PFF's 2015 Season Superlative Awards
With an incredible amount of information in the database at PFF, we can dig up a unique perspective on every single player. While the overall grades tell a strong story, the complexion of the grade is just as important: What does a player do best? Who is the best deep passer? Best against the blitz? Best blitzer?
Those questions, and much more, can be answered with PFF data in our 2015 superlative awards.
Best Deep Passer: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Deep passing stats are often skewed by the quality of the wide receiver, as downfield throws involve more tracking, hand fighting, and positioning than shorter throws. So looking at the stats is not always the best way to determine the best deep-ball thrower, but our grades take into consideration the timing and ball location of each throw, as well as crediting the quarterback for well-placed passes that are dropped. For that reason, Roethlisberger was the league’s best downfield thrower, as he consistently launched well-placed passes all season. He led the league with a +27.4 grade on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air (0.0 is average).
Runner-up: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Best Intermediate Passer: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
This is where Palmer dominated, grading at +45.1 at the intermediate level. Between the numbers, he was 58-for-79 for 998 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions, good for a passer rating of 130.1.
Runner-up: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Best Short Passer: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady is always among the league’s best in the short game, and he topped the grades again in 2015. His accuracy percentage of 84.4 percent ranked fifth in the league, and his 22 touchdowns led the NFL.
Runner-up: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Best Under Pressure: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Palmer’s +14.6 grade under pressure led the league, and his passer rating of 92.2 ranked second.
Runner-up: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Most Elusive: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin rejuvenated his career by grading as our top runner while also leading with an elusive rating of 65.7. He forced a league-high 57 missed tackles and picked up 3.1 yards after contact per rush.
Runner-up: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Best Hands: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
With all due respect to Jeremy Maclin of the Kansas City Chiefs (two drops in the last two seasons on 184 catchable passes), Witten didn’t drop any of his 77 catchable passes, so he gets the nod. Credit Maclin, however, who turned his once perceived average hands into the league’s best among wide receivers.
Runner-up: Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs
Best Deep Threat: Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
No wide receiver helped his quarterback as much as Robinson, who led the league with 672 yards on deep passes, a PFF record dating back to 2007. Whether running away from defenders or leaping over them to extend a drive, Robinson made big plays happen all season long for the Jaguars.
Runner-up: Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
Best Slot Receiver: Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin ran away with all of the slot awards this year, leading in yards (1,007), touchdowns (12), and yards per route run (2.46). He also caught a league-high 83.1 percent of his slot targets.
Runner-up: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Most Disciplined: Andrew Norwell, Carolina Panthers
Norwell played 834 snaps without committing a penalty, the only guard to play at least 500 snaps and avoid any flags.
Runner-up: Rob Havenstein, St. Louis Rams
Iron Man: James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams
With 1,183 snaps, Laurinaitis saw more action than any linebacker in the league, and for the seventh straight year of his career, he played more than 99.0 percent of team’s snaps.
Runner-up: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Best Tackler: Corey Graham, Buffalo Bills
Graham had only three missed tackles on 104 attempts, one every 35.7 attempts. It was the best rate among linebackers and safeties.
Runner-up: K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks
Ball Hawk: Delvin Breaux, New Orleans Saints
Breaux had 15 passes defended and three interceptions, getting his hand on 22.0 percent of his 82 targets to lead the league.
Runner-up: Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans
Best Blitzer: Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots
Hightower led all linebackers with a 94.0 pass rush rating, picking up four sacks, two hits, and 18 hurries on 116 rushes. Even though some of that came as a pure edge rusher, few linebackers attack the “A” gap like Hightower.
Runner-up: Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings
Best run-stopping safety: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
Jones set a PFF record with 38 run stops, and he finished with the top grade against run among safeties.
Runner-up: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings