronLA15171018666
    12De'Vondre CampbellATL1516820665
    13Anthony BarrMIN1319819665
    14Malcolm SmithOAK1518719665
    15Telvin SmithJAX1417719663
    16Jonathan CasillasNYG1616718663
    17Brock CoyleSEA1613820663
    18Justin DurantDAL1616915662
    19Daryl SmithTB14161016662
    20Antwione WilliamsDET1516915661
    21Dan SkutaJAX1516717661
    22Emmanuel LamurMIN1616815661
    23Craig RobertsonNO2013814661
    24Philip WheelerATL1516716660
    25AJ KleinCAR1417716660
    26Mike CatapanoNYJ1415816659
    27Mychal KendricksPHI1615715659
    28Spencer PaysingerMIA1414915658
    29Josh ForrestLA1614715658
    30Myles JackJAX1514715657
    31Jordan JenkinsNYJ1414815657
    32Lavonte DavidTB1213717655
    33Donald ButlerMIA1513714655
    34Jelani JenkinsMIA1315714655

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Darron Lee—injury
    • Jaylon Smith—injury
    • DeAndre Levy—injury
    • Vincent Rey—bye
    • Karlos Dansby—bye
    • Shea McClellin--bye
    • Rob Ninkovich--bye

Inside Linebackers

17 of 22

    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Once again, Luke Kuechly is at the top of the list. However, he’s joined by a second-year player who continues to impress. Ramik Wilson was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, and they’re quickly seeing a return on the investment. Wilson was the second-string linebacker behind starter Justin March-Lillard to begin the year, but March-Lillard was placed on injured reserve in Week 6. Wilson became the replacement and might have taken the job for years to come. 

    He was an integral part of the Chiefs defense during Sunday's win over Jacksonville, finishing with five tackles and an interception. Wilson has graded highly each week that he’s played, showing versatility as an athlete and high-level aggressiveness that flashes in run support. As he begins to become more comfortable with the mental processing necessary to play inside linebacker, he’ll improve. The growth of Wilson will be worth watching as the Chiefs attempt to make a run in a loaded AFC West division.

    Other standouts include Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who was active all day Sunday and made an impact as a run defender, in coverage and as a pass-rusher. The Jaguars defense is still maturing, but the unit has a great leader in the middle with the veteran.

    Los Angeles Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree cracks the top 10 for the first time this season after looking interested in playing the run against the Carolina Panthers. Ogletree’s performance may be a fluke, but if the Rams defender can continue to play with intensity, the defense should only continue to improve.

     

    Grading Scale

    Pass: Pass Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 35)

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 15)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 15)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

     

    Inside Linebacker Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Ramik WilsonKC21311012680
    2Luke KuechlyCAR20311013680
    3Paul PoslusznyJAX19311112679
    4Bobby WagnerSEA19311210678
    5C.J. MosleyBAL22271012677
    6Deion JonesATL2030912677
    7Alec OgletreeLA17311012676
    8Ryan ShazierPIT17311011675
    9Zach BrownBUF19291011675
    10Preston BrownBUF18281111674
    11Jake RyanGB17291110673
    12Derrick O. JohnsonKC19261012673
    13Blake MartinezGB17271111672
    14Anthony HitchensDAL17271012672
    15Perry RileyOAK18261011671
    16Chris KirkseyCLE1727912671
    17Todd DavisDEN18261011671
    18Jordan HicksPHI1826911670
    19Korey ToomerSD1927810670
    20Brandon M. MarshallDEN1825912670
    21Zach OrrBAL16261011669
    22Adarius GlantonTB1826811669
    23Lawrence TimmonsPIT1527912669
    24Joe ThomasGB1824911668
    25Kwon AlexanderTB1726811668
    26Kelvin SheppardNYG1725911668
    27Edwin JacksonIND1725911668
    28Gerald HodgesSF17241010667
    29Corey NelsonDEN1922911667
    30D'Qwell JacksonIND182599667
    31Avery WilliamsonTEN1724911667
    32Joshua PerrySD1724811666
    33Nate StuparNO172698666
    34Kyle EmanuelSD1722911665
    35Tahir WhiteheadDET1624910665
    36Demario DavisCLE1524811664
    37David HarrisNYJ16211011664
    38Wesley WoodyardTEN1522119663
    39Julian StanfordNYJ152499663
    40Kiko AlonsoMIA172389663
    41Sean SpenceTEN1523810662
    42Audie ColeMIN1622810662
    43Michael WilhoiteSF1620910661
    44Nick BelloreSF1617810657

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Kevin Minter—bye
    • Deone Bucannon—bye
    • Jerrell Freeman—bye
    • Danny Trevathan—bye
    • Nick Kwiatkoski—bye
    • Rey Maualuga—bye
    • Benardrick McKinney—bye
    • Brian Cushing—bye
    • Dont'a Hightower—bye
    • Elandon Roberts—bye
    • Su'a Cravens—bye
    • Will Compton—bye
    • Mason Foster—bye
    • Eric Kendricks—injury
    • Denzel Perryman—injury
    • Jatavis Brown—injury
    • James Laurinaitis—insufficient snaps
    • Antonio Morrison—insufficient snaps
    • Josh Forrest—insufficient snaps
    • Cory James—insufficient snaps

Cornerbacks

18 of 22

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 9 went well for some of the highest-priced cornerbacks in the NFC. With stars like Patrick Peterson and Josh Norman on their bye week, the onus was on other familiar faces to represent the position well. Among our top NFC scores were three veteran NFC East cornerbacks. 

    The New York Giants duo of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins was fantastic against the Philadelphia Eagles. Rodgers-Cromartie shadowed Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews throughout the game, logging 23 boundary snaps and 16 slot snaps. He allowed just two receptions on seven targets, shutting down three of those targets with perfect coverage. His versatility has been a key factor for the improvement of this secondary.

    Jenkins was also dominant against the Eagles. He gave up just one reception on five targets while in press coverage, showing terrific fluidity and coverage skills. He has continued to show growth and live up to his big free-agent contract (five years, $62.5 million).

    In Mo Claiborne’s absence, Dallas Cowboys corner Brandon Carr was tasked with facing Browns star wideout Terrelle Pryor for much of Sunday. Carr, despite being four inches and 13 pounds smaller, helped hold Pryor to one of his least productive games of the year. Carr allowed just one reception on four targets and broke up one pass.

    Your natural reaction is to think Bobby McCain from the Dolphins had a terrible outing because he gave up the touchdown at the end of the game. What if I told you that in 28 coverage snaps that was the only time he was beaten? Sure, the touchdown is a big deal, but McCain also blitzed and had a big QB hit as well as an interception. His reaction time was impressive in coverage, and that went a long way in giving the Jets receivers fits all afternoon.

    Usually when you’re targeted 13 times, it’s not a good thing. In this case, it was no different for the Chiefs' Phillip Gaines. He gave up six catches and five first downs; he was beaten on six different occasions, and one of those catches went for more than 20 yards.

    It was a day to forget for him.

    That sentiment for Gaines extends to Bradley Roby of the Broncos, who was targeted 12 times. Though he gave up only six catches, Roby was beaten seven times, gave up four first downs, missed two tackles and had two penalties. With Aqib Talib out, Roby followed Amari Cooper around and just could not hang with him at the line of scrimmage. Of the six catches, Roby was only in position to make a play on one of those passes.

    Brandon Flowers had an active day as well. Targeted nine times in coverage, he gave up four catches. One went for a touchdown, while he allowed a couple of other big plays. Flowers also had an interception that he took to the house to seal the game and was the best run-defending corner in the AFC. He had a few big plays at or near the line of scrimmage and also had a big tackle to keep a receiver in bounds near the end of the half. When you add in a pass deflection, San Diego will trade off a couple of mishaps for how Flowers performed Sunday.

     

    Grading Scale

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 30)

    React: Reaction/Recovery (Graded out of 30)

    Slot: Slot (Graded out of 20)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 10)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

     

    Cornerback Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamCvgReactSlotTklPosOvr
    1Janoris JenkinsNYG2424185980
    2Trumaine JohnsonLA2322186978
    3Brandon FlowersSD2124168978
    4Dominique Rodgers-CromartieNYG2223185977
    5Darrelle RevisNYJ2322165975
    6Tavon YoungBAL2123165974
    7Bobby McCainMIA2122166974
    8Buster SkrineNYJ2221175974
    9Steven NelsonKC2022175973
    10Jimmy SmithBAL2220165972
    11Richard ShermanSEA2020176972
    12Jalen RamseyJAX2019166970
    13James BradberryCAR1819176969
    14Nevin LawsonDET1819166968
    15Ross CockrellPIT1919165968
    16Brandon CarrDAL1918174967
    17Casey HaywardSD1918164966
    18Chris Harris Jr.DEN1719155965
    19Aaron ColvinJAX1717166965
    20Trae WaynesMIN1717156964
    21Desmond TrufantATL1717155963
    22Vontae DavisIND1716156963
    23Xavier RhodesMIN1618155963
    24Delvin BreauxNO1717155963
    25William GayPIT1717155963
    26Tramaine BrockSF1716165963
    27Brent GrimesTB1816164963
    28Lamarcus JoynerLA1616165962
    29Tony LippettMIA1716155962
    30Brice McCainTEN1616165962
    31Brian PooleATL1615165961
    32Orlando ScandrickDAL1516165961
    33David AmersonOAK1615156961
    34Jimmie WardSF1615165961
    35Jalen CollinsATL1516155960
    36Joe HadenCLE1615155960
    37Quandre DiggsDET1614165960
    38Micah HydeGB1515165960
    39Prince AmukamaraJAX1516155960
    40Terence NewmanMIN1516164960
    41Jerraud PowersBAL1415156959
    42Sterling MooreNO1415165959
    43Eli AppleNYG1416146959
    44TJ CarrieOAK1515155959
    45Jalen MillsPHI1614155959
    46Nolan CarrollPHI1515146959
    47DeShawn SheadSEA1416146959
    48Kevon SeymourBUF1415155958
    49Quinten RollinsGB1414156958
    50Mackensie AlexanderMIN1415155958
    51Trevin WadeNYG1514155958
    52Trevor WilliamsSD1415155958
    53Keith ReiserSF1416154958
    54Perrish CoxTEN1415155958
    55Stephon GilmoreBUF1514145957
    56Corey WhiteBUF1514145957
    57Marcus PetersKC1614153957
    58Daryl RobertsNYJ1414155957
    59Jason McCourtyTEN1415145957
    60Rashaan MelvinIND1513154956
    61E.J. GainesLA1513145956
    62Jeremy LaneSEA1414145956
    63Robert AlfordATL1413145955
    64Nickell Robey-ColemanBUF1313155955
    65Jamar TaylorCLE1313155955
    66Briean Boddy-CalhounCLE1314145955
    67Bradley RobyDEN1513153955
    68Patrick RobinsonIND1413154955
    69Artie BurnsPIT1413145955
    70Vernon HargreavesTB1413145955
    71Daryl WorleyCAR1313145954
    72Tramon WilliamsCLE1312155954
    73D.J. HaydenOAK1413135954
    74Ronald DarbyBUF1312145953
    75Byron MaxwellMIA1312145953
    76Stevie WilliamsSD1213145953
    77Jude Adjei-BarimahTB1213135952
    78Anthony BrownDAL1213125951
    79Lorenzo DossDEN1212135951
    80LaDarius GunterGB1211145951
    81Johnson BademosiDET1211135950
    82Phillip GainesKC1310135950
    83B.W. WebbNO1212134950
    84Adairius BarnesDET1111125948
    85Leodis McKelvinPHI1010114944

     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Alterraun Verner—injury
    • Rashard Robinson—injury
    • Captain Munnerlyn—injury
    • Morris Claiborne—injury
    • Darius Slay—injury
    • Josh Norman—bye
    • Patrick Peterson—bye
    • Tyrann Mathieu—bye
    • A.J. Bouye--bye
    • Kareem Jackson--bye
    • Malcolm Butler--bye
    • Logan Ryan--bye
    • Adam Jones--bye
    • Dre Kirkpatrick--bye

Free Safeties

19 of 22

    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    With strong safety Mike Adams inactive due to injury this week, the Colts had to do some shuffling around in the secondary. Free safety Clayton Geathers moved to strong safety to fill Adams' spot, while cornerback Darius Butler filled in at free safety. After Butler had a strong performance, I wonder if the Colts are considering keeping him there. Butler finished the game with a 79 overall grade, ranking third among all free safeties this week and well above his 65.8 average for the season at corner. 

    Butler was tested early and often, but he didn't fall for any of the typical traps a converted corner might. He didn't bite on a play-action pass, staying on top of the crossing route, ready to break and make a tackle before the ball was dropped.

    On Jordy Nelson's first-quarter touchdown, Butler was playing a deep-half zone. The Packers sent two receivers on go routes to his side of the field. Butler read it perfectly, staying on top of both routes and breaking on the throw to Nelson on the outside. He took a perfect route to the ball and jumped in front of Nelson as the ball arrived. However, Nelson managed to fight for the ball at the catch point and come away with the touchdown reception. On another day or against another receiver, Butler probably comes away with the interception.

    Butler made up for the play later on with an outstanding interception. The Colts showed two deep safeties before the snap but rotated to Cover 1 Robber. Butler rotated down from his deep-half look to his robber position in the middle of the field after the snap and quickly followed Aaron Rodgers' eyes to an in-breaking route from the far side. Butler broke quickly on the throw and dove at full stretch to cap off a fantastic interception.

    Butler and Geathers looked to be a more solid partnership than Geathers and Adams had been so far this season. If the Colts can handle the loss of Butler at corner, they may benefit more from keeping him at safety going forward.

                 

    Grading Scale

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 30)

    Rec: Recovery (Graded out of 30)

    Slot: Slot/LB (Graded out of 10)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

                        

    Free Safety Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Ha Ha Clinton-DixGB2625616881
    2Byron JonesDAL2424716879
    3Darius ButlerIND2425616879
    4Earl ThomasSEA2425616879
    5Andrew AdamsNYG2324716878
    6Lardarius WebbBAL2424516877
    7Glover QuinDET2423616877
    8Darian StewartDEN2323616876
    9Reggie NelsonOAK2423516876
    10Rodney McLeodPHI2325515876
    11Ricardo AllenATL2324515875
    12Corey GrahamBUF2322616875
    13Harrison SmithMIN2224615875
    14Eric ReidSF2223616875
    15Kevin ByardTEN2323615875
    16Tre BostonCAR2423514874
    17Isa Abdul-QuddusMIA2323515874
    18Marcus GilchristNYJ2422515874
    19Dwight LowerySD2322615874
    20Ibraheim CampbellCLE2122616873
    21Ed ReynoldsCLE2321515872
    22Michael GriffinCAR2121615871
    23Justin SimmonsDEN2120616871
    24Dexter McCoilSD2121615871
    25Kentrell BriceGB2020616870
    26Maurice AlexanderLA2120515869
    27Robert BlantonBUF1918516866
    28Ron ParkerKC2019514866
    29Jairus ByrdNO2119414866
    30Vonn BellNO1920514866
    31Mike MitchellPIT2120413866
    32Bradley McDougaldTB1819615866
    33T.J. GreenIND1819515865
    34Tashaun GipsonJAX1918515865

                      

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • D.J. Swearinger—bye
    • George Iloka—bye
    • Andre Hal—bye
    • Devin McCourty—bye
    • Duron Harmon—bye
    • Rashad Johnson—inactive
    • Darian Thompson—inactive
    • Nat Berhe—insufficient snaps

Strong Safeties

20 of 22

    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Kenny Vaccaro's role with the Saints constantly changes. He started the season as an in-the-box strong safety, but once the team determined rookie Vonn Bell was ready to play, he shifted to slot corner. Then the team suffered injuries at linebacker, and Vaccaro filled in there too. Now, he's playing a combination of all three spots.

    With the constant changes, his performance level has suffered, but this week, he topped the strong safety group. He was particularly impressive against the run, especially on read-option plays. He read quarterback keeps well and often made tackles to keep 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to two yards or fewer on runs.

    He made one strong play in the second quarter on a speed-option play. Vaccaro took position on the edge, ready to play the running back on the pitch option, but once Kaepernick faked the pitch and tucked the ball to run himself, Vaccaro burst back inside and made the tackle at the line of scrimmage. He also had two big plays in the fourth quarter, recovering one fumble and ripping the ball out to create another later on.

    Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins struggled this week. He's been outstanding at strong safety this season, but thanks to injuries, he's being asked to play as the slot corner in nickel and dime packages. While he covered the slot well at times earlier in the year, he struggled against the Giants. In the third quarter, rookie receiver Sterling Shepard beat him on a corner route. Jenkins was forced to try to hold Shepard to save the play, drawing a penalty call, but it was declined because Shepard still made the catch and scored a touchdown.

    Later in the fourth quarter, Jenkins got beat again by Shepard and looked lost, but he got bailed out by an inaccurate throw from Eli Manning. The Eagles will be hoping they can get healthy in the secondary and allow Jenkins to move back to strong safety, where he was graded as one of the top 10 in the league after eight games.

                

    Grading Scale

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 25)

    Rec: Recovery (Graded out of 25)

    Slot: Slot/LB (Graded out of 20)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 20)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

                              

    Strong Safety Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Kenny VaccaroNO21201616679
    2Clayton GeathersIND20201615677
    3Eric BerryKC21211415677
    4Keanu NealATL19191616676
    5T.J. WardDEN20201515676
    6Eric WeddleBAL20181516675
    7Morgan BurnettGB19191516675
    8Landon CollinsNYG20191515675
    9Adrian PhillipsSD19191516675
    10Rafael BushDET19181615674
    11Kelcie McCraySEA19191515674
    12Derrick KindredCLE19181515673
    13Andrew SendejoMIN18181516673
    14Calvin PryorNYJ19171516673
    15Sean DavisPIT18181516673
    16Tavon WilsonDET18171516672
    17Karl JosephOAK18171516672
    18Jaylen WatkinsPHI18171516672
    19Robert GoldenPIT17181516672
    20Jaquiski TarttSF18181416672
    21Da'Norris SearcyTEN18181515672
    22J.J. WilcoxDAL18181415671
    23Will ParksDEN17181416671
    24John CyprienJAX18171515671
    25Antoine BetheaSF18171515671
    26Chris ConteTB18171416671
    27Bacarri RamboMIA17171515670
    28Daniel SorensenKC17171415669
    29Malcolm JenkinsPHI16171416669
    30Kurt ColemanCAR17161415668
    31Rontez MilesNYJ16161415667
    32Daimion StaffordTEN16171414667
    33Michael ThomasMIA16161414666
    34T.J. McDonaldLA15151414664
    35Tracy HowardCLE15151314663

                       

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Tony Jefferson—bye
    • Shawn Williams—bye
    • Quintin Demps—bye
    • Patrick Chung—bye
    • Barry Church—inactive
    • Mike Adams—inactive
    • Jahleel Addae—inactive
    • Kam Chancellor—inactive

Kickers

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    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    Matt Prater plowed into the top spot, courtesy of a perfect day and a pair of 50-plus-yard field goals, including a 58-yarder to send the game to overtime. Prater has been average for much of the year, but he is capable of this type of performance on a regular basis.

    His 58-yarder showed he has the leg to make any kick necessary, but his technique has been somewhat sloppy at times this year. This was a big week for him, and hopefully he can use it as a launching pad for the second half of the season. 

    Matt Bryant finished in the second spot, and the veteran has had a strong year thus far, grading out sixth overall in our midseason report card. Bryant has missed just one kick on the year, though he only has six attempts from over 40 yards.

    Also in the top five were Cairo Santos, Phil Dawson and Brandon McManus. Santos' sidewinding style has created some accuracy issues, while Dawson has shown good accuracy, but he no longer possesses one of the stronger legs in the NFL. McManus is turning in an average season, though this week's showing is reminiscent of what he did throughout all of 2015.

    After being perfect through the first eight weeks of the year, Greg Zuerlein found himself at the bottom this week, largely due to two misses on 50-plus-yard attempts. Usage has been a major issue for Zuerlein in his career, with Jeff Fisher trotting him out for 50-plus-yard attempts far more frequently than the average kicker, and it came back to bite him this week. Zuerlein has a great leg, but the stress of those attempts on a regular basis can hurt a kicker's psyche in the long term.

    The remainder of the bottom five have shown inconsistency throughout the year. Blair Walsh, Jason Myers, Dan Carpenter and Mason Crosby have average accuracy. Walsh had been better since starting the season 3-of-6, but Carpenter has ongoing questions about his ability to adjust to the longer extra points.

                    

    Grading Scale

    Pwr: Kick Power (Graded out of 40)

    Acc: Kick Accuracy (Graded out of 40)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 10)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

                            

    Kicker Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamPwrAccTklPosOvr
    1Matt PraterDET34373377
    2Matt BryantATL32383376
    3Cairo SantosKC33373376
    4Phil DawsonSF31373374
    5Brandon McManusDEN33353374
    6Justin TuckerBAL32333371
    7Steven HauschkaSEA32333371
    8Andrew FranksMIA31333370
    9Nick FolkNYJ30343370
    10Dan BaileyDAL31313368
    11Adam VinatieriIND30323368
    12Ryan SuccopTEN31313368
    13Robbie GouldNYG31303367
    14Caleb SturgisPHI30313367
    15Wil LutzNO30303366
    16Chris BoswellPIT31283365
    17Sebastian JanikowskiOAK31283365
    18Roberto AguayoTB30283364
    19Josh LamboSD30273363
    20Graham GanoCAR30243360
    21Cody ParkeyCLE31223359
    22Mason CrosbyGB30233359
    23Dan CarpenterBUF29243359
    24Jason MyersJAX30223358
    25Blair WalshMIN30163352
    26Greg ZuerleinLA27173350

                     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Chandler Catanzaro—bye
    • Connor Barth—bye
    • Mike Nugent—bye
    • Nick Novak—bye
    • Stephen Gostkowski—bye
    • Dustin Hopkins—bye

Punters

22 of 22

    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    The top punters for Week 9 have a number of frequent visitors to this part of the rankings. Detroit's Sam Martin took home top honors, with a well-roudned performance that featured above-average grades in all three key areas. Martin has been a little below his own high expectations this year, coming in at the 10th spot in the midseason rankings, but this was a strong performance he is capable of duplicating in the future. 

    The next three names are familiar to anyone who enjoys great punting: Sam Koch, Thomas Morstead and Pat McAfee, respectively. Baltimore's Koch had one of the best directional performances of the year against the Steelers but was slightly below-average in distance and hang time, which kept him out of the top spot. Morstead showed an outstanding leg this week, while McAfee had a balanced array of punts that gave him the fourth spot.

    Brad Wing came in fifth, as the Giants punter has been stronger than expected this year. In seventh place, Oakland's Marquette King fell outside of the top five, and the Rams' Johnny Hekker was just behind him in eighth.

    San Diego's Drew Kaser made an unfortunate return to the bottom of the rankings, with below-average grades across the board, as the rookie continues to struggle to find consistency. While Kaser has immense potential, he needs to start showing he can perform every game—the quality of his punts has varied greatly from week to week.

    Fellow rookie Lachlan Edwards of the Jets ended up in the bottom five as well, joining veterans Matt Darr, Brad Nortman and Colton Schmidt. Schmidt and Darr have been volatile. Their highs and lows have evened them out to average punters over the course of the year. Nortman's big leg comes and goes from week to week as well, with this week unfortunately representing a downturn for him.

    There are no major surprises at the bottom this week, as many of the top punters played up to their talent levels. But Cleveland's Britton Colquitt had an off week as far as hang time and distance were concerned, finishing in the 18th spot.

                   

    Grading Scale

    Dist: Kick Distance (Graded out of 20)

    Hang: Kick Hang Time (Graded out of 20)

    Acc: Kick Accuracy (Graded out of 45)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 5)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

                      

    Punter Rankings Week 9
    RankPlayerTeamDistHangAccTklPosOvr
    1Sam MartinDET1716383377
    2Sam KochBAL1313443376
    3Thomas MorsteadNO1919313375
    4Pat McAfeeIND1915333373
    5Brad WingNYG1414383372
    6Jacob SchumGB1516343371
    7Marquette KingOAK1813333370
    8Johnny HekkerLA1817273368
    9Bryan AngerTB1519283368
    10Brett KernTEN1216343368
    11Riley DixonDEN1313363368
    12Chris JonesDAL1417293366
    13Dustin ColquittKC1617273366
    14Jon RyanSEA1416293365
    15Jordan BerryPIT1413303363
    16Bradley PinionSF1012353363
    17Andy LeeCAR1712273362
    18Britton ColquittCLE1012323360
    19Donnie JonesPHI137313357
    20Jeff LockeMIN917243356
    21Matt DarrMIA148273355
    22Lachlan EdwardsNYJ612313355
    23Brad NortmanJAX1112223351
    24Colton SchmidtBUF211313350
    25Drew KaserSD99253349

                      

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Matt Bosher—no punts attempted
    • Ryan Quigley—bye
    • Pat O'Donnell—bye
    • Kevin Huber—bye
    • Shane Lechler—bye
    • Ryan Allen—bye
    • Tress Way—bye