Midseason Top 50: Watt's big leap

Texans defensive lineman jumps 50 spots, into NFL stardom

Originally Published: November 8, 2012
By Matt Williamson | ESPN.com
J.J. WattThomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesJ.J. Watt has soared up the NFL Player Rankings with a phenomenal first half to 2012.

This summer, after watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc. and myself evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2012 season. The rankings (listed in the box on the right) were broken down into an overall top 200 and then by position.

With the NFL season now at its midpoint, we thought it was a good time to re-rank the NFL's top 50 players. Keep in mind that while the most weight for the ranking change is off of performance this season (including projected value for the second half of the season), it also heavily incorporates what a player has done over the course of his career. That way some injury issues don't completely detract from what we know of a player (see Terrell Suggs and Darrelle Revis).

That said, here is my Midseason Top 50 Rankings:

Midseason Top 50 | Midseason All-Rookie Team

1
Aaron Rodgers
AGE: 28
DOB: 12/2/83
HT: 6-2
WT: 225
POS: QB
Att 327
Comp 219
Yds 2,383
TD 25
Int 5
QBR 73.1
Player Analysis

By Rodgers' standards, this has been a bad season overall. By just about anyone else's standards, it might be a career year. And now Rodgers is beginning to heat up, even though his top receivers have battled injuries.

MORE ANALYSIS

Early in the season, Green Bay forced the Cedric Benson-led running game, but in reality, Rodgers was just a little off. He's back now, and even with an average defense and substandard running game the Packers are a big-time contender … because they have the best player on the planet.

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2
Tom Brady
AGE: 35
DOB: 8/3/77
HT: 6-4
WT: 225
POS: QB
Att 320
Comp 209
Yds 2,408
TD 16
Int 3
QBR 79.2
Player Analysis

The 2012 version of the Patriots' offense is really exciting to watch and it is so impressive that this group reinvents itself on a regular basis. Brady remains elite in running it.

MORE ANALYSIS

He orchestrates this super high-paced attack, which takes such mental acumen to pull off. Brady still has extreme precision and is extremely competitive.

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3
Drew Brees
AGE: 33
DOB: 1/15/79
HT: 6-0
WT: 209
POS: QB
Att 342
Comp 209
Yds 2,549
TD 22
Int 8
QBR 67.5
Player Analysis

Despite a very difficult offseason and now without Sean Payton, Brees is still playing at a high level.

MORE ANALYSIS

The season didn't start out well and New Orleans is not a contender this year, but Brees remains as productive and lethal as ever with uncanny ball placement, timing and command of the game.

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4
Adrian Peterson
AGE: 27
DOB: 3/21/85
HT: 6-1
WT: 217
POS: RB
Att 168
Yds 957
Avg 5.7
Long 74
TD 6
Fum 2
Player Analysis

Peterson most likely is not all the way recovered from his knee injury, but he is still running unbelievably well. He had an amazing game at Seattle in Week 9.

MORE ANALYSIS

This is the kind of player you will tell your grandchildren about and honestly, before long, he will be compared to legends like Walter Payton and Jim Brown. He is that good -- and is proving that he has a lot left in the tank.

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5
J.J. Watt
AGE: 23
DOB: 3/22/89
HT: 6-5
WT: 288
POS: DE
Tkl 39
Solo 31
Sack 10.5
FF 0
Player Analysis

Watt is running away with the Defensive Player of the Year award. He is great against the run, but Watt's ability to swat down passes and to rush the quarterback from any technique on the defensive line is uncanny.

MORE ANALYSIS

A physical marvel with rare size, but even rarer athletic ability for such a big man, Watt is maximizing those amazing gifts.

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