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The Top 5 2014 Falcons by PFF Scores

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Some names you may not expect are topping this list.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

As a fun exercise in number crunching, I decided to take a look at the presumed 2014 Falcons starters (or significant contributors) to determine which players were the highest ranked (at their positions) by PFF scores. What I found surprised even me, but in retrospect, makes good sense.

Here is the criteria I used in putting this list together:

  • No 2014 rookies were included (duh)
  • I used the PFF score for each of the last 3 years (where available) and took the average
  • I compared that average against the 2013 average of the top 5 players at the same position
  • The ranking is based on how well each player compared against that Top-5 average
Without further ado, our top 5 Falcons for the 2014 season:

#5 - William Moore

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 4.1,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 15.8

Most Falcons fans love Moore and his physical playing style, but I'm not sure I thought of him as one of the top 5 players on the team. Perhaps by some other metrics he's not, but he edges out some other guys (like Roddy White) as our # 5 ranked player. As with most of our guys, Moore's scores in 2013 weren't great, but his strong numbers from 2012 and 2011 kept his average strong.

While his three year average has him pegged at about 26% against the top-5, he's clearly a well above average player who - in a good year - can be considered top-10 at his position.

#4 - Julio Jones

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 6.0,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 21.0

When I started this article, I truly thought that Jones would be vying for the number 1 spot - and at the least, the 2 spot. However, his -2.2 score in his rookie year of 2011 kept his overall average down. Likewise, missing most of 2013 kept him from maximizing his overall score for last year - though in that short time, he had already amassed a 6.3 rating.

I don't think anyone would argue that Jones isn't a top-5 WR, but he's going to have to stay healthy to prove it. Based on just his first three years in the league, though, Jones scored at 29% of the top 5 guys in 2013. I have a feeling that number would have been much higher with a healthy 2013.

Either way, it's clear that Jones is a critical member of this team.

#3 - Jon Asamoah

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 11.9,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 32.5

This was one of the more surprising names to me, but it was a nice surprise. Many of us felt that Asamoah was a critical signing from this off-season, and the numbers back that up. With a very healthy average score of 11.7, Asamoah is one of the few players on this list who didn't have any negative scores over the last three years.

Coming in at 37% against the 2013 top 5, Asamoah may not be a top-5 Guard in the league, but he is in consideration as a top-10 player at the position. And at just 26 years old, he still has a lot of time left in this league. Of all the signings this off-season, Asamoah may end up being the best of them all.

#2 - Desmond Trufant

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 12.5,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 16.1

Talk about a great rookie season - Desmond Trufant not only out-performed any reasonable expectations fans had of him, he out-performed most players in the league at his position. Many fans were frustrated by the trade-up to land Trufant, and more so when he had a slow start to training camp last year. But by the time the season started, Trufant began proving that he didn't just belong in this league - but that he would be a high quality starter.

While his "3-year average" is just his score for 2013, he came in at a very strong 77% against the top-5 of 2013. He was clearly a top-10 corner during his first year in the league, and it's not unreasonable to think that with a full-season under his belt that he'll be even better. Of all the first round picks - save for maybe one - Trufant has been one of the best under the current regime.

#1 - Matt Ryan

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 35.1,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 30.1

It may or may not be surprising to you that Ryan is our top player. What may be surprising is how far in front he was compared to our best players - and even compared to the top 5 guys in 2013. Every Falcons fan knows that without Ryan, our team would be incapable of winning at all. While pundits credit the guys around him as the reason he's been successful, Falcons fans know that Ryan has taken advantage of those weapons to become of the the top QBs in the league.

Even with his lower 2013 score averaged in (which was still a good 13.6), Ryan's 3 year average came in at a very strong 35.1 - which put him at 117% against the 2013 top 5. Those numbers are a reminder of just how good Ryan can be, and they hammer home why many fans feel optimistic about 2014.

So, what say you of these rankings? Does anyone in particular surprise you?