NFL AM: Most Important Non-QB’s On Each Team


We know that the lifeblood of any NFL team is the quarterback.  They get too much credit when the team is winning and likely too much blame when it isn’t.

With that said, we’re going to look at the most important non-quarterback’s on each squad.

AFC East

New England Patriots: Rob Gronkowski- There is already a case to be made for Gronk as the best tight end in the history of the NFL.  New England’s explosive offense becomes a lot more ordinary without the talented tight end, even if it boasts perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history.

Buffalo Bills:  Sammy Watkins- The Bills have a lot of good players, but few stars, and Watkins is the biggest of them.  When healthy, he elevates the play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and is a player that opposing defenses must game plan against.

New York Jets:  Darrelle Revis- Revis is still among the best cornerbacks in the game and he allows Todd Bowles to design complex blitz packages due to shutting down a half of the football field.

Miami Dolphins:  Cameron Wake– Wake is getting long in the tooth, but he’s the best player on the team (even if Ndamukong Suh is the highest paid).  When Wake is healthy, he gets to the passer as well as anyone in football.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals:  A.J. Green- Green is going to be more important than ever due to the free agent losses of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.  The former first-round pick elevates the play of QB Andy Dalton and forces defenses to play straight up against the running game.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  Antonio Brown- Brown is a legitimate superstar and one of the game’s elite receivers.  He commands double teams and routinely beats them, which allows for the opening of holes in the running game.

Baltimore Ravens:  Steve Smith- He may be playing the final season of his career, but Steve Smith is still a great player and the team’s biggest weapon.  That may be an indictment of the Ravens roster.

Cleveland Browns:  Joe Haden- There are a lot of receivers on this list, so it would make sense that we see some guys that cover them.  Haden is an elite cornerback and he helps the Browns defense stay respectable.

AFC South

Houston Texans:  J.J. Watt- This is a no-brainer as Watt is the best defensive player in football and maybe the best player overall.  He wrecks game plans and has to be accounted for with double teams on every play.

Indianapolis Colts:  Vontae Davis- Again, another cornerback makes the list as Davis is one of the best in the business and Indy’s best defensive player.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  Allen Robinson- A-Rob broke out in 2015, earning his first Pro Bowl selection.  Robinson can catch jump balls in traffic, and has turned himself into Blake Bortles favorite weapon.

Tennessee Titans:  Jurrell Casey- Casey doesn’t get a lot of national publicity, but he’s one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in football.  Without him, the Titans mediocre defense would look considerably worse.

AFC West

Denver Broncos:  Von Miller- This is another no-brainer as Miller was the main reason the team won the Super Bowl and was named MVP.  He must be accounted for on every play and double-teams still have a difficult time with him.

Kansas City Chiefs:  Justin Houston- Houston is the best player on the Chiefs and he makes the defense look better all around with his rush ability.

San Diego Chargers:  Corey Liuget- Liuget has been the best defensive lineman the team has for a few years and he should continue to be dominant now that rookie Joey Bosa will line up next to him.

Oakland Raiders:  Khalil Mack- Although there was some consideration for Amari Cooper, Mack is the right pick.  He is a dominant pass rushing force and is only going to get better assuming he stays healthy over the next few years.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.