ProFootballFocus (PFF) released their top 101 players of 2015 rankings list and it left many Lions fans scratching their heads. Two Lions, one former and one current, were in the ranking system, but there was a big miss by the crew over at PFF. Detroit didn’t have that good of a year last season, so it is hard to find the positives of who did well, along with who could improve and we mostly look at the negatives, who did bad and who needed to be off of the team. Let’s look at the hits and misses of the PFF ranking of the Detroit Lions players.
Ranking number 44: Darius Slay
Darius Slay had a great year last year and cemented himself as a top cornerback in the NFL. He only had three flags on him all year, which means his coverage skills are well enough that he doesn’t have to get a PI call after he gets beat or he doesn’t have to hold to keep with the receiver. According to PFF, his ranking at the position was the second best with a +15.9. Slay had 59 tackles last year, with 13 pass deflections, and two interceptions. Slay was ranked seventh in the list out of the cornerbacks, which isn’t a perfect fit as he is at least the number five cornerback in the league. Overall, this was a good spot for Slay and he was unranked from the year before. If he has another good year, he could move up higher on this ranking list and get some more respect around the league.
Ranking number 57: Calvin Johnson
Now even though Johnson is retired, we still have to show him some respect and what he brought to this city and this team. Johnson moved up in the rankings going from 64 to 57. Johnson had another good year last season, with 88 catches for 1,214 yards, and nine touchdowns. His age was starting to show the past two seasons, but Megatron could still play in the NFL for another 6-8 years easily. He was ranked eighth out of wide receivers, and looking at the list he could have been at least number seven as Doug Baldwin, to me, doesn’t seem like a top 10 WR in the NFL. Either way at 30 years old, Calvin could still step up and play at the next level and impress people around the NFL. His legacy in Detroit will forever be cemented and he will never be forgotten.
Unranked: Ziggy Ansah
How? How could this man not be on the list? Ziggy had 14.5 sacks last season, ranked third in the NFL behind Khalil Mack and J.J. Watt. Texans’ DE Watt was ranked 5, Olivier Vernon at 21, Fletcher Cox at 28, Michael Bennett at 29, Cameron Jordan at 33, Mike Daniels at 47, Cliff Avril at 61, Muhammad Wilkerson at 74, Malik Jackson at 75, Jurrell Casey at 81, Derek Wolfe at 90, Robert Ayers at 91 and William Hayes at 93.
Now looking at that list, Ziggy is better than all of those players and has a chance to be better than Watt. Ansah had more sacks than all of these players (except Watt), tied with Cameron Wake with four forced fumbles, and behind Watt and tied with Wilkerson on yards lost on sacks. I found a funny quote written by PFF on Vernon’s grade saying “There may have been no better player in football over the final eight games of the season than Olivier Vernon, and had he played sixteen games at that level, we would likely be looking at the No. 1 player on this list, instead of No. 21.”
Wait, so just because Vernon did a good job in the second half of the season, that just eliminates Ziggy’s contributions for all 16 games? Last season Ansah had 47 tackles, 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one pass deflection. Ansah had better stats than Vernon, yet Ansah is on the outside looking in.