Pro Football Focus is best known for their extensive grading system that they use for the NFL players, but they do a lot of different things too. They do depth chart breakdowns, game previews, their statistical breakdowns are some of the best around, and even tackle fantasy football stuff.
They also rank 101 players every off season, and this year the Chicago Bears placed two in their list. Both do their work on the offensive side of the ball, and both play the position that has been known for killing careers in Chicago.
My how things have changed.
Before we get into the two Bears, we'll get into their criteria. PFF didn't just do a strict list based off their grades, they based it on how guys played relative to their position. It does add a little subjectivity to their Top 101, but that's OK. They also only took into account the 2013 season. No speculation on future successes and no past laurels gained anyone any ranking points.
The first Bear checked in at number 73, and they even spelled his name right.
73. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (Unranked)
After a quiet debut season Jeffery exploded as the Bears offense revamped itself into a high-powered passing attack. Picking up a hugely impressive 1,421 yards (while not even being the top target on his own team) Jeffery showed the kind of playmaking ability this team craved. Whether he was lined up wide or in the slot he was a mismatch for defenders, finishing the season particularly strong.
Best Performance: Week 13, CHI @ MIN, +5.1
Key Stat: Incredibly productive when lined up inside, Jeffery averaged 2.89 Yards Per Route Run from the slot. No receiver could beat or match that number.
That week 13 game was indeed a monster for Jeffery. He had 12 catches for 249 yards, and two touchdowns. In that game he broke his own franchise single game yardage record.
His teammate and mentor checked in at 32. He was also the top receiver on their list.
32. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears (30th)
On receiving alone Marshall would still have made the list but ranked a ways lower. He still had a phenomenal year (as does anyone who makes this list) with impressive touchdown (12), broken tackles (13) and yards (1,295) telling part of the story. But what propelled Marshall from a man who would have our fifth highest receiving grade to top overall receiver, was his unmatched run blocking. And when we say unmatched we mean that in our six years grading nobody has ever come close, with it being nearly three times as much as the next highest graded receiver. Rarely does a receiver contribute on every down, but Marshall was that rarity.
Best Performance: Week 14, DAL @ CHI, +5.7
Key Stat: Marshall ended the year with a +17.0 blocking grade, the best of any wide receiver and the highest we've ever given a player at that position.
Marshall is in their top third again, and it has to have something to do with his incredible blocking. In fact, all the Bears wide-outs were known for sticking their face in there and getting after it.
In that week 14 game, Marshall had six catches for 100 yards, but PFF gave him a +1.5 for his screen blocking.
For the full PFF 101 list you can click here.