Last week Pro Football Focus released their list of the 101 top performers of the 2013 season. For those that don’t know, Pro Football Focus (PFF) is one of the premier sites for grading out how well individual players are playing on the field. While they provide lots of statistics for fans to pour over, their grades/evaluations aren’t done off of stats, but by watching every single snap a player was on the field for and assigning them a grade for how they did. While no evaluation should ever be taken as fact, in terms of websites that offer player evaluations, they are about as good as you can find. So for that reason, I put a little more merit in their “best of” lists.
To be clear, this isn’t a list of who PFF thinks are the 101 best overall players, but a list of the players that had the best individual seasons in 2013. For instance, Aaron Rodgers isn’t on the list because he missed most of last season with an injury. Clearly, Rodgers would make a list of the 101 best players in the NFL, but this is strictly based on last season alone.
So how did KC do?
Very, very, well.
In fact, KC’s six players on the list was the third most behind Seattle (8) and Denver (7). So the only teams with more players on the list than KC were the two teams that played in the Super Bowl. KC was the only team with six players, so the rest of the NFL were all at five or less. Poor Oakland and Jacksonville were the only teams that didn’t land a single player on the list.
Not only did KC land the third most players on the list, but most of those players were pretty high up on the list too. KC had five players in the top 57, and four players in the top 37. So several of the top seasons in the entire NFL in 2013 belonged to Kansas City Chiefs.
Most of you at this point are probably trying to guess who those six players are before reading the rest of this post. If you take a second to guess, you’ll probably get them all. At least in my opinion, the six players were the players I would have predicted.
So here they are, starting with the lowest:
#72 – Derrick Johnson – ILB
Johnson actually had a little bit of a down season by his standards, but when your standard is being one of the best all around linebackers in the NFL, a slightly down season still lands you at #72 on this list. If you look at the breakdown of his PFF grades, you see that while his grade against the run was down from previous seasons, his grade against the pass was up. In fact, his pass coverage score wasn’t just up, it was the best in the league by an inside linebacker. PFF also points out that:
His 27.7 Pass Rushing Productivity score was the highest of all inside linebackers.
So while Johnson didn’t put up big sack numbers, when he did rush he was effective at putting pressure on the QB. When you look at how good he was in coverage and how effective he was at putting pressure on the QB when he blitzed (both best in the league by an ILB) it’s easy to see why DJ still made this list despite having his worst season in run defense in four years.
#57 – Tamba Hali – OLB
While it is likely that Tamba is getting ready to play his final season in KC due to his increasing age and contract, it would be incorrect to believe that his play has already fallen off. Hali is still one of the premier pass rushing OLBs in the NFL. While Hali offers little in the way of pass coverage and is a good, but not great run defender, his ability to get after the QB is still among the league’s best. PFF points out that his 77 QB disruptions were the most by any 3-4 OLB (and he added 7 more in their playoff loss). The Chiefs may have drafted Hali’s eventual replacement in Dee Ford, but don’t write off Tamba just yet. However, having Ford may help decrease the workload on Hali. His 970 snaps last season were among the most by 3-4 OLBs.
#37 – Eric Berry – Safety
I love Eric Berry. I’m sure I’m not alone in being very thankful that the Chiefs didn’t trade their star safety away during the draft as some reports had them interested in doing. If KC needs to part ways with Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers (who didn’t make this list) after next season to ensure that they can pay Berry the money needed to stay in KC, I’m fine with that. In case you’re thinking that Berry might not be worth a big contract, check out what PFF had to say about him:
It’s not easy for a safety to go at No. 5 overall and justify the pick, but Berry is a man who has made that happen. His 2013 season wasn’t perfect but it was a highlight reel of what it takes to be a complete safety in the NFL. A rare athlete capable to play linebacker in dime packages, match up man-on-man with tight ends, and perform more traditional safety roles (whether in the box or not). Berry put forth a tremendous season that would earn him the highest grade of any strong safety in the regular season.
They also point out that his 17 combined QB sacks, hits, and hurries were the most by any defensive back in 2013. Eric Berry is only 25 years old, and KC would be crazy not to keep a player this good as a center piece of their defense for the foreseeable future.
#30 – Dontari Poe – NT
The big man in the middle of KC’s defense had a break out season in 2013. PFF notes that Poe was a force against both the run (3rd most defensive stops by NTs) and the pass (registering at least one QB pressure in all but two games). They also point out that his 1,004 snaps were the most by any defensive tackle in the NFL and Poe didn’t even play in week 17. While it’s impressive that Poe played so well despite basically never getting to come off the field, KC is going to have to get him some rest if they don’t want him to wear down over time. My hope is that the signing of Vance Walker, the development of Mike Catapano, and possibly even the ability to occasionally slide Tamba Hali inside when Dee Ford comes in will give Poe a chance to take a few plays off here and there. Can you imagine how dominant he could be in he was allowed to actually catch his breath now and again?
#21 – Justin Houston – OLB
How good was Justin Houston last season? He was PFF’s top rated 3-4 OLB last season despite not playing the final five games of the season. The impressive part about that is their scoring system rewards positive plays with points, so the more positive plays you have, the higher your PFF score will be. Houston’s 32.8 was the highest score by any 3-4 OLB, edging out Robert Mathis who totaled 31.7 points over 16 games. However, if you take Houston’s per game average score and multiply it by a full 16 games you would get a score of 47.7. That total would have ranked number four in the entire NFL last season, behind only JJ Watt (111.6!!!), Robert Quinn (77.2), and Gerald McCoy (57.3). That’s how good Justin Houston was playing last season. Give this man a new contract, soon!
#11 – Jamaal Charles – RB
Last season, PFF got an ear full from Chiefs fans when they completely left JC off their list of best players for the 2012 season. While they tried to justify their omission at the time, its clear they have seen the error of their ways because not only did Charles make the list for 2013, he was only one slot shy of cracking the top ten. If you’re reading this blog post it probably means that you’re a die hard Chiefs fan and if that’s the case you don’t need me to tell you that Jamaal Charles is really, REALLY, good. You’ve seen him with your own two eyes. I will just point out that Charles was the number two rated RB last season, behind only LeSean McCoy and was the only RB to score in the top five grades for both running and pass catching last season. He did total the third most snaps of any RB, so it may be wise for KC to try and rotate Knile Davis in a little more next season in order to keep JC going at full strength.
So there you have it KC fans, six Chiefs making the PFF top 101 players of 2013. I definitely recommend checking out the entire list, its worth your time. Do you agree with where they had these guys ranked? Do you think any other Chiefs should have made the list? I think the most interesting part of the list were the stats on where these players ranked in different areas for their position. It also shows that KC clearly has enough elite talent on their roster. If they can just get enough depth and consistency from the rest of their roster there’s no reason that they shouldn’t compete for the playoffs again this year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the list in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!
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