Top Ten Tech NFL Players- #1 Calvin Johnson

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The number one player on this list, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise, is Calvin Johnson, a WR for the Detroit Lions.

blogs.suntimes.com

blogs.suntimes.com

Calvin Johnson was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the second pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Through his first 7 years in the NFL, he has turned into the best WR in the league. He has caught 488 balls for 7,836 yards and 54 TDs during that time span, making him one of the most dynamic football players in the game. Those are ridiculous numbers when you take into account the teams he has played on and some of the QB play he has had to deal with.

Through his first six seasons, he was arguably the best WR in the league. After last year, however, there is no debate. Although the Lions weren’t very good, Johnson was able to catch 122 passes for 1,964 yards and 5 TDs. The 1,964 receiving yards he had were the most by a WR in a single season in NFL history. Below is a highlight video from his record breaking season.

Now that the Lions have added Reggie Bush (a solid every down back) and Matthew Stafford has been healthy for two seasons, Calvin Johnson should continue to dominate the league. He is only 27 and is an athletic freak, which means he should still play for at least another 7 years or so. If he continues to stay healthy, he has all the tools to become the second greatest WR of all time. There are some very good players ahead of him, but none of them were as dominant as Johnson has been with the exception of Jerry Rice. Calvin Johnson was consistently double and sometimes tripled teamed each game and he still broke the receiving yards record. Think about that for a second. After his performance last season, I can’t see any realistic way he will be knocked off the top spot on this list anytime in the near future. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

#4 Morgan Burnett- Green Bay Packers

#3 Michael Johnson- Cincinnati Bengals

#2 Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top Ten Tech NFL Players- #2 Demaryius Thomas

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number two player on this list is Demaryius Thomas, a WR for the Broncos.

zimbio.com

zimbio.com

Demaryius Thomas was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he dealt with injuries and inconsistent QB play.  At the end of his second season he had one of the most memorable plays of the 2011 NFL playoffs, catching a game winning TD pass in OT to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heading into Thomas’ third season, the Denver Broncos acquired Peyton Manning, which would end up completely changing Thomas’ career. This past season he caught 94 balls for 1,434 yards and 10 TD passes and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. With Manning as his QB, Thomas’ expectations skyrocketed and he was able to live up to the hype. The two became one of the best QB-WR duos in the AFC and I expect them to thrive off of each other until Manning decides to retire.

Thomas is an athletic freak who has the skills to become a Top 5 receiver in the NFL. He has turned into an offensive force that defensive coordinators game plan for. Even better, the Denver Broncos added the best slot receiver in the league (Wes Welker) this week, which should free up more space for Thomas. The Broncos will score quite a few points next season and Thomas should be a very big reason why. In my opinion, he has distanced himself from the rest of the former Tech players in the league, with the exception of one man of course. With that said, he will most likely stay in the same position in next year’s rankings. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

#4 Morgan Burnett- Green Bay Packers

#3 Michael Johnson- Cincinnati Bengals

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top Ten Tech NFL Players- #3 Michael Johnson

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number three player on this list is Michael Johnson, a DE for the Bengals.

thepenaltyflagblog.com

thepenaltyflagblog.com

Michael Johnson was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He has played all 4 years of his career with Cincy, developing into a very good DE. In his first two seasons, he had 3 sacks and 2.5 sacks respectively. Then like most young DEs in the league, he started to show signs of promise. In his third season, he had 6 sacks and 42 tackles. This was a nice improvement from his 2010 season, and really excited the Bengals fan base. Last year, Johnson really performed well, starting in all 16 games and tallying 52 tackles and 11.5 sacks (one behind the team lead). His impressive performance in 2012 forced the Bengals to franchise tag him, since they did not want to lose a potential game-changing DE.

Some might worry that Johnson had a big year in the final year of his contract, but I don’t see this as an issue. He has shown gradual improvement over the last two years that lead me to believe his game is a product of excellent coaching. He has also benefitted from playing next to Geno Atkins, who has turned into arguably the best 4-3 DT in the NFL. Playing next to another great player helps alleviate blocks and lets him focus on rushing the passer.

Johnson will be on a one year contract going into next year since he was franchised, and I expect him to have another excellent year. The Bengals need him to have another double digit sack year to make sure they can keep up with the Ravens in their division. I don’t see him changing in the rankings next year however, unless he can post at least 15 sacks on the season and get his team deep into the playoffs. The two players that are currently ahead of him are in their prime and are playing at All-Pro levels, so he has his work cut out for him. With that said, Johnson has turned into one of the best young 4-3 DEs in the league and is in an excellent position to improve on last season’s impressive numbers. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

#4 Morgan Burnett- Green Bay Packers

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #4 Morgan Burnett

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number four player on this list is Morgan Burnett, a S for the Packers.

espn.com

espn.com

Burnett was drafted by the Packers in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played in only 4 games as a rookie because he tore his ACL. He had a break out season his second year in the league, recording 107 tackles with 3 interceptions and 11 pass deflections. Last year was much of the same for Burnett, as he posted 123 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 5 pass deflections. He has turned into a do-it-all safety who can create turnovers and change games. The Packers have some young players on defense, so I expect him to continue to improve next year.

Burnett lands at number 4 on this list because he was an excellent contributor for a playoff team and started every game last season. He was all over the field and turned into a key performer on the Packers’ defense. 2013 should be another good year for him, but I don’t see him moving up in these rankings. The bottom line is that this Super Bowl Champion is a young and improving player that should be good for a long time. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #5 Philip Wheeler

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number five player on this list is Philip Wheeler, an OLB for the Raiders last season.

rantsports.com

rantsports.com

Wheeler started his NFL career with the Colts after being drafted by them in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He increased his tackle totals each year with the Colts, but was not resigned prior to last year. Instead he chose to sign a one year deal with the Raiders and made the most of his opportunity. In his one year with the Raiders, he accumulated 109 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, and 6 pass deflections. Along with gradually developing as a player, he was able to stay healthy for all 16 games of the season, which explains the excellent productivity.

Wheeler lands at #5 on this list because he was a consistent, above-average player for the entire season, which can’t be said for everyone below him. Looking forward to next year, I expect him to have another very good season now that he is playing on a better defense after signing with Miami yesterday. Therefore, I think he can rise a spot or two on this list, assuming he can also hold off healthy and consistent years from Derrick Morgan and Daryl Smith. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #6 Daryl Smith

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number six player on this list is Daryl Smith, an OLB for the Jaguars.

Daryl Smith

Daryl Smith was a second round pick by the Jaguars in the 2004 draft and has played in Jacksonville for his entire career. He has been a force since entering the league, becoming one of the best 4-3 OLBs in the NFL. He had a stellar 2011 season, but was injured for much of the 2012 season. After missing the first 14 games of the season with a groin injury, he was activated off of IR and played for the Jags. He did not play up to his usual standards, but he was effective while on the field.

I debated where to put Smith on this list, since he didn’t play much last season. Ultimately I decided his overall talent was enough to keep him in the middle of the list behind the players who really had breakout seasons. Smith is an UFA this offseason and he should receive a lot of attention. He is one of the best LBs on the market(along with Philip Wheeler) and should get a pretty nice multiyear contract. I don’t think he will be back in Jacksonville unless he comes at a very reasonable price for them since they are in rebuilding mode. With that most likely out of the picture, he should try and sign with a playoff team since he has been on some bad teams throughout his years in the league. It will be interesting to see where he lands, but either way he will be higher up on this list next year if he can stay healthy. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #7 Derrick Morgan

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number seven player on this list is Derrick Morgan, a DE for the Tennessee Titans.

fromtherumbleseat.com

fromtherumbleseat.com

Coming out of college, Morgan was drafted by the Titans with the 16th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. In his first two seasons he was very underwhelming and some people labeled him a bust. At the beginning of last year he started off with much of the same. Midway through the season, however, something clicked and he started to contribute on the field. Over a five game stretch, he managed to get 6 pass deflections, which is quite impressive for a DE. This is great news for his development because DE’s should keep their eyes up when they can’t get to the QB to try and knock passes down. In the last four games of the season, Morgan turned up the intensity, getting four sacks. This was a nice finish to the season, ending with 6.5 sacks and 59 tackles.

Morgan started to look like a building block for the Titans towards the end of the season, which is why he beats out Landry on this list. While Landry was more consistent, Morgan showed the ability to be a game-changer. If he can continue to develop and put a complete season together, then he will definitely move up another spot or two. DE’s are one of the premium positions in football and have a huge impact on the game. Hopefully he can finally develop into the impact player the Titans drafted him to be. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #8 Dawan Landry

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number eight player on this list is Dawan Landry, the former S of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

sbnation.com

sbnation.com

It’s incredibly ironic that Landry’s place on this list comes on the day he is released by the Jaguars, but it wasn’t because of his play on the field. He signed a five-year deal with the Jags two years ago and he performed well for them. Last year he accumulated 100 tackles and an interception while playing on a poor defense. His surrounding cast wasn’t very effective on the field, and it showed with Landry’s down numbers. Landry is incredibly durable as well, starting all 16 games last year. Availability is arguably the most important part of a player’s game and he has started every game in 6 of his 7 years in the league.

Landry lands at 8 on this list because he is a solid starting safety in the league, but isn’t as big of a game changer as the players ahead of him. He beats out Walker and Dwyer because he was a starter all year and was very consistent. If he signs with a playoff team this offseason, he has a chance to rise because of his improved supporting cast. However, he is getting older and his production has declined in recent years. He should still see quite a bit of playing time next year and I’d imagine he can earn a reasonable contract this offseason. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #9 Jonathan Dwyer

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number nine player on this list is Jonathan Dwyer, a RB for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

bleacherreport.com

bleacherreport.com

Last season was Jonathan Dwyer’s third year in the league after being drafted by the Steelers in 2010. In his first two seasons he was a back-up and received little playing time. Luckily for Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman constantly dealt with injuries in the 2012 season and he was finally given a chance to play. In 2012, Dwyer ran for 623 yards and 2 TDs on 156 carries for an average of 4 YPC. Those are very good numbers for his first year getting real playing time.

Dwyer got the nod over Vance Walker because he was able to start for the Steelers in multiple games and became a playmaker for them. He set himself up nicely going into FA and now the Steelers will have to pay him a little bit more to keep him. All four of the Steelers’ running backs are free agents, so it would be smart on their part to keep Dwyer and find a complimentary back for him. His physical running style goes well with Pittsburgh’s young and improving offensive line, which should help him put up good numbers again if he stays. He has a good chance to move up on this list if he is able to secure a starting spot over the offseason and beat out Redman. Otherwise he may drop if players like Vance Walker and Stephen Hill can put it all together next season. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #10 Vance Walker

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The first player we are going to talk about and the number ten player on this list is Vance Walker, a defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons.

Last season was Walker’s fourth with the Falcons after being drafted by them in the 7th round of the NFL Draft. Each year he has received more playing time, but last year was when he really took advantage of it. During the regular season he recorded 32 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble and showed the ability to generate pressure up the middle. He flashed again in the playoffs when he had a big sack on Russell Wilson, which came in the second half of the close game. Walker has really benefitted from excellent coaching and being in a successful DT rotation.

mail.com

mail.com

 

Walker has shown big improvement over the last two years so I highly doubt this was just a contract year performance. He will rise on this list next year if he can continue to consistently generate a pass rush and take over a starting spot for the Falcons*. Another year of consistency is all that separates him from becoming a very good DT in the NFL.

*Vance Walker is an unrestricted FA, but I expect the Falcons to resign him.