AFC North: NFLRank

CINCINNATI -- A.J. Green is currently the second-best receiver in the NFL -- one pass-catching tight end notwithstanding -- and Geno Atkins is the fourth-best defensive lineman in the league, according to ESPN's #NFLRank project that concluded on ESPN.com on Friday.

Are we shocked the Cincinnati Bengals duo is so highly regarded? Are we stunned? Did we really expect anything more?

No. No. And no.

 Respectively, Green and Atkins were ranked the ninth- and 10th-best players on their side of the ball. Only eight players were ahead of Green, including the top overall offensive player, Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson, and New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. Atkins was surpassed by nine other defensive players including Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the player tabbed in this survey as the top current defender in the league.

Atkins actually fell to 10th after being ranked seventh last year. Still, it's rather amazing he still was included in the top 10 after missing half of last season with an ACL injury. That's a testament to his past success and the optimism many share this season as he comes off the serious injury. He's set to open the season next weekend with the Bengals when they travel to Baltimore. Green remained at No. 9, where he was the year before.

Green and Atkins joined linebacker Vontaze Burfict (No. 32, defense), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (No. 86, defense), running back Giovani Bernard (No. 88, offense) and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (No. 92, offense) as Bengals to appear on the countdown. Only two players in that group haven't been to the Pro Bowl, Bernard and Dunlap. A former undrafted free agent, Burfict attended his first Pro Bowl at the end of his second season last year.

All but two of those players also have negotiated big second deals with the Bengals. Green and Bernard are the only ones who have not. Bernard can't start speaking with the Bengals about a contract extension until after next season. Green and his representatives can begin those conversations now, but it's not likely he'll receive a long-term deal for some time. Earlier this year the Bengals exercised their fifth-year option on him, meaning he's slated to make more than $10 million next season after playing out the final year of his original four-year rookie contract this season.

Green and Atkins have been among the best at their positions in recent seasons. An NFL.com survey of players earlier this year actually considered Green the No. 2 receiver in the league behind Johnson. If you classify Graham as a tight end and not a receiver, the same holds true in the #NFLRank survey.

The #NFLRank series, which debuted last Monday, ranked the Top 100 players in the league. Players were separated into offense and defense.

Earlier this summer, many of the people behind ESPN's NFL coverage, including myself, made individual rankings for the overall project.

You can read the full series here.

Below are blurbs from the series on Green and Atkins:
Green was the most-targeted receiver in the NFL last year, leading the league with 178 targets. Green's eight touchdown receptions on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield last season were the most in the NFL.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

Despite missing nearly half of last season, Atkins leads all defensive tackles with 29 sacks since he entered the league in 2010. Atkins is the first Bengals defender selected to consecutive Pro Bowls since David Fulcher (1988-90).
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would probably take issue with where linebacker Lawrence Timmons ranks among the NFL’s top 100 defensive players, according to ESPN.com.

Timmons
Timmons, a player whom LeBeau has said should have made several Pro Bowls by now, is No. 77, falling 15 spots from his 2013 ESPN.com ranking.

It’s hard to imagine why Timmons dropped so much considering the season he had in 2013. The eighth-year veteran led the Steelers with 155 tackles, tied for the team lead with two interceptions and also recorded three sacks. Granted, it was a down year for the Steelers' defense, but Timmons excelled despite playing alongside a rookie (Vince Williams) who was feeling his way at weakside inside linebacker for much of the season.

Timmons is versatile and durable -- the former first-round pick has started 53 consecutive regular season games -- and he is the Steelers’ best player on defense.

In another ranking, a handful of Steelers showed up on ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando’s list of 50 players poised to break out Insider this season, including right guard David DeCastro (No. 3) and running back Le'Veon Bell (No. 9).

Here is what Sando wrote about DeCastro:
  • DeCastro was quite proficient as a run-blocker while playing 15 games last season after a knee injury wiped out his 2012 rookie campaign. He has a shot at ascending among the best guards in the league if he can stay on the field.

Here is Sando’s take on Bell:
  • Lots of people in the league believe the Steelers are primed for a big season, and Bell figures to play a prominent role in their success after a foot injury slowed him as a rookie in 2013. Look for the goal-line carries to go to LeGarrette Blount, however (consider that an alert to fantasy owners).

Also showing up on Sando’s list are defensive end Cameron Heyward (No. 26) and outside linebacker Jason Worilds (No. 27).
ESPN is concluding its rankings of the top 100 players on offense and defense. The top-ranked player on the Cleveland Browns should come as no surprise:

OFFENSE

Thomas
10. Joe Thomas, offensive tackle: He's the highest-ranked offensive lineman, and it's not even close. The other linemen ranked in the top 25 are: Denver's Ryan Clady (No. 16) and San Francisco's Joe Staley (No. 25).

Here are the other Browns who made the rankings:

OFFENSE

10. Joe Thomas

84. Trent Richardson, running back

DEFENSE

34. Joe Haden, cornerback

69. Paul Kruger, linebacker
Tags:

Joe Thomas

ESPN's countdown of the top 100 players on offense and defense concludes today. The Bengals had the highest ranking player on offense and defense in the AFC North:

Green
OFFENSE

9. A.J. Green, wide receiver: He is behind only two receivers on the rankings, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. It's interesting to note that Green has had more catches and receiving yards in his first two seasons than Johnson and Fitzgerald had in theirs.

DEFENSE

Atkins
7. Geno Atkins, defensive tackle: He's the top interior lineman on the rankings and only two other defensive linemen (J.J. Watt and DeMarcus Ware) are ahead of him. His 12.5 sacks last season were tied for the 15th-most in a single season by a defensive tackle in NFL history.

A look at all of the Bengals players who made the rankings:

OFFENSE

9. A.J. Green

90. Andrew Whitworth, offensive tackle

DEFENSE

7. Geno Atkins

66. Michael Johnson, defensive end

84. Leon Hall, cornerback

89. Carlos Dunlap, defensive end

99. James Harrison, linebacker
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players. Here is the one Ravens player who made the list among players from the ranked 11-20:

Rice
Rice
OFFENSE

15. Ray Rice, running back: This shows a lot of respect for Rice, especially at a time when fantasy football owners question whether Bernard Pierce is going to take carries away from him. Rice comes in as the No. 3 running back in the NFL (behind Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster) and the third-best offensive player in the division (behind A.J. Green and Joe Thomas).

Here are the other Ravens who have made the list:

OFFENSE

40. Joe Flacco, quarterback

53. Marshal Yanda, guard

63. Torrey Smith, wide receiver

DEFENSE

23. Terrell Suggs, linebacker

29. Elvis Dumervil, linebacker

50. Lardarius Webb, cornerback

When I was working on ESPN's #NFLRank project, it didn't take long to put the ratings on the AFC North players. That is, except one.

The toughest player for me to grade was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. His No. 24 ranking should come with an asterisk, or perhaps a question mark. When Roethlisberger is healthy, he's a top-five quarterback. When he's not, he plays like a bottom-five quarterback. You can argue that he's underrated because he has two Super Bowl rings and is hitting his prime at the age of 31. But you can make a case for him being ranked too high because his body has taken too many hits and he has faded the past two seasons.

I'm sure some are thinking that Roethlisberger's injuries shouldn't cloud his standing in the NFL. But when it comes to Roethlisberger, you have to factor them in because it determines his effectiveness. Plus, it's impossible to think about Big Ben without picturing him limping or wincing in pain. Since the 2011 season, here's a list of his injuries: foot, thumb, hand, ankle, shoulder and ribs. It would be easier to list what he hasn't hurt.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Jason Bridge/USA TODAY SportsBen Roethlisberger's health is not only key to the Steelers' prospects but also to his own legacy.
The major reason the Steelers haven't won the division or a playoff game the past two seasons has been a banged-up Big Ben. Before Roethlisberger suffered serious injuries in 2011 and 2012, the Steelers were 16-7 (.695) in games he started. And, while it's admirable and tough that he eventually returned, Roethlisberger and the Steelers weren't the same, going a combined 2-5 (.285).

In 2011, Roethlisberger ranked seventh in QBR (64.8) with 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in the first 14 games. But after he suffered a high ankle sprain, Roethlisberger lost two of his final three starts, including a wild-card game at Denver. During that rut, he ranked 22nd in QBR (41.7), with one touchdown and four interceptions.

It was essentially a replay in 2012, albeit a different injury. Even though there had been questions of a spat with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Roethlisberger looked like an MVP candidate in the first nine games, completing 66.1 percent of his passes and throwing 17 touchdowns to four interceptions. His QBR was 71.8, which was fifth best in the NFL. After he injured his shoulder and ribs, he connected on 56.4 percent of his throws, with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Uncharacteristically, he struggled at crucial points late in games and posted a 38.8 QBR, 23rd in the league.

The Steelers have done their best to keep Roethlisberger healthy. They've invested two first-round picks (center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro) and two second-rounders (tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert) in their offensive line to better protect him. They hired Haley as offensive coordinator to install a quick-hitting passing game that limits the time Roethlisberger has the ball in the pocket and the number of hits he'll take.

Roethlisberger said his optimism level has increased because his young offensive line has had time to develop and he has become more comfortable in Haley's system.

"I feel like this year could be one of my best," Roethlisberger recently told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This is a comeback year of sorts for Roethlisberger if you look at the national perception of him now. He is the No. 7 quarterback in ESPN's rankings, yet only one ahead of him has more Super Bowl wins (Tom Brady). Matt Ryan, who has one playoff victory, is two spots higher than Roethlisberger, who is 10-4 in the postseason.

Roethlisberger has watched other quarterbacks move past him financially as well. In 2008, he was the NFL's highest-paid player, averaging $12.75 million per season, with $33 million guaranteed. This year alone, Ryan ($18.95 average, with $59 million guaranteed), Joe Flacco ($20.1 million average, with $52 million guaranteed) and even Tony Romo ($17 million average, with $55 million guaranteed) have passed him.

If Roethlisberger has a strong season, he'll likely be in line for a new deal, given the fact that his salary-cap number is near $18 million. The challenge for Roethlisberger is to produce without his leaders in catches (tight end Heath Miller) and receiving yards (Mike Wallace) from a year ago. Wallace left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, and Miller hasn't practiced since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in January.

So, will Roethlisberger be ranked higher than No. 24 next year? If he can stay healthy, Roethlisberger will re-establish himself as an elite quarterback. If he can't, Roethlisberger and the Steelers will struggle again.
As part of ESPN's #NFLRank project, Football Outsiders named Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as the most overrated among players ranked 31-40. It's been about a week since anyone put the "overrated" label on Flacco, so the Super Bowl MVP was due to hear it again.

Flacco
This is the point made by Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz:
Even if we dismiss any thought of future potential and only look at regular-season performance in 2012, Flacco was simply not as good as Andrew Luck (No. 41), Colin Kaepernick (No. 42),Robert Griffin (No. 46) or Russell Wilson (No. 47). And while those guys didn't lead their teams to the Super Bowl title, it's hard to say that they choked in the postseason.

Many of the statistics with Flacco and the NFL's young guns are comparable. I just wouldn't overlook the fact that Flacco produces big plays and plays big in critical moments.

Last season, Flacco ranked fourth in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing, which was better than Wilson (fifth), Kaepernick (seventh), RG III (17th) and Luck (29th). Flacco's 40 passes of at least 25 yards in the 2012 regular season ranked behind only Drew Brees (47).

The most valid criticism is Flacco's lack of consistency. Last year, he produced more games of fewer than 200 yards passing (six) than with more than 300 yards (five).

Flacco's trump card is victories. His 63 wins since 2008, including the regular season and playoffs, are six more than anyone else during that same span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. While some will argue Flacco hasn't necessarily played a big role in those wins, his numbers will dispute that. In those wins, Flacco has averaged 227 yards passing with 88 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

I understand the buzz about the latest wave of good young quarterbacks. But I question the assertion that they're better than Flacco when you're comparing their rookie seasons to a Super Bowl champion's five-year body of work.
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players. Here are the players from the division that landed in spots 31-40 for offense and defense:

OFFENSE

40. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens quarterback: He's never thrown for over 4,000 yards or 25 touchdowns. But, since 2008, Flacco has won 63 games (including playoffs), which is six more than anyone else in the league.

DEFENSE

33. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers safety: Injuries have forced him to miss 22 games over the past four seasons. He does, however, look like his old self this preseason.

34. Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns cornerback: He's the highest-ranked cornerback in the AFC North, and he deserves to be. He has broken up 37 passes in his first two seasons and has held his own against some of the best receivers in the NFL, from Larry Fitzgerald to Brandon Marshall. His biggest challenge has been A.J. Green.

35. LaMarr Woodley, Steelers linebacker: He looked like the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in the first half of the 2011 season. But a hamstring injury derailed him. Woodley has four sacks in the past 13 games that he's played.

Here's a review of the AFC North players who have already made the ESPN.com list:

OFFENSE

53. Marshal Yanda, Ravens guard

54. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers center

63. Torrey Smith, Ravens wide receiver

84. Trent Richardson, Browns running back

90. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle

91. Heath Miller, Steelers tight end

95. Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver

DEFENSE

50. Lardarius Webb, Ravens cornerback

54. Ryan Clark, Steelers safety

62. Lawrence Timmons, Steelers linebacker

66. Michael Johnson, Bengals defensive end

69. Paul Kruger, Browns linebacker

83. Ike Taylor, Steelers cornerback

84. Leon Hall, Bengals cornerback

89. Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end

99. James Harrison, Bengals linebacker
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players. Click here for a look at the players who made the list from 41 to 50 on offense and defense. Only one player from the division made the players ranked from 41 to 50:

DEFENSE

50. Lardarius Webb, Baltimore Ravens cornerback: The Ravens' best cover cornerback is coming back from his second torn anterior cruciate ligament. In his last 21 games before the injury (counting playoffs), Webb recorded nine interceptions and 31 passes defensed.

Here's a review of the AFC North players who have already made the ESPN.com list:

OFFENSE

53. Marshal Yanda, Ravens guard

54. Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers center

63. Torrey Smith, Ravens wide receiver

84. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns running back

90. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle

91. Heath Miller, Steelers tight end

95. Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver

DEFENSE

54. Ryan Clark, Steelers safety

62. Lawrence Timmons, Steelers linebacker

66. Michael Johnson, Bengals defensive end

69. Paul Kruger, Browns linebacker

83. Ike Taylor, Steelers cornerback

84. Leon Hall, Bengals cornerback

89. Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end

99. James Harrison, Bengals linebacker
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players. Here are the players from the division that landed in spots 51-60 for offense and defense:

OFFENSE

53. Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens guard: The Pro Bowl lineman is considered by many to be the best guard in the league, so this ranking seems low. Yanda gave up no sacks and just four quarterback hits last season.

54. Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers center: Some may think this is too high for Pouncey. But he's the first center ever to be selected to a Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.

DEFENSE

54. Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers safety: His outspoken nature often overshadows his work on the field. Clark has quietly put together an impressive career.

Here's a review of the AFC North players who have already made the ESPN.com list:

OFFENSE

63. Torrey Smith, Ravens wide receiver

84. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns running back

90. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle

91. Heath Miller, Steelers tight end

95. Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver

DEFENSE

62. Lawrence Timmons, Steelers linebacker

66. Michael Johnson, Bengals defensive end

69. Paul Kruger, Browns linebacker

83. Ike Taylor, Steelers cornerback

84. Leon Hall, Bengals cornerback

89. Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end

99. James Harrison, Bengals linebacker
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players. Here are the players from the division that landed in spots 61-70 for offense and defense:

OFFENSE

63. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver: He's never had more than 50 catches in a season. But that production will increase this season, when he becomes the Ravens' No. 1 receiver.

DEFENSE

62. Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker: He was the best inside linebacker in the division last year and he's still getting better. He finished with 106 tackles, six sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

66. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end: There's a lot of love for the Bengals' pass rush. Johnson, who enjoyed a breakout year last season, joins Carlos Dunlap and James Harrison on the list. I'm going out on a limb and say Geno Atkins will make the rankings, too.

69. Paul Kruger, Cleveland Browns linebacker: The former Ravens pass-rusher is looking to carry over a strong finish from last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Kruger's 4.5 sacks were more than 10 of the 11 playoff teams had in total during the postseason (excluding Ravens).

Here's a review of the AFC North players who have already made the ESPN.com list:

OFFENSE

84. Trent Richardson, Browns running back

90. Andrew Whitworth, Bengals offensive tackle

91. Heath Miller, Steelers tight end

95. Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver

DEFENSE

83. Ike Taylor, Steelers cornerback

84. Leon Hall, Bengals cornerback

89. Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end

99. James Harrison, Bengals linebacker
ESPN.com is continuing to reveal its list of the top 100 NFL players on offense and defense. Here are the players from the division that landed in spots 81-90:

OFFENSE

84. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns running back: He gained 950 yards and ran for 11 touchdowns despite playing a majority of the season with broken ribs. If healthy, he should rank among the top five running backs by the end of the season. Here's my column on why I believe Richardson will make the biggest jump of any player in next year's rankings.

90. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle: Whitworth often goes overshadowed because he plays in the same division as Joe Thomas. But he didn't have his best season last year even though he reached his first Pro Bowl.

DEFENSE

83. Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback: The streakiest defender in the division last season who goes through stretches where he lacks confidence. He's still a high-end cover man, although he rarely comes up with interceptions because of bad hands. Football Outsiders picked Taylor as the most underrated player among those ranked 81-90.

84. Leon Hall, Bengals cornerback: I would've had Hall as the most underrated player in this group. He came on strong last season, showing he has fully recovered from an Achilles injury. It still amazes me that he has never made a Pro Bowl.

89. Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end: I was surprised he made the list because injuries have limited his impact. Dunlap was the Bengals' most efficient edge rusher last season, recording six sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 32 hurries. If he could get through a full season healthy, he would be in the top half of the rankings for defensive players.
Trent RichardsonRon Schwane/USA TODAY Sports"I can't wait for this season," Trent Richardson said. "I've got a lot to prove."
This isn't a column on why Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson is underrated. My focus is on where Richardson will land on next year's ESPN.com list of the Top 100 offensive players.

We already know that Richardson comes in at No. 84 on this year's rankings, which makes sense considering he gained 950 yards on a pedestrian 3.6-yard average. When you take a closer look at Richardson's rookie season, you'll realize that he was playing at half strength and now has a chance to run past the likes of Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew on next year's list if healthy.

Richardson has the vision, power and speed to become an elite back in this league. More than that, he is driven to deliver this season. He's heard the rumblings about being injury prone. He's aware Alfred Morris and Doug Martin had better rookie seasons.

The combination of talent and determination is why Richardson is primed for a breakthrough season. No player will rise faster on these rankings than Richardson. He is the 14th running back on the list. He has the potential to be in the top five by the end of the season.

"I can’t wait for this season," Richardson said during training camp. "I’ve got a lot to prove. Not just to everybody. But to myself, too. I want to show everybody what I can do when I’m healthy."

It would be easier to tell you what Richardson hasn't hurt in his 18-month NFL career. He has dealt with injuries to his knee, ribs, ankle and shin.

After having a loose piece of cartilage removed a month before last season started, Richardson said he felt like he was getting closer to full strength around Week 6. Then, he broke two ribs and played the rest of the season with a protective jacket. According to Richardson, he played the rest of the season at 40 percent.

Despite admirably averaging 21.7 touches while playing 10 games with broken ribs, Richardson finished with a disappointing 63.3 yards rushing per game. That's not going to cut it for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, especially when Morris, a sixth-round pick, and Martin, who was taken 28 picks after Richardson, both averaged more than 90 yards.

If Richardson can stay healthy, he will become one of the top workhorses in the league. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner indicated that Richardson could carry the ball 300 times this season. All five players who cracked 300 carries last season ranked in the top six in the NFL in rushing.

There's been increasing excitement about quarterback Brandon Weeden's progress and the play of downfield targets like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. But these Browns will have a strong commitment to the run. Turner, who has built a reputation on feeding the ball to Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson, has coached the NFL's leading rusher five times.

"When I first talked to [Turner], I told him that I’m going to be in the best shape that you’ve ever seen a running back in," Richardson said. "He told me what type of carries and what type of football we’re going to play. There's a lot of motivation for me to be at the top of my game all the time."

Richardson won't be getting much rest during games. The Browns had limited depth behind him when training camp began, and third-down back Dion Lewis could be lost for the season after breaking his leg last week.

Turner is targeting 60 receptions for Richardson, which shouldn't be a problem because he caught 51 passes last year.

"It's hard for a tailback now to play every down the entire game, but they have to be prepared to play every down," Turner said. "If we're in a two-minute situation, I don't think any of us want Trent standing on the sidelines."

One of Richardson's biggest fans is Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, who believes Richardson has special qualities.

"You saw it in college. It's the reason that in a league that they're starting to kind of devalue the position, he gets drafted so early," Faulk told reporters in training camp. "He has it in him. It's in him to be great. He wants it. He's never shied away from asking questions or letting you know what he don't know because he understands that the things that you don't know when you find them out, it makes it easier to become great."

The reason the Browns took Richardson so high in the draft is because he's the identity of the Browns' offense. He brings a meanness and a toughness to the Cleveland ground game. He'll run in between the tackles and he'll run over tacklers.

If he attacks this season the same way, he'll end up being mentioned among the best running backs in the league by the end of the year.

"This is going to be a big year for me," Richardson said. "But it’s only going to go as far as I take it."
ESPN polled 63 experts from its various outlets and asked them to rank NFL players from a scale of 0 to 10. The result: this #NFLRank project that compiled the 100 best players on offense and defense. It kicks off today with the players who ranked between 91 and 100 on offense and defense. Here are the three AFC North players that made the cut:

OFFENSE

91. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end: Miller once again a focal point of the offense in Todd Haley's first season as coordinator, catching 71 passes for career highs in yards (816) and touchdowns (eight). But he is expected to miss the first month of the season recovering from ACL surgery in January.

95. Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver: Brown is projected to be the Steelers' new No. 1 receiver after Mike Wallace went to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. His receiving yards dropped from 1,108 in 2011 to 787 last season, a 321-yard decline.

DEFENSE

99. James Harrison, Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker: The 2008 NFL defensive player of the year watched his sack total fall to six last season, his fewest in his six seasons as a full-time starter. But when it comes to meanness and toughness, he still ranks in the NFL's top 10.

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