I was going to take a look at which Vikings' players made the PFF Top 100 this year, but it looks like Arif has already taken the liberty for us. Enjoy! -Chris
EDIT: Oh sweet! Thanks, Chris. - Arif
Unsurprisingly, Jared Allen has proven himself a top 10 player in the country last year, with the proudly non-biased play grading company PFF ranking him at #10. I can't do better than their article on the subject, so I won't. I will quote some of it, however. One thing we noted this year above last year was that Jared Allen had expanded his moves from the dead 2010 campaign - he no longer rushed inside on every opportunity. PFF noticed, too:
While many sacks do come from unblocked pressure or in pursuit of the quarterback after the initial block has long since disintegrated, only three of Allen’s 24 sacks came in that fashion last season. He didn’t just record a huge sack total, but he did it displaying a comprehensive array of pass rush moves. He either led the league or was in the Top 3 in sacks from outside, inside, and bullrush moves. Not only is he relentless and impossible to gas out, but Allen isn’t just a one-trick pony; he is a smart pass rusher adept at multiple pass-rushing techniques.
Jared Allen came in behind one other (3-4) DE and one 3-4 OLB who they listed as a DE because of how they played him. The full top ten:
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
2. Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers
3. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
5. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
6. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
7. Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore Ravens
8. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
9. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
10. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
To check out the full list, click here.
5 other Vikings made the top 101 list, my comments below the jump.
The Vikings tied for the most players on PFF's top 101 list (which was created with the idea of having "all positions equal" in mind) with 4 other teams. Having been the 3rd worst team in the league, this suggest a few things. First, it seems that having a few stars in their position means nothing without having adequate players in other positions. Second, our team really does have the talent to do well, but not in key positions (QB, LT, etc). Third, we can reasonably expect ourselves to do better next year.
#100: Erin Henderson: Pro Football Focus may have been higher on Erin Henderson than any other organization, and they continue their advocacy in this list, ranking him as the 100th best player of 2011. You can read about their reasoning, and I'm a little sympathetic to it.. As a two-down linebacker, he had the 7th most tackles per game of all 4-3 OLBs and in only 590 snaps was able to generate a high enough cumulative grade from Pro Football Focus to rank 4th of all 4-3 OLBs. In the top five, all other OLBs had over 750 snaps, with 3 over 900. He ranks highest in total tackles for players with under 600 snaps. He ranks 8th in tackles per snap. He ranks 10th in Missed Tackles per Tackle attempt, having only missed on 7% of his tackles. His pass coverage was above average for OLBs, ranking seventh in yards per attempt allowed and is 13th in QB Passer rating allowed. He was one of our only players to record a good game against Kansas City, and allowed 5 catches, none of which were over 7 yards. He never allowed more than 4 yards a catch in that game, and missed one tackle, while making 6. He flows to the ball well, and understands the direction of the play. Still, he needs to get on the field more.
#83: Kevin Williams: They correctly list him as a contributor in every phase of the game. While he did rank an abysmal 21st in Missed Tackles per attempt, he was still a force in the run game, ranking 5th in total tackles for loss. I think Pro Football Focus overrates his run game, however, as he was able to successfully prevent a good run (40% of needed yardage on first down, 50% on second down, 100% on 3rd down) 2.3 times a game. Compared to his peers, that puts him 33rd overall (this makes him about average, at best). Indeed, Pro Football Focus ranks him at 29th overall in "run stop percentage," where a "stop" constitutes an offensive loss. He does rank 6th in total QB pressures, however, and is 8th overall in Pass Rush Productivity. Average at one thing and pretty good at the other, I have a sense that Kevin Williams may belong on the list, but even 83 could possibly be too high.
#75: John Sullivan: PFF once again stands out as a bigger proponent of a player than most fans or player evaluation services would be, and I even recently got into an argument with kcskol over the matter (check it out here. Ignore the mistake I make in Zone Blocking vs. Zone Read running. We very obviously still zone block). We ended up mostly disagreeing over priorities at center. Regardless of his strength, Sullivan managed to carry out his assignments extremely well - runs off of John Sullivan averaged 5.5 yards a carry, highest of any center in the league. The average seemed to be around a 4.2, so this is particularly impressive. Obviously, this is contingent on how well guards block, but any argument that Anthony Herrerra is a good run-blocking guard will get no respect from me. So while he was helped with All-Pro Hutch on one side, he was actually able to manage a higher run average off of his right side. He was also pretty good at pass blocking overall, although his failures were big failures. Allowing the 2nd most sacks (4) of any center, but the 2nd least in total pressures (12). He ranks 6th overall in pressures allowed, which implies that he didn't give up a lot of interior pressure, but our QBs didn't know what to do with that pressure once it arrived. I've also mentioned on occasion how impressed I am with his blitz pick up and communication, but kcskol is right that this is not the easiest thing in the world to gauge. At any rate, I like Sullivan at center and think he's top-notch.
#61: Percy Harvin: Here I think PFF underrates him, but that might be a relic of his snap count (621 snaps). As I've said before, Percy Harvin is the most dynamic player in the game today. Obviously that doesn't make him the best, but it makes him extremely valuable. Purely as a receiver, Percy ranks 5th in Yards Per Route Run. He's above average in drop rate, and has caught more balls thrown his way in the slot than any other receiver (79%) and is the third-ranked slot receiver in YPRR. That alone, I think, puts him in the top 60. But as a rusher, he's also been successful. Running backs have averaged 2.6 yards after contact and Percy has averaged 2.3. Pretty good for a receiver. Overall, he's had 345 rushing yards, more than any other receiver (by almost 200 yards). He also has the 4th highest yards after catch for receivers with over 500 snaps. PFF ranked Antonio Brown, Marques Colston, Jordy Nelson, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson above him. Given Andre Johnson's injury, his absence makes sense, but I'm a bit troubled by Colston and Nelson's higher rankings (they also had fewer than 700 snaps, by the way) and simply disagree that Brown was a better receiver. Antonio Brown was great, don't get me wrong. But Harvin was better. I'm leaving Hakeem Nicks alone, simply because he got points for an absolutely stellar postseason (something Nelson doesn't get credit for).
#55: Adrian Peterson: Here's where the stipulation of 2011 performance is important for them. Adrian Peterson had a pretty good year, but could not benefit from postseason play. Above him are running backs that either had a great postseason (Darren Sproles and Arian Foster) to bolster their good regular season performance or running backs that legitimately had a better year (LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte). They also have one running back who statistically did not impress in the box scores (Maurice Jones-Drew, who I manage to end up picking in nearly every fantasy draft) but killed in their grading. Their argument for MJD seems to be that he had a terrible passing game to work with (he didn't even have the highest rushing grade in their system), and he was asked to carry more than any other running back except Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. To their credit, he made very few mistakes and was fairly elusive, but wasn't the best running back at anything.
At any rate, AP should also be getting points for putting the team on his shoulders (and occasionally his knee). And I think he was disrespected a bit here. Yes, he missed 4 games, but he was 5th in the league in average yards after contact, and accumulated nearly 1000 yards in a 12 game season (actually 11 and some change). He had their second highest rushing grade, too. And that's not discounting the fact that he ran against more 8 man boxes than anyone else in the league. Still, I understand why he's not in the top 30 overall and we can expect more from him next year if he comes back as strong as he was before, especially if we have an O Line of Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Berger, and Loadholt. That is a good line to run behind if Johnson's transition to guard works out.
What do you all think?