Every NFL Team's Most Improved Player in 2020

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2020

Every NFL Team's Most Improved Player in 2020

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Player development is the secret sauce of building a championship-caliber roster. 

    A lot of attention is paid to the draft, free agency and the trade market. After all, acquiring the right players is important, but the teams that see major improvement from their talents are the ones that win consistently. 

    Whether by the natural maturation process, finding the right role or a change in scheme, every year across the league there are players who take that next step in their evolution and exceed their previous production. 

    The 2020 season is no different. Despite an offseason unlike any other, there's a player on each team who has made this year his coming-out party. The following players have arrived, and they are on track to post their best season yet as we approach the home stretch.


    Note: Rookies weren't considered for this list because they are still establishing a baseline for what we can expect from them.

Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray

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    It's common for quarterbacks to go through a sophomore slump after a successful rookie season, but 2019 Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray isn't among them. His 2020 campaign has only revealed more of his upside as a franchise quarterback in the desert. 

    Murray's passing has improved in just about every metric you'd like to see. His touchdown percentage is up 2 percent, while his interception rate has stayed about the same. His passer rating has gone from 87.4 to 99.3. 

    The real area of improvement for Murray has been in the way he's unleashed his athleticism. He is eighth in the league with 543 rushing yards in addition to his development as a passer. After being the most-sacked quarterback in the league last season, he's cut way down on those as well. 

    Most importantly, Murray's improved play is improving the Cards' record. They've already matched their 2019 win total with the Oklahoma product at quarterback.

Atlanta Falcons: LB Foyesade Oluokun

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    The Falcons' season hasn't gone as planned, but they have a few players who should be giving fans hope. Chris Lindstrom has made huge strides at guard in his second season. Calvin Ridley has made the leap to a legitimate No. 1 receiver. 

    But that should be expected. Lindstrom has a first-round pedigree and struggled with injuries last season. Ridley showed this kind of potential in spurts, and it's now coming to fruition. The leaps that linebacker Foyesade Oluokun has made have been exponential. 

    The third-year player from Yale was mostly a special teamer in his first two seasons. He played just 30 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019 while taking 66 percent of special teams snaps. This season, he has become a legitimate defensive starter and a strong running mate with Deion Jones in the linebacking unit, playing 71 percent of the defensive snaps. 

    In that time, he has become the 17th-ranked player at his position, per Pro Football Focus. He leads the league in forced fumbles with three and is the leading tackler on the team. That's an incredible leap in production for a sixth-round pick in his third season.

Baltimore Ravens: Edge Tyus Bowser

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    2019 was a breakout year for a lot of Baltimore Ravens. The offense soared with the ascendance of Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown had a huge year, Mark Andrews broke out, and the run game was the most dominant force in the regular season. 

    That makes finding a "most improved" offensive player difficult. Few players have exceeded their excellent campaign that led to a 14-2 record last season. The defense is chock-full of veterans who just happen to be playing as well as they have in the past. 

    So this distinction goes to a player whose role hasn't dramatically increased in 2020 but who has made the most of it. With the addition of Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon's return and the depth the Ravens boast in the front seven, Tyus Bowser only saw 15 percent of the snaps in Week 9 against the Colts and 48 percent of the snaps on the season.

    Yet, his production is on track to increase in every meaningful category. The pass-rusher had at least one quarterback hit in each of the team's first seven games, and while he only has two sacks on the season, he is third on the team in pressures with 10. 

    Last year, he had five sacks but on 14 pressures. He's set to crush that number this season despite the lack of playing time.

Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Allen

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    Josh Allen is systematically answering the critics. If the numbers don't convince you, then outdueling Russell Wilson—who is in the midst of an MVP season—should be the conclusive evidence. 

    Allen is showing he can play with any quarterback on any given week. The seventh pick in the 2018 draft put up over 400 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against Seattle. It was his second game of the season with those numbers. The rest of the league combined has just one of those games. 

    The quarterback has improved just about every rate-based statistic from his 2019 campaign and done so without sacrificing his running production. He's second on the team in rushing yards (241) and leads the team in rushing touchdowns (five). 

    Heading into a contract year in 2021, Allen has done everything he can to prove he's the face of the franchise in Buffalo.

Carolina Panthers: WR Curtis Samuel

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    It was looking like Curtis Samuel was never going to reach his potential in Carolina. He was among the most inefficient receivers in the league in 2019. No receiver with at least 100 targets had a lower catch rate (51.4 percent) or yards per target (6.0). 

    Things didn't look good early this season, either, when he was outpaced for targets by Robby Anderson and DJ Moore and dealing with a knee injury. 

    But Samuel has erased all of that doubt in recent weeks. His catch rate is up 37 percent from last season, and he's scored six touchdowns in the past three games. 

    Mike Davis has made a remarkable jump from journeyman to Christian McCaffrey's productive backup, but Samuel is living up to the potential that has alluded him since the Panthers made him a second-round pick in 2017.

Chicago Bears: LB Roquan Smith

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    Lost in the shuffle of the constant struggles on offense is the fact that the Bears have one of the best defenses in the league. At the heart of that defense is third-year linebacker Roquan Smith. 

    Smith has been good since his rookie season when he tallied 121 total tackles, five sacks and five passes defended. He posted similar numbers in Year 2. However, his 2020 season is trending toward his first All-Pro selection. 

    He anchors a defense that is fourth in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), per Football Outsiders, and has shown the most improvement in coverage. As a rookie, he gave up a passer rating of 95.9 on 82 targets. That number dropped to 75.9 on 58 targets in his second season. This season, he's already been targeted 53 times, but it hasn't been a successful strategy for offenses. His passer rating allowed is down to 63.3. 

    He's increased his playmaking as a run-stuffer as well. He's tied for second in the league in tackles for loss with 12 through nine games.

Cincinnati Bengals: S Jessie Bates III

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    In each of his first two seasons, Jessie Bates III worked out as a fairly average safety for the Bengals. He started all 16 games, posted 100-plus tackles but was, well, average. 

    In 2020, he's been anything but average. 

    Bates is PFF's top-graded safety in coverage and top safety overall. That's up from 64th overall in 2019 and 12th as a rookie in 2018. Bates III is still shaky as a tackler at times (seven missed tackles so far), but he has been an absolute lockdown presence in coverage.

    Here's what quarterbacks have done when targeting Bates: 9-of-23 (39.1 percent), 83 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions and a comically low passer rating of 13.5.

    Bates had 16 passes defended in his first two seasons combined. This season, he's already set a career high with 10 and is on pace to hit 20. That, of course, will be dependent on whether quarterbacks are willing to test him. They shouldn't be.

Cleveland Browns: G Wyatt Teller

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    The Browns did a lot to address the offensive line and blocking up front this offseason. They drafted Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th pick in the draft and signed Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper to big deals in free agency. 

    With solid years from center JC Tretter and Joel Bitonio, the only question mark up front that wasn't addressed was right guard. The Browns made the decision to roll with Wyatt Teller despite other options in free agency that would've made more sense on paper. 

    As it turns out, Teller has been one of the greatest strengths on the roster. One of the biggest beneficiaries of Kevin Stefanski's run-heavy approach, Teller has posted the highest PFF grade among guards in the five games that he has played this season. 

    The Browns have missed Nick Chubb since he went down with a knee injury, but Teller's subsequent absence with a calf injury has also slowed the team's rushing attack. Both returned to the lineup this week, and the Browns once again reaped the rewards compiling 231 yards on the ground in a win over the Texans. 

Dallas Cowboys: G Connor Williams

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    Connor Williams isn't the most popular man in Dallas right now. That's to be expected after giving up the game-sealing sack to Cam Heyward against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    But one play shouldn't overshadow the strides Williams has made this season. The third-year guard has offered a steady hand on the offensive line as the only player who has played all but one snap this season. 

    According to PFF, that is only the second sack Williams has surrendered this season, and he's ranked 18th overall among guards. His grade is nine points higher than his 2019 grade and 9.9 better than his 2018 rookie campaign. 

    It might not have shown up in one of the biggest moments of the season, but Williams has been the lone healthy lineman who is consistently giving the Cowboys average-to-above-average play this season.

Denver Broncos: OT Garett Bolles

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    Last season, the mere mention of Garett Bolles could have elicited a guttural reaction from fans. He was the league's second-most-penalized tackle and routinely gave up sacks when he wasn't busy holding on for dear life against opposing edge-rushers. 

    Bolles turned a corner at the end of 2019, though. According to PFF, he only surrendered six pressures over 351 snaps in the final five weeks of the season. 

    He's carried that momentum over to a phenomenal 2020. The fourth-year player is now the third-highest-graded tackle by PFF's metrics, which includes the second-highest run-blocking grade and sixth-highest passing-blocking grade. 

    The Broncos still have a lot of roster questions based on their season so far, but left tackle shouldn't be one of them. Bolles' breakout performance can give them confidence they've found the solution at a critical position as they develop a talented group of skill-position players.

Detroit Lions: TE T.J. Hockenson

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    Edge-defender Romeo Okwara was a consideration here, but he's really just playing a tick above his strong 2018 campaign, so he's more of a rebound candidate than the most improved. That distinction belongs to T.J. Hockenson, who is making all the strides you'd hope to see from a sophomore tight end. 

    The Iowa product is looking the part of an elite receiving option at the position. He has been Matthew Stafford's most targeted player in 2020 and has responded by leading the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns while battling with Danny Amendola for the lead in yards. 

    Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been pleased with what Hockenson brings as a run-blocker as well. 

    "I appreciate what he's doing in the run game, he's improving there each and every time we go out and then these last couple weeks in particular, you can see him doing a great job of running routes, gaining some great separation and giving us opportunities to give him the ball," Bevell said, per Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. 

    Hockenson is on track to prove worthy of the top-10 selection the Lions used on him in 2019.

Green Bay Packers: TE Robert Tonyan

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    Three years ago, Robert Tonyan was getting cut by the Detroit Lions. Fast-forward to now, and he's the most reliable target not named Davante Adams on a Packers team that is looking like a serious contender. 

    There have been games—like Week 9's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers—in which Tonyan hasn't been involved in the game plan. But when he's had his number called, he's been plenty reliable. He has caught 24 of his 28 targets and led the team in receiving with 98 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons with Adams out of the lineup. 

    That's an impressive leap for a player who came up through the practice squad and only saw 193 snaps last season. He should continue to play an integral role in the offense despite the lackluster game against the Niners. He only saw one target in that game, but fellow tight ends Jace Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis also saw just one target apiece as well. 

    Tonyan has established himself as the best tight end on the roster this year. 

Houston Texans: LB Tyrell Adams

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans' season has largely been a disaster, but linebacker Tyrell Adams has been a bright spot. 

    Through his first four seasons, Adams had 34 tackles as a part-time special teamer with the Las Vegas Raiders and Texans. In his first four games since taking over an inside linebacker spot for the injured Benardrick McKinney, he has 44 total stops.

    You can make a case that Will Fuller has made strides. But he's always shown WR1 potential if he could stay healthy and has taken advantage of DeAndre Hopkins' departure. 

    Adams has come on in a big way, even earning props from J.J. Watt. The All-Pro defensive end has been impressed with his energy and willingness to fly around the field. Not bad for a player who made next to no impact in his first four years.

Indianapolis Colts: TE Mo Alie-Cox

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The Colts have been known for their stingy defense in 2020. And there are players who are having great seasons on that unit, but they have mostly just played up to the ability they've shown in past years. 

    The offense, on the other hand, hasn't seen many players experiencing a breakthrough season except for Mo Alie-Cox. Nyheim Hines put on a great Thursday Night Football performance, but prior to that he'd been quiet. During training camp, head coach Frank Reich said Alie-Cox's route-running was much improved and "he's just getting started."

    As it turns out, that wasn't just coach-speak. Alie-Cox has come up with big plays when the Colts have asked him to do so. He's caught 17 of his 21 targets and leads the team in yards per target (13.0) among all players with at least 20. 

    When Alie-Cox came into the league in 2018, he hadn't played organized football since his freshman year of high school. It makes sense the former VCU basketball player is just scratching the surface of his potential in 2020.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Myles Jack

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    It's unfortunate the Jaguars are mired in a season that appears to be an obvious tank job, because Myles Jack is finally living up to the tantalizing potential draftniks saw in him coming out of UCLA. 

    Jack is PFF's No. 1-rated linebacker, which includes the fourth-highest mark as a run-defender and third-highest in coverage. That's 13 spots higher than his previous best finish in 2017 and a huge turnaround from being ranked 79th in 2019. 

    The fifth-year 'backer has been especially effective in coverage. He's holding opposing passers to a rating of 53.2 when they throw his way and has three pass deflections and an interception. 

    Perhaps most importantly, Jack is a much better tackler this season. After missing 10 percent or more of his tackles in each of his last two seasons, he has only missed three this season. The Jaguars are going to either have to shell out some cash to retain his services or Jack is going to be one of the biggest defensive names on the free-agent market if he continues to play this well.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Mecole Hardman

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    Mecole Hardman was a bit of a one-trick pony in his rookie season with the Chiefs. The speedster would essentially just run go routes down the sideline or flares to the flats as Andy Reid wanted to take shots with him over the top. 

    In 2020, he's run a more advanced route tree and has seen an uptick in production because of it. 

    A look at his Week 8 route chart from Next Gen Stats reveals a player who is being used to attack all areas of the field as a receiver rather than just a "speed guy." The result was a seven-catch, 96-yard performance with a touchdown against the New York Jets. 

    On the season, he's already just one catch away from matching his total. His per-catch stats aren't as gaudy as they were last season, but he's proving to be a reliable target capable of big plays. The Chiefs would be wise to give him more time over Demarcus Robinson at this point.

Las Vegas Raiders: WR Nelson Agholor

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    Nelson Agholor has gone from the guy who was roasted by a local hero in Philadelphia to the most efficient big-play receiver on a roster that includes Henry Ruggs III. 

    He only has 17 catches on the season, but he's on pace to set a career-high in touchdowns (10), yards per target (13.9) and catch rate (68 percent). That's in addition to leading the league in yards per catch (20.4). 

    Agholor's famous struggles with drops last season saw his exit from Philadelphia. But he's only been charged with two so far this season. 

    Even Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson admitted Agholor has "risen above" what they thought he could be for them. His improvement has been needed, too. Zay Jones' breakout season hasn't materialized, Lynn Bowden Jr. was traded, and Bryan Edwards has dealt with injuries and a rookie learning curve.

Los Angeles Chargers: DT Jerry Tillery

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Sam Tevi has a case here for going from a health hazard for Philip Rivers last season to a serviceable NFL tackle. But instead of highlighting a case of below average to average, we'll go with Jerry Tillery, who has gone from a rotational piece as a rookie to a player flashing top-10 potential at his position. 

    Tillery isn't piling up sacks or anything yet, but he's getting close. According to ESPN Analytics, he's sixth in the league in pass-rush win rate (which measures how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds) among defensive tackles. 

    Last season, he posted two sacks, but his three pressures were a better indication of his impact. This season, he has already quadrupled the pressures, and more sacks are sure to come. His explosiveness off the line has allowed him to shift to the outside at times as well. 

    He's developing into a piece who should be a cornerstone of the front seven.

Los Angeles Rams: CB Darious Williams

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Playing opposite Jalen Ramsey isn't an easy task. The brash corner is the kind of talent teams scheme around and look to pick on "the other guy" when they can. 

    The undrafted Darious Williams has made that a difficult strategy to employ against Los Angeles. After playing just 221 snaps in his second year in the league in 2019, he has been on the field for 85 percent of snaps in 2020, giving up a completion on only 54.8 percent of passes thrown his way. 

    With Ramsey playing at an elite level right now as well, the Rams have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. The handsomely paid Ramsey isn't a surprise at all, but the fact that the Rams are getting this kind of play out of an undrafted 5'9" corner who was cut by the Ravens in 2018 is one of the best rags-to-riches stories in the league.

Miami Dolphins: Edge Emmanuel Ogbah

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    Myles Gaskin has made a leap in his sophomore campaign. Bobby McCain has elevated himself at safety. But Emmanuel Ogbah has transformed into a legitimate problem in half a season in Brian Flores' defense. 

    The former Browns and Chiefs defender has always been solid against the run but was an ancillary component to the pass rush at his previous stops. Under Flores, he has been the most productive rusher by far, leading the team with seven sacks and 20 pressures

    That's already a career high for sacks and just six pressures shy of the 26 he posted in his final season with Cleveland. Add in three forced fumbles with two that went for touchdowns and Ogbah has gone from underrated free-agent pickup to one-man wrecking crew this season.

Minnesota Vikings: OT Brian O'Neill

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    The good news for the Vikings is there are multiple contenders for this honor on the offensive line. Center Garrett Bradbury is ranked inside the top 10 at his position by PFF in his second year, and Irv Smith Jr. has shown signs of taking over the role of top tight end on the roster. 

    Brian O'Neill gets the nod here, though, because of the role he's played in the run game. Dalvin Cook should be an MVP candidate given his impact on the team, but the Vikings run game has been aided by the success of O'Neill as a run-blocker. 

    ESPN Analytics credits him with the fourth-highest run-block win rate among tackles. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Vikings have the highest success rate on run plays behind the right guard and right tackle. 

    O'Neill was solid in his second year last season, but he's become an elite run-blocker this season on a team whose only hope is to have a dominant rushing attack.

New England Patriots: RB Damien Harris

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    It would've been easy to write off Damien Harris after his rookie season. Running back is typically a position where rookies can contribute right away, and for whatever reason, the Alabama product was left out of the Patriots rotation for almost all of 2019. 

    Harris only played in two games and registered four carries as a rookie. This season, he's been one of the few bright spots on a disappointing offense. 

    He's proved to be the team's best pure runner at the position and leads the Pats in rushing despite playing in five games. He's also sixth in the league among running backs in yards per carry (5.6). 

    Harris has shown the ability to be a tough between-the-tackles runner, which is something the Patriots have lacked without him. After he was such a non-factor last season, he's become a viable weapon in an offense that has desperately needed them.

New Orleans Saints: Edge Trey Hendrickson

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    A quick glance at the sack leaders in 2020 is cause for a double take that could give you whiplash. Sure, Aaron Donald (nine) and Myles Garrett (nine) are no surprise. But Hendrickson sits at No. 3 on that leaderboard with 7.5. 

    Hendrickson wouldn't have even been the odds-on favorite to make an appearance on that list from his own team. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport topped him last season, and he was only half a sack ahead of linebacker Demario Davis. 

    This season, Hendrickson has become a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Head coach Sean Payton credits Hendrickson's work ethic in the offseason for the uptick in production. 

    "I'm super excited about the season he's having," Payton said, per Larry Holder of The Athletic. "He's worked his tail off. He's one of those guys who grinds in the offseason. He's got himself right at the weight he's best playing at. He's been a handful."

    His rise has certainly salved the wounds of missing out on Jadeveon Clowney this offseason.

New York Giants: DT Leonard Williams

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    On a team with few strengths, the defensive line has undoubtedly been a positive for the New York Giants. The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams all carry top-20 grades for their respective positions, according to PFF. 

    It shouldn't come as a surprise, as all three have shown the potential to perform at that level, but Williams' improvement as a pass-rusher earns him a spot here.  

    Williams is only two sacks away from the career-high seven he set in his Pro Bowl season in 2016. He's also on pace to set new career highs in tackles for loss and has been dominant against the run. 

    Given Williams' Pro Bowl resume, he's a little more established than most on this list, but after posting half a sack in eight games with the Giants last season, he qualifies.

New York Jets: DT Quinnen Williams

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Quinnen Williams was at the center of a lot of trade talk, but the Jets probably made the right decision in holding on to the third overall selection in the 2019 draft. 

    Williams struggled to adjust to the physicality of the league in his rookie season. He made 13 appearances but had just 2.5 sacks, 28 tackles and four for loss. This season, he's already surpassed all of those numbers, and there's reason to believe the best is yet to come. 

    He's fourth in pass-rush win rate (14 percent) and second in the league in run-stop win rate (46 percent), per ESPN Analytics.  

    There hasn't been a lot of hope for the Jets this season besides the potential promise of Trevor Lawrence, but Williams' trending toward materializing as a top-five pick in the draft after a middling rookie season is a positive.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Travis Fulgham

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    The Eagles have needed help at wide receiver for a while now, and there were a few reasons to believe the position might improve in 2020. The emergence of Travis Fulgham was not one of them. 

    Fulgham did nothing in his rookie season with the Detroit Lions and was an afterthought when joining the Eagles this offseason. But the sophomore from Old Dominion has been one of the few targets Carson Wentz could count on this season. 

    Through Week 9, only A.J. Brown graded higher than Fulgham among second-year wide receivers. That puts him ahead of names like DK Metcalf and Terry McLaurin. 

    Wentz, whose passer rating is 73.2 this season, has a rating of 128.5 when targeting Fulgham. He's the only wide receiver on the roster to post a number of at least 100.

Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Tyson Alualu

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    At 33 years old, Tyson Alualu is the oldest inclusion on this list by a comfortable margin, but the Steelers' decision to move him to nose tackle has brought out a level of play he hasn't shown in his 11-year career. 

    Looking back on the Hawaiian's PFF grades throughout his career, you'll see a middling defender who rarely cracked 70 (average). This season, the only defenders who had higher grades at the time of his knee injury entering Week 8 were T.J. Watt, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. 

    The two games Alualu has missed might be the best indication of how much he means to the Steelers defense. Devin Bush's injury has played a role as well, but in those two games, the Steelers gave up 409 yards on the ground at 5.2 yards per carry. 

    That's only four fewer yards than they gave up in six games with Alualu taking up space in the middle. The Steelers' penchant for finding ways to maximize their talent on defense continues with the veteran defensive tackle. 

San Francisco 49ers: CB Jason Verrett

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    Scot Tucker/Associated Press

    Six years after the Chargers selected him in the first round, Jason Verrett is finally making good on his potential. 

    Injuries have been the bane of Verrett's promising career. Before this year, he had played just 26 games in five seasons. The last time he played more than four games was in 2015. 

    Now that he's healthy, he's among the top cornerbacks in the league. He's PFF's fourth-highest graded cornerback, giving up just 26 yards a game, and showcased his ball-hawking ability with a crucial interception in a win over the Rams. 

    Fred Warner has made huge strides in his third season at linebacker, but Verrett's career resurrection is one of the best stories in the league this season.

Seattle Seahawks: WR DK Metcalf

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    DK Metcalf showed all the signs that he could be a top-five receiver in his 2019 rookie campaign. He's just made that reality as soon as possible with his monstrous 2020 season. 

    Going into Week 10, Metcalf was second in the league in receiving yards despite playing one fewer game than leader Stefon Diggs and fellow top-four players Travis Kelce and Robby Anderson. On a yards-per-game basis, only Davante Adams has been more productive than the hulking wideout. 

    Metcalf's maturation has been a big part of Russell Wilson's MVP-caliber season. His route charts from Next Gen Stats show a receiver who is attacking all areas of the field and giving his quarterback a dynamic threat on every play. 

    Despite increased volume, Metcalf is becoming more efficient. His catch rate and yards per target have both gone up, and with eight scores, he's already surpassed his touchdown total from last season (seven).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Scotty Miller

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    On a roster with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and now Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller is second on the team in receiving. Just like we all predicted. 

    No one has benefitted more from the Tom Brady effect in Tampa Bay than Miller, who was an afterthought in the Jameis Winston-led version of this offense last season. As a rookie, he had just 13 receptions on 26 targets and one touchdown to show for it. 

    This season, he's one of Brady's most reliable options, increasing his catch rate by more than 10 percent while still seeing an average depth of target over 16 yards. Brady is sporting a passer rating of 112.9 when targeting the second-year receiver. 

    He's certainly taken advantage and grown within his role in a star-studded offense.

Tennessee Titans: DT Jeffery Simmons

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith have emerged as targets for 2019 Most Improved Player Ryan Tannehill. But Jeffery Simmons has gone from decent rookie to one of the most dominant players at his position within a year. 

    Simmons missed the first half of his first campaign with a torn ACL but came back and would be best described as "solid" in the latter half of the season and postseason. 

    Starting his second season with a clean bill of health, Simmons is a wrecking ball along the defensive line for the Titans. According to ESPN Analytics, he's the only defensive tackle in the league with a run-stop win rate over 50 percent. He leads the second-best defensive tackle (Quinnen Williams) by 5 percent. 

    Simmons has shown some ability to get after the quarterback, too. He already has 11 pressures after posting just five in nine regular-season games last year.

Washington Football Team: OT Morgan Moses

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    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Morgan Moses was the NFL's most-penalized player in 2018 (14) and followed it up with another penalty-plagued season in 2019 (nine). The constant penalties only compounded in both the run and pass game as he compiled 24 blown blocks in 2018, according to Sports Info Solutions

    The veteran tackle has completely turned those numbers upside down this season. He's emerged as a leader on a team that needs guidance and backed it up by cleaning up his play. 

    He has just three penalties on the season—one for holding, one was a false start, and the other was declined. He's provided consistent protection whether it was Dwayne Haskins Jr., Kyle Allen or Alex Smith under center. In 2020, he's blown just six blocks.


    Stats are current through Week 9.


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