UA-59049186-1 Top 100 NFL Players of 2016: 50-41 - Good if it Goes

Top 100 NFL Players of 2016: 50-41

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50. OG. Zach Martin

zach martin

Martin has developed into an elite guard in the NFL and it didn’t take him very long to do it. He’s played 2 seasons in the NFL and has made 2 pro bowls and 2 All-Pro teams. His career is already on pace to perhaps be the guard version of Joe Thomas. Like Yanda, Martin excels in both the pass and running game. The Cowboys haven’t needed him to, but he proved he can play tackle at Notre Dame and if Tyron Smith went down, I honestly believe they could play Martin at least as a right tackle and move Free over and they’d be fine.

49. OT. Andrew Whitworth

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Unlike the man in front of him, Whithworth is on the opposite end of the athleticism scale when it comes to offensive tackle. He’s not very fast or athletic at all, but his technique is great. As a pass blocker, he plays smart and utilizes anticipation and great footwork to keep his QB protected. As good as he is in pass pro, Whitworth is even better as a run blocker. As far as run blocking at the point of attack, he might even be better than Smith. But Smith’s ability to block at the 2nd level gives him the edge. But for a guy with athletic limitations Whitworth holds his own in space as well and is not a liability in that aspect of the game either.

48. LB. Derrick Johnson

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Derrick Johnson is aging and his athletic traits aren’t what they once were, but last year he might have had 1 of his best seasons ever. There might not be a better linebacker in the NFL when it comes to recognition skills. I don’t believe anybody looked better than Johnson in 2015 in that area. He uses his great awareness and ability to diagnose plays quickly to be better than linebackers who have better physical attributes than him. I was most impressed with Derrick Johnson’s coverage ability. He wasn’t quite Kuechly, but after that it’s hard to think of many linebackers better in coverage than Johnson.

47. DE. Cameron Jordan

NFL: OCT 25 Saints at Colts

The Saints might have had a historically terrible defense in 2015, but none of that had anything to do with Jordan who was the 1 and only star on that unit. The fact that he was able to get 10 sacks with such a lack of help around him is a miracle by itself. The only real rush threat teams had to worry about on the Saints was Jordan and yet teams still couldn’t stop him. Jordan plays with a high motor and active hands. He utilizes both to be a big time factor rushing the passer and stopping the run.

46. DE. Olivier Vernon

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If this list was based off just the 2nd half of the year Vernon would have a case for a top 3 spot. But that’s not the way I work. Vernon led the league in QB hurries and if he has another season in 2016 with The Giants like he did in 2015 then New York’s pass rush will be drastically improved. Vernon doesn’t have the pure speed and quickness as some of the other guys on this list, but the acceleration to get off quickly is there and he has developed into an elite pass rusher by developing some pretty nice rush moves and improving his hands play.

45. DE. Cliff Avril

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Avril was almost as impressive as his other teammate on the list this past season. Some might say “he only had 9 sacks, how’s he so high?” Sack production can be very misleading when gauging a defensive lineman’s true performance. He was among the league leaders in QB hurries and, like his teammate Bennett, he also is effective against the run. Avril has an incredible get off and utilizes his acceleration to beat opposing tackles out their stances. He also uses his hands well and has multiple rush moves he can string together to keep tackles off balance.

44. DT. Gerald McCoy

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gerald McCoy has been 1 of the top interior pass rushers for 4 years now. His quickness and acceleration are unmatched by any interior defensive lineman not named Aaron Donald. Unlike every single other player on this list, McCoy continues to get it done without any other significant pass rusher on his team and commands all the attention from opposing teams week in and week out and yet he still dominants. If he were a better run defender, I’d have him rated higher. He’s no slouch against the run, but he isn’t dominant either.

43. S. Earl Thomas

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Earl Thomas isn’t quite playing at that all-time elite level he was at a few years ago, but he’s still 1 of the top safeties in the game. He’s the best cover 3 free safety in the game. His range is incredible, which allows him to literally cover ground hash to hash when he’s back deep as a single high safety. If you throw the ball anywhere near Thomas’ vicinity, you better be careful or he might make you pay. He had 5 interceptions last year and continues to play a role on their defense that maybe no one else in the league can.

42. S. Malcolm Jenkins

Malcolm Jenkins

The Eagles had some issues last year in the secondary, but they were pretty much exclusively at the corner position as the Eagles had 1 of the best safety duos in the NFL last year led by this guy. Like Smith, Jenkins is a complete safety that impacts the game in both the run and pass game. Jenkins was big time in coverage in 2015. Not only did he excel in zone, he had no problem moving down into the slot and covering as well. Not a lot of people think about Jenkins when they think about the best safeties, but they better start paying attention.

41. DT. Ndamukong Suh

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Some might look at Suh’s numbers and feel as though he had a down year. He wasn’t quite as good as he was in 2014, but Suh actually played very well in 2015. He needs to cut down the penalties, but other than that Suh was very much a dominant player. He was under-utilized in the Dolphins scheme by their old defensive coordinator, but after they fired him Suh started to really get it going. He is still one of the best interior pass rushers in the game.

Twitter: @The_Coach_Buck

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