PFF, or ProFootballFocus, released their top 101 best players right now list. The first of three articles, this one containing the top 101-51. On this list, two Baltimore Ravens; two more than the NFL's Top 100 this year.
Coming in at 75:
Steve Smith Sr., WR, Ravens
Absolutely deserving in this Top 101, Smith Sr. was raking in top wide receiver stats last season until the injury.
Perhaps it's because PFF has been grading 2006 games as part of an offseason project, but I think people are forgetting just how good Steve Smith is. Even fast-forwarding nine years, Smith was putting up grades right in line with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones over the first half of the 2015 season before injury struck. We seem to be just assuming that because of his age and the severity of the injury that Smith will be a washed up version of the great receiver upon his return, but I think he is the type of driven player that will still be a force when he is back on the field. Smith has been overcoming the odds for his entire career, and he'll have one more opportunity to do so.
Completely true, and couldn't be more spot on. Steve Smith Sr. "Ran around those boys like they were schoolyard kids." It was brought up with PFF's post, but Hall-of-Fame receiver Michael Irvin said it best, "Usually, when you say you're going to retire, your body shuts down. I guarantee you that he's the only guy that I will say never allows his body to shut down."
Immediately after Agent 89:
Eric Weddle, S, Ravens
At this point I'm still bewildered Eric Weddle is suiting up in Charm City purple & black. I mean, I've always dreamt of Weddle being a Raven, but this becoming true felt like Steve Smith being cut from the Panthers and adding a suffix, surely you can't be serious.
PFF's excerpt on the Ravens free agent acquisition:
Eric Weddle has been one of the game's best safeties for years, and maybe the most complete—able to play deep and in the box with equal competence while in San Diego. He also had to act as traffic cop for a team full of youth and inexperience in the secondary on regular occasions over the past few seasons. 2015 was far from his best year, but in a Baltimore secondary with maybe less responsibility on his shoulders, he could return to the player we saw in previous seasons. Weddle's experience and versatility allows a defense to do a lot on the back end in terms of coverages, and as long as he doesn't have to worry about everybody else's job, too, he should be able to make a big impact for the Ravens.
Eric Weddle will bring the knowledge Baltimore lost with future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed. Since Baltimore lost number twenty the secondary often looked lost or out-of-position. Weddle will become the foundation that all defensive backs rely upon. Add in the physicality, athleticism and ball-skills of a five-time All-pro and baby, you've got a stew going.
Two Ravens notching roles in the top 101 players right now in the NFL is big, and with another fifty names being released in the next two days, I hope they notice more Baltimore footballers.
Hopeful to make list: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Terrell Suggs
Lock: Marshal Yanda
We'll see in the coming days what PFF ranks.