Thursday, November 8, 2012
Midseason Top 50: AFC North reaction
By Jamison Hensley
Matt Williamson from ESPN.com ranked the NFL's top 50 players at the midway point of the season. As far as his ranking system goes, most of the weight is off of performance this season (including projected value for the second half of the season) but it also heavily incorporates what a player has done over the course of his career.
This is an Insider piece, so you'll need a subscription to view the entire list. But here's where the AFC North players landed in the top 50, including Williamson's comments and my thoughts on the ranking:
10. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers. Somewhat quietly, Roethlisberger is playing just about as well as any quarterback in the league right now in Todd Haley's new system in Pittsburgh. Hensley comment: Slightly underrated. My biggest complaint is putting Eli Manning one spot ahead of him at No. 9.
17. WR A.J. Green, Bengals. It won't be long before NFL experts are talking about Green as the best wide receiver in football. Calvin Johnson might have something to say about that for quite some time, but Green is very special. Hensley comment: Underrated. Green has been the best receiver in football this season. I'm not saying that you need to put him above Calvin Johnson. But, if Johnson is No. 6, Green is too low at No. 17.
22. S Troy Polamalu, Steelers. Much like Darrelle Revis, ranking Polamalu is very difficult, since he has done next to nothing this season due to injury. But unlike Revis, injuries are all too common for Polamalu, which diminishes his overall value. Hensley comment: Overrated. He's done very little this season because of the calf injury. And there's no guarantee that the Steelers will get much out of him for the rest of the season.
23. LB Terrell Suggs, Ravens. Suggs is another guy on this list that is difficult to rank right now. It is remarkable that last year's Defensive Player of the Year is playing now considering the significance of his injury, but where is he exactly as a player? Hensley comment: Overrated. While I wouldn't have Suggs this high right now, he has a better shot at making a significant impact in the second half of the season than Polamalu.
26. DT Geno Atkins, Bengals. Not a household name to some, Atkins is probably the best interior pass-rusher in the game today. Hensley comment: No argument here. He's the best interior defensive lineman in the division. I would've had a problem if Haloti Ngata was ranked higher than Atkins.
27. RB Ray Rice, Ravens. Baltimore has changed its offense this season, incorporating more no-huddle and putting more on Joe Flacco's plate. For the most part, Flacco seems up for the added responsibility, but Rice should remain the key to this entire offense. Hensley comment: This is about right for Rice, although I expect him to ranked higher by the end of the season. The Ravens are going to give the ball to Rice more in the second half of the season.
29. DT Haloti Ngata, Ravens. This hasn't been Ngata's best season due mostly to injury and teams being able to key on him with Terrell Suggs out of the lineup. Hensley comment: Slightly overrated. It's commendable that Ngata is playing through shoulder and knee injuries. But you can tell that he's not the same player. Not sure if he'll ever be able to get healthy this year.
33. CB Joe Haden, Browns. As we saw earlier this year when Haden was suspended, the Browns' defense just isn't the same with him out. His aggressive style of play is extremely impressive to go along with great quickness. Hensley comment: Slightly overrated right now. Haden is emerging as one of the top corners in the league, but he has given up some big plays (long touchdown pass to A.J. Green and the game-winner to Torrey Smith last Sunday).
40. OT Joe Thomas, Browns. The NFL doesn't have left tackles in the Orlando Pace or Walter Jones mold any more, but over the past several years, Thomas has been the class of this position. Hensley comment: Way underrated. I would have Thomas ranked in the top 30. The fact that he is one of the few franchise left tackles remaining should increase his value.
46. G Marshal Yanda, Ravens. This could be a name that many might be shocked to see on such a prestigious list, but Yanda is a fantastic football player. Hensley comment: This is about right. Yanda is among the best guards, if not the best guard in football, right now. But I can understand the argument of not putting guards high on the list.