10 NFL players who just missed the Top 101 of 2015

Sam Monson reveals 10 players who just missed making PFF's Top 101 list, including Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams.

| 7 months ago
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

10 NFL players who just missed the Top 101 of 2015


Last week, PFF unveiled the Top 101 list of 2015 in its entirety, also explaining why some big-name players many were expecting to make an appearance were not included. Now we’re going to take a look at some players that narrowly missed out, and could easily have scraped onto the bottom of the list had the analyst discussion and debate gone another way. We will ignore big-names that have already been covered in our previous article, and instead focus on near misses that we have yet to mention.

These players, like everybody that made the Top 101, had excellent seasons and were all in the discussion for the final list before ultimately missing the cut.

1. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

With positive grades in every facet of the game PFF measures, Trufant was once again a fine corner for the Falcons and has become one of the best players on that roster. He wasn’t beaten for a reception longer than 30 yards all season, and had just one game in which he allowed more than 50 yards.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

As impressive as Trufant’s overall grade was, not enough of it was in coverage, and his numbers in many areas were actually down compared to a year ago. He allowed two touchdowns, a completion percentage of 57.1 (34th-best in NFL) and a passer rating into his coverage of 86.5 (41st).

2. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

This was by far the best season of Andy Dalton’s career, earning a passing grade more than 10 points higher than any other season as a pro; he began the year with a stretch of five or six games that was as good as any quarterback in the league. Through six games, he trailed only Carson Palmer’s overall grade among QBs, and he ended the year having completed 66.1 percent of his passes for a QB rating of 106.3.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

After those first six weeks, the wheels fell off the wagon a little, and Dalton regressed back to closer to his previous form. There weren’t the horrendous games of past seasons, but there also wasn’t another game that threatened his early-season form. Injury also robbed him of the opportunity to enhance his case in the playoffs, where the Bengals desperately needed him

3. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

There aren’t many TEs in the league that can block and catch, but Ertz earned strong grades in both facets this past season. He caught 70.8 percent of the passes thrown his way, and was PFF’s fourth-highest-graded overall TE after Rob Gronkowski, Delanie Walker, and Tyler Eifert, thanks to his work as a blocker.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

Blocking is nice, but this is a passing league, and six other TEs gained more receiving yardage than Ertz, who finished with 853 on the season. He scored just two touchdowns and had seven drops and a fumble, and Eagles QBs threw five interceptions when aiming his way.

4. Danny Trevathan, LB, Denver Broncos

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

Trevathan was yet another Denver defender to have a fine season and help lead the team to a Super Bowl win. He earned positive PFF grades in every facet of play we measure, and was one of the more reliable coverage linebackers in the league, picking off two passes and adding three more pass breakups over the season.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

He was good, rather than great, at just about everything, but was also exposed a little too often. For all his coverage ability, he was beaten for two touchdowns and allowed 70.2 percent of the passes sent his way to be caught. In the postseason, he looked a yard off the pace in coverage, and actually had a negative grade for those games.

5. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

Perennially underrated, Matt Ryan had another good, but not spectacular, season for the Falcons. He’s likely never going to be the best QB in the league, but Ryan completed 66.3 percent of his passes last season and was accurate on 76.4 percent (when adjusting for drops, spikes, etc). He was one of the few quarterbacks not to record a negative grade when under pressure.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

Ryan had three bad games over the season. Against Washington in Week 5, Tampa Bay in Week 13, and Carolina in Week 14, he combined for a -8.9 cumulative passing grade, throwing one touchdown and four interceptions combined. Great quarterbacks don’t need to be great every game, but when they are actively aiding in losing games, that’s a problem. 

6. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

When Le’Veon Bell went down injured, it was supposed to throw a torpedo into the side of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense, but it didn’t have that big of an effect, thanks largely to DeAngelo Williams, who had arguably the best season of his career in Bell’s absence. He gained 907 rushing yards and added another 377 through the air, playing 65.2 percent of the snaps on offense and blocking well throughout the year.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

Williams was good, but the unexpected nature of his success makes his achievements seem greater than perhaps they are. He was only 10th in rushing yards, and 25 running backs forced more missed tackles than the 23 Williams managed on the ground. Much of his grade comes from impressive blocking performances, but as a rusher only, seven runners had a better grade.

7. Leonard Williams, DE, New York Jets

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

As a rookie, Williams was an impressive performer and commanded a starting spot, earning 753 snaps on the Jets’ D-line and forcing them to kick players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson out to the edge to gain snaps. He had the fourth-highest grade against the run among 3-4 ends, and notched 50 total pressures despite not being a true pass-rusher.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

Williams was another player that was good, just not good enough to make the list, with too many interior players ahead of him in grading. He was the 12th-ranked interior defender, and played on a line with a lot of help. As a pass-rusher, 21 interior defenders had better overall PFF grades than the 79.7 Williams earned.

8. Trent Williams, LT, Washington Redskins

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

At his best, Trent Williams is one of the top tackles in the game, capable of shutting down opposing pass-rushers and punishing defenders in the run game. He had four perfect games of pass protection this season, and four more in which he allowed just a single pressure.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

We didn’t see that “elite” Williams for the whole season. He ended the year on a particularly sour note, allowing four sacks in his final three games, including his only two-sack game in the playoffs—the most crucial encounter of the season. As a run-blocker, he was merely average in 2015, and had as many poor games (four) as outright good ones, with half a season of non-descript average play in that area.

9. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

Tyrod Taylor made some of the best throws of the season in his first year as a starter for Buffalo. He went deep more often than any other quarterback in the league, and despite that, he was among the top 10 QBs for deep accuracy (20+ yards in the air), and threw 12 touchdowns to only three picks on those passes. As a runner, he added 566 yards and four scores to the cause, 405 of which came on scrambles.

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

For all of the “wow” throws, Tyrod Taylor just wasn’t efficient enough on the short and intermediate stuff over the middle, the area where most quarterbacks live. His passer rating of 79.1 was just 11th among QBs, and when pressured, his completion percentage dropped by 11.8 percent. Against the blitz, it fell by 11.3.

10. Brandon Williams, NT, Baltimore Ravens

Argument for Top 101 inclusion:

Brandon Williams was one of the best run defenders in the league last year, and was not a million miles behind Damon Harrison, who won PFF’s inaugural Ted Washington Award, given to the league’s best run-stopper. Only Aaron Donald and Harrison earned better grades against the run than Williams, who posted 38 defensive stops (seventh among all interior defenders).

Why he isn’t in the Top 101:

Williams is just too one dimensional, and for a passing league, it is the wrong dimension. He actually had a negative pass-rush grade, the only player in the top 30 among interior defenders to grade in the “red” in that area (below -1.0 on the cumulative scale). On 375 pass-rushing snaps, he managed just 20 total pressures. He also finished the season with a six-game stretch that was far more average than the way he had begun the year. Had his second half been a match for the first, he would certainly have made the list even, with his pass-rushing limitations.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • dlund6cutler

    Wheres Josh Gordon or Johnny Manziel?

  • Zachary DuBois

    It is extremely absurd that Trufant didn’t make the list but Adam Jones does. Considering the fact that all those passes on Trufant, for the most part, are dinks & dunks. Not to mention he’s able to do what he does with no pressure on the QB? But either way, I don’t mind him being underrated, falcon players usually are.

    • The Legendary Dealat

      I thought that he was pretty much a lock because no one really threw his way (least targeted corner in the NFL if I’m not mistaken). Naturally his numbers will be down considering that he pretty much gets no action as opposed to when QB’s tried his side a bit.

    • JT

      Wasn’t Adam Jones also a pretty good returner though too?