Tuesday, April 19, 2011
McCourty can't tip Power Rankings scales
By Tim Graham
Power Rankings should not be a career-achievement award. They are a snapshot of a given moment, the here and now.
Since we're in the offseason -- or purgatory, if you will -- I've been forced to alter the perception of the moment when compiling my positional Power Rankings ballots for ESPN.com's weekly series.
I've taken into account not only last year's production, but also how I perceive players entering the 2011 season.
With that in mind, I can't fathom how New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty didn't get more respect from our panel when rating the NFL's best at his position. He came in eighth on the overall list, one point behind Tramon Williams.
I rated him fifth on my ballot. Nobody else had him higher than NFC West blogger Mike Sando at eighth. Three bloggers ranked McCourty ninth, two had him 10th. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas didn't list him at all.
Yasinskas reasoned it was because McCourty was a rookie who needs to put together another brilliant season to be considered among the best.
"One great season does not make a great career," Yasinskas said in the story written by AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky. "Let's see him do it again. I'm not saying he's got to do it for 10 or 15 years. ... But you have to be consistently at the top for at least a few years before you get on a top 10 list."
That's where Yasinskas and I have philosophical differences.
It didn't matter that McCourty was a rookie when the Associated Press voted him second-team All-Pro, when the Sporting News named him first-team All-Pro, when the fans, coaches and players voted McCourty a Pro Bowl starter.
McCourty tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions. He ranked fourth in team tackles with 83 and led with 17 passes defensed (by the Patriots' count; the NFL had him down for 24). He also recorded a sack and two forced fumbles.
The NFL community clearly considered McCourty elite. That's good enough for me.
Furthermore, he was New England's left cornerback, forced into the critical role of defending the opposition's top receiver when Leigh Bodden was placed on injured reserve right before the season began. McCourty performed under pressure.
For the record, this was my ballot:
- Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
- Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
- Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
- Asante Samuel, Philadelphia Eagles
- Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
- Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings
- Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
- DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins
- Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons
- Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs
Most of the list is self-explanatory. Where I was most out of line with the other voters -- aside from McCourty -- was Bailey. I ranked him lower than any other panelist.
Then again, McCourty took one of my lofty spots they were reluctant to give. I also had Winfield sixth, exactly the same as four other panelists.
So Bailey makes sense at No. 7 when McCourty gets a little more respect.