Ranking the NFC Beast 2011 (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL)

What's up BGN,

I have a small "series" going on at BBV where I've been doing my own subjective rankings of each position in the NFC East. I've already done QB, RB, and WR, and just posted TE/FB, and OL. It's elicited great discussion, so I thought I'd share with you guys as well, if you haven't seen it at BBV already.


1) Philadelphia Eagles: As much as I love Eli Manning, it was Michael Vick that carried this team farther than I think it should allowed to be. He energized the franchise, which wasn't doing that badly with Kolb, anyway. As of right now, Kolb is also their backup; thereby making him the best backup QB in the NFC East, if not the entire NFL. The depth than consists of Mike Kafka, an interesting developmental prospect.

2) New York Giants: Regardless of what the pundits say, Eli Manning is a top 10 QB in the NFL. He may be slightly turnover prone (last year was an aberration compared to the other 5 or so years he's played), but for the most part makes good decisions and has the best leadership qualities and intangibles of any QB in the East. He's got the full support of his teammates and the temperament to withstand the enormous expectations and criticism that comes with playing in the highest profile position in sports in the world's greatest market. We also have Sage Rosenfels, an adequate back up to say the least. We are docked points for getting rid of Bomar, though.

3) Dallas Cowboys: Admittedly (trust me when I say this is painful), there's not much separation between the top QB and the 3rd ranked one in Tony Romo. He probably would come in 2nd place if this were a fantasy football discussion, and is absolutely a good football player, but there are some knocks against him. He's been labeled a "choker", fairly or unfairly its not for me to say, but there it is. That being said, a lot of it was not his fault, but there it is regardless. What really knocks him down for me is that he's injury prone. The dude sat out a game for an injured pinkie. Unless he can really step up to the next level, and stay consistently on the field, I can't justify putting him any higher.

4) Washington Redskins: The biggest problem here is that we don't know who's playing QB. Donovan gets a lot of heat for his play last year, but the bigger problem was probably that McNabb didn't have a stable OL, an unreliable running game, and not very many playmakers at WR. No QB had a realistic chance to thrive in this situation. They have John Beck and Rex Grossman as well, and are considered front-runners for Vince Young, so at least the situation is looking up.



1) Dallas Cowboys: They have Felix Jones, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and DeMarco Murray here. That's unbelievable depth at one position. Granted, none of these guys are anything special, but they mesh incredibly well with each other. Felix has been average and hampered by injuries, but has the potential to take one to the house at any point. Murray is a Felix Jones clone with the same ability (and penchant for injury), and will likely be used to spell Felix in that way. Barber is the hard hitter, but he's declining. Tashard is merely average, but still serviceable and has shown the ability to be a quality backup.

2) New York Giants: We have Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware, and Da'Rel Scott. Again, like the Cowboys, our backs complement each other incredibly well. Ahmad's first year as the feature back went well. He produced solid starting numbers, but the fumbling problems came back to really hurt us. Jacobs certainly had a bounce back year, for sure. Reason that we are lower than the Cowboys is the uncertainty surrounding both of our backs. D.J. Ware has quietly made the most of the limited opportunities that he's had, and should be getting more. Da'Rel Scott brings a new element of speed, but as a rookie, I don't expect many snaps.

3) Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles fans will be up in arms over this rating, and they certainly can make the argument that Lesean McCoy is the best back in the Beast. He has home run capability, but Ahmad Bradshaw alone had better stats last year due to how much he was used. Still got ridiculous upside, though. Problem is that the depth behind McCoy is mediocre in my opinion. Dion Lewis was undoubtedly a nice pick up, but I only see average production from him this year as a backup rookie RB on a pass-heavy team. Jerome Harrison is also a nice back, but didn't get too many opportunites last year. I also factor in usage into these rankings, and the Eagles, quite simply, do not use their backs as much as the Giants or Cowboys, which definitely hurts them a little in the rankings.

4) Washington Redskins: The Redskins are again in last place. Clinton Portis is gone, leaving Ryan Torain as the feature back. Torain is a good talent, but is oft injured and doesn't really compare to the rest of the East. Roy Helu Jr., and Evan Royster will work to change that, but rookie RB projections should be kept low.



1) Philadelphia Eagles: You don't know how much this hurts me. Philadelphia has speed. Speed kills, especially when you have burners like Desean Jackass and Jeremy Maclin. As of last year, I'd have to say that Desean is the best WR in the East. He may not have the best statistics, but he's probably the most feared WR in our division: the one that is ALWAYS game planned for, and you can't discount that fact. Maclin, while not having the impact that Nicks has, is still one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. Jason Avant is no slouch either. Behind him, there's Riley Cooper, an up-and-comer. 

2) New York Giants: Truly, the rankings should be 1) and 1a), but I'm not going to puss out and do that. At full strength, both clubs are tied in my eyes (The Eagles having the best receiver, while the Giants have the best depth). The only reason the Giants are number 2 is because of injury concerns. Steve Smith tore his pectoral and underwent microfracture surgery. That's serious, and his ability certainly has the potential to be compromised. He is the lynchpin of the WR corps; Eli visibly struggles without him in the line up. Hopefully, if he's not good to go, we have Jerrel Jernigan to hopefully pick up the slack. Hakeem Nicks is poised to break out and become a true top 10 WR in the league and Eli's most deadliest weapon. He definitely showed more than flashes of it, and will become a superstar. Manningham is the best 3rd WR in the division. Aside from some nippleheaded route running, he's got talent by the boatloads. Behind Nicks, Smith, and Ham, you have Jernigan, Ramses, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon. Now that, my friends, is what you call quality depth.

3) Dallas Cowboys: Our friends from Blogging the Boys will not be happy with this. Much like the QB situation, they are in 3rd, but not by much. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are still a fearsome tandem. However, while Bryant has all the makings of a superstar, he has injury concerns as well. Austin had a down year, but still needs to be accounted for. Roy Williams is a sack of turds, but can still be very effective in certain situations. Dwayne Harris, I think, was a steal and should be able to contribute. They don't have much quality depth, which is probably the biggest reason why they are below the Giants.

4) Washington Redskins: Come next year, we actually may not see the Redskins in the basement this time around. Leonard Hankerson has all the makings of a #1 WR. He has inconsistent hands, but could be the steal of the draft in the 3rd round if he pans out. Behind him, there's not much to write home about. Santana Moss has long been a staple of the offense and provided the spark plug for years, but that is quickly fading and he is likely gone. Niles Paul adds speed and deep play ability. Perhaps the former Husker will be matched up against and shutdown by his good friend and fellow teammate Prince Amukamara. Aldrick Robinson is also a sleeper that people should watch out for. As it is, WRs rarely make an impact in their rookie seasons, but because of the dire situation in Washington, there are chances for someone to make a splash this coming year.



1) Dallas Cowboys: I don't think there was much of a debate as to who came out on top. Jason Witten is justifiably a top 4 TE (For me, behind only Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, and Dallas Clark). He's a strong blocker, but his value comes from the fact that no one can really cover him. He's stronger than a S and faster than a LB. He's a precise route runner, and has been Tony Romo's safety blanket and vacation buddy. Martellus Bennett is his back up, and while he was hyped to be the next big thing, he hasn't delivered. He's got upside, though. Another potential solid contributor was John Phillips, but he was knocked out with a torn ACL. Chris Gronkowski is the lesser of the Gronkowski brothers. He was the one that got Tony Romo killed by Michael Boley. They signed Shaun Chapas which is a sign that he might be gone.

2) Washington Redskins: Chris Cooley is definitely one of the top TE's in the league as well, though nobody can doubt that his play has dropped off drastically over the past two years. Still, he's a better talent than the other two NFC East teams. Behind him is the talented Fred Davis, who has shown flashes of brilliance in the limited time that he's played. He should be a solid backup and weapon on two TE sets. At FB, Mike Sellers is ancient, but is still a nasty old veteran who knows a thing or two about blocking.

3) Philadelphia Eagles: The main reason why the Eagles are higher than the Giants is simply because they use their TEs more than we do. I think, talent-wise, Kevin Boss and Brent Celek are about on par, but Celek was used in a more pronounced role in the Eagle offensive scheme. Still, it was a known down year for Celek, but the numbers he put up and Boss put up were similar. They have Clay Harbor behind him, who I find to be a mediocre backup, but there it is. What really bumps them up is the drafting of Stanley Havili. They have a very solid FB tandem of Havili/Owen Schmitt. Havili adds another pass catching presence in the backfield, though his blocking sucks. Schmitt is a very strong FB.

4) New York Giants: Like I said before, the Giants use their TE's much less, which docks them quite a bit. Kevin Boss is solid, but I feel like one more hit to the head and its game over. He has talent, and he's had some great games, but is inconsistent. Travis Beckum is his back up, and has worlds of talent. His skill set and upside compares favorable to Chris Cooley; unfortunately he's not a good scheme fit for the Giants and doesn't see the field very often. Bear Pascoe is our current FB, and did an exceptional job even though its not his natural position. If we pick Henry Hynoski up, it would allow Pascoe to go back to being a blocking TE.



1) Dallas Cowboys: Admittedly, this was a very, very difficult decision, and one that I'm not too happy about. Dallas does not own the best LT or the best RT in the division, but its got probably the most solid tandem of both. Doug Free is no longer an underrated player, and indeed getting the attention he deserves as one of the game's better left tackles. He shored up the left side for Dallas for the majority of the season, and was rated the best run-blocking tackle in the NFL by PFF last season. On the right side, we have Marc Colombo and Tyron Smith. Colombo is at the end of the road, but one expects Tyron Smith to provide an instant impact that comes with being the 9th overall pick. Some people may think that Smith is no good, but that remains to be seen. At worst, I can see him being a serviceable starter in the league, which places Dallas in first place.

2) Philadelphia Eagles: It was close between the Eagles and Giants for 2nd place. I think the Eagles have the best LT in the division in Jason Peters, whereas the Giants have the best RT in the division in Kareem McKenzie. Unfortunately for the Giants, LT is a much more valuable position, so the Eagles win out in this regard. Their right tackle is King Dunlap/Winston Justice. Together, King Justice is a serviceable tandem, but nothing spectacular. I still have fond memories of Winston Justice vs Osi Umeniyora, but alas, times have changed and he's gotten much better since then.

3) New York Giants: Like I said before, the Giants have the best RT in Kareem McKenzie (according to PFF, the best in the NFC), but he's getting up there in age, and we could use his replacement soon. We drafted James Brewer for that exact reason. He's a dancing bear type, but still extremely raw, so he shouldn't be counted upon. At LT, most of the time it was David Diehl, but the Giants expect him to move back to G since he was beyond awful at LT. Will Beatty spent alot of time during the season at LT, and excelled at it. He should be the starting LT come the season, and high expectations of him are what propel the Giants above the Washington Redskins.

4) Washington Redskins: The Redskins showed up with the tandem of Jammal Brown and Trent Williams. Brown was definitely a solid RT for the Redskins, but Trent Williams, despite being a 1st round pick, was absolutely putrid. The worst performers for the NFC East teams included David Diehl (who gave up 7.5 sacks) for the Giants, King Dunlap/Winston Justice (since they split time @ 1 position they are added together; 3 + 5 = 8 sacks) for the Eagles, and Marc Colombo (7.5 sacks). Williams gave up 10 sacks.



1) New York Giants: The Giants have a top 2 G in the NFL by the name of Chris Snee. Only other player that I'd rank similarly to him would be Jahri Evans of the Saints. At the LG position, they had an amalgam of players due to injury. Rich Seubert held down the fort for much of the time, and played at a pro-bowl level. When Shaun O'Hara went down, he moved over to C, and Diehl shifted over to LG which is his natural position. In previous years, Diehl has been a pro bowler at the position, and there's no reason why he can't play to that level again. We also have Shawn Andrews, who is supremely talented, but cannot be relied upon by any stretch of the imagination. Waiting in the wings, we have Mitch Petrus, who has looked good in limited time.

2) Philadelphia Eagles: Todd Herremans is vastly underrated and probably one of the better Gs in the league. He shored up the interior for Philly and was just a huge, nasty guy in general. Speaking of nasty guys, the Eagles got one at the opposing end in Danny Watkins. He was rated as the best G in the draft (with the exception of Mike Pouncey in some opinions), and is a punishing run blocker and superb pass protector at the college level. How that translates to the NFL remains to be seen, but I wouldn't bet against the guy. The starters last year, Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole were not very good. Nick Cole himself gave up 4.5 sacks, which is high for a G.

3) Dallas Cowboys: Leonard Davis was an elite guard at one point, but his play severely dropped off last year. Much better was Kyle Kozier, who's right up there with Todd Herremans as the 2nd or 3rd best G in the NFC East and top 10 in the NFC, if not NFL. I like an up-and-comer like Watkins over the aging Leonard Davis, and that's why the Eagles beat out the Cowboys in this ranking.

4) Washington Redskins: They had Mike Williams and Artis Hicks, I believe. I wasn't too sure, so I had to look it up. They were probably the best of the otherwise woeful Redskins line, but they were relatively unheralded and can't really compare to the star power that the other teams in the East boast. They added Maurice Hurt in the draft, but unless he surprises, I don't see a huge impact being made.



1) New York Giants: To be honest, this position is really terrible. The Giants don't really deserve number 1 status because the position was up in the air for so long. However, the Giants currently have the most talented center in the division and a top center in the league when healthy, and that's Shaun O'Hara. The only problem is, he's had a ton of injury problems. Rich Seubert took over for him, and absolutely crushed it. He was terrific up until he had a nasty knee injury as well. Adam Koets took over for him, and performed admirably until HE got injured as well. Then it was Kevin Boothe, and he took over for the rest of the season, and was a serviceable replacement to say the least. All except Rich Seubert are expected to be ready to go for the new season. I give the Giants this ranking simply because of the talent they have at this position, though it is absolutely one of their largest needs.

2) Dallas Cowboys: Andre Gurode is probably one of the more overrated centers in the league, but he got the job done. Only allowed one sack on the season, but was all over the place snapping the ball and should be replaced soon. Was an adequate run blocker.

3) Philadelphia Eagles: Jamaal Jackson was a solid, if unspectacular starter for the Eagles, and is somewhat underrated in my eyes. He was adequate enough in run support, but has declined in recent years. The Eagles drafted Jason Kelce to be his eventual successor, I guess? Kelce is very undersized at 280, but is a good technician and is extremely quick. If he can bulk up, I can see him being a quality reserve center in the league.

4) Washington Redskins: Yes, the Redskins more or less have the worst OL in the division, and is below average for the league in general. Casey Rabach gave up the most sacks in the division at C, though it was only 2. He's also pretty old, at the ripe old age of 34, I believe. He was just around average in all facets of his game, nothing really stood out to me in particular, though his pass blocking has worsened over the years.

Next time: DE, DT,LB

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