Top NFL Players at each position (’14 Offense-Edition)

I first started making this list as the ‘Top 5 at each position’ but then I changed it quickly to whatever number made sense per the position. Two good examples are: I went with only 8 centers given the lack of many consistent, dominant, and productive players at the position. Whereas, with wide-receivers I went with 20 because we are currently in a golden age of superhuman athletes being plentiful at wide-out, combined with the increasing rules geared towards overall player health and safety making offenses explode. Here are the top NFL players at each offensive position:

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This is a noteworthy reminder that these rankings are according to how I think these players will play in this upcoming (2014-2015) season. EVERYTHING is taken into account, new coaches, previous injuries, projected playing time/snaps, schemes, surrounding team talent, and coaching are some of the many things that can impact a player’s ranking on the list. An example is Percy Harvin. I believe him to be one of the most impactful and dynamic playmakers in the league, when he’s on the field. I think if he stays healthy this entire year he will help propel Russell Wilson and the offense to new heights. But, he didn’t even make my Top 20 WRs-due to health concerns. Harvin has missed 25 games in his 5 year career. He has always had some sort of lingering issue, keeping him off the field. I would love to see Percy make me look like an idiot, and explode onto and towards the top of my 2015 list, but until then he remains unranked. 

 

Top 10 Quarterbacks:

  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Aaron Rodgers
  5. Andrew Luck
  6. Philip Rivers
  7. Matthew Stafford
  8. Ben Roethlisberger
  9. Russell Wilson
  10. Cam Newton

 

Takeaways:

  • Andrew Luck holding strong at the fifth spot speaks volumes to my confidence in his entering ELITE level status in only his third year in the league. He comprehends and commands the game in such a cerebral way, combined with now having 32 regular-season games under his belt of experience. When things break down his well above-average athleticism and great arm strength can bail him out of many situations.
  • Many won’t agree with Matt Stafford coming in at 7 but after witnessing his heroic comeback efforts versus the Dallas Cowboys to win the game-with time expiring as well, he has proven able to take over games and deserving of such a high ranking. He has been surrounded by a plethora of talent that has Stafford primed for a good season, even if there are many question marks on the Detroit defense.
  • I’m going to bite the bullet and sound like the song that you’re tired of hearing overplayed on the radio-If Cam Newton had better and/or more proven receiving options he would continue his ascension up the list. We’ll learn a lot about Cam Newton this year. 

Top 15 Running Backs:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Jamaal Charles
  3. LeSean McCoy
  4. Matt Forte
  5. Alfred Morris
  6. Marshawn Lynch
  7. Arian Foster
  8. Eddie Lacy
  9. Ryan Matthews
  10. Ray Rice
  11. C.J. Spiller
  12. Frank Gore
  13. DeMarco Murray
  14. Giovani Bernard
  15. Doug Martin

 

Takeaways:

  • Frank Gore is 179-years-old and physically HAS to slow down at some point. I believe he’ll see less carries until the post-season in attempts to preserve Gore’s legs that have seen 2,187-carries , and maybe less then-depending on the performance of rookie Carlos Hyde and incumbent back-up Marcus Lattimore when they receive their touches. If I weren’t a firm believer in both of the RBs on the depth chart behind Gore, then I would project it a lot differently, but at this point I like him at 12.
  • Ray Rice has to have lost a lot of Baltimore’s favor. In a day when running-backs are yesteryear’s news Ray Rice has sped up the already speedy process of becoming dispensable, being a RB who will hit 28 years-old in January. To boot, Rice brought Baltimore a lot of bad media with that awful video of he and his now wife surfacing, and is also facing a surprisingly soft punishment of a two-game suspension to start off his 2014 season. Rice will perform well, but lose some touches as the year goes on and the Ravens prepare for the future-forced to by Rice. He’ll get his touches, but I doubt they view him as a long-term cog in Baltimore anymore.
  • Arian Foster will get his opportunities, but I don’t trust Foster without much threat from the passing game and on top of stacked boxes he faces his own injury problems. I say we are seeing Arian Foster’s last year’s as a back that warrants 300ish touches, now that Houston is moving on from their zone-blocking-scheme of the past 4+-seasons to more of a man-concept with Bill O’Brien.
  • If Ryan Matthews proves that 2013 was no fluke, play-wise and health-wise, he will become the running back San Diego envisioned as the heir apparent to LT. Matthews will never be LT, partially because there will never be another player the likes of future H.O.F.’er Ladanian Tomlinson, but he should provide Philip Rivers with an extremely effective clock-control ground game when called upon (See the win vs. Denver last yr., was huge factor in knocking off the Broncos) and strike fear in coordinator’s hearts when he’s utilized as a passing-threat.

 

 

Top 10 Tight Ends: 

  1. Jimmy Graham
  2. Rob Gronkowski
  3. Jordan Cameron
  4. Vernon Davis
  5. Julius Thomas
  6. Kyle Rudolph
  7. Jason Witten
  8. Greg Olsen
  9. Eric Ebron
  10. Jordan Reed

 

Takeaways:

  • Rob Gronkowski’s staying power at the two-spot shows just how elite Jimmy Graham and he are compared to the next 8 on the list. Even with huge injury concerns for the year, and his career, Gronkowski is still second only to Graham.
  • Jordan Cameron climbed the list a bit after his team’s star WR, Josh Gordon, was suspended for potentially the entire season. This will provide a much heavier allotment of touches for the 6-5 vertical threat. Johnny Manziel (I knew I could find a way to put him somewhere in this) will lean heavily on the former USC Trojan. His rookie season ‘safety net’ in Cameron will make Johnny look better when he makes typical rookie-mistake type decisions and haul in errant passes and jump balls.
  • Greg Olsen made the list in large part because of the lack of experience that any Carolina Panther pass-catcher possesses.
  • Eric Ebron should be able to exploit a lot of blown coverages because of the amount of attention opposing defenses will pay towards the best player in the NFL, Calvin Johnson, and also proven playmakers like Reggie Bush, Joseph Fauria, Golden Tate, and Brandon Pettigrew that can bust coverages.
  • Jordan Reed played well enough his rookie season to make Fred Davis disposable in that offense, with Washington eventually starting Reed in his place. Reed had 32 catches from Week 6 to Week 11, eight more than any other tight end in football. Being fully healthy again will allow Jordan Reed to flourish, IF he can keep further concussions at bay.
  • Kyle Rudolph possesses talent and innate ability that gives him the potential to be one of the league’s biggest game-breakers, if someone unlocks it. Minnesota’s new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, has a very consistent history of squeezing a lot of production out of the tight-end position and turning players into Pro-Bowlers with his arrival. Turner has aided many tight-ends by utilizing all of their talent and turning into production, including the likes of Jay Novacek, Antonio Gates, and most recently-Jordan Cameron. Factor in that rookie first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater will likely be the starting QB at some point in 2014, which involves Rudolph and the tight-end position in general a lot more because of Bridgewater’s average deep ball… most likely not asking him to chuck it deep on a routinely planned basis.

 

Top 20 Wide Receivers:

(I chose to leave Josh Gordon off of the list, with belief that he won’t be playing much of the 2014 season…if at all due to his looming suspension. If he were off-field trouble-free I would rank Josh Gordon right behind A.J. Green, both of whom are the only ones at this point capable of challenging Megatron for the best WR in the league.)

  1. Calvin Johnson
  2. A.J. Green
  3. Dez Bryant
  4. Brandon Marshall
  5. Demaryius Thomas
  6. Larry Fitzgerald
  7. Alshon Jeffery
  8. Julio Jones
  9. Andre Johnson
  10. Antonio Brown
  11. Cordarrelle Patterson
  12. Vincent Jackson
  13. Keenan Allen
  14. Randall Cobb
  15. Mike Wallace
  16. Victor Cruz
  17. Michael Floyd
  18. Torrey Smith
  19. Jordy Nelson
  20. DeSean Jackson

Every year that I have ever done any type of rankings of players in the NFL, it’s always been the QBs position group that was the toughest to order. This year it was the wide-receivers. There is an extreme number of very effective/promising/productive pass-catchers in the league right now, with a continuously growing pool of opportunities for catches in this pass-first offensive-minded age. Even carefully breaking it all down, it was tough to crunch the list down to just 20 players. It is no sleight or disrespect to those left off the list, just a huge logjam of talent at the position. Some might be unlucky in the QB department, stuck on a bad roster, or even stuck behind other talented receivers on their own team and have a lack of playing time.

 

Takeaways:

  • Andre Johnson plummeting down to 9th can be blamed on his lack of a QB that inspires any type of excitement or reason for hope. He’s also extremely very unhappy ending his career on a rebuilding team in Houston and wants out. I don’t see a career year coming for the unhappy 33-year- old.
  • Dez Bryant is at the 3rd spot, finally utilizing his freakish talents. I foresee a career year for Bryant, who is playing out the last year of his contract. He has matured in the past year, evolving from being a bratty distraction early in his career to a fiery and passionate leader. He still showed moments of weakness, but they were mistakes of passion. I’d take a guy on my team that wants to win THAT badly over the quiet guy who brushes it off, any day. If he maintains this growth then the sky is the limit, much like his upcoming payday would be.
  • Julio Jones ranking in top-8, coming off of injury will surprise casual fans, but those that are well versed in the NFL have known for a while that Julio is a phenomenal athlete that can literally do it all. If he had been healthy all of last season I believe he would have given me reason to place him on the top-tier alongside Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Josh Gordon by themselves.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson sits all the way at number 9 after only one season in the league. He showed as a rookie, with minimal help from his quarterbacks or coaching staff, that he has the ability to do things other players could never dream of. Patterson is the type of dynamic player that can single-handedly change a game, which is extremely rare from a position not called quarterback. Now that he has a year under his belt and is armed with a legitimate threat at play-caller in Norv Turner he could take an enormous step forward in the wide-receiver hierarchy.
  • Michael Floyd being above other team’s #1 options and proven veterans  as his team’s #2 might raise an eyebrow or too. But, I’m not afraid to boldly proclaim something if I believe it. Floyd has been learning from one of the best tacticians the league has ever seen since his rookie year. Larry Fitzgerald will soon pass the torch in Arizona as top dog to Floyd. Palmer really pushes the ball down-field, always producing high yardage numbers. I think this benefits towards Floyd’s potential to duplicate what Alshon Jeffery did playing Robin to Brandon Marshall’s Batman.
  • Michael Crabtree, I am lower on than many others. I believe the 49ers won’t renew his contract, unless it is extremely team-friendly, because of his inconsistencies and previous health. If Crabtree balls out with as many other playmakers as San Francisco possesses, that contract prediction could all change. As of now though, I’m not sold.
  • Reggie Wayne and Anquan Boldin were left off of the list as they enter the last stage of their careers, not to say they both can’t be productive players for their respective teams. They will both play valuable roles for their club, and pass on a lot of leadership and experience. Wayne and Boldin both reside on rosters filled with talent at the position and sooner, rather than later, those young pass-catchers will begin to steal snaps from them.
  • Wes Welker is a concussion away from watching from his couch every Sunday, forced to walk away from the game. It is always sad to think of another potential future Hall of Famer winding their career down.
  • Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Tavon Austin, and DeAndre Hopkins are a few youngsters I predict to grace the list as newcomers in 2015.

 

Top 15 Tackles:

  1. Joe Thomas
  2. Trent Williams
  3. Jason Peters
  4. Tyron Smith
  5. Joe Staley
  6. Duane Brown
  7. Nate Solder
  8. Jake Long
  9. Jake Matthews
  10. Cordy Glenn
  11. Eugene Monroe
  12. Anthony Davis
  13. Sebastian Vollmer
  14. D.J. Fluker
  15. Orlando Franklin

 

Takeaways:

  • Joe Thomas has not missed a snap in his entire career since entering the league in 2007. That is one of the most impressive things a 312-pound NFL lineman can do, even before adding in that he has done it at a Pro-Bowl level all 7 seasons in the league. The future Hall of Famer will continue his dominance in 2015.
  • I’m expecting big things from Tyron Smith this season, who should be aided by the addition of Zack Martin along the Cowboys’ offensive line. Tyron Smith is still only 23 years old, and will only continue to get better as he adds experience and more size to his frame.
  • Out of all of the players on this list Jake Long is the most capable of proving his ranking being too low, if he can play all 16 games. With good-health on his side Long could return to his dominant form of only a few years passed.
  • Jake Matthews is one of the few rookies I thought deserved a spot on the list. He is a plug and play starter in Atlanta, with potential to avoid the rookie curve most face because of his professional football playing kin. Being the son of Bruce Matthews, nephew of Clay Matthews Jr., and cousin of currently playing Clay Matthews III can only help you be more prepared and ready to enter the league. Jake proved his mettle the past few years at Texas A&M and will only do the same in the big league.

 

Top 12 Guards:

  1. Evan Mathis
  2. Marshal Yanda
  3. Logan Mankins
  4. Greg Robinson
  5. Josh Sitton
  6. Mike Iupati
  7. David DeCastro
  8. Andy Levitre
  9. Larry Warford
  10. Kyle Long
  11. Jahri Evans
  12. Alex Boone

 

Takeaways:

  • Evan Mathis has been playing at an elite level in Philly for more than 2 years now, and I can’t see why another year of continuity along their offensive line would change that. He will open a lot of holes for LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles this year.
  • Greg Robinson would probably even be in my top 7 of left tackles, had that been the position he started his career, so his spot at 4 in the guards is generous. This man will be a wrecking crew for the run-game out of the gate, without being a liability in the passing game. Robinson was one of my top 3 players in the entire 2014 Draft.
  • David DeCastro is awfully high on this list, but I am a big believer in his potential. He was set back by injuries early in his career, but I believe he is finally back on track to take a big step forward.

 

Top 8 Centers:

  1. Alex Mack
  2. Jason Kelce
  3. Mike Pouncey
  4. Ryan Kalil
  5. Stefen Wisniewski
  6. Nick Mangold
  7. Travis Frederick
  8. John Sullivan

 

Takeaways:

  • Alex Mack has been a stout and important piece along the Cleveland offensive line and every far of the team breathed a sigh of relief when he signed long-term to stay with the Browns over the offer he had from Jacksonville. The league’s reigning best center should continue to be the best as  he snaps to a rookie QB.
  • Stefen Wisniewski will benefit greatly from the additions of talent around him in Oakland during the offseason. They drafted Gabe Jackson- one of the top guards available in the draft and signed tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard. That coupled with another year under Dennis Allen point towards an improved 2014 campaign.
  • Travis Frederick was looked upon by most as a pick that was made out of need and desperation, and maybe it was, but it was a move that has paid off handsomely for Jerry Jone’s franchise. He has invested heavily in recent years in the offensive line, which in turn will help Tony Romo to remain healthy as he ages.

2 thoughts on “Top NFL Players at each position (’14 Offense-Edition)

  1. He’ll easily make it in the Top 3 next season! And thank you! I see Julio, Cordarrelle, and Cobb as the ones with the most potential to be much higher next year

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