NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 7

Doug Farrar@@BR_DougFarrar NFL Lead ScoutOctober 27, 2016

NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1,000 Players from Week 7

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    Aqib Talib (No. 21)
    Aqib Talib (No. 21)Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

    The balance of power is shifting in the NFL.

    Over the last decade, we've all heard about how it's a quarterback-driven league and offense rules the day. That's been predominantly true. But you may have noticed that more defenses are playing at a dominant level this season, while offenses are lagging behind. There's no better example of that than the Sunday night game between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, which ended in a 6-6 tie as two great defenses shut down two formerly great offenses.

    Through seven weeks, the metrics are bearing this out. Football Outsiders has five teams below minus-20 percent in defensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). Click here for a full explanation of that stat—defensive DVOA is a positive when it's negative. Last year, only the Denver Broncos finished the season under minus-20 percent. In 2014, no teams hit that mark. In 2013, only the Seahawks did it, and in 2012, only the Chicago Bears pulled it off. You get the idea.

    Better defense may be one of many reasons for the NFL's recent ratings decline, but for hardcore football wonks, great defense is also a relief after years of hyperinflated offensive performances. Our NFL1000 rankings also reflect this trend. Last week, 13 safeties made our top 50, which was justified—safety play in the NFL has improved in both quality and diversity of late.

    This week, there are two cornerbacks in the top five and three in the top 15. It's no surprise that two of those cornerbacks—Aqib Talib (who leads all players this week) and Chris Harris Jr. (14th overall)—are ranked so highly. They've both been great all season, and they were particularly so against the Houston Texans' imploding passing game on Monday Night Football.

    But let's look at the other side of the field in that game and put the spotlight on Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye, an undrafted fourth-year player who has moved around Houston's defensive back depth chart throughout his career.

    Against Denver's passing offense, Bouye played tough, allowing six catches on 10 targets for just 38 yards. On the season, he's allowed 17 catches on 32 targets for 137 yards, no touchdowns and a 64.2 opposing quarterback rating. Could he join the likes of Richard Sherman and Josh Norman as lightly regarded defenders who became spectacular? So far, the signs are good.

    We're seeing the consistent ascent of other relatively unheralded players. This week, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham, Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson and San Diego Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman are among those names near the top. The Eagles have several defensive players in the top 50 this week. It's a well-deserved honor after coordinator Jim Schwartz's gang obliterated Minnesota's offense and pulled the Vikings from the pantheon of the undefeated.

    We're about halfway through the 2016 season, and those stories are the ones that rule the roost. Defense is making a serious comeback, and the game is better for it—even if it isn't as flashy.

    Bleacher Report's NFL1000 player-rating methodology, in part, looks at our grades from week to week (as you, dear reader, can) and susses 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 what the league presents on the field every week, and the NFL1000 goes as deep as any to tell you what's going on.

    Our 17-person crew of experienced evaluators combs through the game tapes 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 struggling 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 7 of the 2016 NFL season.

        

    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Methodology

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The NFL1000 team of scouts was given a series of important attributes to grade for every player in its positional review. Using a grading scale starting at zero 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 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 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 such as Calais Campbell and Michael Bennett on the defensive line—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 7

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    For years, the rightful narrative surrounding the Chargers was as follows: The team could not put adequate pieces around Philip Rivers and thus left too much of a burden on its franchise quarterback.

    But San Diego's front office has drafted intelligently on the defensive side of the ball over the last few seasons, and it's starting to pay off. Not just with stars such as Melvin Ingram and rookie Joey Bosa, but with linebackers Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown.

    This week's Scouting Notebook featured Brown, and he's been in or near the top 50 for most of the season. Rivers may have the teammates on the other side of the ball to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2013...if his team can climb the rest of the AFC West, the best division in football.

    Speaking of defense, the Kansas City Chiefs have the usual number of players in our top 50; safeties Ron Parker and Eric Berry, cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Ramik Wilson all feature this week after they helped knock off the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. And the Chargers and Chiefs are looking up at the division's two best teams, the Oakland Raiders and Broncos, respectively. Oakland is getting things done on the offensive side of the ball, but only kicker Sebastian Janikowski is in the top 50 this week.

    That leaves the defending Super Bowl champs with the most players in Week 7's top 50: They have six—five on defense (cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward, linebacker Brandon Marshall and running back C.J. Anderson).

    Two other teams had five players in the top 50; the Eagles made that mark after their impressive win over the Vikings, and the Cardinals did the same with several great individual performances in that ugly Sunday night tie against the Seahawks.

        

    Top 50 Overall from Week 7
    RankPlayerPos.TeamNFL1000 ScoreLWMoving
    1Aqib TalibCBDEN88249
    2Aaron RodgersQBGB86367
    3David JohnsonRBARI8510
    4A.J. BouyeCBHOU85565
    5Philip RiversQBSD8534
    6Nigel Bradham4-3 OLBPHI84907
    7Trent WilliamsLTWAS848
    8Landon CollinsSSNYG8456
    9Fletcher CoxDTPHI84294
    10Bobby WagnerILBSEA83118
    11Joe ThomasLTCLE83177
    12Tony JeffersonSSARI83257
    13Le'Veon BellRBPIT8336
    14Chris Harris Jr.CBDEN83200
    15Ron ParkerFSKC82154
    16Mitchell SchwartzRTKC82111
    17Harrison SmithFSMIN82NR
    18Taylor LewanLTTEN82108
    19Kevin MinterILBARI82198
    20Chandler Jones3-4 OLBARI8153
    21Deone BucannonILBARI81148
    22Jason PetersLTPHI8113
    23Earl ThomasFSSEA8137
    24Melvin Ingram3-4 OLBSD8191
    25Jamie CollinsILBNE81NR
    26Dominique Rodgers-CromartieCBNYG81302
    27Julio JonesWRATL8078
    28Denzel PerrymanILBSD80354
    29Tyrod TaylorQBBUF8017
    30Jordan HicksILBPHI80357
    31Sebastian JanikowskiKOAK80856
    32Sam KochPBAL80313
    33Brandon MarshallILBDEN7994
    34Jimmy SmithCBBAL79199
    35Darian StewartFSDEN7970
    36T.J. WardSSDEN79681
    37C.J. AndersonRBDEN79209
    38Eric BerrySSKC7950
    39Ha Ha Clinton-DixFSGB7998
    40Drew BreesQBNO791
    41Jerrell FreemanILBCHI79196
    42David BakhtiariLTGB796
    43Morgan MosesRTWAS79112
    44Aaron DonaldDTLA793
    45K.J. Wright4-3 OLBSEA79969
    46Marcus PetersCBKC7916
    47Rodney McLeodFSPHI7919
    48Ramik WilsonILBKC79NR
    49Darrelle RevisCBNYJ79120
    50Antoine BetheaSSSF79773

Quarterbacks

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Matthew Stafford's career has enjoyed a resurgence under Jim Bob Cooter. The Detroit Lions offensive coordinator took over midway through the 2015 season, and Stafford's numbers started to turn around. Cooter helped his quarterback by simplifying the offense and relying heavily on shorter throws. His receivers could create yards after the catch, which eased the pressure on Stafford to make tough plays.

    As NFL media is wont to do, Stafford's slightly above-average play this season is being overblown. He has played consistently good football, but his major errors remain prominent even if opponents aren't taking advantage of them regularly. This week, he's seventh among quarterbacks but has a relatively low rating of 74 (it was a bad week for quarterbacks).

    A bad throw on the second drive of the game that hit Washington cornerback Bashaud Breeland in the helmet hurt his rating. Had Breeland not slipped just before the ball arrived, he would have had an easy interception. Stafford then enjoyed fumble luck in the fourth quarter after carrying the ball like LeSean McCoy. Worse still, when playing with a three-point lead late in the game, he led a deep safety to the ball on a deep shot for what should have been an interception and a run back for the defender.

    Stafford has improved, but he's also been lucky while benefiting from a quarterback-friendly scheme with wide receivers who can make adjustments to his misplaced passes.

    San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick also made a lot of mistakes in his game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Bucs failed to capitalize on most of them. Despite the loss, Kaepernick proved he's a better quarterback than Blaine Gabbert for the second week in a row. He offers more upside as a runner because he is more consistent with regard to knowing when to run and when to try to find an open receiver. He clearly doesn't fit in head coach Chip Kelly's spread-out offense, but if you want to use a heavy-package, run-inclined system that will allow Kaepernick to throw off play action from under center regularly, he will be an intriguing free agent in the offseason.

    Aaron Rodgers tops the rankings this week with another outstanding performance. The Green Bay Packers quarterback even overcame Randall Cobb's problems catching the ball in the end zone. The wide receiver failed to to secure two of Rodgers' better throws. Tyrod Taylor is in the top five for the second week in a row, as he continues to throw the ball with more accuracy than he had earlier in the season.

        

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamAccArmPressDecPosOvr
    1Aaron RodgersGB232413161086
    2Philip RiversSD212216161085
    3Tyrod TaylorBUF192316121080
    4Drew BreesNO202015141079
    5Tom BradyNE202013151078
    6Andrew LuckIND182113121074
    7Matthew StaffordDET142315121074
    8Ryan TannehillMIA162014121072
    9Geno SmithNYJ172112121072
    10Andy DaltonCIN161911151071
    11Trevor SiemianDEN161913131071
    12Matt RyanATL181813121071
    13Carson PalmerARI152013121070
    14Eli ManningNYG151913131070
    15Alex SmithKC151812141069
    16Jameis WinstonTB151813131069
    17Derek CarrOAK15219121067
    18Russell WilsonSEA16189141067
    19Brian HoyerCHI151712131067
    20Sam BradfordMIN161910111066
    21Cody KesslerCLE151714101066
    22Colin KaepernickSF131913111066
    23Marcus MariotaTEN151811101064
    24Ryan FitzpatrickNYJ151711111064
    25Kirk CousinsWAS141711101062
    26Joe FlaccoBAL1420891061
    27Carson WentzPHI13161191059
    28Matt BarkleyCHI14161091059
    29Case KeenumLA12181181059
    30Landry JonesPIT12168101056
    31Blake BortlesJAX1216981055
    32Kevin HoganCLE11161081055
    33Brock OsweilerHOU1116991055

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Dak Prescott—bye
    • Tony Romo—bye/injury
    • Cam Newton—bye

Running Backs

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    The two highest-graded runners for Week 7 just happen to be the top two running backs in the league in my opinion: Arizona's David Johnson and Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell.

    No. 31 in Arizona was superb Sunday night against an elite Seahawks defense. He continues to show it all on a weekly basis, both as a runner and as a dominant pass-catcher. The most notable part of Johnson's game against Seattle was his physically relentless nature. 

    Bell was incredible against the New England Patriots, even without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He is the best inside runner in the NFL, combining elite vision with his special instincts. It enables him to find the smallest holes and create something out of nothing. He was also dominant in the passing game—as usual.

    It was a good week for some of the best inside runners in the NFL. Denver's C.J. Anderson was very good Monday night, rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. New England's LeGarrette Blount and Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill both had bounce-back games. Blount might have some of the more underrated feet in the league. DeMarco Murray continues to carry the Tennessee Titans offense and might be the steal of the offseason.

    Meanwhile, Jay Ajayi threw his name in the record books with back-to-back 200-yard games. While his offensive line deserves a lot of credit, Ajayi was physical Sunday, as he ran through arm tackles and played with an edge on every carry. Despite his lack of top-end speed (4.57-second 40-yard dash), his initial burst and vertical nature allow him to be efficient gaining yards.

    One interesting development is the return of Jamaal Charles, who has struggled to get much going and only saw two snaps against the Saints. It's a combination of not being 100 percent healthy and no longer being the best running back on his own team. That's just the nature of the NFL; losing your job to injury is a common business practice.

        

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamInOutRecBlkPosOvr
    1David JohnsonARI22201918685
    2Le'Veon BellPIT21201818683
    3C.J. AndersonDEN22181617679
    4Spencer WareKC20171817678
    5DeMarco MurrayTEN20171717677
    6LeGarrette BlountNE21181517677
    7Jeremy HillCIN20181616676
    8Jay AjayiMIA21181516676
    9Devonta FreemanATL19171816676
    10Tevin ColemanATL19181616675
    11Melvin GordonSD19171617675
    12Isaiah CrowellCLE19171616674
    13Devontae BookerDEN19181615674
    14Jacquizz RodgersTB19171616674
    15Chris ThompsonWAS16181816674
    16Ty MontgomeryGB18171815674
    17Frank GoreIND19141717673
    18Todd GurleyLA17161717673
    19Latavius MurrayOAK18171616673
    20Giovani BernardCIN17181516672
    21Matt ForteNYJ18151716672
    22Christine MichaelSEA18161616672
    23Ryan MathewsPHI17151717672
    24Lamar MillerHOU18171515671
    25Matt AsiataMIN17141717671
    26LeSean McCoyBUF17151616670
    27Jerick McKinnonMIN16171516670
    28Mark IngramNO17141617670
    29Darren SprolesPHI17161615670
    30James WhiteNE15171715670
    31Bilal PowellNYJ15171615669
    32Tim HightowerNO16171515669
    33Ka'Deem CareyCHI16141616668
    34Duke Johnson Jr.CLE16151615668
    35Robert TurbinIND16141615667
    36Chris IvoryJAX17141515667
    37Damien WilliamsMIA16151515667
    38Jordan HowardCHI17141415666
    39Alfred BlueHOU16151415666
    40Benny CunninghamLA15161514666
    41Jalen RichardOAK16151415666
    42DuJuan HarrisSF16141515666
    43Mike DavisSF16141515666
    44Justin ForsettDET15141615666
    45Mike GillisleeBUF16141415665
    46Arian FosterMIA14131616665
    47Rashad JenningsNYG15141515665
    48Alex CollinsSEA16141514665
    49Shaun DraughnSF15141614665
    50Zach ZennerDET16131515665
    51Andre EllingtonARI14151415664
    52Terrance WestBAL15141415664
    53Paul PerkinsNYG14151514664
    54DeAndre WashingtonOAK15151414664
    55Matt JonesWAS15141415664
    56Charcandrick WestKC14151414663
    57Travaris CadetNO14131515663
    58Wendell SmallwoodPHI15141414663
    59T.J. YeldonJAX15131414662
    60Bobby RaineyNYG13141514662

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Carlos Hyde—injury
    • Thomas Rawls—injury
    • DeAngelo Williams—injury
    • Adrian Peterson—injury
    • Eddie Lacy—injury
    • Ameer Abdullah—injury
    • Theo Riddick—injury
    • Doug Martin—injury
    • Jamaal Charles—insufficient snaps
    • Jonathan Stewart—bye
    • Ezekiel Elliott—bye

Fullbacks

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    It was a quiet and uneventful week for the fullbacks.

    Aaron Ripkowski was solid against the Bears on Thursday, especially because the Packers had a lot of turnover at running back. Jamize Olawale was good for the Raiders both as a lead blocker and as a runner. He has become one of the more versatile players at the position and has allowed offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to do a lot of different things on offense because he can run the football. He is probably one of the more underrated players most casual fans have never heard of.

    A couple of old-school blockers, New England's James Develin and Atlanta's Patrick DiMarco, were solid as usual. Both cleared the way for big running games from the offense. Minnesota's Zach Line continues to improve even without the threat of Adrian Peterson behind him. The Cleveland Browns running attack has slowed a little, but the recently released Malcolm Johnson was still one of the better blockers. He was solid against the Bengals.

        

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamBlkRunRecPosOvr
    1Andy JanovichDEN461610476
    2Aaron RipkowskiGB441711476
    3Jamize OlawaleOAK431810475
    4James DevelinNE45169474
    5Zach LineMIN43179473
    6Patrick DiMarcoATL45159473
    7John KuhnNO44169473
    8Jerome FeltonBUF45159473
    9Malcolm JohnsonCLE421511472
    10Kyle JuszczykBAL43159471
    11Jay ProschHOU44149471
    12Derek WattSD44158471
    13Michael BurtonDET44148470
    14Anthony ShermanKC43158470
    15Jalston FowlerTEN44147469
    16Cory HarkeyLA40158467

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Mike Tolbert—bye
    • Keith Smith—bye

Wide Receivers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    On the NFC side, Julio Jones continued his impressive 2016 season, catching nine passes for 174 yards in Atlanta's overtime loss to the Chargers. The wideout ran some impressive routes and was dominant at the catchpoint.

    The questions surrounding Green Bay's offense were silenced for one week, as both Davante Adams and Randall Cobb turned in solid performances. Cobb had two early miscues that cost Green Bay two touchdowns (a drop and a missed toe drag) but rebounded after that with 11 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.

    Michael Thomas continues his standout rookie campaign, as the former Ohio State Buckeye caught 10 passes for 130 yards in the Saints' loss to the Chiefs. 

    In the AFC, Jarvis Landry continues to turn in complete game after complete game for the Miami Dolphins offense, and this past week was no different. His five receptions for 78 yards, his ability to make plays after the catch and his high-energy blocking on the perimeter put him near the top of the rankings.

    Meanwhile, Jacksonvile Jaguars wideout Marqise Lee had a field day against the Raiders secondary and took advantage of tight coverage against teammate Allen Robinson to make plays in the passing game, including after the catch. He finished with seven catches on eight targets for 107 yards.

        

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Julio JonesATL22231412980
    2Jarvis LandryMIA21191413976
    3Marqise LeeJAX21201510975
    4Mike EvansTB20201214975
    5Mike WallaceBAL21201410974
    6Davante AdamsGB20191313974
    7A.J. GreenCIN21201311974
    8Julian EdelmanNE20191213973
    9Michael CrabtreeOAK22221010973
    10Seth RobertsOAK20171314973
    11Travis BenjaminSD19181611973
    12Golden TateDET18191412972
    13T.Y. HiltonIND20191410972
    14Kenny StillsMIA21191310972
    15Amari CooperOAK18191312971
    16Larry FitzgeraldARI18181214971
    17Tyrell WilliamsSD19201310971
    18Demaryius ThomasDEN20181112970
    19Randall CobbGB18181213970
    20Jeremy MaclinKC19181212970
    21Michael ThomasNO18171412970
    22Brandon MarshallNYJ20171212970
    23Antonio BrownPIT1920139970
    24Tajae SharpeTEN20191210970
    25Jamison CrowderWAS18181213970
    26Emmanuel SandersDEN20181111969
    27Cobi HamiltonPIT19171113969
    28Anquan BoldinDET16171214968
    29DeAndre HopkinsHOU20171210968
    30Marquise GoodwinBUF18161410967
    31Terrelle PryorCLE18171211967
    32Quincy EnunwaNYJ17171212967
    33Brandon LaFellCIN18171111966
    34Rashard HigginsCLE17181210966
    35Allen RobinsonJAX18161211966
    36Tyreek HillKC16171410966
    37Brian QuickLA18151212966
    38Cordarrelle PattersonMIN18161211966
    39Odell Beckham Jr.NYG17161212966
    40Victor CruzNYG17161212966
    41Doug BaldwinSEA18161112966
    42Adam HumphriesTB16161312966
    43Michael FloydARI17161112965
    44Mohamed SanuATL17161211965
    45Alshon JefferyCHI17161112965
    46Marvin JonesDET17161112965
    47Arrelious BennJAX16171310965
    48Chris ConleyKC17171210965
    49Tavon AustinLA17151311965
    50Adam ThielenMIN17151113965
    51Brandin CooksNO17151311965
    52Willie SneadNO17151212965
    53Darrius Heyward-BeyPIT19161110965
    54Breshad PerrimanBAL16151113964
    55Kamar AikenBAL18151210964
    56Andrew HawkinsCLE17171110964
    57Andre RobertsDET14181112964
    58Jaelen StrongHOU17161012964
    59Danny AmendolaNE16161211964
    60Chris HoganNE18151012964
    61Andre HolmesOAK15151213964
    62Russell ShepardTB15161212964
    63Justin HardyATL16151112963
    64Cameron MeredithCHI17151111963
    65Will FullerHOU17161110963
    66Chester RogersIND18151110963
    67Kenny BrittLA16151112963
    68DeVante ParkerMIA16171110963
    69Dontrelle InmanSD17161110963
    70Jermaine KearseSEA17151111963
    71Jeremy KerleySF16161111963
    72DeSean JacksonWAS17151210963
    73Pierre GarconWAS16151112963
    74J.J. NelsonARI16151111962
    75Chris MooreBAL15151112962
    76Tyler BoydCIN16161110962
    77Devin StreetIND18151010962
    78Allen HurnsJAX16161110962
    79Stefon DiggsMIN16141112962
    80Sterling ShepardNYG16151111962
    81Nelson AgholorPHI16151111962
    82Josh HuffPHI15141212962
    83Torrey SmithSF16151111962
    84Quinton PattonSF15161111962
    85Jordan NorwoodDEN15141112961
    86Jordy NelsonGB14141113961
    87Rashad GreeneJAX15151210961
    88Malcolm MitchellNE15141211961
    89Robby AndersonNYJ15151210961
    90Jordan MatthewsPHI15141112961
    91Griff WhalenSD14151211961
    92Tyler LockettSEA15151111961
    93Cecil ShortsTB14141113961
    94Rishard MatthewsTEN15161110961
    95Ricardo LouisCLE16151110961
    96Brittan GoldenARI15141111960
    97Justin HunterBUF14151210960
    98Brandon TateBUF1516119960
    99Josh BellamyCHI15141111960
    100Jeff JanisGB15141111960
    101Mike ThomasLA14141112960
    102Charles JohnsonMIN15141111960
    103Brandon ColemanNO14141112960
    104Charone PeakeNYJ15141210960
    105Johnny HoltonOAK13131312960
    106Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI15141111960
    107Aaron BurbridgeSF14141112960
    108Freddie MartinoTB14141112960
    109Andre JohnsonTEN14161011960
    110Aldrick RobinsonATL14141111959
    111Deonte ThompsonCHI14141111959
    112Trevor DavisGB14141111959
    113Braxton MillerHOU15141110959
    114Bradley MarquezLA14141111959
    115Roger LewisNYG14141111959
    116Paul RichardsonSEA14141111959
    117Rod StreaterSF14141111959
    118Ryan GrantWAS14141111959
    119De'Anthony ThomasKC14141110958
    120Albert WilsonKC1514119958
    121Walt PowellBUF14141010957
    122Bennie FowlerDEN14131110957
    123Kendall WrightTEN14131110957
    124James WrightCIN14131010956
    125Jordan TaylorDEN13131011956
    126Sammie CoatesPIT13131110956
    127Alex EricksonCIN13131010955

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jaron Brown—injury
    • Eddie Royal—injury
    • Kevin White—injury
    • Vincent Jackson—injury
    • Josh Doctson—injury
    • John Brown—insufficient snaps
    • Kelvin Benjamin—bye
    • Ted Ginn Jr.—bye
    • Devin Funchess—bye
    • Dez Bryant—bye
    • Terrance Williams—bye
    • Cole Beasley—bye

Tight Ends

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Vernon Davis saw the bulk of work for Washington with Jordan Reed out for the second straight week and turned in a solid performance. He caught six passes on six targets for 79 yards and was serviceable in the blocking game.

    In London, the Los Angeles Rams' Lance Kendricks was also impressive, catching seven passes for 55 yards, running some solid routes and pairing well with fellow tight end Tyler Higbee as a blocker.

    While the Saints and Seahawks offenses struggled Sunday night, Jimmy Graham contributed well to Seattle's effort and had one incredible chip block on an edge-rusher before releasing, which was emblematic of his night as a blocker. 

    Rob Gronkowski tops the list of tight ends for the second straight week, as he helped control the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers and pulled in four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown in New England's win, contributing to the vertical passing game and opening up space for his teammates to take advantage of their own matchups.

    Finally, one week after missing blocks in a couple of key passing situations against Houston, Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle more than made up for it by abusing the middle of the Titans defense. He hauled in a TD catch on double-move route in the red zone to put the Colts up for good in the fourth quarter.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Rob GronkowskiNE17191521678
    2Antonio GatesSD20191316674
    3Vernon DavisWAS15161420671
    4Jack DoyleIND17191216670
    5Lance KendricksLA14171320670
    6Martellus BennettNE15171319670
    7Jimmy GrahamSEA15161320670
    8Gary BarnidgeCLE15191217669
    9Delanie WalkerTEN16191216669
    10Travis KelceKC15171217667
    11Kyle RudolphMIN14161219667
    12Dennis PittaBAL16181214666
    13Jesse JamesPIT14161119666
    14Tyler EifertCIN14171117665
    15C.J. FiedorowiczHOU14181116665
    16Levine ToiloloATL12151120664
    17Charles ClayBUF15171115664
    18Zach MillerCHI13151218664
    19Will TyeNYG12151219664
    20Clive WalfordOAK14141218664
    21Zach ErtzPHI13151119664
    22Hunter HenrySD14151118664
    23Cameron BrateTB13151218664
    24Jacob TammeATL12151119663
    25Ryan GriffinHOU13161117663
    26Brent CelekPHI12151119663
    27Virgil GreenDEN13141118662
    28Clay HarborDET12151218662
    29Khari LeeDET11141120662
    30Tyler HigbeeLA12151118662
    31Coby FleenerNO13141118662
    32Josh HillNO12141119662
    33Vance McDonaldSF13141217662
    34Ifeanyi MomahARI11161118662
    35Jermaine GreshamARI12151117661
    36Logan PaulsenCHI11141119661
    37John PhillipsDEN12131119661
    38MarQueis GrayMIA12141019661
    39Rhett EllisonMIN11141119661
    40Luke StockerTB11141119661
    41Anthony FasanoTEN14141116661
    42Niles PaulWAS12141118661
    43Tyler KroftCIN11161017660
    44Richard RodgersGB11141118660
    45Stephen AndersonHOU11141118660
    46Julius ThomasJAX12161214660
    47Marcedes LewisJAX13141017660
    48Demetrius HarrisKC13141116660
    49Kellen DavisNYJ11131119660
    50Trey BurtonPHI11151117660
    51David JohnsonPIT13151115660
    52Garrett CelekSF12141117660
    53Brandon MyersTB11141118660
    54Austin HooperATL11141117659
    55Nick O'LearyBUF12141017659
    56Ben BrauneckerCHI11141117659
    57C.J. UzomahCIN12141116659
    58Justin PerilloGB11141117659
    59Larry DonnellNYG12131117659
    60Brandon BostickNYJ11131118659
    61Xavier GrimblePIT14141114659
    62Jerell AdamsNYG11141116658
    63Brandon WilliamsSEA11141116658
    64Phillip SupernawTEN12131017658
    65Darren FellsARI11141115657
    66Crockett GillmoreBAL11141016657
    67Ryan HewittCIN12141015657
    68Jeff HeuermanDEN11131017657
    69Sean McGrathSD11131115656
    70Randall TelferCLE11141014655
    71Dominique JonesMIA10131016655
    72Mychal RiveraOAK10141114655
    73Darren WallerBAL11131014654
    74Erik SwoopesIND10131015654
    75Chase CoffmanIND10131014653
    76Connor HamlettCLE10131013652
    77James O'ShaughnessyKC10131013652
    78Beau BrinkleyTEN10131013652

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Troy Niklas—injury
    • Eric Ebron—injury
    • Jared Cook—injury
    • Luke Willson—injury
    • Jordan Reed—injury
    • Greg Olsen—bye
    • Ed Dickson—bye
    • Jason Witten—bye

Left Tackles

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 7's top performer at left tackle was Washington Redskins All-Pro tackle Trent Williams, who has been on a dominant tear all season. That didn't change against the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, Williams went down to a knee injury on the second-to-last play of the game, and his availability moving forward is unclear.

    There aren't many positives or signs of consistency from the Browns, but trust Joe Thomas to be just that—positive and consistent. He turned in another high-caliber performance against the Bengals. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited a source Sunday who said Cleveland was shopping Thomas for a second-round pick, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson put that to rest in a recent press conference.

    Thomas would be a huge upgrade for many teams, especially contenders. We broke down the Seattle Seahawks O-line in a recent piece, and it would be intriguing to see Thomas go to Seattle and upgrade the unit.

    David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers also turned in another solid performance versus the Bears, although Leonard Floyd's movement and elusiveness caused a few issues in pass protection at times.

    Taylor Lewan of the Tennessee Titans has been playing good football. Solid in both pass protection and physical in the run game, he even caught a touchdown versus the Colts. PFF has Lewan as its highest-graded offensive tackle, although based on my game-tape evaluation, others have performed better.

    Week 7 also saw the return of Jake Long, who signed with the Vikings near the middle of October and saw his first significant game action in more than two years.

    Long played 13 snaps, all in crucial situations. He gave up two sacks and one hurry in pass protection and looked like he didn't have his legs under him in the running game. Long's performance proves that it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done in the past—it's difficult to practice for two days and then line up Sunday and expect to make an impact on the offensive line.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Trent WilliamsWAS17201920884
    2Joe ThomasCLE20191620883
    3Taylor LewanTEN18201620882
    4Jason PetersPHI19181818881
    5David BakhtiariGB18171719879
    6Cordy GlennBUF19181617878
    7Andrew WhitworthCIN19181616877
    8Taylor DeckerDET19181516876
    9Duane BrownHOU17191615875
    10Eric FisherKC18191515875
    11Donald PennOAK18191614875
    12Terron ArmsteadNO19161616875
    13Joe StaleySF17191515874
    14Ereck FlowersNYG17181516874
    15Russell OkungDEN19171415873
    16Nate SolderNE18171515873
    17Greg RobinsonLA18181613873
    18Jake MatthewsATL16181615873
    19Ryan CladyNYJ19161415872
    20Donovan SmithTB16171714872
    21King DunlapSD17161416871
    22Jared VeldheerARI16181514871
    23Branden AlbertMIA18171414871
    24Tony HillsNO17171414870
    25Alejandro VillanuevaPIT17151416870
    26Jake FisherCIN17161415870
    27Alex LewisBAL17161414869
    28Charles Leno Jr.CHI16151416869
    29Kelvin BeachumJAX16161513868
    30Anthony CastonzoIND15161414867
    31Jake LongMIN14161513866
    32T.J. ClemmingsMIN14161313864
    33Bradley SowellSEA15161212863

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Matt Kalil—injury
    • Ronnie Stanley—injury
    • Mike Reemers —bye
    • Michael Oher—bye
    • Tyron Smith—bye

Right Tackles

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Kansas City's Mitchell Schwartz is our top performer among right tackles in Week 7 after an outstanding performance against the Saints. Schwartz was effective switching up his pass sets, which kept Cam Jordan off balance all game.

    Washington's Morgan Moses turned in another all-around stout performance both in pass protection and in the running game against the Detroit Lions, which is starting to be the norm.

    New Orleans Saints veteran Zach Strief continues to be impressive. He is steady in pass protection and tries to maul defenders in the running game.

    Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga continued his clean play against the Bears on Thursday Night Football, while the Eagles started rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai for second straight week in place of standout tackle Lane Johnson, who served the second game of his 10-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

    The Houston Texans' Derek Newton suffered a horrific injury on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. Twelve plays into the game, he exploded into his pass set, and his legs gave out from underneath him. He bent all the way back, tearing both patella tendons. The cart was brought out, and team doctors put Newton in a double aircast.

    Our thoughts are with Derek as we hope for a speedy and full recovery from such a terrible injury. 

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Mitchell SchwartzKC21191619782
    2Morgan MosesWAS19201617779
    3Zach StriefNO19201715778
    4Bryan BulagaGB19191616777
    5Demar DotsonTB18181617776
    6Riley ReiffDET16201715775
    7Marcus CannonNE19181515774
    8Jack ConklinTEN18201613774
    9Ryan SchraederATL17181616774
    10Ben IjalanaNYJ18171615773
    11Austin PasztorCLE17201514773
    12Ja'Wuan JamesMIA17201514773
    13Donald StephensonDEN18161615772
    14Chris HubbardPIT17171615772
    15Jermey ParnellJAX17181515772
    16Austin HowardOAK17171614771
    17Rob HavensteinLA17191513771
    18Ricky WagnerBAL18171415771
    19Trenton BrownSF16171713770
    20Bobby HartNYG16161416769
    21Joe ReitzIND15191513769
    22Halapoulivaati VaitaiPHI16171513768
    23Chris ClarkHOU15171513767
    24Joe BarksdaleSD14171514767
    25Garry GilliamSEA16161314766
    26Bobby MassieCHI16151414766
    27Jordan MillsBUF15161413765
    28Cedric OgbuehiCIN15161314765
    29Jeremiah SirlesMIN13171413764
    30Shon ColemanCLE14171312763
    31D.J. HumphriesARI13161313762

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Andre Smith Jr.—injury
    • Menelik Watson—injury
    • Vadal Alexander—injury
    • Marcus Gilbert—injury
    • Marshall Newhouse—injury
    • Derek Newton—insufficient snaps
    • Lane Johnson—suspension
    • Doug Free—bye
    • Mike Remmers—bye
    • Daryl Williams—bye

Offensive Guards

10 of 22

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    The guard list saw a lot of turnover this week, and part of that is because the impressive interiors of the Cowboys and Panthers were on bye.

    Another reason: wear and tear. Some of the veterans with more tread on the tires have hit a wall physically. The average age of the top five graded guards this week was just over 25, the lowest of the season by far, and none of the top five are over 26.

    Only two guards in the top 20 are over 29 (John Greco and Ramon Foster). Several of the older guard starters (Chris Chester, Orlando Franklin, Shawn Lauvao and Jahri Evans) with injury histories saw significant decline in their play.

    It's something to keep an eye on moving forward.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Kevin ZeitlerCIN17191816777
    2Xavier Su'a-FiloHOU16201815776
    3Joe ThuneyNE17191518776
    4David DeCastroPIT19151717775
    5Lane TaylorGB19171616775
    6Laremy TunsilMIA17191517775
    7John GrecoCLE16191715774
    8Ramon FosterPIT19161814774
    9Josh KlineTEN18181615774
    10Clint BolingCIN16181716774
    11Gabe JacksonOAK18171715774
    12Ali MarpetTB16181716774
    13Brandon BrooksPHI18161616773
    14Rodger SaffoldLA19151715773
    15Kelechi OsemeleOAK16181814773
    16Brian WintersNYJ18161715773
    17Brandon ScherffWAS17171715773
    18Eric KushCHI16181715773
    19Max GarciaDEN16181714772
    20Andy LevitreATL16171715772
    21Mike IupatiARI18171713772
    22Jermon BushrodMIA15181715772
    23Ryan JensenBAL17151715771
    24A.J. CannJAX18151714771
    25Tim LelitoNO16181614771
    26Laurent Duvernay-TardifKC17161416770
    27Richie IncognitoBUF17151714770
    28Quinton SpainTEN16161714770
    29Kyle LongCHI16171416770
    30Larry WarfordDET16171713770
    31Michael SchofieldDEN15181515770
    32T.J. LangGB16151615769
    33Zane BeadlesSF16161614769
    34Denzelle GoodIND16151714769
    35Graham GlasgowDET17151614769
    36Kevin PamphileTB15161714769
    37Parker EhingerKC16161713769
    38Jeff AllenHOU15161714769
    39Cody WichmannLA18141515769
    40D.J. FlukerSD14161714768
    41Patrick OmamehJAX16161613768
    42Brandon FuscoMIN16151614768
    43Justin PughNYG16141615768
    44Allen BarbrePHI15151417768
    45Joe HaegIND14151516767
    46Spencer DrangoCLE15151614767
    47Orlando FranklinSD15151613766
    48Shaq MasonNE13161614766
    49James CarpenterNYJ13161614766
    50Chris ChesterATL14161613766
    51Alex BooneMIN14161613766
    52Mark GlowinskiSEA13151516766
    53Earl WatfordARI12171712765
    54Jahri EvansNO14151613765
    55Ted LarsenCHI15151414765
    56Joshua GarnettSF14151613765
    57John UrschelBAL15141612764
    58Senio KelemeteNO12151614764
    59Shawn LauvaoWAS12161513763
    60Germain IfediSEA12141613762
    61Brian SchwenkeTEN13141513762
    62John JerryNYG14121513761
    63John MillerBUF12151512761
    64Arie KouandjioWAS11141413759

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Trai Turner—bye
    • Jack Mewhort—DNP
    • Josh Sitton—DNP
    • Joel Bitonio—DNP
    • Laken Tomlinson—DNP
    • Zach Fulton—DNP
    • Marshal Yanda—DNP
    • Evan Mathis—DNP
    • Jamon Brown—DNP
    • Zack Martin—bye
    • Ronald Leary—bye
    • La'el Collins—bye
    • Andrew Norwell—bye

Centers

11 of 22

    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    With two of the top centers on bye this week (Travis Frederick and Ryan Kalil), it was an opportunity for lesser knowns to shine. Not many were able to take advantage; we saw a lot of average play.

    However, Maurkice Pouncey led Pittsburgh's interior line in an impressive performance against the Patriots front. Landry Jones had tons of time in the pocket, but between antsy footwork and the Steelers' weapons being banged up, they weren't able to take advantage. 

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Maurkice PounceyPIT20161717676
    2Rodney HudsonOAK19171814674
    3Matt ParadisDEN16191815674
    4Cody WhitehairCHI17181418673
    5Matt SlausonSD19161715673
    6Ryan KellyIND17151717672
    7Brandon LinderJAX18161715672
    8Mike PounceyMIA15181716672
    9Jason KelcePHI17171516671
    10Joe BergerMIN17171714671
    11Max UngerNO18161615671
    12Greg ManczHOU15191615671
    13Daniel KilgoreSF16161616670
    14Alex MackATL16151617670
    15Travis SwansonDET17161714670
    16A.Q. ShipleyARI19151416670
    17Cameron ErvingCLE15171516669
    18David AndrewsNE17171613669
    19Russell BodineCIN16171613668
    20JC TretterGB18151514668
    21Spencer LongWAS16171613668
    22Mitch MorseKC17151316667
    23Wesley JohnsonNYJ18151612667
    24Weston RichburgNYG18141414666
    25Ben JonesTEN15161514666
    26Joe HawleyTB14171513665
    27Justin BrittSEA15141416665
    28Jeremy ZuttahBAL16131613664
    29Eric WoodBUF15131613663
    30Tim BarnesLA15121513661

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Ted Larsen—DNP
    • John Greco—DNP
    • Corey Linsley—DNP
    • Nick Mangold—insufficient snaps
    • Evan Smith—insufficient snaps
    • Travis Frederick—bye
    • Ryan Kalil—bye

3-4 Defensive Ends

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    The usual suspects show up at the top of this week's 3-4 defensive end grades. You have your dominant run defenders in Calais Campbell, Timmy Jernigan, Jadeveon Clowney and DeForest Buckner. Not only are their names cool, but they consistently disrupt run plays.

    This week's top pass-rushers are Joey Bosa and Karl Klug. Both are quickly becoming two of my favorite players to watch. Their effort and burst make them an instant problem, and both have good hands and do a nice job disengaging to pressure or sack the QB. 

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Calais CampbellARI13182515677
    2Mike DanielsGB13192016674
    3Joey BosaSD14211914674
    4DeForest BucknerSF13162214671
    5Timmy JerniganBAL11192113670
    6Karl KlugTEN13201614669
    7Derek WolfeDEN12162014668
    8Jadeveon ClowneyHOU13162012667
    9Jurrell CaseyTEN12181813667
    10Jaye HowardKC10162014666
    11Corey LiugetSD11181813666
    12Ziggy HoodWAS12151617666
    13Lawrence GuyBAL9162113665
    14Mitch UnreinCHI12151814665
    15Akiem HicksCHI12151814665
    16Chris JonesKC12161912665
    17Cornelius WashingtonCHI11171714665
    18Chris L. BakerWAS11171714665
    19Xavier CooperCLE9151915664
    20Jamie MederCLE7171915664
    21Jared CrickDEN10161913664
    22Denico AutryOAK10191613664
    23Ricky Jean-FrancoisWAS10151815664
    24Stephon TuittPIT11181612663
    25Tenny PalepoiSD9161913663
    26Arik ArmsteadSF11151615663
    27Frostee RuckerARI10151814663
    28DaQuan JonesTEN9161912662
    29Mike PennelGB9151715662
    30Dean LowryGB10161614662
    31Josh MauroARI10151614661
    32Brent UrbanBAL9132012660
    33Jonathan BullardCHI9151614660
    34Christian CovingtonHOU7142012659
    35Kendall LangfordIND8141813659
    36Tony Jerod-EddieSF10131614659
    37Leger DouzableBUF10151611658
    38Billy WinnDEN9131812658
    39Ricardo MathewsPIT9141712658
    40Adolphus WashingtonBUF9151413657
    41Carl NassibCLE10161213657

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • J.J. Watt—injury
    • Henry Anderson—injury
    • Cameron Heyward—injury
    • Allen Bailey—injury
    • Robert Nkemdiche—insufficient snaps
    • Angelo Blackson—insufficient snaps

4-3 Defensive Ends

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    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    This is the week 4-3 defensive ends bounced back. While some, such as Los Angeles' Robert Quinn and Detroit's Ezekiel Ansah, are trying to work back to full health, the stars are thriving.

    Unsurprisingly, Everson Griffen, Khalil Mack, Carlos Dunlap, Cliff Avril and Sheldon Richardson are near the top of this list. Philadelphia's Brandon Graham had a great game working against below-average Vikings tackles, and Vic Beasley lived up to the "poor man's Von Miller" label against the Chargers.

    Breakout player of the week: Detroit's Kerry Hyder.

    Since Ansah's injury, Hyder has played the majority of the defensive snaps for the Lions. He hasn't recorded a sack in three games, but he's becoming a dual-threat weapon.

    Hyder may not have the athleticism of young players such as Beasley or Danielle Hunter, but his motor never stops. He has strong, active hands, and you can bet he'll break through the pocket if the quarterback holds onto the ball too long.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunSnapTklPosOvr
    1Kerry HyderDET22171615777
    2Everson GriffenMIN17181816776
    3Khalil MackOAK22171513774
    4Brandon GrahamPHI18171715774
    5Carlos DunlapCIN23161413773
    6Cliff AvrilSEA18141815772
    7Vic BeasleyATL18151814772
    8Sheldon RichardsonNYJ19181215771
    9Danielle HunterMIN16161616771
    10Cameron WakeMIA21141711770
    11Adrian ClaybornATL17161515770
    12Dwight FreeneyATL17151714770
    13Andre BranchMIA19151513769
    14Ezekiel AnsahDET17151515769
    15Devin TaylorDET16151516769
    16Robert QuinnLA17141714769
    17Frank ClarkSEA17141615769
    18Ethan WestbrooksLA17161414768
    19Eugene SimsLA15151615768
    20William HayesLA17141416768
    21Darryl TappNO16151515768
    22Michael BennettSEA17141614768
    23Noah SpenceTB16151614768
    24Brian RobisonMIN16151514767
    25Jason Pierre-PaulNYG17141514767
    26Mario WilliamsMIA16171313766
    27Jabaal SheardNE16171412766
    28Lorenzo MauldinNYJ19141313766
    29Brooks ReedATL17141315766
    30Armonty BryantDET16151414766
    31Cameron JordanNO16151414766
    32Olivier VernonNYG17141414766
    33Connor BarwinPHI16151414766
    34Vinny CurryPHI15151514766
    35Will ClarkeCIN16151314765
    36Chris LongNE15171313765
    37Shilique CalhounOAK17151412765
    38William GholstonTB15151414765
    39Matt LongacreLA16141414765
    40Cassius MarshSEA16141414765
    41Paul KrugerNO14161314764
    42Owa OdighizuwaNYG15141414764
    43Dante FowlerJAX16131215763
    44Marcus SmithPHI14141414763
    45Margus HuntCIN1617129761
    46Yannick NgakoueJAX13141413761
    47Jason JonesMIA16141212761
    48Shaq LawsonBUF16141212761
    49Michael JohnsonCIN16121213760
    50Trey FlowersNE14151212760
    51Davonte LambertTB13131413760
    52Anthony ZettelDET13121414760
    53Jared OdrickJAX13131112756

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Muhammad Wilkerson—injury
    • Robert Ayers—injury
    • Derrick Shelby—injury
    • Charles Tapper—injury
    • Randy Gregory—bye/suspension
    • Jack Crawford—bye
    • David Irving—bye
    • DeMarcus Lawrence—bye
    • Tyrone Crawford—bye
    • Charles Johnson—bye
    • Kony Ealy—bye

Defensive Tackles

14 of 22

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Fletcher Cox takes the top defensive tackle spot this week. He dominated an anemic Vikings offensive line by throwing linemen with one hand to make tackles in the backfield and generating great pressure on the quarterback. He was able to wreak havoc on the edge as well.

    Brandon Williams and undrafted rookie Michael Pierce are developing into the top run-stuffing duo in the NFL. Pierce bullied the Jets offensive line, as he earned the No. 4 spot this week.

    Last year when Brandon Mebane was on the Seahawks, he gave Alex Mack all he could handle against the run and did it again this year as a member of the Chargers. Mebane's quickness, hand technique and lower-body explosiveness were a problem for the Falcons all game. 

    Minnesota's defensive tackles, who are usually stout, struggled against the Eagles offensive line. The Eagles' blocking scheme kept the Vikings on their toes with trap plays and pin-and-pulls on the edge. Linval Joseph had his worst game of the season.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Fletcher CoxPHI20212215684
    2Aaron DonaldLA20192014679
    3Leonard WilliamsNYJ19172014676
    4Michael PierceBAL18172014675
    5Brandon WilliamsBAL18162013673
    6Kenny ClarkGB18152014673
    7Gerald McCoyTB17181814673
    8Ndamukong SuhMIA19171713672
    9Johnathan HankinsNYG17161914672
    10Geno AtkinsCIN19181810671
    11Brandon MebaneSD17142014671
    12Damon HarrisonNYG16151914670
    13Malik JacksonJAX17181613670
    14Grady JarrettATL17161713669
    15Dominique EasleyLA17151812668
    16Steve McLendonNYJ16151912668
    17Malcom BrownNE16171612667
    18Roy MillerJAX15131914667
    19Kyle WilliamsBUF19161411666
    20Letroy GuionGB16151712666
    21Stacy McGeeOAK16151712666
    22Beau AllenPHI17141712666
    23Jarran ReedSEA15141912666
    24Cam ThomasLA14141912665
    25Alan BranchNE15161513665
    26Corey PetersARI16141612664
    27Jordan PhillipsMIA16181410664
    28Linval JosephMIN15131614664
    29Tom JohnsonMIN16161412664
    30Jay BromleyNYG15141612663
    31Tyson JacksonATL14141612662
    32Ra'Shede HagemanATL16151410661
    33Akeem SpenceTB15131611661
    34Domata PekoCIN14161410660
    35Danny SheltonCLE14131611660
    36Javon HargravePIT14161311660
    37Ahtyba RubinSEA15141312660
    38Caraun ReidSD14131611660
    39Jonathan BabineauxATL15141311659
    40Sylvester WilliamsDEN1516139659
    41A'Shawn RobinsonDET15141311659
    42Hassan RidgewayIND16131311659
    43Jihad WardOAK13141610659
    44Dan WilliamsOAK15131411659
    45Justin EllisOAK15131411659
    46Tony McDanielSEA14121611659
    47Courtney UpshawATL15131410658
    48Corbin BryantBUF15141310658
    49Khyri ThorntonDET13151311658
    50Shamar StephensMIN13121413658
    51Pat SimsCIN1314159657
    52Tyrunn WalkerDET14131410657
    53D.J. ReaderHOU14151210657
    54Zach KerrIND15131211657
    55Tyson AlualuJAX13141311657
    56Will SuttonCHI1413149656
    57Darius LathamOAK14111312656
    58Al WoodsTEN16111310656
    59David ParryIND13121113655
    60Vince WilforkHOU14131110654
    61Cullen JenkinsWAS1413129654
    62Abry JonesJAX12121310653
    63Mike PurcellSF1311139652
    64Quinton DialSF1213129652

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Eddie Goldman—injury
    • Michael Brockers—injury
    • Sharrif Floyd—injury
    • Bennie Logan—injury
    • Haloti Ngata—injury
    • Marcell Dareus—injury
    • Vincent Valentine—injury
    • Clinton McDonald—inactive

3-4 Outside Linebackers

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    For the first time in five weeks, the top 3-4 outside linebacker wasn't Von Miller. That title belongs to Chandler Jones, who continuously harassed Russell Wilson and the Seahawks during Sunday night's 6-6 tie in Arizona.

    Miller was far from poor Monday, but he failed to translate his consistent pressure into hits and sacks against Brock Osweiler.

    Melvin Ingram finished the week as the second-best player at the position, as he continued to prove why he's one of the best all-around outside linebackers in the game. He does everything well for the Chargers.

    Clay Matthews and Nick Perry led the Packers' demolition of a shorthanded Bears offense. Jarvis Jones was one of the lone bright spots for the Steelers against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and Lorenzo Alexander—one of the best stories of the 2016 season—tallied his league-leading ninth sack of the year for the Bills. 

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunCvgTklPosOvr
    1Chandler JonesARI22201022781
    2Melvin IngramSD19221122781
    3Clay MatthewsGB18221021778
    4Jarvis JonesPIT21171120776
    5Nick PerryGB19201020776
    6Lorenzo AlexanderBUF21181020776
    7Markus GoldenARI2118919774
    8Von MillerDEN2019919774
    9Za'Darius SmithBAL19171020773
    10Shane RayDEN18191018772
    11Trent MurphyWAS1918919772
    12Derrick MorganTEN1916920771
    13Whitney MercilusHOU2016919771
    14Leonard FloydCHI20151019771
    15Erik WaldenIND1917919771
    16Brian OrakpoTEN18171018770
    17Jerry HughesBUF17171019770
    18Willie YoungCHI18171018770
    19Ryan KerriganWAS1917917769
    20Preston SmithWAS1917917769
    21Shaquil BarrettDEN1917917769
    22Julius PeppersGB17171017768
    23Dee FordKC1817917768
    24Matt JudonBAL1915918768
    25Alex OkaforARI16171017767
    26Emmanuel OgbahCLE19141017767
    27Tamba HaliKC16161018767
    28John SimonHOU17161017767
    29Arthur MoatsPIT17161017767
    30Kamalei CorreaBAL14181018767
    31Tourek WilliamsSD1518918767
    32Datone JonesGB1516918765
    33Akeem AyersIND17151115765
    34Kyle EmanuelSD1516918765
    35Sam AchoCHI16151017765
    36Ahmad BrooksSF1616916764
    37Aaron LynchSF1815915764
    38David BassTEN1516917764
    39Kyler FackrellGB1616916764
    40Anthony ChickilloPIT16141016763
    41James HarrisonPIT15151016763
    42Robert MathisIND1515916762
    43Brandon SpikesBUF1416916762
    44Eli HaroldSF1515915761
    45Frank ZomboKC1515815760
    46Kevin DoddTEN1514915760
    47Pernell McPheeCHI1415915760
    48Cam JohnsonCLE14121015758

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Elvis Dumervil—injury
    • Terrell Suggs—injury
    • DeMarcus Ware—injury
    • Curt Maggitt—injury
    • Justin Houston—injury
    • Jerry Attaochu—injury
    • Lerentee McCray—insufficient snaps
    • Joe Schobert—insufficient snaps
    • Dekoda Watson—insufficient snaps
    • Jayrone Elliott—insufficient snaps
    • Tank Carradine—insufficient snaps
    • Aaron Wallace—inactive
    • Corey Lemonier—inactive

4-3 Outside Linebackers

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    This week featured a special performance from Philadelphia's Nigel Bradham. To this point in the season, his score of 85 is the highest single-game grade given out at this position.

    Bradham was a menace in the run game. If he wasn't shooting through gaps to make plays in the backfield, he was stacking offensive linemen and clogging up rushing lanes. There was no running through, around or away from Bradham.

    He made an impact on passing downs too. He accounted for a few pressures on Sam Bradford, including a sack. He was sturdy in coverage and didn't give Bradford any easy throws in his direction. It's going to be tough for someone to top that performance. 

    Seattle's K.J. Wright played a huge role in the Seahawks' defensive performance against the Cardinals. The Cardinals had the ball for more than 45 minutes, but the Seahawks defense allowed just six points, and Wright did everything in his power to make that possible. He remains one of the most underrated players in the league.

    Kyle Van Noy, whom the Patriots just traded for, had one of the worst grades from the weekend.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Nigel BradhamPHI21231222684
    2K.J. WrightSEA2122921679
    3Telvin SmithJAX1823722676
    4Mark BarronLA2021722676
    5Bruce IrvinOAK17201218673
    6De'Vondre CampbellATL1621821672
    7Dont'a HightowerNE1821917671
    8Devon KennardNYG17181018669
    9Lavonte DavidTB1618920669
    10Vincent ReyCIN1816919668
    11Vontaze BurfictCIN1819718668
    12Anthony BarrMIN2114917667
    13Karlos DansbyCIN1817718666
    14Malcolm SmithOAK2015718666
    15Daryl SmithTB1719816666
    16Bruce CarterNYJ1915816664
    17Keenan RobinsonNYG1418818664
    18Philip WheelerATL1517817663
    19Chad GreenwayMIN1617717663
    20Mychal KendricksPHI1515918663
    21Rob NinkovichNE1616915662
    22Julian StanfordNYJ1517717662
    23Brandon CopelandDET1415718660
    24Neville HewittMIA1417716660
    25Mike CatapanoNYJ1516815660
    26Jordan JenkinsNYJ1515815659
    27Jelani JenkinsMIA1514815658
    28Jonathan CasillasNYG1613914658
    29Myles JackJAX1414716657
    30Shea McClellinNE1414815657
    31Donald ButlerMIA1414715656
    32Antwione WilliamsDET1315714655
    33Kyle Van NoyDET1414713654
    34Craig RobertsonNO1314714654

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jaylon Smith—bye/injury
    • DeAndre Levy—injury
    • Darron Lee—injury

Inside Linebackers

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    The measuring stick for inside linebacker play is—and I assume will be for a few years—Carolina Panther Luke Kuechly. Most inside linebackers don’t combine the skills Kuechly does, but his impression is left throughout the league. As teams look to combat ever-versatile offenses, they’re looking for three-down linebackers who can diagnose quickly and play even faster. 

    Erik Kendricks of the Minnesota Vikings has started to get the "Luke Kuechly Treatment" in which opposing offenses do almost anything necessary to avoid him on the field. With Kuechly and the Panthers on a bye week and Kendricks not having a dominant game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the top of the list looks a little different than normal.

    The Sunday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals ended in an agonizing tie but featured some of the best defense that we’ve seen this year. For both teams, linebackers were disruptive in coverage and played the run well. Seattle’s defense was highlighted by Lead Scout Doug Farrar in last week’s All-22 piece, and for good reason—it looks every bit as good as recent years, and it is just warming up.

    Although the score wasn’t as exciting as fantasy owners might have hoped, top grades this week go to the three inside linebackers who made Sunday Night Football an impressive display of defense.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Bobby WagnerSEA21321113683
    2Kevin MinterARI22311211682
    3Deone BucannonARI22301112681
    4Jamie CollinsNE22311012681
    5Denzel PerrymanSD2231912680
    6Jordan HicksPHI21301112680
    7Brandon MarshallDEN2230912679
    8Jerrell FreemanCHI22291012679
    9Ramik WilsonKC2230912679
    10Mason FosterWAS20301012678
    11Zach BrownBUF20301111678
    12Blake MartinezGB2230812678
    13Tahir WhiteheadDET1931912677
    14Eric KendricksMIN20291011676
    15Will ComptonWAS2029812675
    16David HarrisNYJ1831812675
    17Albert McClellanBAL18291011674
    18Derrick O. JohnsonKC2129108674
    19Su'a CravensWAS21251012674
    20Ryan ShazierPIT19261012673
    21Paul PoslusznyJAX19281010673
    22Kiko AlonsoMIA1927911672
    23Danny TrevathanCHI2026911672
    24Todd DavisDEN19251110671
    25Deion JonesATL2126810671
    26Kwon AlexanderTB192899671
    27Brian CushingHOU1728910670
    28Chris KirkseyCLE18251110670
    29Perry RileyOAK1828810670
    30Joe ThomasGB2026810670
    31Jatavis BrownSD222489669
    32Vince WilliamsPIT1926810669
    33Alec OgletreeLA1925109669
    34Zach OrrBAL15251111668
    35Jake RyanGB1825811668
    36Edwin JacksonIND192689668
    37Kelvin SheppardNYG1726810667
    38Korey ToomerSD1923811667
    39Nate StuparNO1826810667
    40Preston BrownBUF1724811666
    41D'Qwell JacksonIND1625109666
    42Gerald HodgesSF1825710666
    43Rey MaualugaCIN1724810665
    44Benardrick McKinneyHOU1723810664
    45Sean SpenceTEN1326810663
    46Avery WilliamsonTEN13231010662
    47Wesley WoodyardTEN1523810662
    48Lawrence TimmonsPIT1323811661
    49Demario DavisCLE1720810661
    50Josh McNaryIND152289660
    51Nick BelloreSF162178658

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Luke Kuechly—bye
    • Anthony Hitchens—bye
    • Justin Durant—bye
    • C.J. Mosley—injury
    • Justin March—injury
    • Michael Wilhoite—insufficient snaps
    • Nick Kwiatkoski—insufficient snaps
    • Antonio Morrison—insufficient snaps
    • Josh Forrest—insufficient snaps
    • Cory James—insufficient snaps
    • Josh Perry—insufficient snaps
    • Tyler Matakevich—insufficient snaps

Cornerbacks

18 of 22

    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    The three top AFC cornerbacks partook in the same game from Week 7, a prime-time matchup between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. Broncos stars Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. were masterful in stifling the Texans passing attack, allowing just three receptions on a combined 13 targets. Most quarterbacks pad their stat sheet against off-coverage, but the Broncos’ duo limited receivers to only two catches on seven targets while aligned off the line of scrimmage. 

    Talib is in the midst of a fantastic season and arguably his best in several years. He’s constantly in position to break up a pass or force a difficult play at the catch point without being overly physical. That’s as much as can be asked of a modern-day cornerback. He and Harris are consistently great, but shutting down DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller was especially notable.

    The unexpected star on the field Monday night was Texans corner A.J. Bouye. The 6’0”, 195-pound corner was the dime back on the roster entering the season but showed skill in finite opportunities. With Johnathan Joseph limited and Kevin Johnson out due to injuries, Bouye moved to the boundary against Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The results were excellent, as Bouye allowed three short receptions on six targets. Bouye broke up two of the targets, and he also had two big stops in the running game.

    Bouye could potentially be setting himself up for a big payday this offseason since this is a contract year. His size (6'0", 192 lbs) and ability to stay in the pocket of the receiver are major positives, as is his ability to play on either side of the field or in the slot. His experience as a utility player and now starter projects much better into a bigger role than recent free agents who cashed in.  

    Another week gone by and another impressive showing by the Giants secondary. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was targeted 12 times and only allowed one first down. He had two interceptions, dropped another and had two pass breakups. Playing heavily in the slot, and bouncing outside occasionally, Rodgers-Cromartie’s athleticism showed up in the run game as well, but it was down the field where his ability to outjump St. Louis receivers was most impressive. Teammate Janoris Jenkins had his usual one-play blunder, but that was the lone play he was beat all game and was able to break up two passes himself.

    The Packers' LaDarius Gunter has had some rough games this year. Last week alone, he gave up three catches over 20 yards and two touchdowns. This week was much better, as he was targeted nine times and only allowed three catches for a total of 33 yards. He was mostly facing Alshon Jeffery, so it was a nice bounce-back game for Gunter.

    Xavier Rhodes had another great Sunday. He was targeted seven times and was only beaten once. Rhodes picked off a pass and recovered a fumble, and he was his naturally aggressive self, which paid off in coverage and in the run game, where he additionally had a tackle for loss. 

    Atlanta played heavy zone coverage in the second half and was picked apart defensively. When the Falcons were in man coverage, Desmond Trufant shadowed speedster Travis Benjamin, and the veteran was able to match him down the field. Youngster Tyrell Williams also was blanketed by Trufant, who surrendered one catch on three targets and took away a few other throws in coverage.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamCvgReactSlotTklPosOvr
    1Aqib TalibDEN2828176988
    2A.J. BouyeHOU2526196985
    3Chris Harris Jr.DEN2326196983
    4Dominique Rodgers-CromartieNYG2424177981
    5Jimmy SmithBAL2423185979
    6Marcus PetersKC2323186979
    7Darrelle RevisNYJ2324185979
    8Patrick RobinsonIND2423175978
    9Janoris JenkinsNYG2322176977
    10Sean SmithOAK2223176977
    11Desmond TrufantATL2323165976
    12Xavier RhodesMIN2123167976
    13Patrick PetersonARI2223165975
    14LaDarius GunterGB2321166975
    15Lamarcus JoynerLA1922178975
    16Brent GrimesTB2122166974
    17Jalen RamseyJAX2021186974
    18Jason McCourtyTEN2220166973
    19Malcolm ButlerNE2120176973
    20Tramaine BrockSF2121166973
    21Johnathan JosephHOU2120175972
    22Ross CockrellPIT2119176972
    23Brian PooleATL2021165971
    24Vernon HargreavesTB1921166971
    25Troy HillLA1919168971
    26Casey HaywardSD1920176971
    27Adam JonesCIN1720186970
    28Tracy PorterCHI1920165969
    29Dre KirkpatrickCIN1819176969
    30Darius ButlerIND1919184969
    31Marcus WilliamsNYJ1820166969
    32Robert AlfordATL1919165968
    33Micah HydeGB1818176968
    34Terence NewmanMIN1919156968
    35Tyrann MathieuARI1817176967
    36Stephon GilmoreBUF2018164967
    37Aaron ColvinJAX1719184967
    38Captain MunnerlynMIN1818166967
    39William GayPIT1918174967
    40Bradley RobyDEN1718175966
    41Prince AmukamaraJAX1817166966
    42Buster SkrineNYJ1719165966
    43David AmersonOAK1819164966
    44Quandre DiggsDET1716167965
    45Eric RoweNE1618166965
    46Leon HallNYG1718165965
    47Nickell Robey-ColemanBUF1817164964
    48Jimmie WardSF1716166964
    49Cre'von LeBlancCHI1717165964
    50Bashaud BreelandWAS1617166964
    51Richard ShermanSEA1718155964
    52Ronald DarbyBUF1718154963
    53Tramon WilliamsCLE1616175963
    54Jude Adjei-BarimahTB1616157963
    55Demetri GoodsonGB1716165963
    56Jalen MillsPHI1617156963
    57Vontae DavisIND1716155962
    58Tony LippettMIA1516157962
    59Byron MaxwellMIA1715165962
    60Logan RyanNE1516166962
    61Steve WilliamsSD1617155962
    62Josh ShawCIN1615165961
    63Jerraud PowersBAL1416156960
    64Brice McCainTEN1516164960
    65Leodis McKelvinPHI1616145960
    66Tavon YoungBAL1516154959
    67Nevin LawsonDET1615154959
    68Kareem JacksonHOU1314176959
    69Bobby McCainMIA1416155959
    70Eli AppleNYG1615145959
    71Nolan CarrollPHI1615145959
    72DeShawn SheadSEA1516145959
    73Rashard RobinsonSF1415155958
    74Briean Boddy-CalhounCLE1513156958
    75Trevor WilliamsSD1515145958
    76D.J. HaydenOAK1416145958
    77Marcus CooperARI1514145957
    78Jacoby GlennCHI1514145957
    79Perrish CoxTEN1415145957
    80Craig MagerSD1415145957
    81Jamar TaylorCLE1414154956
    82Quinton DunbarWAS1513145956
    83Trae WaynesMIN1414145956
    84Ken CrawleyNO1413155956
    85Jeremy LaneSEA1413155956
    86Bryce CallahanCHI1413145955
    87Kendall FullerWAS1314145955
    88Artie BurnsPIT1414153955
    89Steven NelsonKC1314135954
    90D.J. WhiteKC1214126953
    91E.J. GainesLA1413134953
    92Johnson BademosiDET1112135950
    93Antwon BlakeTEN1213124950
    94B.W. WebbNO1210125948
    95De'Vante BausbyCHI1111124947

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Darius Slay—injury
    • Josh Norman—injury
    • Trumaine Johnson—injury
    • Kevin A. Johnson—injury
    • Joe Haden—injury
    • Philip Gaines—injury
    • Ron Brooks—injury

Free Safeties

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Chiefs safety Ron Parker topped the free safety list this week. He was excellent in coverage throughout the game. In the second quarter, he broke on a dig route on the far side of the field, getting his hand to the catch point and breaking it up, nearly pulling in an interception. He also tracked a tight end over route, managing to poke the ball loose and cause a fumble. In the fourth quarter, he created a turnover, coming in late on a run and punching the ball out of the running back's hands. 

    Harrison Smith had to play without his trusted teammate Andrew Sendejo for the majority of the game, but he picked up the slack. Like always, Smith switched between deep safety responsibilities to buzzing around as the extra defender in the box. It may have gone unnoticed by Xavier Rhodes' interception, but Smith nearly had the interception himself. He lined up on the line of scrimmage before bailing out to undercut Dorial Green-Beckham's post route. He then turned his head back to the quarterback and spotted the throw to the other side of the field. Smith broke across the field and dived at full stretch, nearly getting his hands to the ball.

    I was disappointed by the performance of 49ers safety Eric Reid. He's a talented safety who underperformed against Tampa Bay. He missed a tackle in the second quarter, leading to a 45-yard run. A few plays later, an opposing tight end beat him on a post route, and he had to settle for making the tackle after giving up the catch. On Russell Shepard's touchdown catch, Reid failed to sink deep enough to stop the throw, and he got caught on a tight end block on the 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Ron ParkerKC2525717882
    2Harrison SmithMIN2526716882
    3Earl ThomasSEA2626615881
    4Darian StewartDEN2425616879
    5Ha Ha Clinton-DixGB2524616879
    6Rodney McLeodPHI2425616879
    7Will BlackmonWAS2525516879
    8Glover QuinDET2523616878
    9Devin McCourtyNE2424616878
    10D.J. SwearingerARI2524515877
    11Maurice AlexanderLA2324616877
    12Isa Abdul-QuddasMIA2424516877
    13Marcus GilchristNYJ2423616877
    14Corey GrahamBUF2223716876
    15Duron HarmonNE2423516876
    16George IlokaCIN2223616875
    17Dexter McCoilSD2322616875
    18Dwight LowerySD2423515875
    19Ricardo AllenATL2324514874
    20Andre HalHOU2321616874
    21Clayton GeathersIND2222616874
    22Lardarius WebbBAL2222516873
    23Adrian AmosCHI2122616873
    24Tracy HowardCLE2221615872
    25Mike MitchellPIT2221516872
    26Kentrell BriceGB1922616871
    27Michael ThomasMIA2119616870
    28Bradley McDougaldTB1823516870
    29Vonn BellNO2121415869
    30Reggie NelsonOAK2220514869
    31Eric ReidSF2022514869
    32Kevin ByardTEN1920616869
    33Marqueston HuffBAL2020515868
    34Robert BlantonBUF2020614868
    35Jairus ByrdNO2021514868
    36Ibraheim CampbellCLE2120414867
    37Tashaun GipsonJAX2119514867
    38Rashad JohnsonTEN1819616867
    39T.J. GreenIND1919515866
    40Corey MooreHOU2019414865
    41Chris ProsinskiCHI1717516863
    42Andrew AdamsNYG1617516862

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Justin Simmons—insufficient snaps
    • Cody Davis—insufficient snaps
    • Darian Thompson—inactive
    • Nat Berhe—inactive
    • Tre Boston—bye
    • Byron Jones—bye
    • J.J. Wilcox—bye

Strong Safeties

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Landon Collins was the clear standout at strong safety this week. His two interceptions were both somewhat fortunate in that both came on deflected passes that just happened to fall to him. But Collins deserves credit for getting into those positions. On his first interception, he read a hook route that he broke on quickly, taking it away and forcing the quarterback to throw to the other side. Then he did a great job reacting to the deflected pass to get the interception and did an even better job returning it for a touchdown. 

    Collins has struggled in coverage in his career to date, but he was great this week. He broke on underneath routes excellently and often took away checkdown options for the opposing quarterback. He was also a force in the run game, filling in consistently as the extra defender in the box and making tackles to limit gains.

    Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson also had a strong week. He stood out in the first quarter, reading a read-option keeper from Russell Wilson on 3rd-and-short. Jefferson engaged with Wilson and brought him down for a loss. He also was strong in coverage, not biting on play action to stay on top of routes. He took away Jimmy Graham in the flat on a bootleg in the first half and stayed on top of Graham on a play-action corner route in the third quarter. Jefferson did an excellent job to save a touchdown in overtime, working from the far side of the field to make a tackle on Doug Baldwin's 27-yard catch.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Landon CollinsNYG22231617684
    2Tony JeffersonARI22231616683
    3T.J. WardDEN21201715679
    4Eric BerryKC21201616679
    5Antoine BetheaSF21201616679
    6Keanu NealATL20201616678
    7Daniel SorensenKC20201616678
    8T.J. McDonaldLA20211516678
    9Malcolm JenkinsPHI20201616678
    10Morgan BurnettGB19191617677
    11Jonathan CyprienJAX20191616677
    12Jaylen WatkinsPHI21191516677
    13Andrew SendejoMIN20191516676
    14Patrick ChungNE20191615676
    15Mike C AdamsIND19181616675
    16Donte WhitnerWAS19181616675
    17Eric WeddleBAL19171616674
    18Aaron WilliamsBUF18181616674
    19Kelcie McCraySEA19181516674
    20Will ParksDEN18181516673
    21Karl JosephOAK19171516673
    22Chris ConteTB19181515673
    23Da'Norris SearcyTEN18171616673
    24Jonathan MeeksBUF19161516672
    25Shawn WilliamsCIN20191413672
    26Calvin PryorNYJ17191416672
    27Anthony LevineBAL18171515671
    28Kenny VaccaroNO18171515671
    29Tavon WilsonDET17161516670
    30Jayron KearseMIN19161415670
    31Walt AikensMIA16171515669
    32Robert GoldenPIT15161616669
    33Daimion StaffordTEN16161615669
    34Derrick KindredCLE14161616668
    35Rafael BushDET15151616668
    36Eddie PleasantHOU16171415668
    37Harold Jones-QuarteyCHI15141516666
    38Miles KillebrewDET15161414665
    39Adrian PhillipsSD16151314664

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Quintin Demps—inactive
    • Jahleel Addae—inactive
    • Kam Chancellor—inactive
    • Duke Williams—insufficient snaps
    • Roman Harper—insufficient snaps
    • Kurt Coleman—bye
    • Barry Church—bye
    • J.J. Wilcox—bye

Kickers

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Things are a little upside down in the world of kicking this week, with a number of big names struggling and some fresh faces as well as blasts from the past at the top of the rankings. Sebastian Janikowski takes home the top spot this week. He was perfect on his four field goals, including a 52-yarder, and three extra points. Janikowski has struggled to show week-to-week consistency, so he may dip back down next week, but it is some time in the sun for the former first-round pick. 

    Justin Tucker makes another appearance in the top five as well, continuing his bounce-back season after a challenging 2015 campaign. Tucker made just one extra point but was good on field goals of 44, 49 and 50 yards for the day. Joining him in the top five are youngsters Josh Lambo and Jason Myers, as well as veteran Ryan Succop. Lambo may have had his best day as a pro, going 4-of-4 on field goals and 3-of-3 on extra points, while Myers continued an up-and-down sophomore campaign, this time showing off the good side of his tremendous leg. 

    But the big story of the week revolved around the misses by some upper-echelon kickers. Dustin Hopkins had the most unique miss of the week, hitting a 45-yard attempt off the top of the left upright, which is nearly impossible to do given a field goal's trajectory. Stephen Gostkowski's missed extra point continued to raise questions about his mechanics in 2016, and Stephen Hauschka's missed field goal in overtime cost the Seattle Seahawks a win shortly after Chandler Catanzaro rang a chip shot off the upright at the other end of the field.

    No one had a worse week than Mason Crosby, as the Green Bay Packers kicker had a 31-yard attempt blocked due to low trajectory. He also pushed an extra point wide right due to lagging hips. Crosby is still putting together a very strong 2016 campaign, so take this as proof that no kicker is perfect...except for Adam Vinatieri, who made an NFL-record 43rd straight field goal. He continues to show anyone (read: me) saying he should not be in the conversation for the best kicker in the game today is foolishly mistaken.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamPwrAccTklPosOvr
    1Sebastian JanikowskiOAK33395380
    2Josh LamboSD32395379
    3Justin TuckerBAL33375378
    4Jason MyersJAX32345374
    5Ryan SuccopTEN32345374
    6Adam VinatieriIND30345372
    7Cairo SantosKC30345372
    8Brandon McManusDEN31335372
    9Nick NovakHOU30345372
    10Andrew FranksMIA31325371
    11Caleb SturgisPHI31315370
    12Robbie GouldNYG31305369
    13Dan CarpenterBUF30305368
    14Cody ParkeyCLE30305368
    15Greg ZuerleinLA31295368
    16Will LutzNO31295368
    17Matt BryantATL30305368
    18Connor BarthCHI30295367
    19Phil DawsonSF29305367
    20Blair WalshMIN30301364
    21Roberto AguayoTB28285364
    22Matt PraterDET29265363
    23Nick FolkNYJ29255362
    24Dustin HopkinsWAS31235362
    25Chandler CatanzaroARI30235361
    26Stephen HauschkaSEA30225360
    27Stephen GostkowskiNE30204357
    28Chris BoswellPIT27215356
    29Mike NugentCIN29185355
    30Mason CrosbyGB31135352

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Josh Brown—exempt list
    • Dan Bailey—bye
    • Graham Gano—bye

Punters

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Sam Koch is really, really good. Traditionally, the directional part of his game has been the strongest, with a tremendous ability to move the ball from side to side on the field depending on what the Baltimore Ravens ask him to do. This week, Koch displayed massive distance and above-average hang time, giving him a well-rounded game and making him the top punter of Week 7. Koch is always around the top of the league, and it is not surprising that he found his way to the top for a week.

    Thomas Morstead and Johnny Hekker occupy the next two spots, with Morstead having a strong bounce-back year after some struggles in 2015. He has shown a solid directional game this year, with strong hang time in this game and slightly above-average distance helping him into the second spot. Hekker put together a similar performance but showed a bigger leg and slightly less directional control. Both of these punters are in contention for the top punter of 2016 through the first seven weeks of the year. Brad Wing and Colton Schmidt round out the top five, with mainstays Brett Kern, Britton Colquitt and Marquette King lurking just outside. 

    Then we come to Lachlan Edwards, who committed the unforgivable sin of dropping a snap near his own end zone, leading to a touchdown for the Ravens. How do we measure this? By effectively awarding Edwards zero yards or hang time for a kick that never occurred due to his mishap. This simply cannot happen at the NFL level, and New York was lucky to escape with a win despite the error.

    Ryan Allen continues to display maddening inconsistency that he had seemed to move beyond last year. This year, he has alternated between the top and bottom of the rankings on a weekly basis, clocking in at 29th this week. Allen has never had a huge leg, but his directional ability and consistency made him one of the top punters last year. This year, he has been unable to find his game from week to week, and New England's defense has had to cover for some of his mishaps. Ryan Quigley, Kevin Huber and Jeff Locke are the final three at the bottom of the list, with Quigley and Locke finding themselves in this area more often than not, though Huber is likely to bounce back to league average shortly.

    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 7
    RankPlayerTeamDistHangAccTklPosOvr
    1Sam KochBAL1916393380
    2Thomas MorsteadNO1517413379
    3Johnny HekkerLA1817373378
    4Brad WingNYG1615383375
    5Colton SchmidtBUF1614383374
    6Brett KernTEN1915343374
    7Britton ColquittCLE1216393373
    8Marquette KingOAK2014333373
    9Shane LechlerHOU1914343373
    10Sam MartinDET1718313372
    11Bradley PinionSF1218353371
    12Donnie JonesPHI1916293370
    13Pat McAfeeIND1814313369
    14Matt BosherATL1615303367
    15Jon RyanSEA1314343367
    16Pat O'DonnellCHI1414323366
    17Jacob SchumGB1315323366
    18Bryan AngerTB1317303366
    19Brad NortmanJAX1413323365
    20Riley DixonDEN1018303364
    21Tress WayWAS1316273362
    22Jordan BerryPIT1515263362
    23Dustin ColquittKC1316263361
    24Matt DarrMIA713353361
    25Drew KaserSD1216263360
    26Jeff LockeMIN1314233356
    27Kevin HuberCIN1311253355
    28Ryan QuigleyARI1211253354
    29Ryan AllenNE813253352
    30Lachlan EdwardsNYJ35313345

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Chris Jones—bye
    • Andy Lee—bye
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