- Gary Horton, Scouts Inc.
In the NFL, games are won by creating mismatches. Some players are good on their own, but when paired with someone who complements their strengths, they both become better. When a speedy wide receiver can open up the underneath for a possession WR to work, or a QB has an innate knowledge of how a WR will run an option route, this is what happens.
By themselves, these players are good. Some are even elite. But when they work in tandem, that's when we see something truly special. These aren't just two good players on the same side of the ball. These are players who have chemistry together, where the best attributes of one player can compensate for the weakest attributes of the other, and vice versa. Take for example the Ravens' Ray Lewis. No longer in his athletic prime, there are shortcomings in his game. Pair him with another playmaker though -- as we have on the list below -- and he helps form an elite cog around which the Baltimore defense operates.
With all of that in mind, here is my breakdown of the top 10 most dynamic duos in the AFC:
1. TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
We have never seen two guys at this position dominate like they do, and their versatility is off the charts. They combined for an amazing 169 receptions for 2,237 yards and 24 TDs in 2011. Even though Hernandez is more athletic and, at times, plays like a wide receiver, Gronkowski runs better seam routes and gets more yards after the catch, which opens things up for Hernandez underneath. Gronkowski is a fantastic red zone threat, while Hernandez is even a threat to line up in the backfield and take handoffs as a running back. Their versatility on their own is a headache for opposing defenses. But together the options they provide the Pats' offense are almost endless. This duo truly is a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare.
11hEric D. Williams