Marshal Yanda is the Baltimore Ravens' next target for a contract extension, and Pro Football Focus underscored the Pro Bowl guard's importance in its recent ranking of the NFL's top 101 players in 2014.
Yanda was named the fifth-best player in the NFL by PFF and the No. 2 offensive player behind only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. How dominant was Yanda? He's the only offensive lineman who was ranked in PFF's top 13 players.
A third-round pick in 2007, Yanda is becoming one of the top players in Ravens history and is playing as well as he's ever played at the age of 30. Coaches praise his technique and teammates respect his toughness.
Yanda has built a reputation on being a steady pass protector and a mauling run blocker. He had the seventh-best pass blocking grade of all guards in 2014, allowing one sack, five hits and 10 quarterback hurries. Where he excels is pushing defenders off the line in the ground game. According to PFF, Yanda's first 14 weeks in 2014 included some of the finest run-blocking performances ever seen by the analytical website.
Asked last year whether he takes pride in the fact his name usually comes up when taking about the best linemen in the game, Yanda said, "Not at all. We're working hard as a team, and you never ... I really don't read the media. I'm concentrated on what's going on in this building, and everything else is a distraction that I don't worry about. I worry about Joe [Flacco]. I worry about our guys. I worry about our team and us moving forward as a group. So, as an individual, no. I just try to do my job and try to be good at my job."
Here are the other five Ravens who made PFF's list:
No. 48: LB Terrell Suggs: He was the only 3-4 outside linebacker to score double-digit grades in stopping the run and rushing the passer.
No. 63: LB Elvis Dumervil: Even though he wasn't an every-down player, Dumervil had the third-highest pass-rushing productivity from the left side for all 3-4 outside linebackers.
No. 68: G Kelechi Osemele: His grades tailed off in the second half of the season, but Osemele finished with the fourth-highest run blocking grade for all guards.
No. 73: SS Will Hill: He was suspended for the first games of the season and he didn't become a starter until the middle of the season. But Hill only graded negatively in one game and had the sixth-highest grade for a safety in 2014.
No. 101: NT Brandon Williams: He made 27 defensive stops against the run, which were the third-most for all defensive tackles.
It was surprising to see Hill and Williams on the list, even though they both exceeded expectations in their first seasons as starters for the Ravens. But it would be difficult to argue that they had better seasons than linebacker C.J. Mosley, running back Justin Forsett, quarterback Joe Flacco and offensive tackle Rick Wagner.
The biggest snub was Mosley, who became the first Ravens rookie to reach the Pro Bowl. He was the only NFL player this season with at least 125 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.