Monday, July 3, 2017

Official 2017 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2016 Season) - #70-61

It’s time for another installment! Welcome to the r/NFL Top 100 Countdown!

Today we bring you Part III of our series, revealing players 70-61 as voted on by our rankers, as well as the Ranking Predictor (if you guys can’t help me with a better name, we’re going to be stuck with this) for the players ranked 80-71.

Have you missed any of the previous days? CLICK HERE FOR THE RANKINGS HUB!

Did you want to browse the galleries of the previously ranked players? Click here for 100-91, click here for 90-81, and click here for 80-71!

Now, for the Ranking Predictor for the players ranked 81-90 on Wednesday:

#80 - Jordan Hicks, 4-3 MLB, Philadelphia Eagles 42.03% 36.23% 21.74%
#79 - Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals 69.57% 26.09% 4.35%
#78 - Whitney Mercilus, 3-4 OLB, Houston Texans 39.13% 31.88% 28.99%
#77 - Cameron Wake, 4-3 DE, Miami Dolphins 11.59% 26.09% 62.32%
#76 - Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks 76.81% 17.39% 5.80%
#75 - A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals 88.41% 10.14% 1.45%
#74 - Richie Incognito, Guard, Buffalo Bills 4.35% 43.48% 52.17%
#73 - Ramon Foster, Guard, Pittsburgh Steelers 1.45% 52.17% 46.38%
#72 - Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins 40.58% 28.99% 30.43%
#71 - DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans 23.19% 30.43% 46.38%

Before we start, we have two things we always want to address with you guys:

1- As always, these rankings are based 100% on the 2016 season, so all players are listed with their 2016 teams. We know they’ve changed teams. Trust me. We didn’t go through all this work just to forget something that simple. 2- If you think you can generate a better list be the first SECOND person in 3 years to take up our offer to fill out your own Top 100 rankings here at the same form our rankers used. One person has finally done it, and their list is not half bad!

So who’s ready to party? Let’s get started on Part IV of the Top 100 Players (of the 2016 Season). Players ranked #70-61!

#70 - Tony Jefferson - SS - Arizona Cardinals - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Tony Jefferson’s stats here!

Written by /u/Evilan *

When he went undrafted out of Oklahoma in the 2013 NFL Draft, no one except maybe the most die hard Sooner fans thought this undersized safety would amount to much. However, for 3 years he worked at improving his game to become one of the best run stopping safeties in the league and in 2016 he put it all together.

At 5’11” and 212lbs you wouldn’t think he’d the be guy called on to crash down on running backs who think they’ve found a lane or rush the passer through gaps in the o-line, but Tony is special. He brings a blend of instinctive football play and an unstoppable tenacity to perform like many of the undersized players who came before him.

One of my favorite plays of his this season came in week 1 against the Patriots. Tony is lined up off the TE Bennett and is looking to blitz Jimmy G. If this were a pass play Blount would be called on to get a block on Jefferson and if this were a run play it should be Bennett getting a quick move on him. However, amazingly no is assigned to him or a mistake was made in blocking so he can come free. Then in a split-second decision Tony is able to realize he needs to switch up his attack to take down Blount as the run is going to his side and he quickly takes him down for a huge net loss with a low tackle. If Tony had missed this tackle or been late on his rush Blount likely would’ve gotten up field for a nice gain.

While this year Jefferson wasn’t rewarded for his fantastic season with football accolades, he is finally getting paid what he is worth in Baltimore. From undrafted free agent making league minimum in 2013 to 4 years and $34million on his third contract, Tony is making waves. He will continue to show the league why they made a huge mistake not drafting him all those years ago and will hopefully be adding some awards to his wall.

#69 - Marcus Peters - CB - Kansas City Chiefs - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Marcus Peters’ stats here!

Written by /u/yji

Marcus Peters is a ball hawk, plain and simple. His 2016 season was phenomenal, nabbing 6 INTs and breaking up another 20 passes, both statistics near the top of the NFL. When it comes to getting his hands on the ball, very few are better.

One of Peters' best attributes and the reason that he's such an elite player is his ability to process what's going on in front of him. To be the kind of ballhawk he is, you need to be able to think fast, and react faster. Some of that is film study and football IQ, but a lot of it is God-given instincts. When you watch his tape, you'll frequently see him read plays and come flying down to break it up. Often times this will result in a pick as he sees the play develop and jumps the route, like in this play against the Chargers. This takes a tremendous amount of confidence, since it can be the difference between a turnover and a TD if he's wrong. Against DeAndre Hopkins he showed this same sense of confidence against one of the NFL's best. On this play, he started closing on the spot that the ball would be before Hopkins even made his break. That's just tremendous ability to read, remember and react. Even when Peters can't make a play on the ball, he'll deliver a fierce hit to end the play for a minimal gain and keep the receiver shaken and bracing for the next hit.

Peters doesn't just only create turnovers and make plays through the air though. He's an aggressive player, and aggressive players will try to create plays for their team in all aspects of the game. Take the Panthers game for instance. In the 4th quarter, tied 17-17 with 20 seconds left, Cam Newton throws a first down to Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin refuses to go down, and that's when Peters strikes. He rips the ball out and starts racing the other way. This play won his team the game, putting them in position to make a game winning field goal. Peters does this on nearly every single play. He always goes for the big play. If not the INT, than the strip, from the first play to the last. It pays off big for the Chiefs here.

Now, all this isn't to say he's just a big play machine and he can't "shut guys down" on a play to play basis. He's very sticky in man coverage and will shadow you throughout the entire route. On this play in the slot on Julio Jones, you'd think Julio and Peters were Siamese twins. They're practically glued at the hip. When Julio makes the break on his comeback route, Peters is right there to make the play on the ball, and almost get an interception in the process. He had numerous plays like this all year, showing that he can shut you down AND make the play needed for the team.

Marcus Peters is one of the league's best, and he'll only continue to get better heading into his third season with the Chiefs. He has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.

#68 - Jack Conklin - Tackle - Tennessee Titans - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Jack Conklin’s stats here!

Written by /u/broccolibush42

Jack Conklin was the 8th pick in the 2016 draft, and the second tackle chosen overall. He was by far the best Tackle in the draft taken, and was named All Pro in his very first year in the NFL. Quite an accomplishment for a player analysts say we reached for after trading up to the 18 spot when the "best tackle prospect, Laremy Tunsil (nothing against the guy anyways, he will be a stud)" was still on the board. Jack made immediate dividends in our run game and our pass protection. In the Run Game, we went from 25th in 2015, to 3rd in 2016. In pass protection, the Titans allowed to the league worst 54 sacks in 2015, thereon improving to 7th with the Cowboys and Bears by only allowing 28.

Believe me when you say it, you will think Conklin is the greatest being to exist after watching the revolving door that was Jeremiah Poutasi in 2015. Jack was a better run blocker than a pass blocker, but he held his own against the AFC West pass rush teams where among all 4 teams in that division, Jack Conklin and the O Line only allowed Mariota to be sacked one time out of those contests. And no, Von Miller or Khalil Mack were not the ones to register the sack. Jack will only get better next year, in both pass protection and run blocking. So, if you made it this far reading this writeup, and you are not a Titans fan, then I commend you and hope we have a great discussion of where is true placement on this list is.

#67 - Olivier - 4-3 DE - New York Giants - Previous Rank: 63

Check out Olivier Verson’s stats here!

Written by /u/maad-dog

When Olivier Vernon became the highest paid 4-3 DE in the NFL, and now the second highest paid edge rusher behind only Von Miller, there was a lot of talk about how he wasn't worth the money, he was paid off a great contract year, he might bust, and wasn't that great of a player. Wrong.

The only 4-3 DE with more tackles was Khalil Mack. The only defensive player with more hurries was Brandon Graham. 6th in run stop percentage (with at least 200 run snaps) and 7th in pass rushing productivity (via PFF) among 4-3 DEs. His consistency in these rankings is incredible, and it gets even more impressive when you realize he played the highest percentage of defensive snaps among every single defensive lineman and edge rusher in the league. Playing above 93% of the time, and being that high (for run stop percentage and pass rush productivity which are both efficiency stats) is insane.

At his usage rate, and incredible well-roundedness, there is absolutely 0 doubt that he's an elite 4-3 DE and has earned a solid spot on this list.

#66 - David Bakhtiari - Tackle - Green Bay Packers - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out David Bakhtiari’s stats here!

Written by /u/skepticismissurvival

Of the NFL's elite tackles, David Bakhtiari is the least discussed. He doesn't have the elite pedigree of Tyron Smith and Trent Williams, and hasn't had the opportunity to build up the resume of Joe Thomas, Andrew Whitworth, or Jason Peters. However, his pass protection chops surpass all of these big names.

Bakhtiari is the single best blindside protector in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is a phenomenal quarterback, but he's almost equally difficult to block for because he holds on to the ball for a very long time (3rd highest average time to throw in the NFL in 2017, behind only Tyrod Taylor and Robert Griffin III. This presents difficulties not only because Bakhtiari has to pass protect for longer, but it also means that he has to account for Rodgers' movement behind him to protect the QB. It's hard enough to protect a QB's landmark, but it's even harder when that landmark moves and you can't see it because it's behind you. Fortunately for Rodgers, Bakhtiari excels at extended pass reps.

Bakhtiari is a master technician at the LT position, and it starts with an unorthodox stance reminiscent of another player on this list. Bakhtiari is able to leverage that unusual stance into an incredible jump off the snap that limits a defender's ability to get around the edge on him. He's an intelligent blocker who is able to anticipate and shut down strong counter moves from defenders. Finally, he's great with his hand and understands how to win the leverage battle to anchor against bull rushes.

Unlike some other players in this group of 10, Bakhtiari does his work on an island. He's no slouch in the run game, but it isn't his strong suit. That's alright, because when you protect the QB like Bakhtiari does, people don't even think about how you block the run.

2017 will bring a new challenge for Bakhtiari, as the Packers have lost their two All-Pro caliber OGs in the past two offseasons. He and Bryan Bulaga will be tasked with anchoring an offensive line built to protect the most important player in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. For a further breakdown of Bahktiari's dominance in pass protection, check out Brandon Thorn and Jon Ledyard explaining it better than I ever could.

#65 - Tyron Smith - Tackle - Dallas Cowboys - Previous Rank: 14

Check out Tyron Smith’s stats here!

Written by u/mister_jay_peg

Before I start this write up, I would like to apologize to everyone reading. Something really screwed up happened with this year’s Top 100, and as the person in charge of this whole project, I believe it is my duty to take full and total responsibility for it.


I thought I screwed up the master list at first, but everyone’s rankings were included, and the spreadsheet formulas were right for the outliers and I went through the lists one by one to see if maybe someone just forgot to rank him, but nope. Here he is, number sixty-five.

Now I know most people aren’t really enamored with watching linemen play. Offensive line is not a sexy position, it’s not flashy. And unless you don’t know what you’re looking it, good offensive line play looks a lot like great offensive line play, so the view is blurred. And while PFF may have had a poor rating of Tyron Smith, I’m here to tell you that PFF in this case has it wroooooooong. And I think that has something to do with this, so I want to edu-ma-cate some of you on why Tyron Smith is a god damn Terminator wearing a Cowboys uniform.

If you have some time, I want to point you to an article that was published at about Smith’s “Snatch and Trap”. Brandon Thorn really does a great breakdown of the technique and why Smith is so effective using it. If you don’t have the time, take a look at this video here (from the same article) shows you why it is so effective.

You also have to understand that Tyron Smith is a god damn technician in every aspect of the game. This play against Green Bay shows how well he can disguise a play’s intent with his technique. It’s a split second, but when he comes off the snap, even I think he’s pass blocking, and so does Clay Matthews, who rushes too far up field to attack the QB before he realizes he’s been duped and Elliot is now 2 yars behind him.

Want to know what it feel like to be human prey? Be a defender against Tyron Smith on an extended pass play. He knows where you are, and he knows where you’re going. Even if you don’t want to go there. Now watch that gif again. Watch the first half again. Did you see that? Watch it one more time. How many arms did he use on that initial punch? One. He knocked Terrell Suggs off his line and off balance with his left arm because he is both freakishly strong, and has supremely good technique.

If I do one thing for this list next year, it will be to make sure that a healthy Tyron Smith is back at his rightful place in the Top 10-15 players on this list.

#64 - Damon “Snacks” Harrison - 4-3 DT - New York Giants - Previous Rank: 62

Check out Damon Harrison’s stats here!

Written by /u/maad-dog

Damon Harrison is arguably the best player at one of the least recognized positions, nose tackle. He's also arguably the singular best run defender in the entire NFL. As a guy who always eats up space, takes the double teams, but still makes plays, it's hard to quantify the impact that he has, but I'm going to try.

He led all defensive linemen in tackles with 86, with second place coming to the other arguably best nose tackle Linval Joseph at 77.

His defensive run stop percentage was 15.8%. The next closest among all defensive tackles was Michael Pierce at 12.5%, among all defensive linemen it was Danielle Hunter at 13.1%. The next closest defensive tackle (and lineman) that had at least 300 run snaps was Brandon Williams with 9.9%. Even amongst LBs, the highest run stop percentage was 14.1% by Korey Toomer, and with at least 300 snaps, Orr led the group with 10.6%. In other words, unquestionably better than everyone else in the league. PFF agrees that he's the best run defender and here's a graph showing some of his last seasons as well to make it easier

Want to see it for yourself? Here's a great example of how he can shed a center and run stop with one hand

But he's not just a good run defender himself, he elevates the team around him. Because he's the main reason the Giants run defense went from 21st in DVOA last year to 3rd this year. He's the main reason the Giants run defense went from allowing 121.4 rushing yards per game (24th in the league) to 87.8 (2nd in the league).

At the end of the day, this is without a doubt, the best run stopper in the NFL and a veritable monster.

#63 - Vic Beasley - 4-3 OLB - Atlanta Falcons - Previous Rank: NR

Check out Vic Beasley’s stats here!

Written by /u/Felix_Tholomyes

Vic Beasley's 2015 rookie season did not live up to the high expectations following his #8 overall draft selection. He would struggle to generate any pressure and was largely a non-factor. This all changed in 2016 as Beasley wreaked devastating havoc on opposing offenses with his blazing speed off the edge. He finished the season as the league leader in sacks and forced fumbles.

Perhaps the key to Beasley’s high production in 2016 was his ability to mercilessly punish teams with inexperienced and/or back-up OT's. His relentless speed rush is simply too much for some tackles to handle for an entire game, and Beasley knows when it's time to step on their throats and start racking up the sacks. This was particularly evident in the games against the Rams (3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 TD) and the Broncos (3.5 sacks, 2 FF).

Beasley is listed as an OLB in the Falcons' 4-3 defense but has his primary role as the LEO end in the nickel sub-package. Dan Quinn loves to rotate different personnel groups in and out of the DL depending on the down. Over the course of the season however, Beasley was used more and more on run downs as well. Both as a defensive end and as a SAM linebacker (with him even dropping into coverage occasionally). Beasley will likely continue to develop into a three-down defender with his versatile skillset, but his true strength will always be the pass rush.

As the reigning league sack leader, Beasley will have to look forward to teams planning a lot more to stop him in particular. Luckily, he will be joined by some by some new friends on the Falcons' defensive line as free agent Dontari Poe and rookie Takkarist McKinley come to Atlanta. This, along with his talented former Clemson teammate Grady Jarrett, means that the Falcons will be fielding one of the youngest and most talented defensive lines in the league. The future's looking bright for Atlanta fans who enjoy watching defensive football.

#62 - Jordan Howard - RB - Chicago Bears - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Jordan Howard’s stats here!

Written by /u/super_nerd92

Jordan Howard started just 13 games, but put up the 2nd most rushing yards in the entire league, behind only fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot. Unlike Elliott (5), he fumbled just once. Per PFF, he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 3.0 yards per carry after contact, and broke 40 tackles in 252 attempts. And when you add his receiving yards, he averaged 124 total yards per game over those 13 games.

Howard passes the "eye test" with flying colors, too. He's plenty fast, and the Bears fans I spoke to for this summary praised his vision and patience when hitting holes. Check out this breakdown from /u/Barian_Fostate that goes deeper into how Howard looked this season.

All this on an offense devoid of talent and with teams stacking the box against a series of ineffectual QBs. Not bad for a 5th round draft pick. I'm no Bears fan, but one of the things I felt most strongly about is that Jordan Howard deserves a spot on the Top 100 list this season.

#61 - ????? - ????? - Previous Rank: ?????

[Check out ?????’s stats here!](?????)

Written by ?????

Huh… What’s going on here… Why won’t it load a Player #61…

Lemme look here… Okay… Well..

Huh. We have no #61 today because we have a tie at #60! So I’m going to give you all the rest of the day off to celebrate the 4th of July tomorrow (sorry non-Yanks, it’s fireworks day!)

Now that the players are known, it’s time to tell us if you think they’ll be ranked higher, lower or about the same on next year’s list.

Go here and submit your answers! (Yes, you need to be signed in. But this is only so people don’t vote twice. We will never collect or store your information!)

If you can’t see the link to today’s poll you can click here:

Here is a link to the spreadsheet for each ranker’s 100-91, 90-81, 80-71 and 70-6162:

And if you want to see the gallery for today’s player cards, click here:

And that is today’s list! Tell us what you think by saying more than we suck in the comments below!

Coming THURSDAY - Players Ranked 60-51!

Submitted July 03, 2017 at 12:01PM by NFL_Top100
via reddit

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