Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 17-20
By James Walker
The AFC East blog continues its rankings of the top 40 players currently in the division.
Here are Nos. 17-20:
No. 20: Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
2012 stats: 79 receptions, 1,046 yards, six touchdowns
Analysis: Johnson quietly put together his third straight 1,000-yard season. Johnson isn't the biggest or fastest receiver, but he does a great job getting the most out of his talent. Johnson also is a strong competitor who isn't afraid to go after the NFL's top corners. Johnson is not an elite receiver, but he's pretty good. It would be nice if the Bills got Johnson more assistance next season. He's been the only reliable receiver in Buffalo in recent years.
No. 19: Andy Levitre, G, Bills
2012 stats: 16 starts
Analysis: Levitre is a very good guard who is versatile. He has started multiple positions in Buffalo and might be the team's best offensive lineman. Levitre also does not get enough credit for his toughness and durability. He has a streak of 64 straight starts and never missed a game in four seasons. Levitre will be an unrestricted free agent in March and is ready to cash in. Will the Bills pay up to keep Levitre, or will it be another team?
No. 18: Mario Williams, DE, Bills
2012 stats: 46 tackles, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles
Analysis: The perception of Williams' $100 million contract certainly came into play this season. Just on the surface, Williams' 10.5 sacks would be considered a success for most NFL defensive ends. But when you factor in Williams received the largest contract ever in Buffalo and only played well in spots, you feel Williams' first season with the Bills was a disappointment. No matter your viewpoint, Williams did flash the ability to be a dominant defensive end. Talent-wise, Williams should be near the top of this list, but inconsistency brings him down. New Bills coach Doug Marrone and new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine need to get the most out of their most expensive player every week.
No 17: Randy Starks, DT, Miami Dolphins
2012 stats: 27 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one INT
Analysis: Starks made the Pro Bowl as an alternate and is one of the anchors of Miami's stout run defense. He was hard to move in the middle and showed enough athleticism to also register 4.5 sacks and an interception. Starks and fellow defensive tackle Paul Soliai caused a lot of problems for opposing offensive lineman. Miami would like to keep this pair together. However, Starks won't come cheap, and Miami has to decide if it wants to pay up.