By Matt Vensel
10:50 AM EDT, May 6, 2013
The NFL Network has started to slowly reveal its list of the top 100 players of the 2012 season. But knowing how little thought some players give while filling out their ballots, I have a hard time taking that list seriously.
The list that interested me more was the top 101 players of 2012 from the guys over at Pro Football Focus. Six PFF analysts put together the list, and they say they based it not on the reputation of players but solely on how they played in the 2012. They also tried to treat each position equally so the top 20 guys aren’t quarterbacks.
Despite going 10-6 during the regular season, winning the AFC North again and going on that memorable and improbable run to the Super Bowl, the Ravens only landed four players on this list -- and all were on offense.
Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, 32nd on the list, was the Ravens' highest-ranked player. He was fifth among offensive linemen.
“For so often the top right guard in the league, nothing changed in 2012. As reliable as it gets in pass protection and a powerhouse with his run blocking, there may not be a more reliable player in the league at any position than Yanda,” Pro Football Focus wrote. “Always gets the job done.”
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers after the 2012 season, came in 63rd on their list.
“There’s a lot of talk about Boldin being a guy that can’t get open. Be that as it may, he’s still a guy who (with defenders all over him) makes tough catches that move the chains,” Pro Football Focus wrote. “And it was that ability that was one of the key differences in why it was the Ravens, and no other team, that won the Super Bowl last year. Really stepped it up in the postseason and that’s why he makes the list.”
Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was ranked 92nd on the list.
“Rice didn’t get this selection on the back of his running between the tackles,” Pro Football Focus said. “His 1,143 yards are nothing to be sniffed at, but Rice would only finish 19th in our pure running back rankings as he more or less took what the opposing defenses gave up. Where he did excel was catching the ball out of the backfield where he was our top-ranked back and added 478 yards and one incredible fourth down conversion. An extremely important asset to the Ravens.”
Despite a stellar performance in the playoffs (which are included in their evaluations), quarterback Joe Flacco was ranked 100th on the list, one spot ahead of Minnesota Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh.
“If this list were built solely on those four postseason games that culminated with the Ravens quarterback hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, then Joe Flacco would rank right at the very top,” Pro Football Focus wrote. “But it’s not, and there were 16 other games that can’t be discounted where Flacco struggled with accuracy for a Ravens team that stumbled into the playoffs. Flacco was truly special in the playoffs, showing the kind of poise and knack for the big play that was integral in his team winning it all.”
Like I mentioned, no Ravens defenders made the PFF list, not decaying cornerstones Ray Lewis and Ed Reed nor up-and-comers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, who might have been deemed to be situational players. Injuries probably kept Lardarius Webb, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs off the list.
Ravens fans, what are your thoughts on PFF’s top 101 list?
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