At Grantland, Bill Barnwell's most recent piece breaks down his view of the most valuable assets in the NFL.
The first 20 were here, and included no AFC South players. It's an important piece for setting up how he judges value, however. Numbers 30 through 1 are in this second installment and includes three whole members of our division.
I bet you can guess two of them. The third is absolutely deserving as well.
Texans left tackle Duane Brown is 27th.
Says Barnwell: "You have to really start picking nits to find something wrong with Duane Brown. He's the sort of athletic left tackle that a zone-blocking scheme needs to cut guys on the backside of a stretch play, but he's also got enough size to hold up at the point of attack if the Texans want to run right behind him. The former college tight end can get to the second level and run down a linebacker or a safety, but he also has the technique to create time for (Matt) Schaub on one of Houston's many play-action pass attempts. He's also 27 and signed to a team-friendly deal that leaves him as merely the 10th-highest-paid tackle in football."
My reaction: I suppose there are some teams that could say he's not tailored to their system. But Brown's not some small, finesse guy. The Texans forecasted his development perfectly.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is fourth.
Age and contracts are part of the equation here. Barnwell ranks Tom Brady seventh, and connects Watt and Brady.
Says Barnwell: "Wouldn't Brady-for-Watt be the perfect escape route from the Brady era for the Patriots? If the Patriots had a legitimate backup quarterback (they don't now), I really think Bill Belichick would go for it. Watt's on a rookie contract, he's the most destructive lineman in a generation, and Brady's 36 years old. My guess is that Belichick treats Watt's game tape like porn. I also think the Texans would trade Watt for Brady if they had let Matt Schaub go this past offseason, but they would have to spend more time thinking about it than the Patriots would."
My reaction: Watt is tremendous. But if you could have Brady for his last few years, I think you'd have to take him. Then, though, you'd have to worry about him facing Watt as he tried to lead the Texans past the Patriots in the playoffs.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is third.
Barnwell says: "Now that Russell Wilson has proven that his work ethic, intelligence, and heaping gobs of football ability translate to the NFL level, there's no reason to think that other stuff matters. And in terms of the skills that actually translate to pro performance, Wilson's every bit as good as Andrew Luck. He also has a far better performance record after one season and, by virtue of teams passing on Wilson 73 times between Luck's selection with the first pick and Wilson's arrival into Seattle at No. 75, Wilson's four-year contract will cost the Seahawks just $2.2 million, which is about half of what Luck will make in just one season of his four-year deal. And Luck's contract is a bargain!"
My reaction: I saw a lot more of Luck last year than Wilson, which translates to me having more faith in Luck as a sure thing going forward. But it's hard to argue with Barnwell's logic and Wilson's ridiculous value contract-wise.