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Monday, August 18, 2014
#NFL Rank: No. 93 James Laurinaitis

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The annual #NFLRank project got underway Monday morning as a panel of 85 NFL analysts across our many platforms here went through the process of ranking the top 100 players in the league on each side of the ball.

One member of the St. Louis Rams appears in today's initial reveal of Nos. 91-100. Linebacker James Laurinaitis checks in at No. 93 on the list as he appears for the second year in a row on the defensive side. Laurinaitis was No. 57 on the list in 2013.

Defense, No. 93, James Laurinaitis

Stats & Info: Laurinaitis has recorded 100 tackles in all five seasons of his NFL career. Only four other defenders have recorded 100 tackles in each of the last five seasons.

My take: Laurinaitis is never going to be the type of player to wow anyone with bone-rattling hits or uber-athletic splash plays. But he's about as solid as it gets in the middle. The tackle stats speak for themselves and also represent a nod to his durability as he has never missed a game in five NFL seasons. In some sense, Laurinaitis is taken for granted a bit by those who forget how poor the Rams were at his position in the years after London Fletcher's departure. Beyond the production, Laurinaitis is also the team's defensive leader and the guy other players turn to for help understanding the system. He's only 27 and though he counts a hefty $10.4 million against the cap this year, that number drops to a much more cap-friendly $4.025 million in 2015 and $6.175 million in 2016.