For a player that totaled 53 tackles, 6 sacks and an interception, Chicago Bears' outside linebacker Pernell McPhee has been receiving a lot of offseason love. He popped up on the "best players" type list from Pro Football Focus and CBS Sports, and now PFF has him down on their newest version of their Top 101 as well.
In this version, PFF is not only looking back on the previous year, they are trying to "quantify who the best players are in the league right now from all of the available data." They call this latest list the 101 Best Players in the NFL Right Now. In the original PFF Top 101 McPhee checked in at 66, but in this one, he's 41.We have to keep in mind that McPhee played about half of last season with a bad knee, so if he can manage to stay healthy, and if he can thrive with better talent around him, we may be looking at a Pro Bowl season.
Here's what PFF said about him.
Pernell McPhee is an interesting story of a player that has transitioned from the interior to a legitimate edge-rusher over his time in the NFL, and his first season in Chicago was a fine one. He notched 67 total pressures and also graded well against the run. As you might expect from a player that spent a lot of time inside, on tape he is visibly too powerful for a lot of blockers tasked with containing him, and he regularly tosses players aside to make stops and disrupt plays. That Bears' defense is heading in the right direction, and McPhee could prove to be even better going forward if they can surround him with a bit more help.
McPhee isn't the only Bear on this latest PFF list, wide out Alshon Jeffery shows up at 46.
Alshon Jeffery was a difficult player to place in these rankings because it is more on potential and upside than proven, long-term production. He was excellent in 2013, and even better in 2015 when he was on the field, but he played just 516 snaps due to injury. On either side of those injuries, he was an elite receiver who was grading as well as any wideout in the game, but the fact remains that he did it for only around half as long as most other players, so what we are looking at is more of an elite run, rather than an elite season. Jeffery is a big, physically-imposing receiver who has a large catch radius and is difficult to contend with at the catch point; if he can show that level of play consistently going forwards, he could leap up this list.
Early word from minicamp is that Jeffery is in tremendous shape, but he has to shake the soft tissue injury bug that hurt in in 2015.
If these two players can both play a relatively healthy 2016, that will go a long way towards getting the Bears back to winning football.