We always want to give you a little more and we always want to learn a little more. It’s why we’ve spent the past two offseasons reaching back to collect grades and data for the 2007 NFL season, with the results proving incredibly interesting.
All of our Premium Members get the grades and premium stats as they would for any other season, but there’s no reason we can’t share some findings with the masses. And what better way than a little “PFF Rewind” regarding what he Pro Bowl looked like, and how it should have turned out.
Up first? The AFC.
(Starters denoted with *)
Actual Choices: Tom Brady*(NE), Peyton Manning (IND) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
PFF Picks: Peyton Manning* (IND), Tom Brady(NE) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Move along, nothing to see here. We’ve flipped the starters, but in truth that’s splitting hairs with Manning and Brady both earning grades that were nearly twice as high as the next QB. They were both sublime with two all-time great seasons.
Actual Choices: LaDainian Tomlinson*(SD), Joseph Addai (IND) and Willie Parker (PIT)
PFF Picks: LaDainian Tomlinson*(SD), Joseph Addai (IND) and Fred Taylor (JAX)
Before injury derailed his season (and career) Ronnie Brown was putting in the kind of effort that would likely have earned him a starting spot. As it is, we’re matching up with the NFL except to give Fred Taylor the recognition he deserves for a great season. Indeed, this was one of the biggest issues we had with the whole Pro Bowl as Parker, despite his yardage totals, would finish with the worst pure rushing grade of all running backs. Taylor? Third-highest.
Actual Choice: Lorenzo Neal (SD)
PFF Picks: Greg Jones (JAX)
Reputation pick much? Neal was far from finished at this stage, but no back graded better than the excellent Jones in 2007.
Actual Choices: Randy Moss*(NE), Reggie Wayne* (IND), Braylon Edwards (CLE) and Hines Ward (PIT)
PFF Picks: Randy Moss*(NE), Reggie Wayne* (IND), Brandon Marshall (DEN) and Chad Johnson (CIN)
There was little room for disagreement with the starters. Both men had the highest receiving grades, with Wayne leading the league in yards and Moss in touchdowns. But the backups? Well, we had to get Marshall in — he had one of the more underrated years of any receiver, setting a PFF record for forcing 39 missed tackles after the catch. He easily beat out the rep pick of Ward and the drop-filled season of Edwards (his 18 dropped passes in 2007 were the second-highest total we’ve seen in a season).
Actual Choices: Antonio Gates*(SD) and Tony Gonzalez (KC)
PFF Picks: Heath Miller* (PIT) and Antonio Gates (SD)
Picking between these three was a near impossible task. On one hand, Gonzalez and Gates were clearly the best receivers, but they offered little in the run game and Miller deserves recognition for his every-down play that saw him our highest-ranked tight end in 2007.
Actual Choices: Matt Light*(NE), Jason Peters*(BUF) and Jonathan Ogden (BAL)
PFF Picks: Joe Thomas*(CLE), Marshal Yanda*(BAL) and Matt Light (NE)
It was tough leaving Ogden out because when he played he was phenomenal. It’s only the action he missed that means we can bypass him and head straight to two rookies who really stole the show (in our eyes) by coming into the NFL and acting like vested veterans. Thomas was a star from Day 1 and that’s widely accepted, but it was more eye-opening to look at Yanda (who would go onto become an All-Pro right guard) excel at tackle when thrown in at the deep end.
Actual Choices: Logan Mankins*(NE), Alan Faneca*(PIT) and Kris Dielman (SD)
PFF Picks: Logan Mankins*(NE), Bobbie Williams*(CIN) and Andrew Whitworth (CIN)
It was tough finding a right guard with the AFC being home to some excellent left guards. On the left side of things, strong cases could be made for all the men mentioned above as well as Ryan Lilja, Chester Pitts and Brian Waters. A good year for guards.
Actual Choices: Jeff Saturday*(IND) and Dan Koppen (NE)
PFF Picks: Jeff Saturday*(IND) and Nick Mangold (NYJ)
Saturday was comfortably our top-ranked center with a +34.4 grade that dwarfed the competition. Koppen? Well, he earned a solid grade that was ninth-best of all centers, but the sophomore Mangold had a far more impressive year on his way to second spot overall in our rankings.
Actual Choices: Jared Allen*(KC), Kyle Vanden Bosch*(TEN) and Jason Taylor (MIA)
PFF Picks: Jared Allen*(KC), Kyle Vanden Bosch*(TEN) and Paul Spicer (JAX)
No arguments on the starters, but a big bone of contention when it comes to the choice of Taylor. This can only have been built on his sack totals, because the rest of his game was underwhelming. While he was in on 11 sacks he had just 28 other instances of pressure and earned even worse marks in the run game as our third-lowest ranked 4-3 defensive end. Now, while Taylor did not deserve his spot, it was hard finding someone who did. Elvis Dumervil got plenty of pressure but was an abomination against the run, while Dwight Freeney missed too much time despite fantastic work when he was on the field. In the end, the more complete Spicer got the nod with positive marks against the run and rushing the passer.
Actual Choices: Albert Haynesworth*(TEN), Vince Wilfork*(NE) and Jamal Williams (SD)
PFF Picks: Albert Haynesworth*(TEN), Vince Wilfork*(NE) and Jamal Williams (SD)
Three of the Top 5 from our 2007 defensive tackle rankings. Haynesworth was the top dog even if he did fade the longer the year went on, with it being a real shame he didn’t get on the field more to offer a real comparison to some of the best in the business we have right now.
Actual Choices: James Harrison*(PIT), Mike Vrabel*(NE) and Shawne Merriman (SD)
PFF Picks: James Harrison*(PIT), Terrell Suggs*(BAL) and Derrick Johnson (KC)
No arguments with Harrison, but there’s a clear issue with the Pro Bowl when you’re plumping for guys like Vrabel and Merriman because you want pass rushers instead of conventional 4-3 outside linebackers. It really did a disservice to a guy like Derrick Johnson who had a fantastic year.
Actual Choices: DeMeco Ryans*(HOU) and Ray Lewis (BAL)
PFF Picks: DeMeco Ryans*(HOU) and Larry Foote (PIT)
Ryans rightfully got a nod after finishing 2007 as our top-ranked middle linebacker, but the Ray Lewis pick? Sure Lewis wasn’t bad, but you could make a strong case he wasn’t even the best inside linebacker on his own team (step forward, Bart Scott). No, we’ve gone with the underrated Foote.
Actual Choices: Champ Bailey*(DEN), Asante Samuel*(NE) and Antonio Cromartie (SD)
PFF Picks: Antonio Cromartie* (SD), Champ Bailey*(DEN) and Will Allen (MIA)
Cromartie certainly made a name for himself with a 10-pick season, but his year was more than just the big plays, allowing completions on just 53.3% of throws his way in a fine year. He gets bumped up to a starting spot ahead of Asante Samuel who loses his spot to Will Allen. Allen didn’t have the picks of Samuel, but allowed fewer touchdowns while contributing an impressive 12 pass break-ups.
Actual Choices: Ed Reed (BAL)
PFF Picks: Kerry Rhodes* (NYJ) and Brodney Pool (CLE)
Another reputation pick, but what did you expect? Rhodes was at the height of his powers here, proving a real force on every down. That earned him the highest grade of all safeties for the year.
Actual Choice: Bob Sanders*(IND) and Troy Polamalu (PIT)
PFF Picks: Bob Sanders*(IND)
The selection of Polamalu was odd for a number of reasons. He missed plenty of time hurt and when on the field was ranked below 26 other safeties. Sanders, on the other hand, was a slam dunk in a year that only served to highlight how much the Colts would miss him with his injury woes over the next couple of years.
Actual Choice: Shane Lechler (OAK)
PFF Picks: Shane Lechler (OAK)
Edging out Dustin Colquitt and Mike Scifres.
Actual Choice: Rob Bironas (TEN)
PFF Picks: Kris Brown (HOU)
Finished as our fifth-rated field goal kicker on the year, behind four guys in the NFC.
Actual Choice: Joshua Cribbs (CLE)
PFF Picks: Joshua Cribbs (CLE)
Was our top-ranked kick returner by some distance. A special year for a returner.
Actual Choice: Kassim Osgood (SD)
PFF Picks: Kassim Osgood (SD)
On the surface Osgood was a candidate as being selected on reputation, but as it turns out he earned that rep this year. Our top-ranked special teamer.
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