Best player at every position in NFL Week 1

Sam Monson identifies the top performers at each position across the league this week.

| 3 months ago
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Best player at every position in NFL Week 1


Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season is nearly complete, and PFF’s grades for every player to take a snap are in the books. Here are the top performances over the opening week at every position:

Offense

2016 NFL Week 1

Quarterback: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, 96.1 overall grade

If anybody was worried by the play of Andrew Luck in 2015, he offered arguably the best performance of his career Sunday to show that is all in the past. On deep passes alone, Luck hit on five-of-11 attempts for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Running back: Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers, 81.1

Another player out to prove he is better than his 2015 performance suggest, Gordon carried 14 times for 57 yards (4.1 per attempt), but gained 2.7 per attempt after contact, breaking four tackles and scoring twice.

Wide receiver: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, 93.1

Green might have dismantled Revis Island once and for all. He caught 12 of the 13 passes sent his way for 180 yards and a score, and while not all of those receptions came against Revis, he did catch the ball every time he was targeted with the Jets’ star corner in coverage (eight times).

Wide receiver: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings, 85.1

The Vikings offense wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, but Diggs caught seven of the eight passes thrown his way for 103 yards, and quarterback Shaun Hill had a passer rating of 118.8 when targeting him.

Slot receiver: Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints, 86.8

Even what could have been a critical fumble doesn’t keep Snead out of this team, thanks to catching all nine passes thrown his way for 172 yards and a touchdown. Snead was open all day against Oakland, and gained 51 of his yards after the catch.

Tight end: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, 83.2

Going back to opening night, Olsen remains one of Carolina’s biggest weapons, catching seven of the nine passes thrown his way and holding his own when it came to blocking, something that couldn’t often be said in 2015.

Left tackle: Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs, 82.0

Don’t look now, but Fisher is quietly becoming a pretty good left tackle. He allowed just three total pressures in his 71 snaps versus the Chargers, and graded well against the run and on screens into the bargain.

Left guard: Kelechi Osemele, Oakland Raiders, 84.5

Osemele looked like a very sound investment in his first action for the Raiders, surrendering just one pressure over 73 snaps, run-blocking well, and even kicking out to left tackle when injuries forced re-shuffles along the line.

Center: Matt Paradis, Denver Broncos, 89.6

One of the most monstrous performances we have seen from a center, Paradis had a perfect game in pass protection for Denver against a tough Carolina front, and was also dominant in the run game.

Right guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens, 82.7

Against the Bills, Yanda picks up right where he left off as the best guard in the NFL. He didn’t allow a single pressure, run-blocked well, and the only black mark against him was a pair of penalties.

Right tackle: Marshall Newhouse, New York Giants, 83.6

Maybe the most unlikely name to make the team of the week, it seems that all the Giants needed for Newhouse to dominate at RT was to face the Dallas pass-rush. Newhouse gave up just one hurry and run blocked well.

Defense

2016 NFL Week 1

Edge defender: Derrick Morgan, Tennessee Titans, 84.6

No sacks for Morgan against the Vikings, but four hurries, a defensive stop and some good work in the run game squeezing lanes and making life difficult for blockers on the O-line earns him a spot on the team of the week.

Interior defender: Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans, 85.7

Morgan is joined by teammate Casey, who also failed to register a sack, but notched two hits and three hurries to go along with three defensive stops in the run game.

Interior defender: Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 85.5

Gerald McCoy was back to his best against the Falcons, notching a sack and a hurry as a pass-rusher, but also batting down two key passes by getting himself in throwing lanes and disrupting the play even when he couldn’t get home with his rush.

Edge defender: Chris Long, New England Patriots, 82.7

Two sacks in his debut for New England suggest that Long still has plenty of pass-rush left in the tank. He added a hurry to those sacks and even showed up in coverage.

Linebacker: Jordan Hicks, Philadelphia Eagles, 87.0

Hicks was thrown at three times, allowing just one catch for two yards, and breaking up one of the incompletions. He made five solo tackles, three of which were defensive stops.

Linebacker: Jerrell Freeman, Chicago Bears, 86.7

Only Kwon Alexander (15) posted more solo tackles among LBs this week than Freeman’s 13 according to PFF’s tally, and Freeman actually added four assists to Alexander’s one to take the lead overall. Eight of those tackles were defensive stops, as he showed the kind of work rate that the Bears craved this offseason.

Cornerback: DeShawn Shead, Seattle Seahawks, 90.7

When a cornerback comes out of a game with 53 snaps of action having allowed just 3 receiving yards, he has had a pretty good game. That’s exactly what Shead managed, breaking up one pass, laying a hit on Miami’s Arian Foster to break up another, and making a nice tackle for no gain on a receiver screen.

Cornerback: Damarious Randall, Green Bay Packers, 85.9

Randall was targeted six times against the Jaguars but allowed just two catches for 13 yards, breaking up one pass and being in close attendance on multiple others.

Slot corner: Chris Harris, Jr., Denver Broncos, 89.7

Harris did give up a touchdown to Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin, but he was in close coverage at the time and just lost the battle at the catch point. Outside of that negative, he intercepted a pass, broke up another key one late in the game, and allowed a total of just 14 yards to the Panthers, all of which came on the touchdown score.

Safety: Isa Abdul-Quddus, Miami Dolphins, 86.1

Abdul Quddus had good grades in both the run game and coverage versus Seattle, notching an interception as well as two defensive stops. He also broke up a pass intended for Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin in the third quarter.

Safety: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings, 84.9

One of the best safeties in the game, Harrison Smith had another good performance to open the season. He had an interception nullified by penalty, but also made a couple of nice plays in the run game, beating rookie Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe inside to make a tackle for loss, as well as recording a key third-down stop.

Special teams

Punter: Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans

Other players might have had a higher average than Kern, but his directional punting was excellent against the Vikings, and his five punts were returned for just 10 yards.

Kicker: Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys

Two-for-two from over 50 yards, Bailey hit on all four of his kicks and averaged 71.5 yards on his kickoffs, too.

Kick returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings

This wasn’t a great week for returners, but Patterson showed why he is one of the league’s most dangerous return men, getting one shot to take a kick back—and gaining 61 yards.

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

| Senior Analyst

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

  • Elias Woolfolk

    Used to love pff but the grading system is getting ridiculous. Negative plays kill a guy and he can’t recover even though those guys make big plays.

    • rodrigo pedro

      Chris Harris alowed a TD and made a big penalty and made it.
      If whoever you are whining about did enough positive to outweight the negative he would be here.

      • Elias Woolfolk

        Ahh here comes the how dare you disagree guy. Now I’m whining. And what the hell does Chris Harris have to do with anything??? Go home kid no one cares about your pff love.

        • SeattleSteve

          The only “kid” here is the crybaby whining.

          • Elias Woolfolk

            Lol ok anything else?

        • Sifter

          What does Chris Harris have to do with anything? Uh because Chris Harris directly contradicts your hypothesis: ‘negative plays kill a guy and he can’t recover even though those guys make big plays’. Exhibit A: Chris Harris.

          • Nelson Cobb

            Somebody doesn’t sound too happy about getting owned, does he??

        • Vitor

          Boy, you just got OWNED lol

          • Kelly Lord

            yeah he got pretty owned. agreed. lol

      • RSR1DRIVER

        Chris Harris only befitted because his dumb penalty on the last drive didn’t kill the broncos because of the missed Carolina game winning field goal attempt. Harris didn’t overcome anything.

        • Brandon Purdy

          The field goal miss or make wouldn’t have change his grade.

      • twelsh36446

        BS rodrigo

  • Steve

    What’s funny is the Lions scored the most POINTS week 1 and get ZERO respect from NFL “experts” !!!??? Wake the F#*@ up and get your heads out of GB azz

    • Nelson Cobb

      They played probably the worst defense in the NFL, with 90% of their secondary injured or out, and a street FA just signed a week or 2 ago as their #1, and still almost lost the game.

      • 24AHAD

        He’s on an advanced statistics website where they grade players individually and this guy comes with a point total for his favorite team. Lmao. That doesn’t mean a thing here Steve. Be happy your team won.

  • YungLickHitta

    why is darren sproles not here as a punt returner?

    • hotbari

      Why would he be?

      • YungLickHitta

        because he had a great game… higher punt avg. than any other returner, nearly broke through for a TD

        • hotbari

          There were 5 guys that had a higher punt return average than Sproles (although they only had one return each) And there were 17 higher kick return averages.. Sproles wasn’t even the best Kick returner on his own team. They chose Patterson because he had the longest single return of anyone week 1.

          • YungLickHitta

            he doesn’t return kicks, moron. he’s a punt returner and his average on several punt is the highest going into week 2.

          • hotbari

            Then why did he have one kick return?, dumbass

          • hotbari

            Then why did he return a kick? Dumbass.

          • YungLickHitta

            because it was a squib kick to end the first half you retarded cunt

  • Jeff Shull

    These don’t reflect the current list. Right now I see Giants Justin Pugh as top rated left guard and Clowney as the top edge defender. What gives?

  • hotbari

    Why publish this when there are still 4 teams to be graded?

  • a57se

    Did you fools even look at the game Leonard Williams had???

  • twelsh36446

    Stafford out played Luck hands down. Just another lame ass call on the Lion’s.

    • Vincent Levesque

      Well Stafford didn’t made a single tough throw against CBs signed off the street the week before. If you want to complain I think both Riddick and Abdulah should’ve been in there with a gazillion forced missed tackle but the fact that you guys needed a FG to win it at the end says a lot about your beloved QB

      • twelsh36446

        STFU Vincent. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Stop whining the same old BS over and over.

    • Nelson Cobb

      You’re delusional. Stafford was solid, but most his production was a result of his targets. Almost 70% of his total yardage was yardage by the receiver after the catch. 231 of his 340 yards were made after the catch. Luck, of his 385 yards, only 91 yards were after the catch, meaning he literally threw the ball in the air for almost 300 yards, where Stafford barely threw for 100 yards. Not to mention, Stafford also faced a secondary with 6 guys out or going out in that game, where they’re #1 CB was a guy off the street. Andrew Luck was the best QB of week 1, get over it!!!

      • twelsh36446

        No you’re the delusional one. Look at his QB rating mister know it all.

      • twelsh36446

        You saying Detroit’s secondary played better then the colts secondary? If so you are more delusional than I thought. Our secondary played hurt through out the game. The only decent CB Detroit has is Slay, and he’s all mouth and no play. Kinda like you Nelson.

        • Nelson Cobb

          Can’t dispute the facts dude. You can argue till you’re blue in the face, the facts aren’t gonna change. Facts are that Stafford was only 4-7 for 94 yards on throws beyond 10 yards. That means 30 of his passes traveled less than 10 yards in the air beyond the LOS. It was a dink and dunk day, bunch of easy checkdown throws vs the worst secondary in football, and a bunch of YAC created from his WR’s and RB’s. Luck on the other hand consistently made tough, down the field throws as he went 14-20, 284 yards and 4 TDs on throws 10+ yards down the field. Luck didn’t get near the help from his supporting cast, as I’ve already pointed out the 91 YAC vs Stafford’s 231 YAC. Luck consistently made NFL throws downfield, where Stafford barely had to work, and barely had to make any throws downfield. But hey, dispute it all you want if it makes you feel better.

          • twelsh36446

            TThat’s your fact blue face mine are different.

  • twelsh36446

    PFF is bias as all hell. They see what they want to see that’s why I stopped buying

  • bdh

    yes, yes, it is very cute that gordon scored not one but two TDs vs. zero last year.

    but… while he was busy getting 57 yds (and 2 TDs no dount) on 14 touches…he lost! to who?? s. ware!

    ware, who gained 199yds on 18 touches, scored a TD, and most importantly, made critical plays at the near end of the game to allow his team to: win!

    sorry, epic fail on gordon being ” the top performances over the opening week…position”

    • Sam Serra

      Actually, this is hard to disagree with.

  • Steve Duncan

    WOW….Jets get 7 sacks and not one of them on the defense team of the week. That is about all you need to know about this rating system

    • Nelson Cobb

      Yeah, cause getting sacks automatically mean you played a fantastic game, huh?? That’s one play. You can get 2 sacks, and still not have a good game, cause there’s still 50-60 other plays that are played in the game. Sacks are a nice flashy number, but a highly overrated number. Did those 7 sacks win the game?? They didn’t

      • Steve Duncan

        AND….you want to ignore that they had seven sacks and held a strong Cincinnati team to less than 100 yards? This ranking was about the D-Line, not the entire team. It wasn’t the D-Line that lost them the game, it was Revis and his Fantasy Island that gave up all those yards and TD’s.

  • Josh Stewart

    Just wondering how you determine these? Just looked at the Rams-49ers game. You gave Donald a 93, yet he isn’t here. You also gave their corner a 93, but he isn’t here.

  • Dan Morin

    Nobody is forcing anyone to this site. If you disagree with the ratings and analysis the Internet is loaded with others. We can make our own decisions without your input.