While grading players is a big deal over at Pro Football Focus, the football website also keeps track of numerous advanced statistics as they work to analyze players and the deeper storylines in football. This week, PFF published the list of their projected top 50 players for the 2019 season, and the Green Bay Packers were well-represented with three names on the list.
Two should be no-brainers, but the third might be a slight surprise, given one of the players who did not quite make the cut. Indeed, Acme Packing Company’s Top 90 ranking put in fourth place the player whom PFF ranked third on their list.
Here’s a look at who made the cut as well as the notable omission.
David Bakhtiari, OT (13th)
The top Packer on the list is the NFL’s best pass-blocker and the league’s best left tackle, as determined by All-Pro voters last year. Bakhtiari is famously a three-time All-Pro (twice a second-teamer and once on the first-team) but has just one Pro Bowl appearance. But not only is he the best player at his position, PFF also ranks him as the top offensive lineman overall on their list, noting that he “leads all offensive tackles on the list in pressure percentage allowed (3.4%) and pass-blocking efficiency (98.1).”
Aaron Rodgers, QB (17th)
For PFF, their grading system was a big reason why Rodgers still ranks highly, and that is predicated largely on big plays and avoiding turnovers. Yes, Rodgers was out of sorts a bit last year, but with a new offense energizing him, 2019 should have him primed for a big bounce-back season. Here are PFF’s numbers on the categories described: “Though his 5.86% big-time throw rate cracked the top-five among quarterbacks with 300 or more dropbacks last season, it was Rodgers’ ability to avoid turnover-worthy plays that truly propped his overall and passing grades up in 2018. He committed a turnover-worthy play on an NFL-low 1.04% of his dropbacks on the year.”
Kenny Clark, DT (37th)
Finally, we get to Clark, the standout player on the Packers’ defense a year ago. Clark’s contributions continue to draw more and more praise, and PFF has been leading the charge for recognizing his great play for a while. They had him massively improving his pass rush abilities in 2018 from his first two years: “He also finished the year ranked 11th in pass-rush win percentage (14.1%) and ninth in total pressure percentage (12.0%).” Clark should once again anchor the interior of the Packers’ defensive line in 2019, and he’s locked up through 2020 on his fifth-year option.
One notable omission here is wide receiver Davante Adams, who did not crack the list. Six other wide receivers did, in order from highest-ranked to lowest:
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (9th)
- Julio Jones, Falcons (10th)
- Michael Thomas, Saints (12th)
- Odell Beckham, Jr., Browns (19th)
- Antonio Brown, Raiders (22nd)
- Keenan Allen, Chargers (34th)
These are all great players, deserving of spots on the list. However, Adams belongs in the discussion with these players, finishing the 2018 season tied for fourth in receiving yards per game and second only to Brown in touchdowns. Expect him to show up here on a similar list in 2020.