EARTH CITY, Mo. -- There was, perhaps, no bigger breakout star in the 2013 NFL season than St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn.
Quinn emerged as a pass-rushing supernova with vastly improved skills as a run defender on his way to his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. He won the Pro Football Writers' Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts.
The scariest part of it all is that Quinn was only in his third season and is still just scratching the surface of who he could be. Earlier this week, the folks at ProFootballFocus.com, a website that attempts to grade player performance using their own metrics and film study, provided their rankings of the top 100 players in the league.
To nobody's surprise, Quinn earned a spot on the list but for those that didn't get to witness Quinn's dominant performances on a weekly basis, it might have been a bit jarring to see where he came in on that list: No. 2 overall.
PFF's grade for Quinn came in at 77.2 with a pass-rushing grade of 59.5. For perspective on that grade, PFF notes that the previous high score for a 4-3 defensive end was Miami's Cameron Wake at 54.3. Of course, PFF's grades are not definitive but they can be a useful tool in trying to somehow quantify a player's performance from week to week.
Whether or not Quinn was the second-best player in the league last year (Houston's J.J. Watt was first) is certainly up for debate. What isn't much of a conversation is whether Quinn belongs in any conversation, regardless of what you use to rank players, as one of the best players in the league.
A roundup of Thursday's stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we began the day with a glimpse at the Rams' two newest additions. ... In this week's edition of Four Downs, I joined my fellow NFC West reporters in a discussion of four topics pertaining to the league's best division. ... We closed the day by continuing the post-draft position outlook series with focus turned to defensive tackles and cornerbacks.
Chat: The weekly Rams chat is scheduled for today at 1 p.m. ET. You can submit questions now and/or join me when we go live.
A fun read from Vikings reporter Ben Goessling on Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant's garage sale.
A couple of interesting stories from 49ers-land:
Coach Jim Harbaugh is expecting a breakout season from quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Tight end Vernon Davis is not attending organized team activities.
At stltoday.com, Joe Lyons takes a look at center Demetrius Rhaney's hard road to the NFL.
At FoxSportsMidwest.com, Nate Latsch catches up with offensive lineman Rodger Saffold.