By: J-Walk (Twitter: @J_Walk)
Garett Bolles -Left Tackle, Denver Broncos
For years Bolles has been the whipping boy for Broncos beat writers and fans due to excessive penalties and sub-par play. This year Bolles is ranked as the #3 Offensive Tackle on Pro Football Focus after the Broncos week 8 come from behind victory against the Chargers. Bolles has an 84.9 pass block grade while also carrying an amazing 89.9 run block grade, this is much improved from last season’s 76.1 cumulative grade. The Broncos are averaging 4.4 yards per carry rushing while anchored by Bolles’ elite play which bodes very well for both Phillip Lindsey and Melvin Gordon. He’s been the key to their surge in the past few weeks.
Corey Linsley – Center, Green Bay Packers
Linsley is the Center to one of the most demanding Quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rogers. Centers usually get no praise while playing one of the more mentally straining positions on the field. Not only do they need to be able to call out blitzes and scheme at the line they need to make sure that the ball is successfully transferred to the QB usually while having an enormous Nose Guard breathing down their neck. PFF has Linsley graded at a Cumulative 89.7 as the #1 Center currently in football. He currently has had 0 penalties throughout the year and led his team to only giving up 1.3 sacks per game which ranked 6th best in the NFL. The Packers are one of the most explosive Offenses in the NFL and it all starts with Linsley.
Michael Onwenu – Offensive Lineman, New England Patriots
Onwenu is the youngest player on this list and another 6th round steal for the New England Patriots in the 2020 Draft. He is currently PFF’s highest-graded rookie this season and the 3rd highest rated Offensive Guard Overall. This season he has played 80+ snaps at three different positions along the offensive line. He absolutely pops off the tape especially in his latest game against the Buffalo Bills where he played every snap at Right Tackle. This shows that Onwenu is extremely smart and understands the deeper nuances of the playbook being able to play multiple positions. Though the Patriots Offense has been anemic as of late they are still a dominant rushing team to be reckoned with currently ranked 4th in the NFL with 1,125 total rushing yards for the year. I see Onwenu being another Patriot success story and could possibly be a nominee for Rookie of the Year.
Kolton Miller Left Tackle, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have been plagued with injuries up front the last two seasons while having one absolute constant in Miller who has played on every single Offensive snap the last two years. Kolton’s greatest ability isn’t just availability because he has also been dominant on the field going toe to toe with some of the best players the NFL has to offer. Miller has successfully guarded Derek Carr’s blindside against Myles Garrett, Brian Burns, Cam Jordan, Flank Clark, and Sheldon Richardson giving up 0 sacks against all of them. The Raiders have also had a potent running game since they drafted Josh Jacobs who currently has the 6th most rushing yards of any back in the NFL currently. Kolton Miller was the first pick during the Gruden/Maycok regime and their sound pick is very telling in the way they see the game and what they find important. The Raiders need to lock this man up quickly before he hits the Free Agency market.
Defensive player! TJ Watt Edge Rusher, Pittsburgh Steelers
Watt for most of his life has had to always be in the shadow of his superstar older brother JJ but this season TJ has come into his own and has become one of the premier Defensive Superstars in the NFL. He is currently tied at 5th in Sacks with Khalil Mack for the season with 6.5 and anchors one of the best Defenses in the NFL that has already created 13 turnovers. Watt is the #1 rated edge defender by PFF with an impressive 92.4 Defensive grade. What is most telling is Watt is rated with a 90.2 Run Defense grade for a team that has allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL so far this year. The Steelers are the last undefeated team in the NFL and it is fair to say that TJ Watt is one of the reasons they have been lights out on Defense.