Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
While a lot of damage was done with short throws over the middle, Brady played his part to perfection. Throwing just four interceptions, even if defenders dropped some balls, is a remarkable feat.
Fred Jackson (Buffalo Bills)
We really wanted to find a home for Danny Woodhead, but you can’t have a tailback who had under 100 carries. Instead the dependable Jackson posted a good year, even if his catching out of the backfield left a lot to be desired.
Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
The only thing not to like about Gronkowski is the six penalties. Other than that? Well we like a tight end that is a good run blocker and catches some touchdown passes. This guy does both and more.
Anthony Fasano (Miami Dolphins)
Quietly had another very good year as he caught most everything thrown his way while remaining one of the better blocking tight ends in the league.
Santonio Holmes (New York Jets)
Wasn’t helped by his QB at times (just 62.64% of balls thrown his way were catchable) and had some bad drops (notably the one versus the Dolphins), but a real playmaker at times whose impact won games.
Deion Branch (New England Patriots)
Quite the turnaround. Looking done in Seattle, to looking like the same guy that won a Super Bowl MVP trophy in New England. Branch was superb at getting separation.
Jake Long (Miami Dolphins)
Struggled after a shoulder injury slowed him down, but before that was (by some distance) the best left tackle in the league.
Logan Mankins (New England Patriots)
The missed time hurt him, but was superb when he came back. As good a guard as there is, Mankins can’t be far away from a big pay day.
Nick Mangold (New York Jets)
Injury made him mortal, but didn’t stop him being one of our top two centers in the entire league. We haven’t seen anything from anyone to suggest Mangold won’t be the best center in the league (barring injury) for years to come.
Brandon Moore (New York Jets)
Not his best season run blocking, but gave up less than a pressure a game. You make your quarterback a better player when you let him step up in the pocket.
Damien Woody (New York Jets)
How big was his loss to the Jets as Lamarr Woodley harassed Mark Sanchez? Woody is a pretty dominant run blocker and has been excellent value since moving to New York.
Kendall Langford (Miami Dolphins)
The Miami defense wasn’t their problem, as it did its task and then some. Langford really emerged this year as a guy who could hold up against the run and add some pass rush.
Vince Wilfork (New England Patriots)
Very nearly the excellent Mike DeVito here, but Wilfork edges him. Still a force against the run, but offers little as a pass rusher.
Kyle Williams (Buffalo Bills)
Great year. But you know that. Our Defensive Player of the Year for a reason.
Cameron Wake (Miami Dolphins)
We knew he’d generate pressure, but were less sure if he could hold up to an every down role. He did, which made his 66 total pressures all the more impressive.
Karlos Dansby (Miami Dolphins)
Worth the money? Probably not. Good player? Yes indeed. Dansby rarely made the big plays his contract should require, but he was good in all phases.
Bart Scott (New York Jets)
Tackle-count lovers will deride this pick over Jerod Mayo. Unfortunately there isn’t a stat for blowing up blocks, but if there was then Bart Scott would lead it. He stops runners from going where they want to.
Koa Misi (Miami Dolphins)
Not a pick we’re hugely comfortable with, but a real lack of other candidates. Misi was very good against the run.
Devin McCourty (New England Patriots)
Quite the rookie year for McCourty, who finished with our sixth-highest grade in coverage. Was beaten at times but recovered to make plays (seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups).
Darrelle Revis (New York Jets)
While it would have been nice to praise the excellent season of Sean Smith, the second half of the year for Revis was him opening his island for business as usual.
Brodney Pool (New York Jets)
Our fourth-highest-ranked safety in coverage didn’t allow a touchdown and broke up eight passes.
Yeremiah Bell (Miami Dolphins)
It says something for Bell that he recovered from a shaky, tackle-missing start to the season to finish as our eighth ranked safety on the year. A consistently good player.
Dan Carpenter (Miami Dolphins)
For a time looked automatic, but slumped a little as the year wore on. Didn’t miss a kick under 40, and four of his misses were over 50 yards.
Brandon Fields (Miami Dolphins)
His performance against the Jets may have been the best performance this year by a punter. Very rare a punter will win you a game.
Brad Smith (New York Jet)
As good a kickoff returner as there is, finishing with a 28.1 yard per return average.
Maurquice Cole (New York Jets)
Beating out his Jet teammate James Ihedigbo on the back of not missing tackles.