Pete Prisco of CBS Sports recently took a look at what he calls the four most important positions in the NFL: quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and cornerback. He looked at those players for each team and ranked them on a 1-32 scale. The quarterback values were tripled since they're far and away the most important position on the field (and probably all of pro sports...but that's a different argument for a different day). The other positions were given values, 1-32, with one being the best and 32 being the worst, thus the lower the score the better.
1. Quarterback: Touches the ball on every play and there's usually a correlation between success and quarterback play. They are usually the highest paid player on the field. This one is a no-brainer.
2. Left tackle: Protects the blind side of your biggest investment.
3. Pass rusher: Either a defensive end or a linebacker. Again, this centers around the quarterback - disrupt the opponents' signal caller and your chances of success rise.
4. Cornerback: Knocks down the quarterbacks passes and limits his opportunities so that your pass rusher can get to him.
These are the four most important positions, according to Prisco. I agree with the positions and the 1-4 ranking of each. There's an argument that pass rusher could be more vital than a left tackle but for the sake of his report let's go with this.
The Chiefs ranked 27 out of 32. Here's how the individuals break down:
QB Matt Cassel is ranked 18th. With another solid year he should leap frog the three players directly in front of him - Kerry Collins, Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub. Cassel has one season under his belt so an average ranking is fair for him.
LT Brandon Albert is ranked 25th. 55 sacks allowed in 2007 to 37 sacks allowed in 2008 given up. This is one that I will quickly disagree with. According to Chris' post a few weeks ago, Albert ranked 13th in the NFL his rookie year in sacks given up per pass play with .0083. He gave up 4.5 sacks his rookie season which placed him at 17th in the league. Take a look at Prisco's list, and then take a look at this list and see if you notice how many players are ranked above Albert that allowed more sacks than him last season.
LB Tamba Hali is ranked 31st. Team leader with three sacks doesn't make this much of a surprise. Kamrion Wimbley (Cleveland Browns) is the only player ranked below him. He might be our best pass rusher in 2009 as well.
CB Brandon Flowers is ranked 23rd. Flowers has some room for improvement but this ranking is about right. Only two rookies, Leodis McKelvin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, rank above him.
Other than Albert's ranking, which will likely rise in the coming years, I can't say I disagree with much here. The top three teams in this list, Indianapolis, San Diego and New England, are generally placed in the top 7 or 8 of most power rankings. While this list isn't meant to necessarily rank the teams power rankings style, the viability of the players at these four key positions usually determines a team's success.