- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc. has evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2011 season. Here's how the top 200 players stacked up.
No one would dare say ranking these players is an easy chore. In fact, it's a brutal chore. But it's pretty obvious in viewing the top of this list as to what has the most value. Simply put, quarterbacks make the league go round. If every general manager were to get together and hold a draft, with every current player as a true free agent, quarterbacks would own the first round. But from there, you can learn a lot.
Next on the list are players who are essential to the passing game, like pass-protectors, pass-rushers and superb cover men. He doesn't get the air-time, but Joe Thomas is far more dominant at a key position in the passing game than many quarterbacks are. And a great quarterback can make his receivers look better, but that's a two-way street. Elsewhere, you may see some players you barely recognize, but don't discount how great a player Kyle Williams is because he's been playing on a struggling Buffalo Bills team.
From there, just look for dominance. Is there really anyone better at what they do than Darrelle Revis? Well, you could certainly have a case to say that Revis' teammate, Nick Mangold, is as good at what he does as Revis is based on what he's asked to do. (Thus making this whole ranking business very difficult.)
In the end, this list is all about value. It's about the skills and traits most coveted on a football team to help them become winners.
Cole is explosive off the edge as a pass-rusher and shows great burst to close to the ball. He is an instinctive player who reacts well as plays unfold and understands how to leverage blockers, as well.
He has strong hands to control blockers and get separation from his opponent. He is athletic enough to drop into coverage in zone-blitz packages.
Cole lacks great size but possesses explosive power and quickness that has made him one of the most productive defensive ends in the NFL since 2005.
32mJohn Keim and Adam Caplan
15hEric D. Williams