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PFF includes Colts’ Vontae Davis, Andrew Luck, and Pat McAfee among NFL’s best 101 players

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Most of what Pro Football Focus does is not about projection but rather reaction. That is, PFF isn’t really about projecting how well a player will do in coming seasons but is more about grading how a player did the past week or season.

With that said, PFF’s Sam Monson is releasing a list that isn't quite either of them, as he tries to use PFF's grading system to determine who the 101 best players in the NFL are right now, entering the 2016 season. This isn't just based on what happened in 2015 but is instead based on the overall production of a player. Monson today released the first segment of the rankings, numbers 76-101. That part of the list was heavily represented by the Colts, as cornerback Vontae Davis (93), quarterback Andrew Luck (99), and punter Pat McAfee (101) all made it.

Here’s what Monson wrote about Davis being ranked 93rd:

Before the 2015 season, Vontae Davis had seen his career only moving in one direction. He had improved year on year, culminating in a 2014 season that was among the best we have ever seen for a cornerback since we began grading games in 2007. This past season was something of a letdown by comparison, and while he was still good, he jut wasn’t near that same dominant force. He allowed seven touchdowns this season alone, having not allowed any the year before, and looked like a far more fragile defender than he had in the past. The question for this list is which Vontae Davis are we going to get in 2016 and beyond, and I suspect it’s likely to be closer to the 2015 version than the 2014 one.

Davis was still good in 2015, he just wasn't at his 2014 level. Part of this can be attributed to his playing injured at times, and so there’s reason to think and hope that he can continue to be a very good corner for the Colts. He’s their unquestioned top cornerback and has produced for them over the past few years, and so it makes sense why he's included on this list. His ranking is likely in large part due to his tremendous 2014 season, but even if that proves to be an outlier his play overall still makes him a solid number one corner.

Here’s what Monson wrote about Luck being ranked 99th:

If this list was about potential and ceiling, Andrew Luck may well be a top-five player, but so far he has yet to consistently hit those heights, and we are dealing with glimpses of what he could be, rather than the game-by-game proof that he is that guy. Much of it is not his fault, as the Colts have hung him out to dry with a series of poorly-performing offensive lines that finally caught up with them in a big way in 2015, but the fact remains that Luck has never been quite as good as his reputation. His best season came in 2014, and even then he was only sixth among QBs in terms PFF overall grade, and eighth when it comes to passing alone. What gets him on the list at all is the spectacular plays he can make, and the consistent teasing of what he could become. Luck makes plays that nobody else in the league—with the possible exception of Aaron Rodgers—can make, and if he can ever iron out the negative and routine misses, he could be the special quarterback he has been billed as for years.

You can look at this two ways: on the one hand, it's nice to actually see PFF say something nice about Andrew Luck for a change this offseason, as most of what we’ve heard is all about how terrible he was a year ago. On the other hand, 99 is a very low ranking when looking at his play, production, and talent overall instead of simply a grading system (which seems to discredit Luck for being “only sixth” in 2014?). I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Luck is ranked 99th overall by PFF, but I also don’t think anyone should be surprised that most think Luck should be higher. Perhaps the reason for the low ranking is because PFF’s list doesn’t inflate for positions (meaning quarterbacks don’t get any extra credit for playing the most important position), so Luck’s value to the Colts’ franchise cannot be accurately reflected here. That’s probably where the discrepancy lies, as the main thing that people see when ranking Luck higher is that he has had to carry the Colts for years. If it was about predicting success in 2016 and beyond, however, Luck absolutely should be much higher.

Lastly, here’s what Monson had to say about Pat McAfee being ranked 101st:

To quote Rich Eisen, “Punters are people too,” and while my well-meaning but draconian colleagues may never allow one to make the seasonal PFF Top 101 list, there is no doubt that Pat McAfee deserves his place on this list of the 101 best players in the league. He has been either first or second in our punter grading over the last two seasons, which takes into account ball location, hang time, distance and where on the field the punts are taking place, and when you add in the fact that he may also be the league’s best kick-off specialist, it really is a no brainer. Specialists don’t get the opportunity to affect as many plays as almost all other positions, but they can’t be dismissed as inconsequential, and McAfee is an impact player for the Colts in terms of consistently changing the field-position battle and tilting things in favor of his team when he gets the opportunity. He may not put points on the board, but he makes life easier for those who do.

It’s nice to see McAfee get a mention here, and I've said for a while that McAfee could very well be the best special teams player in the entire NFL. He’s arguably the league’s best punter, arguably the best kickoff specialist, and the team’s field goal holder. As Monson notes, punters aren't as impactful as some other players, but since the list isn’t weighted by position then McAfee certainly deserves a spot.

What are your thoughts on the three Colts to make PFF’s list so far?