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ProFootballFocus.com ranks the NFL’s top 100 players … and recognizes Geno Atkins in doing so

By Pat McManamon

ProFootballFocus.com does a pretty amazing job of studying NFL football. This site and ColdHardFootballFacts.com provide some of the best online analytical information available.

ProFootballFocus kind of takes a Bill James approach to football, with different formula and criteria that includes detailed information on every player — including offensive linemen.

This week, it released the final 10 of its top 100 players. These kinds of lists always generate argument and discussion, but this list is based on more than mere opinion. It’s based on analysis and study  — it’s informative and worthy of consideration.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Bengals receiver A.J. Green is not on the list. It’s tough to think there are 100 players better than him. Most any coach in the league would take Green. But PFF argued that Green had too many drops and penalties, most of the procedural variety, which kills drives.

As for the actual list …

–Browns cornerback Joe Haden was ranked 88th. Haden led the league in pass breakups. Wrote the site: “By matching up with a team’s top receiver and allowing a completion percentage of 49.4, he did more than enough to continue his ascent to being one of the few true shutdown corners in the league.”

—Baltimore running back Ray Rice was ranked 85th. Which makes a person ask: 85?

—Broncos defensive tackle Brodrick Bunklely was ranked 69th. Keep in mind this ranking is in the league among all players.The site said Bunkley “may as well have had his position renamed ‘destroyer’ because it seemed he was sent out on the field simply to dimantle the center across from him.” Not bad for a guy who … ahem … failed a physical in Cleveland after the Browns traded for him.

—Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas was ranked 67th. That may seem low, but Thomas had nine penalties and the site said his run blocking was not as good as it had been. At least Thomas can say he was ranked ahead of Steelers linebacker James Harrison , who was 68th.

—Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was ranked ahead of his fellow wideout, Mike Wallace. PFF called Brown “one of the league’s most productive receivers.”

—A surprise: Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb at 25. PFF looked at playoff and regular season games, and pointed out Webb gave up four receptions for 41 yards and had three interceptions in the playoffs.

—Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins deserved to go to the Pro Bowl. PFF agreed, ranking him as the 19th best player in the league. Atkins was sensational for Cincinnati last season — as illustrated by PFF’s statement that his “49 QB disruptions were the most of any defensive tackle.”

The entire list is on the site, and worth investigating.

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