Ranking the four elite AFC teams by position

Nfl 2007

September 06, 2007|By Rankings by Jamison Hensley

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK 1. Tom Brady, New England 2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis 3. Steve McNair, Ravens 4. Philip Rivers, San Diego

Ask any Ravens defensive player and he'll say Brady is the best in the league. When Manning wins two more rings, then there will be an argument. RUNNING BACK 1. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego 2. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis 3. Laurence Maroney, New England 4. Willis McGahee, Ravens

Tomlinson scored 31 touchdowns last season, 10 more than Addai, Maroney and McGahee combined.

FULLBACK 1. Lorenzo Neal, San Diego 2. Justin Green, Ravens 3. Heath Evans, New England 4. Luke Lawton, Indianapolis

Neal has made a career blocking for 1,000-yard rushers. The rest of these fullbacks are not in his class.

NO. 1 RECEIVER 1. Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis 2. Mark Clayton, Ravens 3. Randy Moss, New England 4. Vincent Jackson, San Diego

When is Harrison going to show his age? Clayton is a more consistent threat than the mercurial Moss.

NO. 2 RECEIVER 1. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis 2. Donte' Stallworth, New England 3. Derrick Mason, Ravens 4. Malcolm Floyd, San Diego

Wayne could be the go-to receiver on most teams. Mason will have more catches, but Stallworth will have more touchdowns.

TIGHT END 1. Antonio Gates, San Diego 2. Todd Heap, Ravens 3. Ben Watson, New England 4. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis

Gates is the No. 1 receiver for the Chargers and a freak of nature. Heap, though, isn't a distant second.

LEFT TACKLE 1. Jonathan Ogden, Ravens 2. Marcus McNeill, San Diego 3. Matt Light, New England 4. Tony Ugoh, Indianapolis

Ogden is the best of this group when healthy, but McNeill is quickly emerging. Ugoh, who is now starting after the unexpected retirement of Tarik Glenn, is a concern. LEFT GUARD 1. Kris Dielman, San Diego 2. Logan Mankins, New England 3. Jason Brown, Ravens 4. Ryan Lilja, Indianapolis

Dielman probably should have been named to the Pro Bowl last season. Mankins is intelligent and quick.

CENTER 1. Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis 2. Nick Hardwick, San Diego 3. Dan Koppen, New England 4. Mike Flynn, Ravens

Saturday is smart, savvy and experienced. Hardwick, a former wrestler, is athletic and tough.

RIGHT GUARD 1. Stephen Neal, New England 2. Mike Goff, San Diego 3. Chris Chester, Ravens 4. Jake Scott, Indianapolis

Neal isn't big but he is explosive coming off the ball. Goff is big and dependable.

RIGHT TACKLE 1. Ryan Diem, Indianapolis 2. Shane Olivea, San Diego 3. Adam Terry, Ravens 4. Nick Kaczur, New England

Diem has a wide wingspan, which can wall off a side in the running game. Olivea has strong hands and upper-body strength.

SPECIAL TEAMS

KICKER 1. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis 2. Matt Stover, Ravens 3. Nate Kaeding, San Diego 4. Stephen Gostkowski, New England

There isn't a more clutch kicker than Vinatieri. Stover is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history.

PUNTER 1. Hunter Smith, Indianapolis 2. Sam Koch, Ravens 3. Mike Scifres, San Diego 4. Chris Hanson, New England

Smith has a 43.5-yard average and has placed 152 punts inside the 20-yard line over his eight-year career. Koch was tied for second last season for punts inside the 10.

RETURNER 1. B.J. Sams, Ravens 2. Darren Sproles, San Diego 3. Wes Welker, New England 4. T.J. Rushing, Indianapolis

Sams ranked in the top 10 in punt and kickoff returns. Sproles, who broke his leg last season, can break big returns.

DEFENSE LEFT DEFENSIVE TACKLE/END 1. Trevor Pryce, Ravens 2. Luis Castillo, San Diego 3. Ty Warren, New England 4. Robert Mathis, Indianapolis

Pryce re-established himself with 13 sacks and became an unexpected presence against the run. Castillo can control gaps with his bulk and toughness. NOSE TACKLE 1. Jamal Williams, San Diego 2. Kelly Gregg, Ravens 3. Vince Wilfork, New England 4. Raheem Brock, Indianapolis

Williams is a massive cog who can shut down the interior of the line. Gregg is one of the most underrated players in the league. RIGHT DEFENSIVE TACKLE 1. Haloti Ngata, Ravens 2. Igor Olshansky, San Diego 3. Richard Seymour, New England 4. Ed Johnson, Indianapolis

Ngata could become a dominant force. Seymour is perhaps the NFL's best lineman, but he'll miss at least six weeks recovering from knee surgery. LEFT OUTSIDE LINEBACKER 1. Rosevelt Colvin, New England 2. Shaun Phillips, San Diego 3. Jarret Johnson, Ravens 4. Rob Morris, Indianapolis

Colvin is a quality edge rusher who has a good motor. Phillips is a converted end who is at his best when chasing the quarterback. LEFT INSIDE LINEBACKER 1. Ray Lewis, Ravens 2. Tedy Bruschi, New England 3. Gary Brackett, Indianapolis 4. Stephen Cooper, San Diego

Lewis is still the heart of the Ravens' defense and an all-but-certain Hall of Famer. Bruschi suffered a stroke in 2005, but he is a rare talent when healthy. RIGHT INSIDE LINEBACKER 1. Bart Scott, Ravens 2. Mike Vrabel, New England 3. Matt Wilhelm, San Diego 4. Freddy Keiaho, Indianapolis

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