Three takeaways from ESPN's #NFLRank reveal of the top 100 offensive and top 100 defensive players in the league. Today: 11-20.
1. Backfield battle: During the past two seasons, Seattle Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch has rushed for more yards and touchdowns than the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles. He's fumbled less, played an integral part in a Super Bowl championship and amassed 22 percent more yards after contact than Charles. #NFLRankers, however, placed Charles (No. 11) three spots above Lynch (No. 14) in this year's vote. It's true that Charles is a year younger than Lynch, and the yardage comparison looks different when you realize Charles averaged more per rush (5.14 yards) than Lynch (4.62) over that period. Three spots is not an exactly an insulting distance, but it is at least debatable and, in this view, probably represents a reversal in what most NFL people think of the comparison.
2. What might have been: By the end of last season, NaVorro Bowman was probably the best player on an elite San Francisco 49ers' defense. He had completed his third consecutive year with at least 140 tackles and had become a three-down force with two interceptions among eight passes defensed and four forced fumbles. But a knee injury in the NFC Championship Game will sideline him until midseason at the earliest, and it's difficult to project when he will return to his previous form. Before the injury, he was absolutely among the top 12 defensive players in the league, as #NFLRankers placed him. Afterwards? It will be a while before we know.
3. The other guy: As the 2010 draft approached, Gerald McCoy was the alternative to Ndamukong Suh. Both were playmaking defensive tackles who projected among the top 5 picks, but Suh's big personality and final-game performance in college gave him a buzz that McCoy couldn't match. Their respective rookie seasons -- Suh made 10 sacks, while McCoy managed 3.0 in 13 games -- widened the gap. But as they enter their fifth season of comparisons, McCoy has closed the gap. He amassed 9.5 sacks last season and has produced none of the sideshows that have defined Suh's career. #NFLRankers have McCoy below three other defensive tackles -- including Suh -- but he has emerged as a big-time player in his own right.