Note: The table is best viewed under the 'wide version' to the top left (on the homepage) or top right of the page.
|Chiefs||#20 Cassel||None||None||None||None||None||#3 Waters||None||None||#12 Vrabel||None||None|
The Sporting News has been ranking the top 20 players at each position in the NFL. Last week we went over the quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, guards, centers and tackles. Matt Cassel and Brian Waters were the only ones to appear on that list.
Today, we'll be completing the offense with the running back and fullback rankings, along with the defense: outside linebacker, defensive ends, inside linebacker and defensive tackle.
Running back - No Chiefs (#1 - Adrian Peterson, Vikings - Full list here)
Wow. When we talk about Larry Johnson's stock plummeting this is what we mean. As much as I've criticized LJ, he is a top 20 back in this league. As of now, is a rookie like Chris "Beanie" Wells really better than LJ?
Fullback - No Chiefs (#1 - Greg Jones, Jaguars - Full list here)
I'm not sure many people in the NFL outside of Kansas City know who MIke Cox is (that's what she said).
Defensive tackle - No Chiefs (#1 - Albert Haynesworth, Redskins - Full list here)
Maybe in two years Tank Tyler will crack this list. Or maybe Glenn Dorsey...if we go back to the 4-3.
Defensive End - No Chiefs (#1 - Jared Allen, Vikings - Full list here)
These rankings don't look too fondly on the end who was ranked 106th in the NFL last year (Tamba Hali).
Outside linebacker - #12 Mike Vrabel (#1 - DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys - Full list here)
Vrabel is getting up in years and coming off a subpar season, but he will have an important leadership role in the Chiefs' transition to a 3-4 scheme. Coordinator Clancy Pendergast likes to play the matchup game and mix looks, and Vrabel can play just about anywhere, even on offense.
Inside linebacker - No Chiefs (#1 - Brian Urlacher, Bears - Full list here)
Zach Thomas is an acceptable inside linebacker (assuming he's healthy) but certainly isn't in the top 20 category anymore. Derrick Johnson is moving to the middle this season.
After the jump I included the write up of the other positions linked above.
Quarterback - #20 Matt Cassel (#1 - Peyton Manning, Colts - Full list here)
Cassel wildly exceeded expectations in New England last year, but a good portion of his success can be attributed to the Patriots' system. New coach Todd Haley certainly will play to Cassel's strengths, inserting him in a pass-first, shotgun-heavy attack. Smart coaching and a favorable system are enough to keep him on this list, but he will not be lining up behind Patriots' line or have Randy Moss and Wes Welker outside. And it remains to be seen whether RB Larry Johnson has anything left to offer.
I'm wiling to cede the argument that Chad Pennington (#19) is better than Cassel, but I will not agree that Jason Campbell (#18) and Matt Schaub (#17) are better options.
Wide Receiver - No Chiefs (#1 - Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals - Full list here)
No real arguments here. While Bowe is an excellent receiver whose put up over 2,000 yards in his first two years, numbers that don't come around very often, he's not in the elite category yet. Maybe that's because of the oft-cited dropped balls issue or that he hasn't had a great quarterback throwing to him, but he's not a top 20 receiver...yet.
Tight End - #2 Tony Gonzalez No Chiefs (#1 - Jason Witten, Cowboys - Full list here)
Of course Brad Cottam, who has never started a game for the Chiefs, isn't on the list. Tony Gonzalez should be #1, but that's a different argument for a different day.
Center - No Chiefs (#1 - Nick Mangold, Jets - Full list here)
Rudy Niswanger is a converted guard playing center. The Chiefs signed Eric Ghiaciuc, who wasn't re-signed by the Bengals.
Guard - #3 Brian Waters (#1 - Steve Hutchinson, Vikings - Full list here)
Despite getting off to a shaky start with the new boss, Waters is a former Pro Bowler and the Chiefs' best lineman. Scott Pioli and Todd Haley know it, which is why Waters didn't go anywhere during draft weekend despite numerous rumors indicating he might be dealt. He is 32 years old, but his combination of strength and agility is hard to find in a man his size.
No surprise here. Even at 34 years old Waters is one of the best in the game.
Tackle - No Chiefs (#1 - Ryan Clady, Broncos - Full list here)
I won't argue that Clady should be #1 since he gave up 1/2 a sack last season but no Brandon Albert is a bit surprising. He gave up 4 sacks in his rookie year.
I agree with the majority of this list. I would strongly disagree with the running back rankings. Larry Johnson is still a top 20 talent in this league, especially when he's compared to rookies.
I can see the argument that Dwayne Bowe should be in the top 20 wide receiver rankings. He's had 2,000 yards in his first two seasons. Then again, people keep pointing to him dropping balls.