Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 21-24
By James Walker
The AFC East blog continues its second annual "Walker’s Fab 40," where we rank the top players in the division.
Here are Nos. 21-24:
No. 24: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets
2012 stats: 70 tackles, five sacks, three forced fumbles
Analysis: Wilkerson came on strong this season and showed why the Jets made him a first-round pick out of Temple in 2011. He was fourth on the Jets in tackles and second in sacks, which is hard to do as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Wilkerson got stronger and became harder to block as the season went on. The Jets' play in the second half of the season went downhill but Wilkerson continued to shine. He played at a Pro Bowl level in November and December and should only get better.
No. 23: LaRon Landry, S, Jets
2012 stats: 99 tackles, two INTs, four forced fumbles
Analysis: Landry was one of the best signings in the division in 2012. Landry came to the Jets on the cheap with durability concerns. But he played his way into the Pro Bowl by being an enforcer and establishing a physical presence. New York had the NFL's second-best pass defense, even after star cornerback Darrelle Revis was lost for the season. Landry was a missile looking to unload on players coming across the middle. Unfortunately for the Jets, Landry could be a goner. He's an unrestricted free agent looking for a long-term extension following his Pro Bowl season. The Jets may not have the cap space to pay Landry to stay.
No. 22: Eric Wood, C, Buffalo Bills
2012 stats: 14 starts
Analysis: Wood is on the cusp of being one of the top centers in the NFL. He is strong, mobile, smart and has all the tools you want at the position. There is a reason C.J. Spiller had large creases to run up the middle last season, and Fred Jackson the year before that. Wood holds his blocks well and uses his feet to drive and position defenders. The biggest issue with Wood is his durability. He's struggled with leg and knee injuries the past two years.
No. 21: Sebastian Vollmer, RT, New England Patriots
2012 stats: 15 starts
Analysis: Vollmer is one of the most underrated players in the AFC East. He's also one of the top right tackles in the NFL, although that's a position that garners most of the attention on the left side. Vollmer has done a standout job protecting the front side of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Vollmer also is tough and plays well through pain. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the Patriots wisely want him back.