NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 3

Doug Farrar@@BR_DougFarrar NFL Lead ScoutSeptember 29, 2016

NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 3

0 of 22

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Is defense the new offense? It’s sure looking like it these days. Most of the remaining undefeated teams in the NFLthe Broncos, Patriots, Eagles, Vikings and Ravensare getting things done with defenses that throw their opponents into unfavorable situations from the start to the end.

    That’s reflected in the Week 3 edition of the NFL1000. Aaron Rodgers gets the top spot based on his marvelous performance against the Lions, but after that the next 13 players on our master list do their thing on the defensive side of the ball.

    In any other week, Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins might have been the top player overall, and it would have been well-deserved after his performance against the Texans on Thursday night. Collins made several ridiculous run reads and dropped into coverage as well as he always had. It was a franchise-defining performance for a New England defense that has taken over the team and allowed two young quarterbacks to shine during Tom Brady’s suspension.

    Similarly, the Eagles are succeeding with offensive rookies Carson Wentz and Wendell Smallwood, in part because their overhauled defense, led by brilliant coordinator Jim Schwartz, is playing lights-out football. Philly has allowed just 20 points through three games, and we have two of those defendersdefensive tackle Fletcher Cox and defensive back Malcolm Jenkinsin our top 10 this week. Right outside the top 10 is safety Rodney McLeod, a tremendous free-agent acquisition who’s helped the Eagles’ secondary shine.

    With all that said, the Vikings may have the league’s scariest defense right now, and defensive end Everson Griffen is a huge part of that. Griffen has been a great player for a long time, but he’s taken his game to a new level in 2016. He terrorized Carolina’s offense with three sacks, two quarterback hits and four quarterback hurries, adding three run stops for good measure. If head coach Mike Zimmer can keep his young cornerbacks playing on point (rookie Mackensie Alexander is starting to stand out), this defense could be an unsolvable problem.

    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 out there. If you're looking for more details on some of the grades, make sure to check out this week's scouting notebook.

    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 scouting, and 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 3 of the 2016 NFL season.

    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus

Methodology

1 of 22

    Eric Hartline-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 40 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 were given specific positional assignments based on their proven fields of expertise. 

    Every NFL player with snaps in offensive and defensive roles is observed and graded 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 to 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 like J.J. Watt and Michael Bennett on the defensive line--how they seamlessly switch from gap to gap. Or how cornerbacks such as Chris Harris 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 it needs to be graded 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 work to make it as definitive as possible.

    Here are the NFL1000 player grades for Week 3 of the 2016 NFL season.

Top 50 Overall from Week 3

2 of 22

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Aaron Rodgers was obviously sick of hearing how his offense was broken, so he decided to do something about it. After two iffy games to start the 2016 season and an entire 2015 campaign in which head coach Mike McCarthy’s route concepts left him with little room to breathe, Rodgers met his coaching staff more than halfway in Green Bay’s 34-27 win.

    Armed with a few more diverse scheme options, Rodgers completed 15 of 24 passes for 205 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Not exactly all-time numbers, but when you watch the tape there’s nobody else who could have been our No. 1 player this week. Rodgers was ridiculous with his overall accuracy, especially with the deep ball. It was Aaron Rodgers at his best.

    Justis Mosqueda, the newest member of our NFL1000 team, wrote more specifically about how McCarthy and his staff helped Rodgers out. If this holds, the Packers will be a real threat to the rest of the NFL…if they can hold off the surging Vikings in their own division, that is.

    After Rodgers, it’s all defense for a while. You’re familiar with the fantastic efforts of guys like Von Miller and Aaron Donald, but let a few new names sink in. Baltimore’s Zach Orr is a point man for a good defense, Philly’s Rodney McLeod is one of the most underrated safeties in the business right now, and Miami safety Reshad Jones has been one of the league’s more consistent performers in recent years.

    You’ll find all of this week’s NFL1000 grades per position on the following pages, but here’s the top 50 for Week 3.

    Top 50 Overall from Week 3
    RankPlayerPos.TeamNFL1000 ScoreLWMoving
    1Aaron RodgersQBGB93117
    2Jamie CollinsILBNE8767
    3Aaron DonaldDTLA8611
    4Everson Griffen4-3 DEMIN86725
    5Marcus PetersCBKC858
    6Fletcher CoxDTPHI8523
    7Malcolm JenkinsSSPHI84170
    8Von Miller3-4 OLBDEN8324
    9Zach OrrILBBAL83297
    10Eric BerrySSKC83410
    11Thomas Davis4-3 OLBCAR83157
    12Rodney McLeodFSPHI83302
    13Reshad JonesSSMIA8374
    14Kawann ShortDTCAR8245
    15Trent WilliamsLTWAS8329
    16Devonta FreemanRBATL82225
    17Eric WeddleSSBAL82304
    18Mike IupatiOGARI8242
    19Shawn WilliamsSSCIN82172
    20LeSean McCoyRBBUF82317
    21Kam ChancellorSSSEA8273
    22T.Y. HiltonWRIND82373
    23Corey GrahamFSBUF81682
    24Joe ThomasLTCLE8128
    25Bryan BulagaRTGB81116
    26Ron ParkerFSKC81408
    27Stephon GilmoreCBBUF811014
    28Duron HarmonFSNE81141
    29Dak PrescottQBDAL81267
    30Donald PennLTOAK8155
    31Lane JohnsonRTPHI8117
    32Johnny HekkerPLA8119
    33Timmy Jernigan3-4 DEBAL80286
    34Kwon AlexanderILBTB80775
    35Zack MartinOGDAL8022
    36DeMarco MurrayRBTEN80177
    37Aaron WilliamsSSBUF80526
    38Eric FisherLTKC8093
    39C.J. (Clint) MosleyILBBAL8047
    40Lavonte David4-3 OLBTB80133
    41Travis FrederickCDAL80285
    42JC TretterCGB80788
    43Marvin JonesWRDET80499
    44Dontari PoeDTKC80130
    45Devin McCourtyFSNE8049
    46Bobby WagnerILBSEA80137
    47Luke KuechlyILBCAR8012
    48Eric ReidFSSF80475
    49Kevin ZeitlerOGCIN80278
    50Preston BrownILBBUF80138

Quarterbacks

3 of 22

    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    The fifth-ranked quarterback in Week 3 would have ranked 15th in Week 2. 

    Week 3 was disastrous for the quarterback position. Twenty-three quarterbacks couldn't even grade as high as 70 overall. Big names such as Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers played some of the worst football they have in years. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick set quarterbacking as an ideology back 20 years with his atrociously bad display. Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions but could have thrown 10. If you removed all of his throws that were caught by defenders he'd still have been the worst quarterback in the league last week.

    Aaron Rodgers was the only big-name quarterback to live up to expectations. It's tough for Rodgers to surpass expectations because of the high standard he is held to, but his Week 3 display was as close to flawless as you're likely to see this season. Rodgers' 93 overall grade reflects how he took care of the football while making difficult downfield throws with consistency from both inside and outside of the pocket.

    Rodgers contributed four touchdowns and no interceptions to a game week that had 38 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

    Touchdowns and interceptions don't carry as much weight in these evaluations as they will elsewhere. These rankings care more about the opportunities a quarterback creates than those that are taken advantage of. If a quarterback throws the ball straight to a defender and the defender drops it, the play throw/decision from the quarterback is all that matters.

    The quarterback doesn't control if the ball is caught or not so it doesn't make sense to judge him based on the play's outcome. Furthermore, if the quarterback makes that throw when his team is leading against making it when his team is trying to come back in the fourth quarter, the grading adjusts accordingly.

    It works the other way too. If a quarterback finishes a game with three interceptions but all three were a result of errors from teammates, he won't be punished in his grade. Unfortunately for Ryan Fitzpatrick, his mistakes were all his own last week.

    Diving deeper into the grading method for this project, another important piece of the puzzle is opportunities a quarterback missed. If a quarterback's receiver runs a great route and gets open but the quarterback misses the throw or doesn't see him when you'd rationally expect him to see him, he will be punished in his grading. This was a major issue for Brock Osweiler in Week 3 as he repeatedly didn't see his receivers when they were open downfield despite having time in the pocket to do so. Osweiler was pressured often too, but too many of his mistakes were of his own creation.

    Quarterbacks need to be judged within the context of their supporting cast but without letting that supporting cast corrupt the evidence. If you don't face any pressure, or at least minimal pressure, because you play behind a great offensive line (Carson Wentz, for example), you are less likely to grade as high as a quarterback who plays to the same level behind an offensive line that is overwhelmed on every snap (Sam Bradford).

    Context is huge for these evaluations. We need to understand how the player fits and how functional his skill set is instead of solely focusing on how far he can throw the ball or how many times he can get up after big hits.

    While the presentation may be just four categories, each category is layered when it comes to the actual evaluation.

    To get a high accuracy grade you need to consistently put the ball in the right spot to different levels of the field. If 90 percent of the passes you throw only travel a few yards past the line of scrimmage, you won't be given as much credit as someone who is fitting the ball into tight windows downfield at an above-average rate. The "Arm" category is about more than just arm strength. It's about arm talent. You need to show off velocity, touch (control of trajectory) and an ability to throw from uncomfortable platforms to score high in that category.

    The pressure category is self-explanatory for the most part. Do you work from tight pockets and deliver the ball accurately and on time against pressure? High grade. Do you make mistakes against pressure or rush to get rid of the ball to avoid pressure? Low grade. That category also values the player's contributions as a runner. As such, Tyrod Taylor's grade is higher than you'd expect this week because of his two long runs, one that was a designed option play and one that was a scramble for a touchdown.

    The decision-making category requires that you take care of the football but not to the point that you handicap the offense. You need to make good pre-snap and post-snap reads to get high marks in this category. Turnovers or turnover opportunities for the defense will heavily hit this grade.

       

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamAccArmPressDecPosOvr
    1Aaron RodgersGB242417181093
    2Dak PrescottDAL192016161081
    3Sam BradfordMIN192214151080
    4Alex SmithKC182012161076
    5Derek CarrOAK162015141075
    6Carson WentzPHI181813151074
    7Andrew LuckIND172213121074
    8Trevor SiemianDEN162014131073
    9Russell WilsonSEA172111111070
    10Matt RyanATL141812161070
    11Cam NewtonCAR152012121069
    12Matthew StaffordDET162013101069
    13Marcus MariotaTEN152012121069
    14Ryan TannehillMIA172111101069
    15Joe FlaccoBAL152011121068
    16Philip RiversSD142012121068
    17Jameis WinstonTB141814111067
    18Tyrod TaylorBUF131814121067
    19Cody KesslerCLE151810131066
    20Case KeenumLA161811111066
    21Ben RoethlisbergerPIT151811121066
    22Drew BreesNO141911101064
    23Jacoby BrissettNE121514131064
    24Kirk CousinsWAS131910121064
    25Eli ManningNYG142010101064
    26Carson PalmerAZ122110101063
    27Andy DaltonCIN16181091063
    28Brian HoyerCHI131710111061
    29Trevone BoykinSEA131510101058
    30Brock OsweilerHOU1315981055
    31Blake BortlesJAX1317861054
    32Blaine GabbertSF11151071053
    33Ryan FitzpatrickNYJ614631039

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Tom Brady—suspension
    • Tony Romo—injury

Running Backs

4 of 22

    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The main theme of Week 3 for NFL runners was just how many star players missed time and forced backup players to contribute. Adrian Peterson is more than likely out for the year, though you can never count him out as he has shown before in coming back from a major knee injury. Arian Foster, Jonathan Stewart, Ameer Abdullah, Doug Martin, Thomas Rawls and Rashad Jennings all did not dress because of injuries. The good news is that all these guys should be back in a week or so except for Abdullah, who is done for the year. This is major blow for the Lions.

    Every running game that was missing its starting back struggled, leading to losses, except for the Seahawks, who had a breakout performance from Christine Michael. He shredded a 49ers defense that looked lost in Seattle. 

    In Week 3, a ton of guys had big-time performances. LeSean McCoy helped a desperate Buffalo team get in the win column against the Cardinals. He shredded Arizona inside the tackles, making guys miss and showing the home run capability that made him a star in Philly. DeMarco Murray and Devonta Freeman both had big days.

    While Freeman continues to be one of the more versatile backs in the NFL, Murray is working on his Comeback Player of the Year candidacy by the week. Murray bounced off Raider defenders all game and added a touchdown. David Johnson was the only bright spot for the Cardinals as he dominated inside and out while also torching the Bills in the passing game. He is one of the most complete players in the league

    It was a big week for the old-school bruising backs. LeGarrette Blount is quietly the Patriots' offensive MVP. He dominated a good Texans defensebreaking tackles and carrying a unit that was led by a first-time rookie QB. He leads the NFL in rushing. Eddie Lacy may not be skinny, but he sure is running a lot harder than he was in 2015. He helped wear out a Detroit front and had his first 100-yard game of the year.

    Another physical back, Isaiah Crowell, had another excellent game for the Browns in an overtime loss. He showed home run-hitting speed and physicality to make him an NFL bell cow. He also has a talented sidekick in Duke Johnson, who might be a top-five pass-catching back. The Browns have a good running game.

    Despite his team's big win on the road, Todd Gurley ran a little hesitant against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We saw flashes of his elite talent, but it was his most consistent game from a mentality standpoint. Despite having a good day from a stat perspective, Carlos Hyde had over 65 of his yards when his team was down 37-3 and Seattle was in its nickel defense. While he did run hard, his yardage came in garbage time when the game was well out of reach.

        

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamInOutRecBlkPosOvr
    1Devonta FreemanATL22191817682
    2LeSean McCoyBUF21211717682
    3DeMarco MurrayTEN20191817680
    4David A. JohnsonARI20191717679
    5Ezekiel ElliottDAL21191617679
    6Duke JohnsonCLE19181717677
    7LeGarrette BlountNE21181616677
    8Tevin ColemanATL17191816676
    9Christine MichaelSEA20181616676
    10Theo RiddickDET18171717675
    11Eddie LacyGB21171516675
    12DeAndre WashingtonOAK19181715675
    13Lamar MillerHOU18171716674
    14Darren SprolesPHI15172016674
    15Jordan HowardCHI18181516673
    16Jeremy HillCIN20161516673
    17Mark IngramNO18161716673
    18Carlos HydeSF18161617673
    19Derrick HenryTEN18181516673
    20Frank GoreIND18151617672
    21Todd GurleyLA18171516672
    22Shane VereenNYG17171715672
    23Melvin GordonSD17151816672
    24Kenjon BarnerPHI17181615672
    25Wendell SmallwoodPHI19171515672
    26Isaiah CrowellCLE18161516671
    27Spencer WareKC18161516671
    28James WhiteNE16171715671
    29Latavius MurrayOAK18171515671
    30Terrance WestBAL17161615670
    31Jeremy LangfordCHI16161517670
    32Giovani BernardCIN15161716670
    33Charles SimsTB17151715670
    34Chris ThompsonWAS15171715670
    35Alfred MorrisDAL16171515669
    36James StarksGB16161615669
    37Damien WilliamsMIA15171615669
    38Orleans DarkwaNYG18151416669
    39Matt ForteNYJ17151417669
    40Matt JonesWAS18141516669
    41DeAngelo WilliamsPIT15161616669
    42C.J. AndersonDEN16141616668
    43Dwayne WashingtonDET16181414668
    44Fozzy WhittakerCAR14161714667
    45Alfred BlueHOU15151615667
    46Jonathan GrimesHOU15151615667
    47Chris IvoryJAX15151615667
    48Jay AjayiMIA15171415667
    49Bilal PowellNYJ16141615667
    50Robert TurbinIND17141514666
    51Josh FergusonIND14141616666
    52Benny CunninghamLA15141714666
    53Travaris CadetNO14151714666
    54Cameron Artis-PayneCAR16141514665
    55Lance DunbarDAL15151514665
    56Devontae BookerDEN15131615665
    57Charcandrick WestKC14151515665
    58Kenyon DrakeMIA14161415665
    59Jerick McKinnonMIN16141514665
    60Jalen RichardOAK14161514665
    61Alex CollinsSEA15141515665
    62Justin ForsettBAL14141515664
    63TIm HightowerNO16141414664
    64Chris D. JohnsonARI14141514663
    65T.J. YeldonJAX14121417663
    66Matt AsiataMIN14141514663
    67Bobby RainyNYG14141514663
    68Mike GillisleeBUF15141314662
    69Dexter McClusterSD13141613662
    70Shaun DraughnSF14151314662
    71Jacquizz RodgersTB13151414662
    72Isaiah PeadMIA14131414661

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Ameer Abdullah—injury
    • Le'Veon Bell—suspension
    • Jamaal Charles—injury
    • Arian Foster—injury
    • Rashad Jennings—injury
    • Doug Martin—injury
    • Adrian Peterson—injury
    • Thomas Rawls—injury
    • Jonathan Stewart—injury

Fullbacks

5 of 22

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The most under-appreciated position in the NFL had a pretty good week despite putting up little in the box score. Three guys who stood out were Malcolm Johnson, Jerome Felton and Patrick DiMarco. 

    Johnson continues to clear holes in one of the better running games in the NFL that no one is talking about in Cleveland. The NFL's second-leading rusher resides in Cleveland, and Johnson has played a big reason for it. Felton helped LeSean McCoy break out against the Cardinals by opening up holes and locating an athletic second-level group. While the Saints are terrible on defense, DiMarco made sure the nation realized it by opening holes the size of the Red Sea on Monday Night Football for his backfield mates.

    John Kuhn had a touchdown on a goal-line carry. And while Kyle Juszczyk didn’t fill up the stat sheet, he is a scout/coaches dream doing everything on the football field. If it wasn’t for Baltimore's wide receivers being open all day, Flacco could dump the ball to him on just about every pass.

        

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamBlkRunRecPosOvr
    1Kyle JuszczykBAL421611473
    2Malcolm JohnsonCLE411711473
    3Andy JanovichDEN401612472
    4James DevelinNE41179471
    5John KuhnNO401511470
    6Anthony ShermanKC44139470
    7Patrick DiMarcoATL41159469
    8Paul LasikeCHI41159469
    9Zach LineMIN401510469
    10Jalston FowlerTEN391510468
    11Mike TolbertCAR401410468
    12Aaron RipkowskiGB41158468
    13Jamize OlawaleOAK41149468
    14Jerome FeltonBUF39168467
    15Derek WattSD38169467
    16Jay ProschHOU40158467
    17Michael BurtonDET38148464

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Roosevelt Nix—inactive
    • Marcel Reece—suspended/released
    • Nikita Whitlock—insufficient snaps

Wide Receivers

6 of 22

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    We can begin this week in New York, with the much-anticipated meeting between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman. While Washington won the war, Beckham may have emerged as the victor on points in this intense matchup.

    The receiver was held without a touchdown, but he got the better of Norman on a few plays, including a beautiful circle/corner pattern to start the second quarter when he started to the inside and then lost the DB on his cut back toward the sideline. He got more consistent separation later in the game, including one play that he capped off with an impressive one-handed catch along the sideline. Staying with the Giants, rookie Sterling Shepard continues to impress, catching a contested throw for a touchdown on a beautifully run seam route. 

    Marvin Jones Jr. put up huge numbers for the Lions in their loss to Detroit, but the grades might not reflect the production. Jones benefited from a free release at the line of scrimmage on his long touchdown pass because the defender was not ready for the snap, and also benefited from some coverage decisions by Green Bay that left him open. These led to a lower route-running score than one may expect given his numbers.

    On the other sideline, Jordy Nelson looked like he is coming back into form, as he ran a number of beautiful routes on the day, including two in the red zone, one of which went for a touchdown.

    Doug Baldwin turned in another impressive performance this week, catching eight passes for 164 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers. He ran a beautiful post route early in the game for a big gain, and on his touchdown reception he took advantage of the route design for a score.

    He also showed an impressive adjustment on a route along the sideline, when he was running a wheel route and turned his body around to both make the catch and come down inbounds on the pass from backup quarterback Trevone Boykin. Baldwin’s effort was crucial to the Seattle victory, as his fellow receivers were all limited by the San Francisco defense.

    Some bigger-name receivers saw their numbers drop this week. Julio Jones was held to only one catch for 16 yards, as the Saints defense seemed content to roll extra coverage to his side of the field and let the other Atlanta receivers enjoy single coverage. Kelvin Benjamin, along with the rest of the Carolina offense, struggled to get separation against the Minnesota defense, and Benjamin was held to only one target and zero receptions.

    A similar story played out in Buffalo, in Arizona’s loss to the Bills. All of the Arizona receivers struggled on the day, including Michael Floyd, who had a drop early in the game after a well-placed throw from Carson Palmer.

    In Indianapolis, T.Y. Hilton came up huge for the Colts against the Chargers all game long, but especially in the fourth quarter with a 63-yard catch-and-run for the winning touchdown. Hilton used his quick feet and excellent route-running skills to put the San Diego secondary on its heels and stay one step ahead of the competition all day, and practically put the offense on his back.

    Meanwhile, in Miami, a matchup of two winless teams featured two of the most fascinating players in the league, Jarvis Landry and Terrelle Pryor. First-year Dolphins head coach Adam Gase manufactured touches for Landry all over the field and put him in position to create plays down the field as well as give him room after the catch, where he could display that physical running style he’s known for.

    Pryor was the utility man for the Browns, lining up many times at quarterback, as well as creating multiple explosive plays down the field at the receiver position.  The former Ohio State quarterback continues to improve at the receiver position each week. More important than any one play was that he was everything his team needed him to be in this game and he left it all on the field.

        

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1T.Y. HiltonIND22231711982
    2Marvin Jones Jr.DET20211713980
    3Terrelle PryorCLE21211612979
    4Jarvis LandryMIA21191713979
    5Doug BaldwinSEA19211614979
    6Emmanuel SandersDEN20211611977
    7Julian EdelmanNE19181713976
    8Steve Smith Sr.BAL19211511975
    9A.J. GreenCIN22181412975
    10Demaryius ThomasDEN19211313975
    11Antonio BrownPIT2021169975
    12Robert WoodsBUF19201313974
    13Jordy NelsonGB19201511974
    14Odell Beckham Jr.NYG20191313974
    15Mike EvansTB19201412974
    16Michael CrabtreeOAK19211410973
    17Tavon AustinLA17181612972
    18Sterling ShepardNYG19181313972
    19Allen RobinsonJAX19201310971
    20Chris ConleyKC20181410971
    21Danny AmendolaNE19191311971
    22Quincy EnunwaNYJ18181214971
    23Adam HumphriesTB18181511971
    24Jamison CrowderWAS18191312971
    25Mike WallaceBAL19171411970
    26Brandon LaFellCIN18171412970
    27Jeremy MaclinKC19181311970
    28Tyrell WilliamsSD18191410970
    29DeSean JacksonWAS19191310970
    30John BrownARI17181312969
    31Mohamed SanuATL15171216969
    32Dez BryantDAL18171213969
    33Cole BeasleyDAL17171511969
    34DeAndre HopkinsHOU19191210969
    35Allen HurnsJAX18191211969
    36Stefon DiggsMIN19181211969
    37Julio JonesATL16171115968
    38Justin HardyATL15161414968
    39Kevin WhiteCHI15171413968
    40Terrance WilliamsDAL17161313968
    41Tyreek HillKC17171411968
    42Brian QuickLA15191213968
    43Kenny StillsMIA18191210968
    44Adam ThielenMIN16191311968
    45Michael ThomasNO16191311968
    46Victor CruzNYG17171213968
    47Amari CooperOAK19151411968
    48Travis BenjaminSD18181211968
    49Larry FitzgeraldARI17161213967
    50Aldrick RobinsonATL14151415967
    51Eric DeckerNYJ17171311967
    52Jordan MatthewsPHI18161113967
    53Pierre GarconWAS17181211967
    54Jaron BrownARI15171213966
    55Taylor GabrielATL14161215966
    56Ted Ginn Jr.CAR15161412966
    57Alshon JefferyCHI15171312966
    58Andrew HawkinsCLE15161214966
    59Davante AdamsGB17171211966
    60Marqise LeeJAX17181210966
    61Kenny BrittLA16151313966
    62Brandon ColemanNO15161214966
    63Brandon MarshallNYJ17181210966
    64Vincent JacksonTB16151115966
    65Tajae SharpeTEN17171310966
    66Marquise GoodwinBUF15151313965
    67Randall CobbGB15171212965
    68Tommylee LewisNO15171212965
    69Nelson AgholorPHI15161213965
    70Dontrelle InmanSD16171310965
    71Russell ShepardTB13181213965
    72Breshad PerrimanBAL15171211964
    73Eddie RoyalCHI14161213964
    74Ricardo LouisCLE17151112964
    75Chester RogersIND17161210964
    76Albert WilsonKC18161110964
    77DeVante ParkerMIA15181210964
    78Jalin MarshallNYJ17171110964
    79Seth RobertsOAK16141213964
    80Josh HuffPHI16151311964
    81Sammie CoatesPIT17161111964
    82Torrey SmithSF15171112964
    83Kamar AikenBAL13151214963
    84Cameron MeredithCHI14151213963
    85Jordan NorwoodDEN17141112963
    86Golden TateDET15141411963
    87Will FullerHOU17161110963
    88Phillip DorsettIND15171210963
    89Chris HoganNE16131114963
    90Eli RogersPIT15171210963
    91Michael FloydARI15151112962
    92Tyler BoydCIN16161110962
    93Cody LatimerDEN14161112962
    94Brandin CooksNO14151410962
    95Markus WheatonPIT17161010962
    96Quinton PattonSF16131014962
    97Brandon TateBUF14161210961
    98Philly BrownCAR14141212961
    99Jaelen StrongHOU14161012961
    100Malcolm MitchellNE15141211961
    101Darrius Heyward-BeyPIT17141110961
    102Rod StreaterSF14151310961
    103Anquan BoldinDET13161111960
    104Rashad GreeneJAX14151210960
    105Andre HolmesOAK14141211960
    106Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI14141112960
    107Andre JohnsonTEN14161011960
    108Ryan GrantWAS15131013960
    109Rashard HigginsCLE14141111959
    110Johnny HoltonOAK13131212959
    111Jermaine KearseSEA14131112959
    112Rishard MathewsTEN12171110959
    113Harry DouglasTEN15151010959
    114Chris MooreBAL14151010958
    115Bennie FowlerDEN14151010958
    116Trevor DavisGB15131011958
    117Tyler LockettSEA14141011958
    118Paul RichardsonSEA13131013958
    119Jeremy KerleySF13141111958
    120Walt PowellBUF13141011957
    121Kelvin BenjmainCAR13131012957
    122James WrightCIN14141010957
    123Brice ButlerDAL13121013957
    124Lucky WhiteheadDAL12121014957
    125Marc MarianiTEN13141110957
    126Aaron BurbridgeSF13131011956
    127Jordan TaylorDEN13131010955
    128Tanner McEvoySEA11121012954
    129Devin FunchessCAR12121011954
    130Bradley MarquezLA11121012954
    131Andre RobertsDET12121010953
    132Charles D. JohnsonMIN12121010953

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Josh Doctson—inactive
    • Donte Moncrief—injury
    • Cordarrelle Patterson—insufficient snaps
    • Sammy Watkins—injury
    • Marquess Wilson—injury
    • Kendall Wright—inactive

Tight Ends

7 of 22

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Jimmy Graham may still be rounding into form after his recent injury, but a solid afternoon against the San Francisco 49ers propelled him up the rankings this week. Graham caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, and was effective as a blocker as well. On his first reception of the day, he made a great adjustment on an off-target throw from Russell Wilson. On the touchdown reception, he displayed great field awareness in a scramble drill situation, mirroring his quarterback and finding open space in the red zone for the touchdown. He did lose a fumble in the game, but on the play, he showed some ability after the catch as he made the first defender miss. 

    Coby Fleener had a big night on Monday Night Football, catching 11 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. He enjoyed most of his success late in the half and late in the game, catching two long passes down the seam on vertical passing concepts, when Atlanta was looking to prevent the big play. On his touchdown, he was wide-open, as the Saints used a jumbo formation on the goal line and then ran a play-action play to scheme Fleener open. Given this, while he enjoyed a big night, his scores for the week might be lower than some would expect.

    Two playoff teams from last year struggled on Sunday, and the grades for their skill players dropped as a result. In Carolina’s loss to Minnesota, Greg Olsen was limited to six catches for 64 yards and was held without a touchdown. He struggled to get consistent separation and was not as big a factor as a blocker as he has been in weeks past. Arizona lost on the road to Buffalo, and its three tight ends were limited in the defeat. Darren Fells caught two passes for a total of 15 yards, and Troy Niklas snagged a single pass for no gain. All three tight ends (with the addition of Jermaine Gresham) struggled to find open space against the Bills defense.

    The Packers offense seemed to get back on track this week, but you would not know it from looking at Green Bay's tight ends. Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers saw a few targets, and Rodgers did catch a flat route for a touchdown in the early going, but the bulk of the work went to the wide receivers on Sunday. After Cook exited with an injury, third-string TE Justin Perillo took his place and was used primarily as a blocker.

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Ryan GriffinHOU15211318673
    2Travis KelceKC16201417673
    3Dennis PittaBAL16211217672
    4John PhillipsDEN16171121671
    5Jack DoyleIND15191417671
    6Jimmy GrahamSEA15171419671
    7Gary BarnidgeCLE14191417670
    8Eric EbronDET15181318670
    9Martellus BennettNE15161320670
    10Coby FleenerNO15181219670
    11Clive WalfordOAK14161420670
    12Jordan ReedWAS15171517670
    13Dion SimsMIA15171120669
    14Brent CelekPHI14181318669
    15Dwayne AllenIND16171217668
    16Hunter HenrySD15181217668
    17Julius ThomasJAX15171217667
    18Rob GronkowskiNE13171318667
    19Jesse JamesPIT14181118667
    20Jace AmaroTEN14171218667
    21Crockett GillmoreBAL14151021666
    22Greg OlsenCAR13171317666
    23Jason WittenDAL13171218666
    24Kyle RudolphMIN14161119666
    25Charles ClayBUF14141120665
    26Zach MillerCHI13181216665
    27C.J. UzomahCIN13171217665
    28Tyler KroftCIN11161021664
    29Jared CookGB14141218664
    30Marcedes LewisJAX14171116664
    31Demetrius HarrisKC13161217664
    32Brandon BostickNYJ14161117664
    33Garrett CelekSF13161118664
    34Nick O'LearyBUF14151216663
    35Ryan HewittCIN12151020663
    36Lee SmithOAK12151119663
    37Cameron BrateTB13131318663
    38Jeff HeuermanDEN11151119662
    39Jordan CameronMIA13161215662
    40Larry DonnellNYG14131118662
    41Jacob TammeATL12161017661
    42Kellen DavisNYJ13151116661
    43Trey BurtonPHI13141018661
    44Phillip SupernawTEN12131020661
    45Ed DicksonCAR12151116660
    46Randall TelferCLE11141019660
    47Richard RodgersGB13121118660
    48Xavier GrimblePIT12141117660
    49Luke WillsonSEA13141017660
    50Brandon MyersTB13121118660
    51Maxx WilliamsBAL12141017659
    52Ross TravisKC11151116659
    53Lance KendricksLA14121017659
    54Darren FellsARI11151115658
    55Stephen AndersonHOU11141116658
    56Rhett EllisonMIN11141017658
    57Will TyeNYG13111018658
    58Anthony FasanoTEN11141116658
    59Levine ToiloloATL10121019657
    60Cory HarkeyLA10121019657
    61Vance McDonaldSF1114917657
    62Blake BellSF11121018657
    63Vernon DavisWAS12101019657
    64Austin HooperATL10121018656
    65Geoff SwaimDAL11111018656
    66Justin PerilloGB11121017656
    67C.J. FiedorowiczHOU11141015656
    68David JohnsonPIT11131016656
    69Sean McGrathSD11141015656
    70Brandon WilliamsSEA10121018656
    71Niles PaulWAS12101018656
    72Jermaine GreshamARI10121016654
    73Tyler HigbeeLA10121016654
    74Marqueis GrayMIA11131014654
    75Jim DrayBUF1113914653
    76Erik SwoopeIND12121013653
    77Chris ManhertzNO10121015653
    78Logan PaulsenCHI10121014652
    79Troy NiklasARI10131012652
    80Cole WickDET1213118651
             

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Zach Ertz—injury
    • Antonio Gates—injury
    • Josh Hill—injury
    • Mychal Rivera—inactive
    • Delanie Walker—injury

Left Tackles

8 of 22

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The big storyline among left tackles is the familiar names that were inactive for Week 3, most notably Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Tyron Smith, who was inactive with a shoulder injury. In Smith's absence, Chaz Green filled in at left tackle and played decently. Green struggled during the preseason, and it was unclear how he would hold up against the Chicago Bears, but he had a very good showing in the run game and turned in an admirable performance in pass protection.

    The New Orleans Saints' Terron Armstead was also inactive for Monday Night Football versus the Atlanta Falcons, and second-year man Andrus Peat filled in and did an OK job, in both pass protection and run blocking, although he had a handful of plays in pass protection where he struggled.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars were without free-agent signing Kelvin Beachum, but a familiar player, Luke Joeckel, stepped right into the left tackle spot he lost in camp and played well in all aspects. Joeckel's performance against the Baltimore Ravens may have been one of the best games of his pro career, as he consistently anchored and recovered when moved off his spot. Joeckel also wasn't afraid to mix it up in the run game and looked to finish defenders every chance he got.

    For the second week in a row, Tennessee Titans tackle Taylor Lewan showed solid run-blocking technique and physicality while remaining patient in pass protection, which equated to another strong performance.

    The Green Bay Packers rewarded David Bakhtiari with a big contract extension, and for the third week in a row, he is showing the NFL exactly why. He may not be well-known, but he has started to establish himself as an elite pass protector. Bakhtiari displays excellent balance and weight distribution, and he constantly creates leverage with his hands to anchor in pass protection. He is able to take the necessary steps that allow him to be in position to win. Bakhtiari also did a good job running his feet on contact and opening huge running lanes, specifically when he was asked to "angle drive" block on the front side of outside zone.

    One of the most impressive performances of Week 3 was Trent Williams not only dominating at left tackle but kicking into left guard and being just as dominant. Williams was a monster, both on the edge and on the interior. His explosion, physicality and body control give him the perfect combination of traits to succeed regardless of position. If you are a fan of offensive line play, go watch Williams against the New York Giants. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Trent WilliamsWAS21201717883
    2Joe ThomasCLE20201617881
    3Donald PennOAK19211716881
    4Eric FisherKC19201617880
    5Jason PetersPHI20191716880
    6David BakhtiariGB21191615879
    7Taylor LewanTEN20201615879
    8Russell OkungDEN20201516879
    9Anthony CastonzoIND21191615879
    10Joe StaleySF18201716879
    11Andrew WhitworthCIN19211515878
    12Ty NsekheWAS19201615878
    13Jake MatthewsATL19201614877
    14Greg RobinsonLA17182014877
    15Ronnie StanleyBAL18181617877
    16Taylor DeckerDET16211615876
    17Ereck FlowersNYG17181715875
    18Luke JoeckelJAX18181516875
    19Nate SolderNE17181715875
    20Jared VeldheerARI19161616875
    21Chaz GreenDAL17181516874
    22Bradley SowellSEA17191415873
    23Cyrus KouandjioBUF16171516872
    24T.J. ClemmingsMIN15171615871
    25Branden AlbertMIA16171515871
    26Alejandro VillanuevaPIT15171516871
    27Chris ClarkHOU16161614870
    28Michael OherCAR15181415870
    29Ryan CladyNYJ17161415870
    30Donovan SmithTB15171514869
    31Andrus PeatNO15161514868
    32Chris HairstonSD13161414865

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Terron Armstead—injury
    • Kelvin Beachum—injury
    • Duane Brown—injury
    • King Dunlap—injury
    • Cordy Glenn—injury
    • Matt Kalil—injury
    • Tyron Smith—injury

Right Tackles

9 of 22

    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay right tackle Bryan Bulaga turned in a big-time performance against the Lions. He was almost flawless in pass protection and mauled defenders in the run game. Injuries have always seemed to halt Bulaga, but when healthy, he's proved to be a top-tier right tackle in the NFL.

    For the third week in a row, the Jets split reps between two right tackles, Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale, and for the third week in a row, Ijalana still grades out higher and seems to give the offense just a little more on film. At some point, it should be enough to give him the edge at a full-time role.

    Riley Reiff's transition from left tackle to right tackle has paid off tremendously. His aggressiveness and skill set fit perfectly on the right edge, where you can take more chances at staying flat in pass protection. Reiff has been impressive as a run-blocker, showing the ability to consistently push the point of attack, and shows the base and power to hit, lift and drive defenders breaking any stalemate.

    The importance of right tackle is often overlooked as it relates to how the general public spotlights left tackle, but any quarterback will tell you right tackles matter as well. When you factor in guys such as Von Miller, J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack, who all play over the right tackle, there can not be a significant drop-off in talent between left tackle and right tackle if you expect your offense to have success in the NFL. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Bryan BulagaGB21201716781
    2Lane JohnsonPHI20211716781
    3Mitchell SchwartzKC21201516779
    4Riley ReiffDET20211615779
    5Mike RemmersCAR18211716779
    6Morgan MosesWAS19191816779
    7Ben IjalanaNYJ20201616779
    8Zach StriefNO20201615778
    9Doug FreeDAL19211615778
    10Ryan SchraederATL20171717778
    11Trenton BrownSF18191816778
    12Menelik WatsonOAK19201814778
    13Joe BarksdaleSD20181517777
    14Demar DotsonTB20171518777
    15Bobby MassieCHI19181616776
    16Marcus GilbertPIT18171816776
    17Rob HavensteinLA20171516775
    18Ricky WagnerBAL18191515774
    19Jordan MillsBUF18181515773
    20Brent QvaleNYJ18181515773
    21Andre Smith Jr.MIN16181516772
    22Jermey ParnellJAX16181714772
    23Vadal AlexanderOAK17181415771
    24Jack ConklinTEN16181614771
    25Bobby HartNYG19161514771
    26Garry GilliamSEA16161615770
    27Cedric OgbuehiCIN14191614770
    28Marcus CannonNE16171614770
    29Ja'Wuan JamesMIA15171614769
    30Ty SambrailoDEN14171516769
    31Derek NewtonHOU15171415768
    32Joe ReitzIND16161414767
    33D.J. HumphriesARI16151414766
    34Austin PasztorCLE14151514765

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Breno Giacomini—injury
    • Seantrel Henderson—suspension
    • Marshall Newhouse—injury
    • Donald Stephenson—injury

Offensive Guards

10 of 22

    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    In Week 1, I talked about bounce-back veterans, and last week, I discussed impressive up-and-comers. This week had a far different feel, with several no-namers getting chances to start in the wake of injuries.

    The most intriguing was Jaguars left guard Chris Reed, a shot-putter from Minnesota State who showed off impressive punch and upper-body strength against Baltimore. Jeremiah Sirles stepped in at left guard for Minnesota as well and opened up some nice holes in the ground game after Alex Boone got hurt.

    Unlike the other two, Lane Taylor has been playing all year, but the first-year starter's Week 3 was his best performance yet. Taylor and left tackle David Bakhtiari sealed up the left side of the Lions front seven, opening up holes for Eddie Lacy and helping get the Packers offense back on track. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Mike IupatiARI22181916782
    2Zack MartinDAL19211716780
    3Kevin ZeitlerCIN18201817780
    4Justin PughNYG20181717779
    5Allen BarbrePHI18201618779
    6Kyle LongCHI19181718779
    7Chris ChesterATL19201715778
    8Gabe JacksonOAK18201914778
    9Josh SittonCHI18181817778
    10Joel BitonioCLE17181717776
    11Brandon BrooksPHI19161618776
    12Clint BolingCIN18181716776
    13Marshall YandaBAL18181716776
    14T.J. LangGB18191616776
    15Brandon ScherffWAS19171616775
    16Mark GlowinskiSEA17181617775
    17Max GarciaDEN18181814775
    18Shaq MasonNE15191717775
    19Ali MarpetTB19171418775
    20John MillerBUF17181815775
    21Alex LewisBAL18161617774
    22Richie IncognitoBUF19171714774
    23Lane TaylorGB16181716774
    24Kelechi OsemeleOAK17181814774
    25Jack MewhortIND18161716774
    26Quinton SpainTEN16181913773
    27Ramon FosterPIT17161715772
    28Andrew NorwellCAR16171715772
    29Rodger SaffoldLA18161615772
    30Andy LevitreATL17181614772
    31Shawn LauvaoWAS17151715771
    32Chris ReedJAX18151615771
    33Zane BeadlesSF16171516771
    34Trai TurnerCAR14171815771
    35J'Marcus WebbSEA16171813771
    36Jeremiah SirlesMIN16181614771
    37James CarpenterNYJ17161714771
    38David DeCastroPIT16161517771
    39Laremy TunsilMIA15161517770
    40Brandon FuscoMIN15161517770
    41Kevin PamphileTB16161714770
    42Tim LelitoNO17161614770
    43D.J. FlukerSD17151714770
    44Jahri EvansNO16171713770
    45Xavier Su'a-FiloHOU15161615769
    46Jonotthan HarrisonIND15161615769
    47Joe ThuneyNE16151417769
    48Zach FultonKC16161713769
    49Michael SchofieldDEN17141516769
    50Alex BooneMIN16141715769
    51John JerryNYG15161714769
    52Brian WintersNYJ16161614769
    53Andrew TillerSF16151713768
    54Cody WichmannLA16151515768
    55Ronald LearyDAL16151614768
    56Jeff AllenHOU15161713768
    57A.J. CannJAX16151614768
    58Alvin BaileyCLE14151715768
    59Larry WarfordDET15151714768
    60Josh KlineTEN15161614768
    61Senio KelemeteNO14171614768
    62Jermon BushrodMIA13161714767
    63Laken TomlinsonDET16141415766
    64Jordan DeveyKC17131712766
    65Orlando FranklinSD14151713766
    66La'el CollinsDAL13141516765
    67Joe HaegIND13121316761
    68Earl WatfordARI11141810760

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jonathan Cooper—insufficient snaps
    • Joshua Garnett—insufficient snaps
    • Germain Ifedi—injury
    • Evan Mathis—injury
    • Chance Warmack—injury

Centers

11 of 22

    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    We have a two-way tie for first place this week among NFL centers, as Travis Frederick fought his way back to the top after a relatively iffy performance against the Redskins in Week 2. Against the Bears on Sunday night, Dallas' star lineman was back to his old malevolent self. On the first Cowboys play from scrimmage, a 21-yard gain for rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, Frederick chipped nose tackle Will Sutton at the line and then hit the second level, throwing linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski to the ground with alarming ease. Frederick was a bit too aggressive in open space against Washington, leading to multiple whiff blocks, but he was back to normal this week. When he's at his best, he's the best in the business. 

    Aaron Rodgers went off impressively against the Lions last Sunday, but when you're trumpeting the fact that the Green Bay offense is back after that yearlong slumber, don't forget to give a little love to center J.C. Tretter, who had the best NFL game I've seen from him. You don't throw multiple deep balls as Rodgers did without protection, and Rodgers benefited greatly from Tretter's game. In 54 snaps, Tretter allowed no sacks, no quarterback hits and one quarterback hurry. He hit the second level well to deal with linebackers, handled Haloti Ngata's strength and spin moves with great mirroring and showed outstanding footwork to keep his base at the point of attack.

    A third center had a performance worthy of special mention this week, and it's the kind of thing we love to feature at NFL1000 HQ, because it's a story you may not hear elsewhere. Cleveland's John Greco is a nine-year veteran with most of his starts at either left or right guard for the Browns over the last few seasons. But with starting center Cameron Erving hurt, Greco stepped into the middle position in a very weird situation—head coach Hue Jackson made the call to alternate between quarterback Cody Kessler and Swiss army knife Terrelle Pryor.

    Pryor is more comfortable in shotgun and pistol, while Kessler appears to prefer taking his snaps under center. With negligible recent experience at the position, two completely different quarterbacks to deal with and Ndamukong Suh right over his head or to his side for most of the game, Greco did amazingly well. He allowed one hit and two hurries, and performed one of the toughest things for any center to do (a shotgun snap followed immediately by a gap block on a nose tackle) seamlessly. Greco's performance won't get its due on any stat sheet, but we'll recognize it here.

    This year's rookie centers, Indianapolis' Ryan Kelly and Chicago's Cody Whitehair, also had strong performances, and you can read more about them in this week's Rookie Review when it comes out on Friday. Connoisseurs of great center play should watch the Cowboys-Bears game to see Frederick and Whitehair show how the position should be played.

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Travis FrederickDAL20211716680
    2JC TretterGB21191618680
    3Eric WoodBUF16221717678
    4Cody WhitehairCHI17211716677
    5Matt ParadisDEN19181518676
    6Travis SwansonDET19181716676
    7Joe BergerMIN19201615676
    8Mike PounceyMIA20181615675
    9Ryan KellyIND18161717674
    10Mitch MorseKC19181516674
    11Max UngerNO19171615673
    12John GrecoCLE16181715672
    13Weston RichburgNYG17161617672
    14Alex MackATL17181713671
    15Matt SlausonSD17181713671
    16Justin BrittSEA16171417670
    17Daniel KilgoreSF17161516670
    18Russell BodineCIN17161713669
    19Nick MangoldNYJ17191611669
    20Tim BarnesLA16181612668
    21Brett JonesNYG16161515668
    22Jason KelcePHI16171415668
    23Ryan KalilCAR14161417667
    24Tyler ShatleyJAX14171613666
    25Rodney HudsonOAK14181711666
    26Ben JonesTEN17161610665
    27Kory LichtensteigerWAS15161216665
    28Joe HawleyTB14171413664
    29Greg ManczHOU1617159663
    30David AndrewsNE18141015663
    31A.Q. ShipleyARI12161215661
    32Jeremy ZuttahBAL13151215661
    33Anthony SteenMIA16131510660

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Cameron Fleming—injury
    • Brandon Linder—injury
    • Mike Pouncey—injury

3-4 Defensive Ends

12 of 22

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Again, people may wonder why Timmy Jernigan grades out so highly, and I ask everyone to put on the tape and enjoy the show. Jernigan is playing at an All-Pro level as a pass-rusher and run defender. He tipped two passes this past week, and both should've been intercepted (one was). He also had another sack and displayed a wide tackle radius. 

    Following Jernigan are the usual suspects: Jurrell Casey, Mike Daniels and Cam Heyward. All three had strong weeks and remain among the best at their position.

    Dropping off this week is J.J. Watt. Maybe he doesn't look fully healthy, but the Patriots didn't give him a chance to show it. New England stayed away from Watt as much as possible and gave him extra attention in pass protection.

    The Texans aren't helping their stud defensive end much, either. Too often you'll see just three rushers against five or six blockers. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are asked to beat double-teams too often, and with the news that Watt reinjured his back and will miss at least several weeks, the pressure is more on Clowney than ever before. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Timmy JerniganBAL13212317680
    2Jurrell CaseyTEN11192015671
    3Mike DanielsGB13152015669
    4Cameron HeywardPIT13132214668
    5Corey LiugetSD11152412668
    6DeForest BucknerSF12121918667
    7Calais CampbellARI11141816665
    8Stephon TuittPIT12131915665
    9Jaye HowardKC10151913663
    10Chris L. BakerWAS7142214663
    11Zach KerrIND9141815662
    12Lawrence GuyBAL7131915660
    13Akiem HicksCHI9121914660
    14Darius PhilonSD9121813658
    15Leger DouzableBUF9111714657
    16Derek WolfeDEN9141117657
    17Jared CrickDEN8141711656
    18Henry AndersonIND9141413656
    19Jihad WardOAK8111714656
    20Karl KlugTEN9141611656
    21Ziggy HoodWAS9111713656
    22Jonathan BullardCHI8131612655
    23Mitch UnreinCHI7111813655
    24Chris JonesKC10131511655
    25Allen BaileyKC8131612655
    26Denico AutryOAK8131612655
    27Ricky Jean FrancoisWAS7111813655
    28Adolphus WashingtonBUF9111612654
    29Xavier CooperCLE10131411654
    30J.J. WattHOU11121312654
    31Jadeveon ClowneyHOU12131013654
    32Kendall LangfordIND7131315654
    33Arik ArmsteadSF10121511654
    34DaQuan JonesTEN9111711654
    35Jamie MederCLE7101713653
    36Adam GotsisDEN8101613653
    37Dean LowryGB8101712653
    38Christian CovingtonHOU7101513651
    39Quinton DialSF8101512651
    40Billy WinnDEN7111510649

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Carl Nassib—inactive
    • Kendall Reyes—inactive

4-3 Defensive Ends

13 of 22

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    This week's best performance on defense was easily the Vikings' domination of the Panthers. Leading that charge was Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Both players had great days rushing the passer. Griffen recorded three sacks himself.

    One under-the-radar player who some might be taking notice of in Dallas is Tyrone Crawford. Since he moved to left defensive end, he's looked much more comfortable and has been good against the run. He's a big guy, and offenses are finding it hard to get around the edge on his side. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunSnapTklPosOvr
    1Everson GriffenMIN23211817786
    2Trey FlowersNE19191517777
    3Jason Pierre-PaulNYG20171617777
    4Danielle HunterMIN20161814775
    5Robert QuinnLA18141716772
    6Cameron WakeMIA19131815772
    7Carlos DunlapCIN19161613771
    8Tyrone CrawfordDAL15181317770
    9Brandon GrahamPHI18161613770
    10Kony EalyCAR14171516769
    11Cameron JordanNO18161414769
    12Olivier VernonNYG19141712769
    13Michael BennettSEA16171514769
    14Cliff AvrilSEA16161515769
    15Yannick NgakoueJAX17131615768
    16Kerry HyderDET17171214767
    17Jabaal SheardNE21111612767
    18Charles JohnsonCAR14181413766
    19Frank ClarkSEA16151612766
    20Vic BeasleyATL16141612765
    21Dante FowlerJAX17141413765
    22Brian RobisonMIN16141414765
    23Sheldon RichardsonNYJ16151314765
    24Connor BarwinPHI16141612765
    25Lorenzo MauldinNYJ15161412764
    26Dwight FreeneyATL17111612763
    27Muhammad WilkersonNYJ14161313763
    28Khalil MackOAK14131513762
    29Vinny CurryPHI15151213762
    30David IrvingDAL15141312761
    31William GholstonTB11151216761
    32Margus HuntCIN13151213760
    33Benson MayowaDAL13131215760
    34Devin TaylorDET13141313760
    35Will ClarkeCIN16121311759
    36Paul KrugerNO13131412759
    37Noah SpenceTB14121412759
    38Adrian ClaybornATL12151212758
    39Jack CrawfordDAL14131212758
    40Chris LongNE14121411758
    41DaVonte LambertTB11161113758
    42Mario AddisonCAR12141212757
    43Howard JonesTB13131212757
    44Andre BranchMIA14121211756
    45Jason D. JonesMIA13131112756
    46Michael D. JohnsonCIN10131213755
    47Mario WilliamsMIA13121310755
    48Kasim EdebaliNO11141211755
    49William HayesLA11121211753
    50Wallace GilberryDET1112911750

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Ezekiel Ansah—injury
    • Robert Ayers—inactive
    • Mario Edwards Jr.—injury
    • Randy Gregory—suspension
    • DeMarcus Lawrence—suspension
    • Rob Ninkovich—suspension
    • Jared Odrick—inactive

Defensive Tackles

14 of 22

    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    Some of the more notable defensive tackles in the league struggled during their Week 3 games. Most notably, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy didn't play up to their standard. Suh slugged through a game against the Cleveland Browns and McCoy (and the entire Tampa Bay defensive line) was lethargic in the Bucs' loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

    On the flip side of that same game, Aaron Donald played extremely well against the Bucs, getting penetration against the run and affecting the quarterback. Donald finished as the week's top defensive tackle, barely edging out Fletcher Cox, who had a dominant showing against David DeCastro and the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    No player quite encapsulated the "bad" portion of defensive line play quite like Will Sutton for the Chicago Bears. Sutton was ran over, ran around and embarrassed in pass protection by the Cowboys offensive line. The Bears desperately need Eddie Goldman back or they're going to keep struggling versus the run.

    If you're looking for a game with overall poor defensive tackle play, look no further than the Monday night game between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Outside of Grady Jarrett and Nick Fairley, the defensive tackles on both teams struggled immensely.

    The Minnesota Vikings have a wealth of defensive tackle talent even with Sharrif Floyd out after knee surgery. Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson and third-year pro Shamar Stephen did their fair share to disrupt the Panthers offense en route to a shutout in the second half and eight sacks throughout the game.

    Other standout players this week were Leonard Williams of the New York Jets, Dontari Poe of the Kansas City Chiefs, Damon Harrison of the New York Giants and Bennie Logan of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    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 3
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Aaron DonaldLA23212115686
    2Fletcher CoxPHI21222115685
    3Kawann ShortCAR20192215682
    4Dontari PoeKC19172315680
    5Leonard WilliamsNYJ19182015678
    6Gerald McCoyTB19172114677
    7Linval JosephMIN18182114677
    8Grady JarrettATL19181915677
    9Nick FairleyNO19191815677
    10Kyle WilliamsBUF19172015677
    11Geno AtkinsCIN20172013676
    12Damon HarrisonNYG18152215676
    13Bennie LoganPHI18182014676
    14Tom JohnsonMIN19191913676
    15Ndamukong SuhMIA18181914675
    16Brandon WilliamsBAL16142215673
    17Malcom BrownNE18161914673
    18Kenny ClarkGB18162013673
    19Johnathan HankinsNYG17181913673
    20Malik JacksonJAX17171913672
    21Roy MillerJAX16132314672
    22Terrell McClainDAL18161814672
    23Clinton McDonaldTB16152014671
    24Steve McLendonNYJ17161913671
    25Alan BranchNE15162013670
    26Brandon MebaneSD17161813670
    27Shamar StephenMIN16161913670
    28Vincent ValentineNE17142013670
    29Michael BrockersLA18161713670
    30Maliek CollinsDAL17151813669
    31Dominique EasleyLA19171610668
    32Star LotuleleiCAR18151711667
    33Corbin BryantBUF16151713667
    34Vernon ButlerCAR17161612667
    35Jay BromleyNYG16171512666
    36Danny SheltonCLE14131914666
    37Ahtyba RubinSEA14151614665
    38Domata PekoCIN13122112664
    39Jonathan BabineauxATL17151412664
    40Stacy McGeeOAK16141612664
    41Jarran ReedSEA16151512664
    42Tyson AlualuJAX16151710664
    43Caraun ReidSD15151612664
    44Paul SoliaiCAR14131812663
    45Beau AllenPHI16151511663
    46Rodney GunterARI17151411663
    47Tony McDanielSEA15141512662
    48Vince WilforkHOU14111714662
    49Julius WarmsleyMIA15141611662
    50Haloti NgataDET15151511662
    51Mike PurcellSF16151411662
    52Michael PierceBAL15131711662
    53Darius LathamOAK16131611662
    54Ra'Shede HagemanATL14121613661
    55Hassan RidgewayIND16121512661
    56Jordan PhilipsMIA16131511661
    57Tyson JacksonATL13111813661
    58Cullen JenkinsWAS15151312661
    59David ParryIND13141512660
    60Pat SimsCIN14101911660
    61A'Shawn RobinsonDET16131410659
    62D.J. ReaderHOU15111512659
    63Justin EllisOAK13141411658
    64Abry JonesJAX14131410657
    65Dan WilliamsOAK14121510657
    66Akeem SpenceTB12111513657
    67Javon HargravePIT15131310657
    68Cedric Thornto