The offseason list...
A staple of every publication/outlet that covers the National Football League. It all started with the NFL Network, but has spread to multiple other places like a T-virus outbreak. For sites like us, they provide some good water-cooler discussion to debate whether the Chicago Bears players that made the cut were given their proper respect, or if they were snubbed completely.
We’ll get the 2018 listapalooza started with the folks over at Pro Football Focus. They recently ranked the top 101 players in the NFL — regardless of position — and there were two Bears that made it. I’m sure their grades factor in, but they also claim that they “take a look at how guys played relative to what is expected from their position.” They also factor in postseason performance, so right off the bat we know the Bears are fighting an uphill battle.
First up was safety Adrian Amos, who did have a fine season. You have to call it a breakout season for the 24-year old even though he played in a career low 13 games, with a career low 10 starts.
Here’s how PFF had Amos on their list.
32. ADRIAN AMOS, S, CHICAGO BEARS
Top 101 appearances: New entry
An extremely underrated player this season, Adrian Amos was excellent for the Chicago Bears all year even if his play was more consistently solid than spectacular. Amos had impressive PFF grades in coverage and against the run and was consistently in the right place at the right time for the Bears, making very few negative plays. Amos missed just six tackles all year from 76 attempts and notched just two fewer defensive stops than Minnesota’s Harrison Smith from 300 fewer snaps on the field.
PFF Elite Stat: Amos was 19th in tackling efficiency among safeties this season with a mark of 12.7.
I’ll take a bunch of guys playing “consistently solid” on my football team any day. I think the pairing with Eddie Jackson helped Amos find himself as a player. Jackson was brought in with a legit free safety skill set, which meant Amos was going to settle in as the thumper. It’s a role that suits him. I also think Amos’ early time on the bench helped him out as well. Quintin Demps was brought in to start at strong safety, and Amos just kept plugging along in camp. He maintained a good attitude and stepped up when Demps was injured. There were reports of Demps helping the young defensive backs on the roster, so I wonder how much that could have factored into Amos’ break out.
The other Bear that cracked PFF’s Top 101 should be no surprise.
87. AKIEM HICKS, DI, CHICAGO BEARS
Top 101 appearances: New entry
Anytime you can rival Damon Harrison for run stop numbers, you are doing something special, and that’s exactly what Akiem Hicks did this year for the Chicago Bears. Hicks tied Harrison for the league lead among interior defenders with 44 defensive stops, and he generated his fair share of pass-rush with 49 total pressures.
PFF Elite Stat: Hicks finished second in run stops (37) among interior defenders.
Hicks had a really good year and he probably should have made the Pro Bowl, but that type of recognition usually comes a year later. If he has this kind of season again in 2018, I think he’ll make the trip to Orlando.
Even though these were the only two Bears on the list, they weren’t the only Bears mentioned on their 101. PFF has a bunch of info-graphics littered on their article and Kyle Fuller pops up as being second in the NFL among corners with 19 total interceptions and pass breakups. Jordan Howard checked in as their third best running back in terms of yards after contact since 2016.
Were Amos and Hicks in the right slots? Did any Bears get snubbed?
Check out PFF’s list and let us know what you think.