I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Top 5 NFL Players to Watch

I am often asked my thoughts on current NFL players, and it's generally about the Tebows and the RG3's who are getting a lot of media attention.  I have my opinions on those players too, but it's usually those who aren't in the spotlight that I think are the most fun to watch.  I put together a list of five players I would recommend people pay attention to in the 2012 season, and I will add to the list as the season rolls along. Feel free to comment on my choices, or give me a few of your own. 

NaVorro Bowman
#5. NaVorro Bowman (LB San Francisco)
Bowman plays alongside Patrick Willis, so he sometimes gets overshadowed. But Bowman never steps off the field and plays every play as if it was his last. He is very athletic and has started to really step out of Willis' shadow.  Bowman does an excellent job reading the QB's eyes and breaking on the ball as we saw in the first game against Green Bay when he picked off Aaron Rodgers.  He is equally talented with tackling in the open field.

Darren McFadden

#4. Darren McFadden (RB Oakland)
McFadden is a complete running back. He brings a dynamic 1-2 punch with his ability to run and to catch the ball out of the backfield.  Really watch his patience and his ability to make one cut and explode through the hole.  Few players have the ability to score a TD on any given play, but McFadden brings that opportunity every time he touches the ball.

#3. Matt Schaub (QB Houston)
Matt Schaub
Schaub really flourishes in a system that has a strong running game. Schaub is very good with play action and in Houston's system, their play action allows the QB to have a little extra time to stretch the field vertically.  Watch Schaub set up the play action with exciting fakes that keep the defensive backs second guessing. Having an All-league running back always helps too.

Ben Roethlisberger
#2. Big Ben (QB Pittsburgh) 
He is not always the most fundamentally sound QB, but he has the best pocket presence and ability to extend a play. Big Ben's instincts for avoiding defensive linemen gives defensive coordinators nightmares.  While in the pocket, he is very good at utilizing the pump fake to move the defensive backs out of position.  Aggressive d-backs really struggle with this.  Watch how he handles a tough defense like the Jets this weekend.                       

Adrian Wilson

#1. Adrian Wilson (Safety Arizona)
Leading a young defense, Wilson brings an imposing force to the safety position. Not only can Wilson cover a receiver, but he can tackle like a linebacker.  Few safeties are able to bring such an aggressive style to this position.  Watch how the Cardinals move him around so the QB can't key on him.  He might blitz, drop into a zone or lock up man to man. With that versatility, he is always a fun player to watch.

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