NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1000 Players from Week 8

Doug Farrar@@BR_DougFarrar NFL Lead ScoutNovember 3, 2016

NFL1000: Ranking the Top 1000 Players from Week 8

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    Tyron Smith (No. 77) was an important part of the Dallas Cowboys' victory.
    Tyron Smith (No. 77) was an important part of the Dallas Cowboys' victory.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles played an overtime thriller Sunday night, and it wasn't Dak Prescott or Carson Wentz who most informed this week's version of the NFL1000. Instead, it was the two left tackles involved—Dallas' Tyron Smith and Philly's Jason Peters—who came out on top in Dallas' 29-23 win. As our offensive tackles scout Duke Manyweather asserts, Smith was dominant against one of the better defensive fronts in the league.

    Smith did allow a sack and a handful of pressures, but he just bowled people over in the run game, making the Eagles defenders look like high school kids at times. When Smith is on, there's little question he's the best in the business, and he earned his spot at the top of the NFL1000 list this week. Peters was nearly as good and wound up at the sixth overall spot.

    Washington's Trent Williams is right up there with Smith and Peters—he ranked fifth overall this week—but the Redskins will have to attempt their playoff push without him for the next four games, as the NFL suspended Williams on Tuesday for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse. It's Williams's second such suspension in his career—the previous suspension happened in 2011—and backup Ty Nsekhe will have to roll in Williams' place. Make no mistake, this is a big loss.

    Better news came for the Carolina Panthers, who had been waiting all season for their front four to put it together. Through most of their 2-5 start to the season, the defending NFC champs have seen different running backs gash their defense, and the team's sack and pressure totals have declined.

    But in Carolina's 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Star Lotulelei and that front four went to town on Carson Palmer and his crew. Lotulelei was particularly great, amassing three sacks, three quarterback hurries and three stops. That performance game him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award and ranked him second overall on the Week 8 NFL1000 list.

    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.

    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 8 of the 2016 NFL season.

        

    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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

Methodology

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    Ronald Martinez/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 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 received specific positional assignments based on their proven fields of expertise. 

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

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

    We'll also adjust for players with multiple responsibilities in the course of a game and over the course of time. Think of guys such as J.J. Watt and Michael Bennett on the defensive line—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 8

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Injuries have affected the NFL career of San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram to a degree, which delayed the process I expected to see when he came out of South Carolina in the 2012 draft. Back then, he was the best defensive player in his class, capable of generating pressure from any gap. Now, fully healthy and with a fellow first-round line partner in Joey Bosa, Ingram has become that kind of player again.

    Defensive coordinator John Pagano uses him as an edge weapon more often, but he'll have stretches of games where he is just about unblockable. His game Sunday against the Denver Broncos, in which he had a sack, two quarterback hits and three quarterback hurries, was one of his best—and puts him third in this week's NFL1000.

    Khalil Mack, another AFC West pass-rusher, hasn't always played his best football this season, but he was as good as advertised against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 11(!) total pressures.

    One of the reasons the Chicago Bears were able to upset the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night was the play of linebacker Jerrell Freeman and multigap pass-rusher Pernell McPhee. The 2-6 Bears might be on the wrong side of the playoffs this season, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can still get things done when he has the horses. It's starting to look better in the Windy City from that standpoint.

    Here, without further ado, is the top 50 for Week 8's NFL1000.

    Top 50 Overall from Week 8
    RankPlayerPos.TeamNFL1000 ScoreLWMoving
    1Tyron SmithLTDAL87NR
    2Star LotuleleiDTCAR86NR
    3Melvin Ingram3-4 OLBSD8524
    4Khalil Mack4-3 DEOAK84166
    5Trent WilliamsLTWAS847
    6Jason PetersLTPHI8322
    7Jerrell FreemanILBCHI8241
    8Aaron RodgersQBGB822
    9David BakhtiariLTGB8242
    10Bradley RobyCBDEN81576
    11Pernell McPhee3-4 OLBCHI81854
    12Joe ThomasLTCLE8111
    13Von Miller3-4 OLBDEN80169
    14Bobby WagnerILBSEA8010
    15Wil LutzKNO80470
    16Jonathan StewartRBCAR79NR
    17Derek CarrQBOAK79472
    18Darian StewartFSDEN7935
    19Tyler EifertTECIN79602
    20Michael CrabtreeWROAK79193
    21Bryan BulagaRTGB7975
    22Shawn WilliamsSSCIN79267
    23Todd DavisILBDEN79309
    24Ezekiel ElliottRBDAL79NR
    25Marcus MariotaQBTEN79637
    26Calvin PryorSSNYJ79268
    27DeMarco MurrayRBTEN7972
    28Luke KuechlyILBCAR79NR
    29Graham GanoKCAR79NR
    30Cordy GlennLTBUF7957
    31Adrian PhillipsSSSD79689
    32Kareem JacksonCBHOU79899
    33Devin McCourtyFSNE7965
    34Brian CushingILBHOU79365
    35Pat McAfeePIND79426
    36Zach StriefRTNO7858
    37Tom BradyQBNE7854
    38Marcus GilchristFSNYJ7885
    39Tony JeffersonSSARI7812
    40A.J. GreenWRCIN78149
    41Matt RyanQBATL78276
    42Geno AtkinsDTCIN78302
    43Taylor LewanLTTEN7818
    44T.J. WardSSDEN7836
    45Stephen GostkowskiKNE78944
    46Whitney Mercilus3-4 OLBHOU78305
    47Su'a CravensILBWAS78172
    48Brandon BrooksOGPHI77203
    49Calais Campbell3-4 DEARI7777
    50Cam NewtonQBCAR77NR

Quarterbacks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The obvious question this week is, how did Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers rank above Oakland Raiders signal-caller Derek Carr?

    Carr had a historic outing against the Buccaneers, becoming the third quarterback in league history to have 500 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a contest. His No. 2 overall ranking this week shows he played well, so receive the following criticisms through that prism.

    Carr missed too many downfield throws to open receivers and was responsible for his fumble early in the game when he was oblivious to the arriving hit in the pocket. In the fourth quarter, before throwing his game-tying touchdown, Carr missed Michael Crabtree for a long touchdown opportunity and threw a pass Brent Grimes would have intercepted if Crabtree hadn't interfered with the cornerback just before the ball arrived. Officials didn't flag Crabtree on the play, but his interference was obvious.

    Carr's historic production was the result of a good performance combined with defensive backs who couldn't cover his receivers and his outrageous 59 pass attempts.

    Rodgers had a statistically significant outing also. He threw four touchdowns and completed over 70 percent of his passes against the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers signal-caller pipped ahead of Carr because he didn't fumble and didn't have any passes that should have been intercepted. He also showed more consistency with his ball placement on downfield throws.

    Matt Ryan had another strong outing playing across from Rodgers. He and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are in sync, which the game-winning touchdown throw to Mohamed Sanu highlighted. Shanahan called a Cover 2 beater that worked perfectly, and Ryan executed it on time with a precise pass the defense had no chance of deflecting.

    Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston, who played against Carr's Oakland Raiders, had a game that has become too typical for him. The Bucs quarterback did most things at a high level. That wasn't noticable unless you were watching closely, though, because his accuracy, like during his rookie year, sabotaged the rest of his performance. In this game, he repeatedly missed Mike Evans when he was comfortably open downfield. Evans (6'5") is a huge receiver with the athleticism to move at high speed and the skills to adjust to the ball in the air. Winston shouldn't be missing him as often as he is.

    Speaking of missing receivers, Jacksonville's Blake Bortles had a disastrous display against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, and the Jaguars fired Greg Olson as their offensive coordinator Saturday. It's hard to see how a coaching change will make a difference when Bortles has trouble throwing the ball to open receivers or reading simple coverages. He's a disaster at this stage of his career.

    Only Andy Dalton outdid Bortles. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback was lucky not to throw six interceptions against Washington in London. He repeatedly missed big plays when A.J. Green was open deep, and he was fortunate Josh Norman dropped three interceptions. Had the Bengals even gotten average play from the position, they would have been comfortable victors. Instead, they settled for a tie.

        

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamAccArmPressDecPosOvr
    1Aaron RodgersGB202116151082
    2Derek CarrOAK182314141079
    3Marcus MariotaTEN182115151079
    4Tom BradyNE202015131078
    5Matt RyanATL201815151078
    6Cam NewtonCAR152416121077
    7Drew BreesNO182014141076
    8Carson PalmerARI162113151075
    9Andrew LuckIND152214121073
    10Jay CutlerCHI162213121073
    11Kirk CousinsWAS151814131070
    12Nick FolesKC161613151070
    13Tyrod TaylorBUF142014121070
    14Jameis WinstonTB101815151068
    15Philip RiversSD141814121068
    16Sam BradfordMIN151911131068
    17Alex SmithKC151812121067
    18Russell WilsonSEA151810131066
    19Carson WentzPHI151712111065
    20Dak PrescottDAL131814101065
    21Trevor SiemianDEN15181391065
    22Matthew StaffordDET141912101065
    23EJ ManuelBUF161810101064
    24Brock OsweilerHOU141712111064
    25Ryan FitzpatrickNYJ131711111062
    26Josh McCownCLE131710111061
    27Blake BortlesJAX1016991054
    28Andy DaltonCIN1016981053

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

Running Backs

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    From a production standpoint, it was not a great week for NFL running backs. Some of the top players had bye weeks (Le'Veon Bell and Todd Gurley), while others continued to miss time with serious injuries. The Kansas City Chiefs announced they placed Jamaal Charles on injured reserved for the second straight year, and it looks like his career might be in serious jeopardy. Also, Arian Foster retired as arguably one of the greatest undrafted free-agent running backs ever.

    One of my highest-graded players this season, David Johnson, had a tough time getting anything going on the ground against the Panthers. He finished with 24 yards on 10 carries. He was able to continue his dominance in the passing game, however, adding 84 yards on seven catches. The Panthers welcomed back star running back Jonathan Stewart, who helped get the offense rolling with two touchdowns.

    DeMarco Murray might have all but wrapped up the 2016 Comeback Player of the Year Award against the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. He was excellent both inside and outside the tackles while showing he might be the most physical back in the league and finished with 123 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also might be the best trade acquisition for any general manager in the offseason; no team got more for less in a deal this season.

    Melvin Gordon was really good against the Denver Broncos, rushing for 111 yards. He may never live up to being a high first-round pick, but he is becoming a consistent player.

    Philly's Darren Sproles turned back the clock against the Cowboys, while the Detroit Lions' Theo Riddick returned from injury with a bang against the Houston Texans. Even though both runners are smaller at 5'6" and 5'9", respectively, they showed Sunday they pack a punch on contact and are two complete football players.

    Spencer Ware's concussion was the biggest injury news of the weekend. The Chiefs catch a break because they face the 2-5 Jaguars in Kansas City.

        

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamInOutRecBlkPosOvr
    1Jonathan StewartCAR20181718679
    2Ezekiel ElliottDAL19181818679
    3DeMarco MurrayTEN21191617679
    4Jordan HowardCHI19171817677
    5Derrick HenryTEN19161816675
    6David JohnsonARI17171916675
    7Darren SprolesPHI19171716675
    8Theo RiddickDET17181816675
    9Melvin GordonSD18181716675
    10Duke Johnson Jr.CLE17171816674
    11Latavius MurrayOAK17171716673
    12Giovani BernardCIN18171616673
    13Tim HightowerNO17171616672
    14Alfred BlueHOU19161516672
    15Devontae BookerDEN18161616672
    16Devonta FreemanATL17151716671
    17C.J. ProsiseSEA15171815671
    18Bilal PowellNYJ18171515671
    19Jeremy HillCIN18161516671
    20Spencer WareKC17151616670
    21Robert KellyWAS17161516670
    22Mike GillisleeBUF17141716670
    23Matt ForteNYJ17151616670
    24James WhiteNE15161716670
    25Jalen RichardOAK18161515670
    26Frank GoreIND16141717670
    27Christine MichaelSEA17161516670
    28Charcandrick WestKC16171615670
    29LeGarrette BlountNE17151516669
    30DeAndre WashingtonOAK18151515669
    31Lamar MillerHOU15171516669
    32T.J. YeldonJAX17141516668
    33Ryan MathewsPHI16151516668
    34Chris ThompsonWAS15161615668
    35Terron WardATL15161614667
    36Reggie BushBUF14151616667
    37Isaiah CrowellCLE15141616667
    38Daniel LascoNO16141516667
    39Matt AsiataMIN15141616667
    40Mark IngramNO15141516666
    41Alfred MorrisDAL17141415666
    42Zach ZennerDET17141415666
    43Travaris CadetNO14141615665
    44Robert TurbinIND14141615665
    45Jacquizz RodgersTB16141514665
    46Fozzy WhittakerCAR13161515665
    47Knile DavisGB15141514664
    48Kenjon BarnerPHI14151514664
    49Chris IvoryJAX14131516664
    50Andre EllingtonARI14131615664
    51Jonathan GrimesHOU16131415664
    52Don JacksonGB13141414661

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Doug Martin—injury
    • Jamaal Charles—injury
    • Eddie Lacy—injury
    • Adrian Peterson—injury
    • LeSean McCoy—injury
    • Ty Montgomery—inactive
    • Le'Veon Bell—bye
    • Carlos Hyde—bye
    • Jay Ajayi—bye
    • Todd Gurley—bye

Fullbacks

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    The best fullback in the league, Baltimore's Kyle Juszczyk, had a bye, but the position still had a solid Week 8.

    Oakland's Jamize Olawale continues to be one of the more underrated players in the NFL. He was solid against Tampa and allowed the Raiders to be physical and versatile on offense. The franchise has one of the better running games in the league because its fullback can do it all.

    Aaron Ripkowski was huge for the Packers since they were missing so many running backs with injuries Sunday. He had a career-high six carries and played well against the Falcons as a lead blocker.

    Mike Tolbert had his best game of the season, as the return of Jonathan Stewart greatly aided him. Houston's Jay Prosch dominated the Lions as a lead blocker and has established himself as one of the more physical players in the league.

        

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamBlkRunRecPosOvr
    1Jamize OlawaleOAK451710476
    2Aaron RipkowskiGB441810476
    3Derek WattSD441611475
    4Mike TolbertCAR441510473
    5Jay ProschHOU45159473
    6Andy JanovichDEN45159473
    7Keith SmithDAL43169472
    8John KuhnNO43169472
    9Patrick DiMarcoATL43159471
    10James DevelinNE44158471
    11Jalston FowlerTEN44158471
    12Anthony ShermanKC44158471
    13Jerome FeltonBUF421410470
    14Will TukuafuSEA43148469
    15Michael BurtonDET43148469

        

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Zach Line—insufficient snaps
    • Kyle Juszczyk—bye

Wide Receivers

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Dez Bryant made his return to the Cowboys lineup Sunday night and provided an instant boost to the offense, catching four passes for 113 yards and a pivotal touchdown. He was effective on vertical routes and particularly on back-shoulder throws.

    In a big matchup between the Packers and Falcons, Mohamed Sanu played a starring role for the victors. The Atlanta wideout was impressive throughout the game and pivotal on the game-winning drive.

    In London, Jamison Crowder had a big day for Washington. He ran solid routes all game long and showed good skill after the catch.

    Meanwhile, in the AFC, A.J. Green faced off against Josh Norman and came away with nine catches for 121 yards. Had it not been for a few errant passes from Dalton, the total could've been much higher.

    In another overtime game Sunday, Michael Crabtree came up big down the stretch for Oakland. He had eight catches for 108 yards and was a big part of Derek Carr's record-setting day. Teammate Amari Cooper had a bigger statistical day with 12 catches for 173 yards, but he dropped a wide-open pass down the sideline at the end of regulation that would've set up Oakland for a chip-shot field goal that likely would've saved the team from playing an extra quarter of football.

        

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Michael CrabtreeOAK23231410979
    2A.J. GreenCIN24221310978
    3Dez BryantDAL21211312976
    4Amari CooperOAK21191511975
    5Mohamed SanuATL19201413975
    6Terrelle Pryor Sr.CLE22201311975
    7Julian EdelmanNE21201510975
    8Jamison CrowderWAS20201412975
    9J.J. NelsonARI19191412973
    10Larry FitzgeraldARI18191413973
    11Alshon JefferyCHI18201313973
    12Demaryius ThomasDEN21201211973
    13Seth RobertsOAK19181314973
    14Jordy NelsonGB18201312972
    15DeAndre HopkinsHOU21191211972
    16Jeremy MaclinKC17171613972
    17Brandon MarshallNYJ22191210972
    18Quincy EnunwaNYJ21181212972
    19Andrew HawkinsCLE20201210971
    20Emmanuel SandersDEN20201111971
    21Danny AmendolaNE18191312971
    22Rishard MatthewsTEN18201113971
    23Pierre GarconWAS19181312971
    24T.Y. HiltonIND19181410970
    25Stefon DiggsMIN18191212970
    26Michael ThomasNO19181212970
    27John BrownARI17191212969
    28Kelvin BenjaminCAR17181312969
    29Travis BenjaminSD20181210969
    30Robert WoodsBUF19171211968
    31Tyler BoydCIN19171211968
    32Golden TateDET18171311968
    33Will Fuller VHOU19181111968
    34Donte MoncriefIND19191110968
    35Chris HoganNE18171212968
    36Willie SneadNO18171212968
    37Dontrelle InmanSD19181210968
    38Julio JonesATL18161212967
    39Brandon LaFellCIN18161113967
    40Cole BeasleyDAL18171211967
    41Marvin JonesDET17171212967
    42Davante AdamsGB17171311967
    43Allen HurnsJAX18171310967
    44Tyreek HillKC17171410967
    45Adam ThielenMIN16171312967
    46Taylor GabrielATL16181112966
    47Jeff JanisGB17171211966
    48Doug BaldwinSEA17161212966
    49Mike EvansTB18161211966
    50Tajae SharpeTEN17171310966
    51DeSean JacksonWAS17171211966
    52Justin HunterBUF2115119965
    53Ted Ginn Jr.CAR16171211965
    54Trevor DavisGB16171112965
    55Phillip DorsettIND16181210965
    56Marqise LeeJAX17161310965
    57Chris ConleyKC16161212965
    58Brandin CooksNO17161211965
    59Brandon ColemanNO16161212965
    60Jordan MatthewsPHI16161212965
    61Tyrell WilliamsSD19161110965
    62Adam HumphriesTB16161311965
    63Cameron MeredithCHI16151212964
    64Ricardo LouisCLE18161110964
    65Terrance WilliamsDAL16161211964
    66Jordan NorwoodDEN17151112964
    67Anquan BoldinDET16151113964
    68Geronimo AllisonGB16161211964
    69Allen RobinsonJAX17161210964
    70Cordarrelle PattersonMIN16161211964
    71Jermaine KearseSEA17161111964
    72Russell ShepardTB15171112964
    73Kendall WrightTEN16171210964
    74Ryan GrantWAS16161211964
    75Brittan GoldenARI16161111963
    76Devin FunchessCAR16161111963
    77Philly BrownCAR15151212963
    78Robby AndersonNYJ17161110963
    79Nelson AgholorPHI15151212963
    80Josh HuffPHI15151311963
    81Justin HardyATL16141112962
    82Brandon TateBUF16151210962
    83Josh BellamyCHI16151111962
    84Rashard HigginsCLE15171110962
    85Brice ButlerDAL15151112962
    86Braxton MillerHOU15161210962
    87Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI15151112962
    88Tyler LockettSEA16151111962
    89Deonte ThompsonCHI15151111961
    90Lucky WhiteheadDAL14141113961
    91Jordan TaylorDEN16141111961
    92Cody LatimerDEN15151111961
    93Jaelen StrongHOU14161012961
    94Andre HolmesOAK14151211961
    95Johnny HoltonOAK13131313961
    96Paul RichardsonSEA15151111961
    97Cecil ShortsTB16141111961
    98Michael FloydARI15141111960
    99Jordan PaytonCLE15151011960
    100Charone PeakeNYJ15151110960
    101Andre JohnsonTEN14161011960
    102Aldrick RobinsonATL14141111959
    103Andre RobertsDET14141111959
    104Bryan WaltersJAX15141110959
    105Charles JohnsonMIN14141111959
    106Maurice HarrisWAS14141111959
    107Bennie FowlerDEN15131110958
    108Arrelious BennJAX13141210958
    109Albert WilsonKC14131111958
    110Freddie MartinoTB14141110958
    111Walt PowellBUF1514109957
    112De'Anthony ThomasKC14131110957
    113Matthew SlaterNE13131110956
    114James WrightCIN13131010955
    115Devin StreetIND15111010955

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jaron Brown—injury
    • Eddie Royal—injury
    • Kevin White—injury
    • Randall Cobb—injury
    • Vincent Jackson—injury
    • Josh Doctson—injury
    • Tavon Austin—bye
    • Kenny Britt—bye
    • Brian Quick—bye
    • Odell Beckham Jr.—bye
    • Sterling Shepard—bye
    • Victor Cruz—bye
    • Torrey Smith—bye
    • Jeremy Kerley—bye
    • Quinton Patton—bye

Tight Ends

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric Ebron returned to the lineup for Detroit, and while the Lions fell to the Texans, Ebron was impressive. He caught seven passes for 79 yards and made an impact as a blocker. Elsewhere, other big names fell back a bit, including Dallas' Jason Witten and Carolina's Greg Olsen. Witten caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime, but he only had two catches for 16 yards.

    It was a great day for the tight end position in the AFC, as Travis Kelce came up big for coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs in Indianapolis on a day when quarterback Alex Smith was out for much of the game. Kelce, who finished with 101 yards receiving and a touchdown, terrorized the Colts secondary all game long, and it had no answer for him.

    New England's Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett continued their reign of terror as the best tight end duo in the game, this time on the road against head coach Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills. They picked apart the secondary with seam routes and on back-shoulder throws down the sideline.

    Finally, after bringing in nine catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert looks like he never missed a single rep in practice. Though the game ended in a tie, Eifert's return to the lineup made the Bengals look like a brand-new offense. Through some crisp, creative route running, he’s already put opponents on notice that he’s just as dangerous as he’s always been.

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamRouteHandsYACBlkPosOvr
    1Tyler EifertCIN18231418679
    2Travis KelceKC18211416675
    3Rob GronkowskiNE18201318675
    4Martellus BennettNE16191519675
    5Jordan ReedWAS16201616674
    6C.J. FiedorowiczHOU16191219672
    7Antonio GatesSD17201217672
    8Vernon DavisWAS15181419672
    9Charles ClayBUF17161022671
    10Eric EbronDET16191317671
    11Ryan GriffinHOU16191218671
    12Clive WalfordOAK16171319671
    13Virgil GreenDEN15181219670
    14Zach MillerCHI15181218669
    15Delanie WalkerTEN16181217669
    16Cameron BrateTB14181218668
    17Gary BarnidgeCLE14181118667
    18Jimmy GrahamSEA14171218667
    19Kyle RudolphMIN13151319666
    20Austin HooperATL14161217665
    21Zach ErtzPHI14181116665
    22Hunter HenrySD14171117665
    23Anthony FasanoTEN11141123665
    24Julius ThomasJAX15181114664
    25Tyler KroftCIN12161019663
    26Geoff SwaimDAL13161216663
    27Stephen AndersonHOU13161216663
    28Phillip SupernawTEN13141119663
    29Greg OlsenCAR14141216662
    30Ryan HewittCIN12141020662
    31Jason WittenDAL13151117662
    32Coby FleenerNO13151216662
    33Kellen DavisNYJ12141119662
    34Brandon BostickNYJ12151118662
    35Mychal RiveraOAK13171115662
    36Nick O'LearyBUF12131020661
    37Seth DeValveCLE12141019661
    38Jermaine GreshamARI13151215661
    39Jack DoyleIND12141118661
    40Logan PaulsenCHI12151116660
    41Marcedes LewisJAX12151017660
    42Demetrius HarrisKC14151015660
    43Sean McGrathSD11131119660
    44Nick VannettSEA12151116660
    45Ben BrauneckerCHI12151115659
    46Randall TelferCLE12141017659
    47John PhillipsDEN11141117659
    48Richard RodgersGB12141116659
    49Erik SwoopesIND12151115659
    50Rhett EllisonMIN11141117659
    51Brent CelekPHI12141116659
    52Levine ToiloloATL11141116658
    53Josh HillNO14151112658
    54Trey BurtonPHI12141115658
    55Ifeanyi MomahARI11141116658
    56Brandon WilliamsSEA11141116658
    57Luke StockerTB11141116658
    58Ed DicksonCAR11141115657
    59Khari LeeDET11141115657
    60Justin PerilloGB11141115657
    61Brandon MyersTB11141115657
    62Niles PaulWAS11141115657
    63Jeff HeuermanDEN10131016655
    64James O'ShaughnessyKC10131015654
    65Ben KoyackJAX10131013652

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jacob Tamme—insufficient snaps
    • Troy Niklas—injury
    • Jared Cook—injury
    • Luke Willson—injury
    • Lance Kendricks—bye
    • Larry Donnell—bye
    • Will Tye—bye
    • Vance MacDonald—bye
    • Garrett Celek—bye
    • Jordan Cameron—bye
    • Dion Sims—bye
    • Jesse James—bye
    • Dennis Pitta—bye
    • Crockett Gillmore—bye
    • Maxx Williams—bye

Left Tackles

8 of 22

    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    As discussed earlier, Tyron Smith was the top performer at left tackle in Week 8. The Cowboys' All-Pro was solid from the opening snap against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football but surrendered a sack to Marcus Smith on the first drive, which seemed to ignite a fire in the Pro Bowler. Smith was dominant in both pass protection and in the running game, and he finished many plays with knockdowns. 

    Trent Williams earned the top spot in Week 7 and saw his ranking slip one spot. Last week, we mentioned Washington's All-Pro tackle had been on a tear all season—and that theme held true Sunday. Ironically, it was not clear until late in the week whether Williams would be available to play because of a knee injury he suffered on the second-to-last play of Week 7's game versus the Detroit Lions.

    Much to the chagrin of the Redskins, the NFL announced Tuesday that Williams would be suspended the next four games for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. He will be eligible to return to competition in Week 14 versus the Eagles.

    Keeping with the theme of NFC East left tackles, Philadelphia's Jason Peters grabbed the third slot in our rankings. He played a tremendous game versus the Cowboys and continues to display the freaky physical traits that have taken him from being an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas to becoming one of the elite offensive linemen in all of football.

    David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers also turned in another solid performance versus the Atlanta Falcons. He is becoming one of my favorite offensive tackles to study, specifically in terms of his pass-protection mastery.

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Tyron SmithDAL20231818887
    2Trent WilliamsWAS20181919884
    3Jason PetersPHI19192017883
    4David BakhtiariGB20181620882
    5Joe ThomasCLE21171520881
    6Cordy GlennBUF19201715879
    7Taylor LewanTEN19191616878
    8Jake MatthewsATL19181616877
    9Andrew WhitworthCIN19191515876
    10Donald PennOAK19181615876
    11Taylor DeckerDET18181615875
    12Duane BrownHOU18181615875
    13Eric FisherKC17181516874
    14Jared VeldheerARI18181415873
    15Mike RemmersCAR18181613873
    16Terron ArmsteadNO19161514872
    17Russell OkungDEN17161516872
    18Kelvin BeachumJAX16181415871
    19King DunlapSD17181413870
    20Donovan SmithTB16171514870
    21Charles Leno Jr.CHI16161514869
    22John WetzelARI17151514869
    23Ryan CladyNYJ16171414869
    24Nate SolderNE14171415868
    25Jake LongMIN15151514867
    26Anthony CastonzoIND14171314866
    27Chris HairstonSD16171212865
    28George FantSEA16161213865

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Luke Joeckel—injury
    • Matt Kalil—injury
    • Bradley Sowell—injury
    • Michael Oher—injury
    • Branden Albert—bye
    • Greg Robinson—bye
    • Ronnie Stanley—bye
    • Alex Lewis—bye
    • Ereck Flowers—bye
    • Alejandro Villanueva—bye
    • Joe Staley—bye

Right Tackles

9 of 22

    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga was the top performer at right tackle. Through eight weeks, he has been outstanding and should be in strong consideration for the player's vote for the Pro Bowl.

    New Orleans' Zach Strief has also had a solid eight weeks and continues to be impressive. He's second in our rankings and plays the position with the physical edge it's meant have.

    Tennesse's Jack Conklin has been solid all season, but the rookie was impressive against the Jaguars. He showed tremendous strength, power and physicality in the running game and was stout in pass protection by picking his spots closely to set and pass-protect aggressively.

    Washington's Morgan Moses turned in another all-around stout performance both in pass protection and in the running game against the Cincinnati Bengals. With Williams suspended four weeks, Washington will depend on Moses to be a major anchor. You have to wonder if the Redskins will consider shifting Moses to left tackle and install swing tackle Ty Nsekhe into the right tackle slot. Nsekhe has game experience at both tackle spots this season. 

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Bryan BulagaGB20191716779
    2Zach StriefNO19201715778
    3Jack ConklinTEN19201615777
    4Morgan MosesWAS18181617776
    5Ryan SchraederATL18191616776
    6Bobby MassieCHI19181516775
    7Eric WinstonCIN18171616774
    8Riley ReiffDET17201614774
    9Demar DotsonTB18171516773
    10Daryl WilliamsCAR19171515773
    11Halapoulivaati VaitaiPHI18171615773
    12Austin PasztorCLE18171515772
    13Mitchell SchwartzKC17181614772
    14Breno GiacominiNYJ18181514772
    15Jordan MillsBUF17171614771
    16Jermey ParnellJAX17171416771
    17Ty NsekheWAS17171515771
    18D.J. HumphriesARI17171514770
    19Donald StephensonDEN17161416770
    20Marcus CannonNE17161614770
    21Chris ClarkHOU17181314769
    22Austin HowardOAK16171613769
    23Ben IjalanaNYJ16171514769
    24Cedric OgbuehiCIN16151416768
    25Garry GilliamSEA15171415768
    26Doug FreeDAL15171514768
    27Joe BarksdaleSD17161314767
    28Joe ReitzIND15161514767
    29Cornelius LucasDET15151413764
    30T.J. ClemmingsMIN12141412759

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Derek Newton—injury
    • Andre Smith Jr.—injury
    • Menelik Watson—injury
    • Lane Johnson—suspension
    • Ja'Wuan James—bye
    • Ricky Wagner—bye
    • Marshall Newhouse—bye
    • Bobby Hart—bye
    • Trenton Brown—bye
    • Marcus Gilbert—bye
    • Chris Hubbard—bye
    • Rob Havenstein—bye

Offensive Guards

10 of 22

    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    You know it's a strange week in guard play when you are writing about the stellar performances of Brian Winters and Brian Schwenke. The Brians put forth arguably the best tape of their careers this past weekend for the New York Jets and Titans, respectively.

    While the weak opposing fronts of Cleveland and Jacksonville made life way easier on these guys, it was hard to ignore the consistent nature of their play from top to bottom. Winters was particularly impressive in pass protection, showing off a level of hand usage and placement I hadn't seen from him previously.

    On the other end of the spectrum, Arizona's Mike Iupati (who has had a great year until his recent injuries) struggled. He's been noticeably banged up the last couple of weeks, and a tough Panthers front exposed that Sunday. The Cardinals have a lot of injuries right now, especially up front, so they need Iupati to get healthy before Carson Palmer gets killed. 

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Brandon BrooksPHI19171717777
    2Brandon ScherffWAS18181716776
    3Kelechi OsemeleOAK17191814775
    4Brian WintersNYJ20161715775
    5Andrus PeatNO17191517775
    6Brian SchwenkeTEN18191714775
    7Trai TurnerCAR17181814774
    8Richie IncognitoBUF17181814774
    9Ali MarpetTB18151716773
    10Andrew NorwellCAR16181715773
    11James CarpenterNYJ17181714773
    12Ronald LearyDAL19161614772
    13Clint BolingCIN18141716772
    14Larry WarfordDET17161715772
    15Shaq MasonNE15171617772
    16Zack MartinDAL18151714771
    17D.J. FlukerSD16181713771
    18Kevin PamphileTB18161614771
    19Mark GlowinskiSEA14181616771
    20Joe ThuneyNE16141518770
    21Alex BooneMIN17141616770
    22Stefen WisniewskiPHI17161614770
    23Josh KlineTEN16171614770
    24Max GarciaDEN18151713770
    25Orlando FranklinSD15181713770
    26Jeff AllenHOU16161614769
    27John MillerBUF16161614769
    28John GrecoCLE16151714769
    29T.J. LangGB16141715769
    30Joe HaegIND16141517769
    31Zach FultonKC16161613768
    32Jahri EvansNO14171713768
    33Ted LarsenCHI16151614768
    34Laurent Duvernay-TardifKC16151416768
    35Gabe JacksonOAK15161713768
    36Lane TaylorGB16131517768
    37Michael SchofieldDEN16151614768
    38Chris ChesterATL15151614767
    39Kevin ZeitlerCIN16131615767
    40Eric KushCHI14161614767
    41Jonotthan HarrisonIND15151713767
    42Germain IfediSEA13171713767
    43Alvin BaileyCLE15141515766
    44Xavier Su'a-FiloHOU13161713766
    45Spencer DrangoCLE14151515766
    46Parker EhingerKC14151613765
    47Andy LevitreATL14151514765
    48A.J. CannJAX14131614764
    49Graham GlasgowDET12151614764
    50Shawn LauvaoWAS13151612763
    51Patrick OmamehJAX14141513763
    52Denzelle GoodIND13151512762
    53Earl WatfordARI13141513762
    54Brandon FuscoMIN13131513761
    55Mike IupatiARI12141511759

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Joshua Garnett—bye
    • Zane Beadles—bye
    • Justin Pugh—bye
    • John Jerry—bye
    • John Urschel—bye
    • Ryan Jensen—bye
    • David DeCastro—bye
    • Ramon Foster—bye
    • Laremy Tunsil—bye
    • Jermon Bushrod—bye
    • Rodger Saffold—bye
    • Cody Wichmann—bye
    • Allen Barbre—injury
    • Kyle Long—injury
    • Jack Mewhort—injury
    • Josh Sitton—injury
    • Joel Bitonio—injury
    • Laken Tomlinson—insufficient snaps
    • Evan Mathis—injury
    • Senio Kelemete—insufficient snaps

Centers

11 of 22

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Center has been a wild ride this year, as players continue to move up and down the weekly rankings. One player who hasn't moved around much, though, is Cameron Erving, who came in dead last again this week.

    It seems like there are two or three reps every week where Erving is blown off the ball, which can't happen at the NFL level. Those bad reps end up being drive-killing losses, and having a couple of these every game kills the offense. 

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunPowerAglPosOvr
    1Greg ManczHOU18211715677
    2Justin BrittSEA16201716675
    3Rodney HudsonOAK19161716674
    4Matt SlausonSD17191616674
    5Travis FrederickDAL18171715673
    6Joe HawleyTB19171714673
    7Ryan KalilCAR16191714672
    8Travis SwansonDET18161616672
    9Wesley JohnsonNYJ18171615672
    10Spencer LongWAS16181714671
    11Matt ParadisDEN17161715671
    12Ryan KellyIND17161616671
    13Joe BergerMIN17161714670
    14Max UngerNO17181613670
    15Gino GradkowskiCAR15201612669
    16Alex MackATL17151516669
    17Mitch MorseKC16151417668
    18Brandon LinderJAX18131615668
    19A.Q. ShipleyARI17161415668
    20Cody WhitehairCHI16141516667
    21Russell BodineCIN16151614667
    22Jason KelcePHI16151515667
    23JC TretterGB14151615666
    24David AndrewsNE15151613665
    25Ben JonesTEN14161315664
    26Eric WoodBUF14141613663
    27Cameron ErvingCLE12141414660

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Tim Barnes—bye
    • Jeremy Zuttah—bye
    • Maurkice Pouncey—bye
    • Weston Richburg—bye
    • Mike Pouncey—bye
    • Daniel Kilgore—bye
    • Nick Mangold—injury

3-4 Defensive Ends

12 of 22

    Derek Wolfe (No. 95)
    Derek Wolfe (No. 95)Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    It was a good week for 3-4 defensive ends. The usual suspects are near the top, but I'd like to focus on Derek Wolfe in Denver. The Broncos' talented defense often overshadows him, and he may have started the year slowly. But against the Chargers, Wolfe showed he's still a premier defensive lineman in the NFL.

    The 26-year-old had a handful of pressures and a run stop, and his biggest plays came when he hurried quarterback Philip Rivers and forced a bad pass that turned into an interception. He then ended the 27-19 victory with a complete beating of the Chargers right guard and hurried Rivers into a poor throw.

    Impact plays are great, but when they come at the perfect time, they get a higher score. It might also be time to start noticing how good Akiem Hicks is for the Chicago Bears. He's a big guy who can clog the run, plus he has the athleticism to rush the passer. He's a bright spot on a bad Bears team. 

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Calais CampbellARI13212016777
    2Mike DanielsGB13192115775
    3Derek WolfeDEN12192214774
    4Joey BosaSD14172114773
    5Ziggy HoodWAS13172014771
    6Emmanuel OgbahCLE12142215770
    7Jadeveon ClowneyHOU13171914770
    8Chris L. BakerWAS11171915769
    9Josh MauroARI12151915768
    10Robert NkemdicheARI13161814768
    11Akiem HicksCHI12171814768
    12Jared CrickDEN10171914767
    13Jaye HowardKC10152114767
    14Chris JonesKC12181713767
    15Jurrell CaseyTEN11171813766
    16Adolphus WashingtonBUF10142014765
    17Carl NassibCLE12171712765
    18Ricky Jean-FrancoisWAS11161813765
    19Mitch UnreinCHI11151814765
    20Jonathan BullardCHI12151714765
    21Leger DouzableBUF9151914764
    22Cornelius WashingtonCHI11161614764
    23Billy WinnDEN9132113763
    24Corey LiugetSD10151813763
    25Tenny PalepoiSD9141914763
    26Anthony LanierWAS10151714763
    27Frostee RuckerARI11151713763
    28Xavier CooperCLE11141812762
    29Antonio SmithHOU10151713762
    30Denico AutryOAK10141813762
    31Jamie MederCLE8122014761
    32Karl KlugTEN12131712761
    33Angelo BlacksonTEN9141813761
    34Mike PennelGB10131614760
    35Arthur JonesIND9121712757
    36DaQuan JonesTEN9121612756
    37Christian CovingtonHOU7121612754

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Kendall Langford—inactive
    • Henry Anderson—inactive
    • J.J. Watt—injury
    • Allen Bailey—injury
    • Timmy Jernigan—bye
    • Lawrence Guy—bye
    • Cameron Heyward—bye
    • Stephon Tuitt—bye
    • Ricardo Mathews—bye
    • DeForest Buckner—bye
    • Arik Armstead—bye
    • Quinton Dial—bye

4-3 Defensive Ends

13 of 22

    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    In a dominant performance, Oakland's Khalil Mack earned an elite score. This was the game we've been waiting for, and Mack delivered with two sacks, seven hurries and five stops against Tampa Bay.

    In the NFC, Seattle-style Cover 3 defenses are producing some of the best pass-rushing units in the conference. During his second season in the league, Atlanta's Vic Beasley made his move. On Sunday, his teammate Adrian Clayborn added two sacks against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, while Beasley spied the passer for long stretches of the game.

    With Seattle's missing Michael Bennett, who is still out with a knee injury, Frank Clark entered the starting lineup. You could make the case that both Cliff Avril and Clark (a second-year player like Beasley) are better pure pass-rushers than Bennett is at defensive end.

    Elsewhere, Brandon Graham continued his career year, as he's on pace to set his personal single-season sack record under new Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Detroit's Kerry Hyder was able to generate pressure again as the Lions' top defensive end, while Ezekiel Ansah looks like a shell of his 2015 self.

    Dallas' Tyrone Crawford, naturally a defensive tackle, had by far his best performance of his season in the win over the Eagles and showed why the $45 million man is hanging on the edge this year.

    Tampa Bay's Noah Spence, who used a speed rush to influence the Raiders' passing game, and the Carolina trio of Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy and Wes Horton were the other breakouts this week. In the Panthers' first six weeks of the season, their starting defensive line recorded just 2.5 sacks, while that same group posted five against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

    There were a lot of shifting narratives revolving around the position this week, but none may be bigger than Carolina's finally clicking up front. 

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunSnapTklPosOvr
    1Khalil MackOAK25151818884
    2Vic BeasleyATL23131715876
    3Cliff AvrilSEA24131615876
    4Frank ClarkSEA22141615875
    5Adrian ClaybornATL23131515874
    6Brandon GrahamPHI23131614874
    7Kerry HyderDET23141414873
    8Noah SpenceTB22121615873
    9Tyrone CrawfordDAL19141417872
    10Charles JohnsonCAR22111515871
    11Trey FlowersNE22141214870
    12Lorenzo MauldinNYJ20141414870
    13Dwight FreeneyATL21121613870
    14Brandon CopelandDET20131514870
    15Armonty BryantDET22121414870
    16Danielle HunterMIN21121514870
    17Cameron JordanNO21131414870
    18Wes HortonCAR21111514869
    19Kony EalyCAR21121414869
    20DeMarcus LawrenceDAL20111515869
    21Ezekiel AnsahDET20121514869
    22Everson GriffenMIN20121514869
    23Connor BarwinPHI20121415869
    24Vinny CurryPHI19131415869
    25Marcus SmithPHI20121415869
    26Jabaal SheardNE19141314868
    27Muhammad WilkersonNYJ20151213868
    28Brooks ReedATL18121416868
    29David IrvingDAL19121415868
    30Devin TaylorDET20121414868
    31Brian RobisonMIN20121414868
    32Cassius MarshSEA19121415868
    33Mario AddisonCAR19121414867
    34Jack CrawfordDAL19121414867
    35Paul KrugerNO21121313867
    36Chris LongNE18141214866
    37Kasim EdebaliNO19121314866
    38Darryl TappNO20121313866
    39Robert AyersTB19121314866
    40William GholstonTB19121314866
    41Carlos DunlapCIN20131212865
    42Malliciah GoodmanSEA18121413865
    43DaVonte LambertTB18111414865
    44Howard JonesTB18121314865
    45Benson MayowaDAL19101314864
    46Sheldon RichardsonNYJ19141012863
    47Will ClarkeCIN16131212861
    48Dante FowlerJAX15121312860
    49Michael JohnsonCIN15141111859
    50Chris SmithJAX14131113859
    51Yannick NgakoueJAX15111312859
    52Margus HuntCIN15121111857

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jared Odrick—inactive
    • Michael Bennett—injury
    • Mario Williams—bye
    • Cameron Wake—bye
    • Andre Branch—bye
    • Jason Jones—bye
    • William Hayes—bye
    • Robert Quinn—bye
    • Ethan Westbrooks—bye
    • Eugene Sims—bye
    • Olivier Vernon—bye
    • Jason Pierre-Paul—bye
    • Romeo Okwara—bye
    • Owa Odighizuwa—bye

Defensive Tackles

14 of 22

    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Star Lotulelei takes the top spot in this week's defensive tackle rankings. He had his best game of the season and arguably the best game of his career. He made his presence felt against a struggling Cardinals offense, as he routinely beat up their interior. His teammate, Kawann Short, also had a strong showing against the run this week, as the Panthers defense shut down Arizona's offense.

    Marcell Dareus played his first snaps of the season, but Kyle Williams had the better game between the two of them. Williams played a key role in keeping the Patriots rushing attack under wraps while providing solid disruption as an interior pass-rusher. Williams may not be a household name, but he's one of the more talented, consistent defensive tackles in the league. 

    Geno Atkins had one of his stronger games this season in the Bengals' thrilling tie against Washington. His play this year has been a bit spotty, so it was great to see him disturb Washington's offensive line en route to logging two tackles and one sack.

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamSnapRushRunTklPosOvr
    1Star LotuleleiCAR19232215786
    2Geno AtkinsCIN19201814778
    3Kyle WilliamsBUF18172015777
    4Kawann ShortCAR18181915777
    5Fletcher CoxPHI19161814774
    6Brandon MebaneSD17152114774
    7Nick FairleyNO18161814773
    8Marcell DareusBUF17161914773
    9Leonard WilliamsNYJ17151915773
    10Dontari PoeKC16201812773
    11Terrell McClainDAL17161813771
    12Grady JarrettATL17141814770
    13Linval JosephMIN18141813770
    14Gerald McCoyTB17151813770
    15Kenny ClarkGB17161613769
    16Khyri ThorntonDET17171513769
    17Danny SheltonCLE17141812768
    18Malcom BrownNE17161612768
    19Letroy GuionGB15151812767
    20Malik JacksonJAX17161512767
    21Tyrunn WalkerDET15161612766
    22Hassan RidgewayIND17151512766
    23Rodney GunterARI16141711765
    24Corey PetersARI15151513765
    25Courtney UpshawATL14161414765
    26Will SuttonCHI15131812765
    27Maliek CollinsDAL16141612765
    28A'Shawn RobinsonDET15161611765
    29Sen'Derrick MarksJAX19141510765
    30Vincent ValentineNE17151412765
    31Abry JonesJAX15161412764
    32Alan BranchNE16141512764
    33David OnyemataNO17131611764
    34Al WoodsTEN15131712764
    35Kyle LoveCAR16151411763
    36Stephen PaeaCLE16151411763
    37Zach KerrIND16131611763
    38Jarran ReedSEA15141512763
    39David ParryIND14151610762
    40Tom JohnsonMIN16131412762
    41Ahtyba RubinSEA14141611762
    42Tyson JacksonATL11141613761
    43Paul SoliaiCAR14121612761
    44Steve McLendonNYJ14131611761
    45Darius LathamOAK14121612761
    46Domata PekoCIN14131511760
    47Cedric ThorntonDAL17121410760
    48Beau AllenPHI14141312760
    49Pat SimsCIN15121510759
    50Tyson AlualuJAX14141311759
    51Shamar StephensMIN15121411759
    52Sylvester WilliamsDEN14131311758
    53Tyeler DavisonNO13151310758
    54D.J. ReaderHOU15111410757
    55Jihad WardOAK13121510757
    56Tony McDanielSEA14131310757
    57Akeem SpenceTB14131211757
    58Jonathan BabineauxATL13121410756
    59Matt CatapanoNYJ14111410756
    60Dan WilliamsOAK12111412756
    61Vince WilforkHOU14111310755
    62Sealver SiligaSEA12111310753
    63Cullen JenkinsWAS1312129753
    64Justin EllisOAK11111310752
    65Destiny VaeaoPHI1212109750

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Roy Miller—injury
    • Vernon Butler—injury
    • Clinton McDonald—injury
    • Haloti Ngata—injury
    • Bennie Logan—injury
    • Sharrif Floyd—injury
    • Eddie Goldman—injury
    • Stacy McGee—inactive
    • Ra'Shede Hageman—inactive
    • Corbin Bryant—insufficient snaps
    • John Jenkins—insufficient snaps
    • Brandon Williams - Bye
    • Aaron Donald - Bye
    • Ndamukong Suh - Bye
    • Johnathan Hankins - Bye
    • Damon Harrison - Bye
    • Vince Wilfork - Bye
    • Javon Hargrave - Bye

3-4 Outside Linebackers

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    There may not be a more underrated pass-rusher in the NFL than San Diego's Melvin Ingram, who finished as Week 8's top 3-4 outside linebacker. His box-score numbers (three tackles, one strip-sack) don't jump off the page, but he was unblockable for long stretches against the Broncos. Ingram's ability to impact the game in all three phases—rushing the passer, defending the run and dropping into coverage—is rare for the position.

    The rest of the top three in Week 8 includes Pernell McPhee, who was a wrecking ball against the Vikings on Monday night, and Von Miller, the most consistent edge-rusher in the NFL. Another notable standout was Bears rookie Leonard Floyd, who finished as the sixth overall 3-4 outside linebacker after registering his third sack in the last two games. Kansas City's Dee Ford led the NFL in Week 8 with 3.5 sacks. 

    Grading Scale

    Rush: Pass Rush (Graded out of 25)

    Run: Run Defense (Graded out of 25)

    Cvg: Coverage (Graded out of 15)

    Tkl: Tackling (Graded out of 25)

    Pos: Positional Value (Graded out of 10)

    Ovr: Top Possible Score of 100

    3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings Week 8
    RankPlayerTeamRushRunCvgTklPosOvr
    1Melvin IngramSD28161221885
    2Pernell McPheeCHI2816920881
    3Von MillerDEN27141021880
    4Whitney MercilusHOU2615920878
    5Leonard FloydCHI24161018876
    6John SimonHOU2017922876
    7Dee FordKC2712820875
    8Willie YoungCHI23161018875
    9Markus GoldenARI2414820874
    10Shane RayDEN2216919874
    11DeMarcus WareDEN2514918874
    12Tamba HaliKC2414918873
    13Shaquil BarrettDEN2116918872
    14Shaq LawsonBUF23131017871
    15Ryan KerriganWAS24121017871
    16Chandler JonesARI2213918870
    17Jerry HughesBUF2015918870
    18Trent MurphyWAS2114918870
    19Derrick MorganTEN2411918870
    20Akeem AyersIND20141017869
    21Julius PeppersGB23101018869
    22Kyle EmanuelSD22121017869
    23Nick PerryGB2113918869
    24David BassTEN22121017869
    25Kareem MartinARI2113917868
    26Joe SchobertCLE19131018868
    27Robert MathisIND2412815867
    28Brian OrakpoTEN21111017867
    29Lorenzo AlexanderBUF1913918867
    30Cam JohnsonCLE2310917867
    31Preston SmithWAS20121016866
    32Lerentee McCrayBUF1712920866
    33Erik WaldenIND2013916866
    34Sam AchoCHI1914915865
    35Frank ZomboKC2210916865
    36Jayrone ElliottGB1811918864
    37Kyler FackrellGB2010916863
    38Datone JonesGB199917862
    39Tourek WilliamsSD1812915862
    40Aaron WallaceTEN1910916862
    41Dadi NicolasKC1910915861
    42Brandon SpikesBUF1515518861

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Alex Okafor—injury
    • Clay Matthews—injury
    • Justin Houston—injury
    • Kevin Dodd—injury
    • Jerry Attaochu—injury
    • Terrell Suggs—bye
    • Za'Darius Smith—bye
    • Matt Judon—bye
    • Elvis Dumervil—bye
    • James Harrison—bye
    • Jarvis Jones—bye
    • Arthur Moats—bye
    • Anthony Chickillo—bye
    • Ahmad Brooks—bye
    • Eli Harold—bye
    • Aaron Lynch—bye
    • Tank Carradine—bye

4-3 Outside Linebackers

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    This week was void of any superstar performances like Nigel Bradham's in Week 7, but there were a handful of solid showings around the league. 

    Through most of this season, Carolina's Thomas Davis hasn't looked quite like himself. He's been good, yes, but it was starting to look like Davis wasn't the same as he once was. This week was a revival. In unison with the rest of the Panthers front, Davis looked alive against the Arizona Cardinals. Other than as a blitzer, Davis was a force in all phases of the game and made it tough for the Cardinals offense to sustain success on any given drive. It was refreshing to see Davis look like the stud we all know he is.

    On Sunday Night Football, Dallas's Sean Lee took center stage. Lee made a handful of important run stops against the Philadelphia Eagles, including a tackle for loss on 3rd-and-short in the second half. All throughout the night, Lee was rallying to the ball in run defense and after short receptions. It was not a perfect performance by any stretch, but it was the quality of play that Dallas needed from Lee to slow down the Eagles offense.

    The surprise performnce of the week is from the Jets' Julian Stanford. Playing in place of an injured Darron Lee, Stanford pulled his weight for the Jets defense. Stanford did not have too much of an impact on passing downs, but he was shockingly sturdy in the run game. He played his assignments well and did a good job of making clean tackles. Stanford had a nice week not just by backup player standards, but by any standards.

                              

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Thomas DavisCAR2022721676
    2Lavonte DavidTB1920922676
    3Sean LeeDAL1921722675
    4Dont'a HightowerNE20201118675
    5Bruce IrvinOAK18211118674
    6K.J. WrightSEA1821821674
    7Nigel BradhamPHI1820920673
    8Julian StanfordNYJ1820720671
    9De'Vondre CampbellATL1917918669
    10Shaq ThompsonCAR1619721669
    11Rob NinkovichNE17191017669
    12Vontaze BurfictCIN1719818668
    13Anthony BarrMIN1617919667
    14Craig RobertsonNO1518919667
    15Karlos DansbyCIN1418919666
    16Justin DurantDAL1618718665
    17Vincent ReyCIN1517718663
    18Damien WilsonDAL1617717663
    19Jordan JenkinsNYJ1816815663
    20Mychal KendricksPHI1517717662
    21Antwione WilliamsDET1616716661
    22Mike CatapanoNYJ1516915661
    23Philip WheelerATL1516716660
    24Chad GreenwayMIN1416717660
    25Brock CoyleSEA1517715660
    26Dannell EllerbeNO1714715659
    27Daryl SmithTB1315916659
    28Myles JackJAX1713715658
    29Josh BynesDET1214915656
    30Telvin SmithJAX1414713654
    31Dan SkutaJAX1413714654
    32Malcolm SmithOAK1313814654

                      

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Jaylon Smith—injury
    • Darron Lee—injury
    • DeAndre Levy—injury
    • Mark Barron - Bye
    • Josh Forrest - Bye
    • Donald Butler - Bye
    • Keenan Robinson - Bye
    • Devon Kennard - Bye

Inside Linebackers

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    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Inside linebacker play has regressed to the mean nearly halfway through the 2016 season. With so many teams employing multiple players to perform the variety of tasks needed, they're often swapped out, creating a small group of upper-echelon players who stay on the field regardless of down or distance. These players routinely sit toward the top of the rankings due to their versatility and the flexibility that a complete skill set allows a defense. 

    Players such as Chicago's Jerrell Freeman or Seattle's Bobby Wagner afford their teammates comfort in knowing that there is a three-down hard-hitting linebacker patrolling the middle of the field. Freeman exemplified the benefits of a three-down linebacker this week in an upset win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.

    Freeman was stout against the run and looked comfortable dropping into coverage or coming forward to make plays on running backs out of the backfield. As a result, Chicago cruised to a comfortable home victory against one of the best teams in the NFC.

    The up-and-down nature of many players has top performers from recent weeks sitting at the bottom of the charts following their showings over the weekend. Kwon Alexander looked lost as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the Oakland Raiders in overtime, and Jacksonville's Paul Posluszny, who has had an impressive few weeks, fell tremendously in an ugly Thursday night loss to the Tennessee Titans.

             

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPassRunRushTklPosOvr
    1Jerrell FreemanCHI22311112682
    2Bobby WagnerSEA19321013680
    3Todd DavisDEN2131912679
    4Luke KuechlyCAR20301112679
    5Brian CushingHOU20311012679
    6Su'a CravensWAS22261311678
    7Benardrick McKinneyHOU19291112677
    8Deone BucannonARI2130911677
    9Jordan HicksPHI22271011676
    10Preston BrownBUF19281112676
    11Deion JonesATL2226912675
    12Danny TrevathanCHI2028912675
    13Eric KendricksMIN19271112675
    14Jatavis BrownSD2227910674
    15Joshua PerrySD1830911674
    16Jamie CollinsNE20261111674
    17Elandon RobertsNE1829912674
    18Perry RileyOAK18261112673
    19Sean SpenceTEN2126911673
    20Will ComptonWAS1927911672
    21D'Qwell JacksonIND1730910672
    22Avery WilliamsonTEN18261111672
    23Joe ThomasGB2225811672
    24Derrick O. JohnsonKC1828910671
    25Corey NelsonDEN19251011671
    26Korey ToomerSD1927910671
    27Nate StuparNO2124811670
    28Zach BrownBUF1926910670
    29Demario DavisCLE1727812670
    30Mason FosterWAS17251011669
    31Ramik WilsonKC1726911669
    32Blake MartinezGB1826810668
    33Wesley WoodyardTEN1725911668
    34Jake RyanGB1527811667
    35Edwin JacksonIND15241111667
    36David HarrisNYJ1526910666
    37Anthony HitchensDAL1624811665
    38Kevin MinterARI162688664
    39Rey MaualugaCIN162399663
    40Chris KirkseyCLE172388662
    41Tahir WhiteheadDET162398662
    42Paul PoslusznyJAX1622810662
    43Kwon AlexanderTB152088657

                       

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Brandon Marshall—injury
    • Justin March—injury
    • Denzel Perryman—insufficient snaps
    • Nick Kwiatkoski—insufficient snaps
    • Antonio Morrison—insufficient snaps
    • Cory James—insufficient snaps
    • Zach Orr—bye
    • C.J. Mosley—bye
    • Alec Ogletree—bye
    • Kiko Alonso—bye
    • Kelvin Sheppard—bye
    • Ryan Shazier—bye
    • Lawrence Timmons—bye
    • Vince Williams—bye
    • Gerald Hodges—bye
    • Michael Wilhoite—bye
    • Nick Bellore—bye

Cornerbacks

18 of 22

    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Considered an unheralded free-agent signing after the initial wave of big names came off the market, Casey Heyward has continued to outperform expectations with the San Diego Chargers. He performed well yet again in Week 8, as he was tasked with covering the Denver Broncos wide receivers and emerged with an interception. Just as important for his grade, he was consistently in position to force a tough catch. 

    Another top AFC performer was Malcolm Butler from the New England Patriots. Butler isn't always the most consistent player quarter to quarter, but his play against the Buffalo Bills was among his best this season. In 37 coverage snaps, Butler did not allow a reception on six targets. He maintained great positioning in press, off-man and the slot with his impressive length and balance.

    On the other end of the spectrum, the New York Jets had a rough week. Against the Cleveland Browns, the Jets cornerbacks struggled to contain Terrelle Pryor and Co. from producing. Aging veteran Darrelle Revis couldn't keep up with the explosive Pryor, and his teammates likewise struggled. Revis allowed eight completions on 14 targets, which is not counting the screens thrown his way.

    Slot cornerback Marcus Williams allowed a touchdown to Andrew Hawkins, which has only further raised questions as to why he's in the slot and not playing in a more natural boundary role. Veteran Buster Skrine suffered an injury early, and the only positive from this position group in Week 8 was Darryl Roberts serving as a solid replacement in his absence.

    Washington's prized free agent, Josh Norman, had an active day against the Cincinnati Bengals in London. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton targeted him an outlandish 12 times. He commited five penalties, even though Cincinnati declined two of them. So while the stat sheet might look goodNorman yielded four catches on 12 targetshe was the beneficiary of a few underthrows, where he was beat. He finished the game with four blown coverages and allowed two first downs, one being a 40-yard bomb. He also missed a tackle. On a positive note, Norman was able to break up three passes, though you could argue all three of them should have been interceptions.

    In a losing effort, Minnesota's Xavier Rhodes mostly fared well against a stud receiver in Alshon Jeffery. While it's natural to remember the long catch he gave upwhich he was right in position for—he was in position to make a play on each of his nine targets on the night. Like Norman, Rhodes got his hands on three passes and could've easily intercepted two of them. The fact that he was only beaten once after mostly shadowing Jeffery all game is a testament to his skills in coverage.

    Not many players give Seattle's cornerbacks trouble. One is a superb athlete in DeShawn Shead; the other is Richard Sherman, who is as good as it gets. That said, New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas had his way with them, which might have affected both players' aggressiveness for the rest of the game. The duo gave up 11 catches on 18 targets, six of which went for first downs. Seattle is typically able to leave both of these guys on an island, but on Sunday, they did not make the plays we usually see them make.

    The Saints received a surprising performance from B.W. Webb, who was targeted five times and only allowed one catch that went for a minimal gain. Though he played his share of underneath zone, Webb had a good day 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 8
    RankPlayerTeamCvgReactSlotTklPosOvr
    1Bradley RobyDEN2424186981
    2Kareem JacksonHOU2223196979
    3Marcus PetersKC2224175977
    4Malcolm ButlerNE2323175977
    5Xavier RhodesMIN2223166976
    6Brandon FlowersSD2221186976
    7A.J. BouyeHOU2021177974
    8Patrick RobinsonIND2021176973
    9Robert AlfordATL2021166972
    10Joe HadenCLE1920186972
    11Jamar TaylorCLE2022165972
    12B.W. WebbNO2021166972
    13Chris Harris Jr.DEN1920176971
    14Orlando ScandrickDAL1818177969
    15Johnson BademosiDET1820166969
    16Philip GainesKC1819176969
    17Terence NewmanMIN1920165969
    18Brian PooleATL1817168968
    19Ronald DarbyBUF2019164968
    20Ladarius GunterGB1918166968
    21Casey HaywardSD1818185968
    22Patrick PetersonARI2018155967
    23Tyrann MathieuARI1819165967
    24Brandon CarrDAL1818166967
    25Morris ClaiborneDAL1817167967
    26Vontae DavisIND1817176967
    27Micah HydeGB1718166966
    28Jalen RamseyJAX1718166966
    29Captain MunnerlynMIN1717176966
    30Leodis McKelvinPHI1818165966
    31Johnathan JosephHOU1718156965
    32D.J. HaydenOAK1717175965
    33Nolan CarrollPHI1718165965
    34Brent GrimesTB1618166965
    35C.J. GoodwinATL1718155964
    36Darius ButlerIND1716175964
    37Richard ShermanSEA1818145964
    38Jason McCourtyTEN1715176964
    39Bashaud BreelandWAS1717165964
    40Desmond TrufantATL1617156963
    41Adam JonesCIN1617156963
    42Demetri GoodsonGB1617156963
    43David AmersonOAK1618155963
    44Quandre DiggsDET1616165962
    45Prince AmukamaraJAX1617155962
    46Steven NelsonKC1618154962
    47Darryl RobertsNYJ1517156962
    48Brice McCainTEN1517165962
    49Josh NormanWAS1618154962
    50Stephon GilmoreBUF1617145961
    51Robert McCainCAR1517155961
    52Daryl WorleyCAR1516147961
    53Aaron ColvinJAX1616155961
    54Eric RoweNE1616155961
    55Darrelle RevisNYJ1615165961
    56Nevin LawsonDET1615155960
    57Justin ColemanNE1614156960
    58Valentino BlakeTEN1616145960
    59Logan RyanNE1415156959
    60TJ CarrieOAK1615154959
    61Kendall FullerWAS1516154959
    62Cre'von LeBlancCHI1514155958
    63Marcus WilliamsNYJ1415146958
    64Jeremy LaneSEA1414156958
    65Nickell Robey-ColemanBUF1414164957
    66Dre KirkpatrickCIN1515144957
    67Lorenzo DossDEN1314165957
    68Rashaan MelvinIND1515144957
    69DeShawn SheadSEA1514145957
    70Tramon WilliamsCLE1413155956
    71Jalen MillsPHI1414145956
    72Justin BethelARI1314145955
    73Marcus CooperARI1213147955
    74De'Vante BausbyCHI1414135955
    75Trae WaynesMIN1413145955
    76Ken CrawleyNO1513144955
    77Steve WilliamsSD1314145955
    78Tharold SimonARI1413135954
    79Tracy PorterCHI1413135954
    80Josh ShawCIN1213136953
    81Vernon HargreavesTB1312143951
    82Quinton DunbarWAS1113135951
    83Jude Adjei-BarimahTB1112125949

                      

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Kevin A. Johnson—injury
    • Sean Smith—injury
    • Perrish Cox—injury
    • Aqib Talib—injury
    • Buster Skrine—injury
    • Jimmy Smith - Bye
    • Tavon Young - Bye
    • Lamarcus Joyner - Bye
    • Bobby McCain - Bye
    • Byron Maxwell - Bye
    • Janoris Jenkins  Bye
    • Eli Apple - Bye
    • Ross Cockrell - Bye
    • Artie Burns - Bye
    • Tramaine Brock - Bye
    • Rashard Robinson - Bye

Free Safeties

19 of 22

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Tashaun Gipson appeared poised to be a strong free-agent acquisition for the Jaguars this offseason. However, he's played poorly so far as a pure free safety. He was responsible for the deep middle of the field on Kendall Wright's long touchdown catch, but he may have never saw the route. Wright ran right past him into the end zone, and Gipson never looked close to getting back to save the touchdown.

    Later on, he matched up in the slot against Wright, who sold him a fake inside before cutting outside on a deep out. Gipson got turned around and had to take extra steps to locate Wright and get back outside. To his credit, Gipson recovered and contested the catch, but he couldn't stop the completion. The Jaguars have a number of issues with their team right now, but Gipson needs to improve. 

    The Cardinals must be pleased with how D.J. Swearinger has performed at free safety. He looks transformed from his previous stints in the NFL. He was alert early on against the Panthers, making an excellent read on a pass to Kelvin Benjamin. He broke on it quickly and nearly had an interception. He'll perhaps believe he should have had the pick, but getting a pass breakup is a win for a defensive back.

    Before signing with the Cardinals, Swearinger struggled to stay disciplined in coverage assignments. Against Carolina, however, he looked comfortable and at home at free safety, staying on top of deep routes to Benjamin, Devin Funchess and tight end Greg Olsen at various points throughout the game.

    Where the Cardinals will have to be careful is how he defends the run. He played it aggressively, even from the deep safety spot, and often found himself in good positions. But he tried to rip the ball out and force a fumble too frequently, conceding extra yards in the process. There is a time to try to create a turnover, but there is also a time to wrap up and stop the opposition from getting extra yards. The Cardinals will need to make sure Swearinger is ready to make the simple play without taking away from his instincts to be aggressive.

                    

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Darian StewartDEN2524715879
    2Devin McCourtyNE2425616879
    3Marcus GilchristNYJ2424616878
    4D.J. SwearingerARI2524515877
    5George IlokaCIN2524614877
    6Glover QuinDET2423616877
    7Ha Ha Clinton-DixGB2325615877
    8Jairus ByrdNO2424615877
    9Adrian AmosCHI2422616876
    10Byron JonesDAL2324615876
    11Rodney McLeodPHI2325614876
    12Dwight LowerySD2323616876
    13Earl ThomasSEA2226515876
    14Tre BostonCAR2324515875
    15Kevin ByardTEN2223616875
    16J.J. WilcoxDAL2322516874
    17Justin SimmonsDEN2221616873
    18Clayton GeathersIND2122616873
    19Duron HarmonNE2322515873
    20Vonn BellNO2121616872
    21Ricardo AllenATL2122516872
    22Andre HalHOU2122615872
    23Reggie NelsonOAK2122516872
    24Kentrell BriceGB2121516871
    25Harrison SmithMIN2122614871
    26Corey GrahamBUF2120516870
    27Robert BlantonBUF2021615870
    28Corey MooreHOU2220515870
    29Ron ParkerKC2021516870
    30Anthony HarrisMIN2022515870
    31Bradley McDougaldTB2223413870
    32T.J. GreenIND1922515869
    33Will BlackmonWAS2122414869
    34Ibraheim CampbellCLE2120415868
    35Tashaun GipsonJAX1619515863

                     

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Rashad Johnson—inactive
    • Lardarius Webb—bye
    • Maurice Alexander—bye
    • Cody Davis—bye
    • Isa Abdul-Quddus—bye
    • Darian Thompson—bye
    • Nat Berhe—bye
    • Mike Mitchell—bye
    • Eric Reid—bye

Strong Safeties

20 of 22

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Bills safety Jonathan Meeks won't be happy with his performance against New England. With regular starter Aaron Williams inactive after suffering an injury in Week 7, Meeks had a chance to impress and earn more reps. But the Bills coaching staff only gave Meeks five of a possible 68 snaps, largely because he was at fault for touchdowns on two of them.

    He gave up an out route to Danny Amendola in the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter. On the next series, Tom Brady connected with Chris Hogan on a 53-yard score. It looked like cornerback Stephon Gilmore was at fault, but he immediately turned and yelled at Meeks as if he was expecting help on the coverage. Meeks didn't see another snap after that. 

    Shawn Williams had an impressive week for the Bengals against a Washington offense stacked with weapons, making a number of plays in coverage that stood out. In the first quarter, he initially bit on a play-action fake, but he managed to recover and sink back to take away a post route to tight end Jordan Reed in the end zone. Later on, he took up a good position in the end zone that gave him the ability to drive on slant routes to either Reed or DeSean Jackson. Kirk Cousins spotted him there and had to throw the ball away.

    Williams also stayed on top of Jackson on a number of play-action passes designed to get the speedy receiver open deep. He maintained discipline, resisting the urge to bite on the run fake and instead played his assignment and read his keys. Washington failed to find Jackson on a deep ball as a result.

    Williams was, however, lucky to get away with some plays against Washington. He was called for unnecessary roughness early in the game after deliberately diving into Jackson, who was clearly down on the ground and had already given himself up. He got away with a late hit on Cousins after coming free on a blitz. Cousins turned to his right and threw a bubble screen quickly off the snap. Williams had clear sight of the throw as he burst through the line of scrimmage. It might have been hard for him to stop his momentum, but he could have made more of an effort to avoid Cousins instead of diving into him and landing a huge late hit. He was fortunate not to get called for a penalty.

    It was a theme that continued throughout the game. Williams played well, but the late hits weren't necessary; they were dumb. He got away with it on more than one occasion, but he could have easily have been called for multiple roughness penalties and allowed Washington a free 15 yards each time.

                       

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamCvgRecSlotTklPosOvr
    1Shawn WilliamsCIN22211614679
    2Calvin PryorNYJ21201616679
    3Adrian PhillipsSD20211616679
    4Tony JeffersonARI19211616678
    5T.J. WardDEN19221516678
    6Daniel SorensenKC20191616677
    7Eric BerryKC19211516677
    8Keanu NealATL20201515676
    9Morgan BurnettGB20211415676
    10Malcolm JenkinsPHI20191615676
    11John CyprienJAX19191615675
    12Harold Jones-QuarteyCHI20191415674
    13Karl JosephOAK19181516674
    14Da'Norris SearcyTEN19181516674
    15Daimion StaffordTEN18191615674
    16Patrick ChungNE19181515673
    17Donte WhitnerWAS20171515673
    18Duke IhenachoWAS18191515673
    19Jayron KearseMIN18191415672
    20Barry ChurchDAL18181515672
    21Kenny VaccaroNO18181416672
    22Derrick KindredCLE16191515671
    23Will ParksDEN17181416671
    24Eddie PleasantHOU17171516671
    25Jaylen WatkinsPHI17181515671
    26Kurt ColemanCAR16181515670
    27Tavon WilsonDET16171615670
    28Kelcie McCraySEA16181415669
    29Mike AdamsIND17161415668
    30Rontez MilesNYJ16171415668
    31Chris ConteTB18151415668
    32Tracy HowardCLE16171315667
    33Rafael BushDET15171415667
    34Miles KillebrewDET15161415666
    35Keith TandyTB14151416665
    36Jonathan MeeksBUF14141315662

                             

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Aaron Williams—inactive
    • Quintin Demps—inactive
    • Andrew Sendejo—inactive
    • Jahleel Addae—inactive
    • Kam Chancellor—inactive
    • Eric Weddle—bye
    • Anthony Levine—bye
    • T.J. McDonald—bye
    • Reshad Jones—bye
    • Landon Collins—bye
    • Robert Golden—bye
    • Sean Davis—bye
    • Antoine Bethea—bye
    • Jaquiski Tartt—bye

Kickers

21 of 22

    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Who is that at the top of the kicker leaderboard in Week 8? New Orleans rookie Wil Lutz had the league's strongest performance, going 4-of-4 on field goals including a 51-yarder and making his only extra-point attempt. Lutz has shown a big leg all year, but this kind of performance goes a long way toward giving him the confidence needed to build the consistency required of NFL kickers.

    After starting the year just 4-of-7 on field goals, he has now made seven of his last eight attempts, and he's 22-of-22 on the year for extra points as well. He appears to be developing well, but beware the often bumpy path that young kickers take on their journey upward. 

    New England's Stephen Gostkowski returns to the top five after back-to-back weeks with missed extra points that raised a number of questions. He showed stronger technique this week but had some balance issues on his last kick of the day, though it still found its way through the uprights. Also bouncing back was Dallas' always-reliable Dan Bailey, who spent just one week outside of the top five and might only have one or two more misses the entire rest of the season.

    On the other end of the spectrum, Cincinnati's Mike Nugent continues to struggle, missing his only field-goal attempt and going just 3-of-4 on extra points. While Gostkowski has the track record to warrant additional patience, Nugent has been a slightly below-average kicker since 2012, and there are free-agent options who could be attractive at low cost to the Bengals. Should Nugent continue to struggle, this could be an easy area for Cincinnati to bolster heading into a potential run at the playoffs.

    Washington's Dustin Hopkins also struggled in back-to-back weeks, with two more misses on field-goal attempts this week after missing one in Week 7--granted, one of those was from 55 yards. Hopkins is likely to bounce back, though the power he is showing on his long kicks is cause for concern, as he has been short on two attempts from 55 and 56 yards this season. Hopkins has a strong leg, so there may be something sapping his power at this point.

         

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamPwrAccTklPosOvr
    1Wil LutzNO33386380
    2Graham GanoCAR33385379
    3Stephen GostkowskiNE33375378
    4Caleb SturgisPHI33365377
    5Dan BaileyDAL32356376
    6Ryan SuccopTEN31365375
    7Brandon McManusDEN32335373
    8Matt BryantATL30345372
    9Cody ParkeyCLE31335372
    10Steven HauschkaSEA31335372
    11Connor BarthCHI30325370
    12Mason CrosbyGB31315370
    13Nick FolkNYJ30325370
    14Nick NovakHOU28325368
    15Jason MyersJAX32285368
    16Blair WalshMIN31295368
    17Chandler CatanzaroARI31285367
    18Adam VinatieriIND30285366
    19Cairo SantosKC30275365
    20Matt PraterDET29255362
    21Dan CarpenterBUF29235360
    22Josh LamboSD31205359
    23Roberto AguayoTB30215359
    24Sebastian JanikowskiOAK27195354
    25Dustin HopkinsWAS27195354
    26Mike NugentCIN28145350

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Greg Zuerlein—bye
    • Andrew Franks—bye
    • Robbie Gould—bye
    • Chris Boswell—bye
    • Phil Dawson—bye
    • Justin Tucker—bye

Punters

22 of 22

    Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colts' Pat McAfee slides into the top spot in the Week 8 punter rankings, largely due to outstanding ball placement. McAfee has been a victim of his own success this year, putting up good numbers but not standing out the way he has in the past. This is the kind of performance we used to see from him nearly every week, and it is possible he is just rounding into form now. He punted seven times in week 8 and averaged 49.6 yards per punt. He is still going to finish the year as a top- 10 punter, but more performances like this could put him in consideration for top-five or top-three placement. 

    Green Bay's Jacob Schum comes in second this week with some massive hang time and distance numbers. Schum has been below average for Green Bay this year as Tim Masthay's replacement, so his Week 8 performance comes as a surprise. He's likely to regress back to the middle of the pack or worse, as nothing in his history suggests he can perform as he did Sunday on a weekly basis.

    Also appearing in the top five this week are Houston's Shane Lechler and Carolina's Andy Lee as well as Denver rookie Riley Dixon. Lechler has heated up in recent weeks after struggling to start the season, and Lee continues to flash top-10 numbers. Dixon, on the other hand, has been all over the place, with a number of bottom-five finishes to go with several top-five performances as well.

    There are a few strange names near the bottom of this week's list, with Tennessee's Brett Kern and Detroit's Sam Martin finding themselves there rather than near the top, where they typically reside. This is likely a short-term stay for both, as they're too talented to linger down there for long, but neither showed much in the way of distance, while their ball placement and hang time were average.

    Minnesota's Jeff Locke ends up as the worst-rated punter of the week because his ball placement was not NFL-caliber. Punters today have to be able to move the ball from sideline to sideline, and while Locke did show average hang time and distance, his directional ability was limited. A short-distance touchback also hurt him on accuracy as well.

                              

    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 8
    RankPlayerTeamDistHangAccTklPosOvr
    1Pat McAfeeIND1615423379
    2Jacob SchumGB1918323375
    3Shane LechlerHOU1916343375
    4Andy LeeCAR1815333372
    5Riley DixonDEN1714353372
    6Bryan AngerTB1418343372
    7Britton ColquittCLE1514353370
    8Dustin ColquittKC1616323370
    9Chris JonesDAL1216353369
    10Thomas MorsteadNO1517293367
    11Ryan QuigleyARI918333366
    12Matt BosherATL1617273366
    13Tress WayWAS1313343366
    14Pat O'DonnellCHI1313323364
    15Kevin HuberCIN1912273364
    16Ryan AllenNE1113343364
    17Marquette KingOAK1513303364
    18Donnie JonesPHI1513303364
    19Brad NortmanJAX1318263363
    20Drew KaserSD1916223363
    21Jon RyanSEA1514263361
    22Brett KernTEN716313360
    23Sam MartinDET1113273357
    24Colton SchmidtBUF1010283354
    25Lachlan EdwardsNYJ1313223354
    26Jeff LockeMIN1513193353

                                

    Notable Omissions/Not Graded This Week

    • Johnny Hekker—bye
    • Matt Darr—bye
    • Brad Wing—bye
    • Jordan Berry—bye
    • Bradley Pinion—bye
    • Sam Koch—bye