A few on the New England Patriots were named in two recent, high-profile list from two of my favorite NFL analysts on the web in ESPN’s Matt Williamson and Khaled Elsayed of The Pro Football Focus. Williams ranked the top 50 players in the league to this point in the season, while Elsayed added another player on his list as Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy snuck in at 51.
Williamson’s ESPN Insider rankings has Tom Brady at second behind only Aaron Rodgers, with superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski in the top 15. Vince Wilfork checks in at 38, and Wes Welker is nestled in ten spots below the star DT in the 48th slot. It is surprising to see that Wilfork is on the list over Sebastian Vollmer, because Wilfork hasn’t been nearly as dominant this season. Meanwhile, Vollmer has been the class of the right tackles in the league this season.
Elsayed did not leave off Vollmer from his list and recognized his prowess in pass protection and run blocking. He wrote, “Is there a better right tackle in football right now? I’d say not.” Elsayed also noted that only Denver Broncos second-year right tackle Orlando Franklin has a better pass blocking efficiency rating than Vollmer this season. Franklin’s improvement from his rookie season has been huge for the Broncos, and they have a top bookend duo in Ryan Clady and Franklin this season.
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the NFL, because he’s a huge mismatch for defenses as a receiver and is as good of blocker as quite a few tackles in this league. PFF gave him some love as well, and they ranked him one spot higher than Williamson did at 13. Tom Brady is, of course, the highest ranked Patriot at 8th on the list. Aaron Rodgers? He’s 11th. Only Matt Ryan is ahead of Brady on the QB list, which is something I disagree with. While Ryan has been better than Rodgers, he is second to Brady this season.
J.J. Watt was first on Elsayed’s list. I was surprised to see that he did not rank Wes Welker, but he also left Reggie Wayne off of his list.
Three players on the Buffalo Bills were ranked in C.J. Spiller (top 25), Jairus Byrd, and Kyle Williams (50). Tough to argue with those three selections, and Spiller definitely needs more carries. He’s been the best running back in the league this year.
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