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Expert Predictions: Top players, Pro Bowlers, and Super Bowl berth

Posted Jun 9, 2017

Pro Football Focus and other NFL experts are predicting big things for the Giants in 2017:

A resurgent Giants defense was a central storyline to the 2016 season that ended with Big Blue going 11-5 and making its first trip to the postseason since 2011.

As a result, Pro Football Focus named five defenders to its list of The Top 101 players of 2016. They were: Landon Collins (8), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (30), Janoris Jenkins (40), Damon Harrison (44) and Olivier Vernon (71).

Last year was last year, though, and this year is right around the corner. Pro Football Focus is out with another ranking, this time of The Top 50 Players for 2017 as chosen “by the PFF team and informed by grading, statistics and schematic context.” 

>> FACT OR FICTION: PREDICTIONS FOR ENGRAM

Ten players were unveiled each night starting this past Sunday, and three Giants made the list. Here they are:

41. Damon Harrison – “Nobody stuffs the run quite like Harrison. He has led the league in run-stop percentage in each of the past four seasons. As an undrafted rookie back in 2012, he played only 11 defensive snaps, making one tackle, and it was a defensive stop. The past two years he has the highest two run-stop percentages we have ever graded in over a decade of recording it, and his 49 stops in the run game this season were 10 more than any other defensive tackle. Only eight other DTs could even get within half of Harrison’s total, and he played fewer snaps against the run than many of them.”

24. Landon Collins – “A position switch for Collins in year two – moving from free safety to strong safety – saw him transformed from an ugly rookie season to a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber sophomore campaign. Collins notched 46 defensive stops last season, eight more than any other safety, while also notching five interceptions, five pass breakups, four sacks and 10 total pressures on the blitz. Collins became a matchup player for the Giants defense, and was able to make plays all over the field from his alignment closer to the action.”

17. Odell Beckham Jr. – “Beckham broke 29 tackles with the ball in hand, six more than any other receiver, and has gained more than 1,600 yards after the catch in his young NFL career so far. Beckham is capable of spectacular plays but also turning routine catches into much larger gains on a regular basis.”

Here’s a look around the league at PFF’s Top 10:

1. Aaron Donald, DI, Los Angeles Rams
2. J.J. Watt, DI, Houston Texans
3. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
6. Khalil Mack, Edge, Oakland Raiders
7. Von Miller, Edge, Denver Broncos
8. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
10. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers

• NFL.com released an interesting list this week, where they projected a first-time Pro Bowler for each NFL team. They tapped defensive end Olivier Vernon for the Giants, writing “It's flat-out crazy that Vernon hasn't made a Pro Bowl, having piled up 37.5 sacks over his first five seasons. Bottom line: That will change this year as the Giants unleash one of the league's nastiest defensive fronts. Vernon is a strong bet to cross into double-digit sacks en route to an appearance in Orlando.”

• Who can unseat the champs? NFL.com’s Connor Orr has an article out where he looked at six teams most capable of knocking off the New England Patriots. Orr has the Giants as the second team on his list, noting that aside from their annual preseason meeting, these two teams wouldn’t match up again until Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.