Pro Football Focus released a list of its 50 best NFL players on Friday morning, and the article is causing quite a stir. Those at the top, such as Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, aren’t even remotely surprising.
In some ways, the same can be said for a lot of guys, but like with any list out there, not everyone is going to agree with it.
The Tennessee Titans recently added another elite offensive player, Julio Jones, to its roster during the offseason, and that got me curious. Where does PFF rate Jones and fellow Titans Derrick Henry and A. J. Brown heading into what should be a normal season?
Well, we got our answer.
Star running back Derrick Henry checked in at No. 12 overall, making him the top-rated player at his position. Here’s what Sam Monson at PFF had to say about the 2,000-yard rusher out of Alabama:
Over the last two seasons, Henry has been on a one-man mission to prove that running backs do matter, and it’s tough to argue with what he’s done. He has piled up more yards after contact over that time (2,758) than any other running back has in total rushing yards (Dalvin Cook has 2,692 total rushing yards). Henry also leads the league with 133 broken tackles since 2019 and has averaged 3.7 yards after contact per carry in the playoffs.
We then have to sift through quite a few names before we get to Julio Jones, who checks in at No. 35 overall. Some might be surprised to see Jones listed ahead of Brown, but they shouldn’t be. Jones is still playing at an elite level when he’s on the field.
Monson does a good job of explaining why:
Injuries have become a bigger issue in recent years, but when Jones is on the field, he is still an elite receiver who could make a good argument that he is the match of anybody in the NFL at his position.
He may have come away with only 771 yards in 2020, but he was fourth in the NFL in yards per route run — 2.60, a fraction away from being ranked second — and he still generated a passer rating of 131.5 when targeted. The new Tennessee Titan is still the best blend of size, speed, athleticism and technique in the league, and the only question is whether he still has the durability to be ranked at the very top of the list.
Those who are upset that Brown doesn’t crack the Top 35, don’t worry. He isn’t far behind, sitting at No. 38 overall. That puts Jones and Brown as the fifth and sixth highest-ranked wide receivers, respectively. Folks, that’s not bad at all.
Brown has already been a dominant force in his first two seasons in the NFL, but we may be about to witness him kicking it to another level now that Julio Jones is going to line up on the other side of the formation for the Titans.
The Ole Miss product has averaged an excellent 2.66 yards per route run since he entered the league, tied for second in the league, and has broken more tackles (33) than any other wide receiver. He has shown he is a complete No. 1 and has done so while opposing defenses have known he was the biggest receiving threat on his team.
Jones, Henry, and Brown are the only three Titans to make the list, but where does everyone else check in? Check out Monson’s article to find out. I found it really interesting.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.