Every year the football analytics website Pro Football Focus looks over their grades and comes up with their 101 best NFL players. And pretty much every year, Julio Jones makes that list because he is the greatest. The Falcons usually have a few random additional players, and this year is no exception.
Jones improved to one of the best pass catchers in the league, and PFF noticed.
In any other season, we would likely be giving Julio Jones far more plaudits, but in this particular case, he was beaten into second place even among receivers by Antonio Brown. There are few, if any, more physically-dominant receivers in the NFL right now, and his blend of size and speed makes him almost impossible to cover at times. Jones also managed to post 1,871 yards and 136 receptions despite no real alternate threat in Atlanta, something the team hopes to rectify with their offseason moves. Jones gained more yards per route run this season than any other receiver, and also notched 20 broken tackles after the catch, averaging nearly 5 yards per reception of additional work with the ball in his hands. He was only held below seven catches four times over the season, and never held to fewer than four.
You should have been aware that Julio is a pretty good football player before opening up this article.
The other lone Falcon on the list? PFF favorite Ryan Schraeder.
Ryan Schraeder has improved each season of his NFL career, and in year three took a step towards being one of the best right tackles in the game. His run-blocking won’t wow, but his pass-blocking was excellent, with the second-best pass-blocking efficiency rating of all tackles on either side of the line. The only player to pass-block more efficiently in 2015 was Cleveland LT Joe Thomas, and he was only beaten for two sacks all year, one of which came from J.J. Watt. The entire Falcons’ O-line improved, but there may not have been a bigger jump than that of Schraeder’s.
Not bad for an undrafted free agent. Actually, Schraeder provides the team's best value offensive lineman under Thomas Dimitroff. The team should be happy to pay Schraeder a long-term deal, as he has easily been their best offensive lineman in the last two years.
Were there snubs? I would have liked to see Devonta Freeman get a nod over Lamar Miller and Jonathan Stewart. I would usually complain about Matt Ryan missing from the list, but he had one tough season. Desmond Trufant would make sense on this list, and Jake Matthews is probably worth an honorable mention.