Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates a tackle against the Carolina Panthers in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 27-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs Well Represented On Pro Football Focus's Top Players Of 2013


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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!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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Tags: Derrick Johnson Dontari Poe Eric Berry Jamaal Charles Justin Houston Kansas City Chiefs Pro Football Focus Tamba Hali

  • Stacy D. Smith

    No AS11? Interesting.

    • Lyle Graversen

      He was PFF’s 24th rated QB, so they’re not big fans. He actually ended the year with a negative grade for passing.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        SMH.

        • oldchiefsfan

          Is it possible to go anywhere on here and not see the same people talking the same trash about Alex Smith? It amazes me how some “fans” just love to hate the Chiefs and those fans have zeroed in on #11 and absolutely can’t comment on anything without telling us how horrible he is and how much he is hated by them. . We get it you hate him. You hate the ground he walked on last week. He is the worst thing to happen to any team since Ryan Leaf. He is a hack, a loser, a wannabe blah blah blah. Does that cover it or does this BS need to continue?

          • Stacy D. Smith

            It’ll continue. I’m fine with it as long as people are honest in their assessment of Smith. Few players are universally liked.

          • oldchiefsfan

            I’m sure it will. If only their assessment was based on something other than blind hatred.

          • micah stephenson

            So PPF, who goes by the stats, was based on hatred?

      • berttheclock

        Whomever graded him for the loss to the Colts should be stripped of his supposed credentials. He did not watch the game. He raved about Luck hanging tough against a fierce pass rush. What game was he really watching?

        • niner559

          I couldn’t believe that write up as well! Alex has already been labeled “game manager”. Just like the nerd you went to school with, no matter what he does with his life, he is still the nerd in your eyes. Labels are hard to shake. Here is a link to an Interview Joe Montana discusses Alex Smith. You don’t have to listen to the whole thing, just from 7min to 11min (that’s the alex part).

          http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=8554993

          I’ve seen all the niner games and I will tell you this, he had to team or coaching concept to succeed in. He had no chance early in his career. But the label will stick.

      • trinity

        It seems like the NFL.com list of top 100 is the biased popularity vote by players who are just fans of other players. The PFF seems to be the more respected, “we don’t care about name recognition, we are going to drop the bullshit and look solely at what players produced” type of list. Hell, they even have Vikings lineman on the list that would have you scratching your head in confusion at their names. So could it be that they simply don’t think Alex is that good?……

      • Calchiefsfan

        Just when I was about to buy a subscription. I think I’ll hold off now and wait until they get it together.

      • micah stephenson

        Don’t ppf grad by the stats and not popularity? He deserved a negative grade in passing.

    • Norman Gunn

      Wait, was that a serious question?? Is the popular believe that Alex Smith is the answer at quarterback?

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Depends on what you mean by “the answer.” I’m content with him as the starting quarterback.

        • berttheclock

          I concur.

        • niner559

          You will probably be more than content with his second season in this offense, but I get your point Stacy.

      • micah stephenson

        On this website it is. They refer to him as a top 5-10 qb and when ame or Trinity say he is avg, ranked in the 16ish range, they jump all over us, as if he is not, and is waaay better than that.

        • Norman Gunn

          Thanks for the reply, I was literally starting to feel lonely. Every statement I’ve made about Smith being average has been attacked.

          • micah stephenson

            That’s how they do it here on AA. Me and Trinity has repeatedly said ASS11 is just avg, ranked 16ish, not bad but not great, hella avg, won lose it for you too much or win it it for you too much, just right in the middle type of QB. And boy to they try to go ham on us as if he is that much better than what we think he is. He ain’t. He just alright. But don’t let them tell the story, he the begining of a dynasty and one of the best qbs ever! Lol. You not allowed to want anybody bettrr than him on AA or else your a Troll, dumb ash, a hole, and everything else. They have low qb standards on here and believe Ass11 is as good it ever possibly cud get. They don’t even like Murray cus he cud actually b some competition and a future replacement. Yea if you say Ass11 is just ok and you want to upgrade, they will try to attack you.

          • Norman Gunn

            I can’t be upset, I remember talking about how Cassel was our answer at quarterback. The only problem is I didn’t walk around ready to stab anyone who called him a bad quarterback. I know a 5th round QB is a 5th round QB but Murray is different. He would have been a day 2 pick if not for injury. Its going to be fun seeing Murray push AS11. It only took Kaepernick a season in a half to take job job.

    • trinity

      Stacy, of course no Alex Smith. I think they did good giving JC respect though. I would even take him over shady McCoy to be honest.

      • berttheclock

        Thank you, once again, for your Forty Niners “Concern” for the Chiefs. Now, go back to the Bay.

        • trinity

          Sigh. You do a lot of assuming bert, so let me go ahead and correct you. I don’t live in San Francisco, and the 49ers aren’t my team. I live in the land of the New Orleans Saints lol, so you are way off.

          Second, I know you think this is some personal Alex Smith thing. Let me correct you again. I am a football fan. Not just one team, but every aspect of it. Everyone has players they can’t stand. As much as I like debating why I don’t like alex smith, I actually debate just as enthusiastically on why I don’t like Sam Bradford, Tony Romo, and Philip rivers lol. And as much as I debate them negatively, I can go on just as positively about brees, Peyton, JJ Watt and Patrick Peterson. So this is not some personal thing with the chiefs, ok?

          Now that we’ve cleared that up, I am not surprised that even a respected, non-biased list like PFF would leave Alex out.

          • berttheclock

            You still are nothing but a negative troll. You remind me of such as an infamous one who used to try to wreck KU and Chiefs thread at the Star. For some reason he had to relocate to the Greater KC area from Louisiana and he hated the area. So, he would do his level best to try to wreck any threads by turning them into a Saints or LSU, especially, Shaq, thread. As you are such, I could really care less about any opinion of yours. Go try to wreck other threads for other teams and stay the hell away from the Great Chiefs Nation. You are nothing but a waste of space.

          • berttheclock

            BTW, there are many fine fans of the Niners who post here and leave interesting posts. They are very welcome.

          • trinity

            Lol apparently you do care since you’re always the first one flying at me with your righteous indignation. You may as well calm down, because I’m going to continue to post where ever I want. My own team, and any other topic that interests me, since I follow everything football. Simple as that.

          • micah stephenson

            Dude, u better not ever say nothing bad about any Chiefs player at anytime, or I will swear your a troll.

    • micah stephenson

      Lmao! Lol lol, still laughing! Lol, lol, I can’t stop laughing, lol, aw man, stacy you funny! I cud always use a good laugh! Ah ha ha haaaa! No seriously, you don’t actually think he is a top 100 player do you? Did you really think anybody not a 49er or Chief fan would find him a top 100 player? Wow.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        You make it sound like you’re not a fan. Did I get that right?

        • micah stephenson

          Uh yea, Just in case you missed it, I’m not a big Ass11 fan. I wish him well as long as he is on the team, but I’m ready to see what Murray can do.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            That was sarcasm. It’s impossible to miss your loathing of Alex Smith.

  • berttheclock

    The ALL MIGHTY Pro Football Focus staff rated J’Marcus Webb the 50th best offensive tackle for last season in the NFL and the Chiefs have just signed him to be a swing tackle. Grab the women and children and run for the hills, pilgrims.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Let’s see, 32 teams, 2 tackles per, hey he could be a starter :)