With August right around the corner, here’s a slight reminder that football season is quietly creeping on us. With that being said, let’s analyze the best players per position heading into 2017. Today I will break down the offensive skill players, with linemen and defensive players will be assessed soon.
The comeback not so much a kid anymore reigns supreme into the 2017 season. Last season Tom Brady’s revenge tour against Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL concluded with an improbable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to clinch his fifth Super Bowl. From a statistical standpoint, Brady blew away his competitors albeit playing in only 12 regular season games because of his suspension. In going 11-1 in those games, Brady threw for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns to two interceptions, along with a completion percentage of 67 percent. Brady also posted a higher Total QBR than everyone but the Most Valuable Player last season, Matt Ryan, as he was off by .3 at 83. Out of the final twelve games, Brady was the most efficient quarterback in the NFL by an extraordinary margin and now his only battle is with ‘Father Time’.
Patience is a virtue, this holds true to Le’Veon Bell. Bell runs with poise until he finds a seam and then he’s a blur into the open field. Like Brady, Bell missed four games due to suspension, but that did not stop “Juice” from racking up 1,268 yards and 7 touchdowns. But wait there’s more. Bell was one of Ben Roethlisberger’s top receiving targets as well. Bell caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two touchdowns. The closest competition to Bell would be David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals who is amazing in his own right. But, if Bell played the entire season he would have been a 1,600 rushing and 1,000-yard receiver. Expect that this season.
The 49ers found a gem in the offseason, hopefully, the Ravens won’t miss him too much. Kyle Juszcyzk is the fullback that everyone should want. At the position, he is the total package as he was rated the highest-rated pass protector by Pro Football Focus. Juszcyck who spent last season with the Baltimore Ravens now joins the San Francisco 49ers who are in a current rebuild. In the right system, Juszczyk could make a difference in the passing game as he snagged 37 passes last season for 240 yards.
You want to talk about being consistently efficient, you must talk about Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown’s dominance at wide receiver began from humble beginnings at Central Michigan and elevated to being Roethlisberger’s top target since 2013. Last season Brown etched 106 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. The most important stat Brown holds is his catch percentage, which is 68 percent, ranking second in the NFL behind Larry Fitzgerald, that’s not bad company to be in. Brown is electrifying, reliable, and just flat out nasty. Whether he’s making defenders quiver at their knees on routes or leaving them in the dust with speed, Brown makes it look easy. AB simply takes over any island he is on.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rob Gronkowski is the best TE in the NFL, but Travis Kelce’s resume proves otherwise. In being the primary pass catcher for Alex Smith, Kelce has used his mold of the “big wide receiver” to make Smith’s job easy like Staples. Kelce posted career numbers this season with 85 receptions for 1,125 yards. What differentiates Kelce from Gronkowski, in my opinion, is durability is your best ability and run-blocking. In the run game, creating holes off tackle for Tyreek Hill, Spencer Ware and 3rd round pick Kareem Hunt will be a task for Kelce. He’s not only extremely athletic, he’s extremely dynamic, he’s Travis Kelce.
Stay tuned for more as our three part series continues with the best offensive and defensive lineman per position on Saturday July 15.