The Miami Dolphins defense has quickly turned heads this year, leading to the "all-knowing, talking heads" to suddenly think the Dolphins - the laughing stock of the NFL back in August - could suddenly be realistic playoff contenders. The top player on that defense, defensive end Cameron Wake, was ranked as the 25th best player in the league, according to ESPN's Scouts, Inc. yesterday.
ESPN writer Matt Williamson writes about the rankings:
With the NFL season now at its midpoint, we thought it was a good time to re-rank the NFL's top 50 players. Keep in mind that while the most weight for the ranking change is off of performance this season (including projected value for the second half of the season), it also heavily incorporates what a player has done over the course of his career. That way some injury issues don't completely detract from what we know of a player (see Terrell Suggs and Darrelle Revis).
About Wake, Williamson writes:
Wake was a successful 3-4 outside linebacker before this season, but Miami moved to a predominantly 4-3 scheme this year. It hasn't negatively affected Wake at all.
His pass-rushing skills are still among the best in the league and he is the best defensive player on a very strong unit. Things are looking up in Miami.
Revis was ranked 12th and Suggs 23rd, by the way.
ESPN All Rookie Team
Williamson also released his Midseason All Rookie Team yesterday. The Dolphins land a couple of rookies in the "honorable mention" positions, with one rookie winning a slot at his position.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill lands in the honorable mention behind Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Of course, Tannehill is joined by the Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III, the Cleveland Browns' Brandon Weeden, and the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson - the Group of Five, the NFL record five rookie quarterbacks starting for their teams from Week 1 of the season.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon also landed an honorable mention slot, behind the Seahawks' Bruce Irvin and the New England Patriots' Chandler Jones.
Taking a place on the All Rookie Team is right tackle Jonathan Martin. Williamson explains that the guard and center position are extremely weak among rookies, so he chose five offensive linemen rather than two tackles, two guards, and a center. Joining Martin are the Buffalo Bills' Cordy Glenn, the Minnesota Vikings' Matt Kalil, the Cleveland Browns' Mitchell Schwartz, and the Cincinnati Bengals' Kevin Zeitler.