In a league that will see nearly 1,700 players land on an active roster and another 1,200 or so find themselves out of work come the start of September, ranking the NFL's top 400 is no easy task.
Andy Benoit of TheMMQB.com did just that, though, in an article that published Tuesday. Here is how Benoit explained the project: "Ranking football players is an imperfect science; one position is far too different from the next. To counter that, the criteria for The MMQB 400: Does Player A do his job better or worse than Player B does his job? If it was too close to call, then the Player with the more significant job got the nod.
"A player’s raw talent, cultivated skill set, and role within his team’s system were taken strongest into consideration. It was all film-based; very rarely were stats a factor. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the film shows what the stats tell anyway. The beauty is the film shows it with context."
Benoit did not include special-teams players or rookies on the list, explaining that "special teamers change jobs so much from year to year, plus there are significantly fewer special teams snaps each game than offensive and defensive snaps. And rookies cannot be evaluated on jobs they have not started yet."
The Buffalo Bills landed 11 players on Benoit's list. They are listed below in order, along with Benoit's comment:
• 52. RB Lesean McCoy – "One of only three running backs with light enough feet and loose enough hips to truly create his own yards carry-after-carry. (In case you're wondering, the other two are Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson.)"
• 152. LG Richie Incognito – "He was out of the league in 2014, but now the 35-year-old Incognito is back in the NFL and going strong. That's not by accident, considering the way he has maintained his strength and mobility."
• 174. DT Marcell Dareus – "There's an uncertainty about what you'll get from Dareus on and off the field. He's a better fit in Sean McDermott's scheme than he was in Rex Ryan's."
• 189. CB Micah Hyde – "The Packers will miss him. Hyde was their most versatile piece in a very versatile scheme. It will be interesting to see how Sean McDermott uses him."
• 258. WR Sammy Watkins –"You know about the injuries. Really, that's the deciding factor. When healthy, Watkins has shown glimpses of the playmaking prowess that made him a darling prospect. It's tough for a wide receiver to find a week-to-week rhythm playing with Tyrod Taylor."
• 270. CB Ronald Darby – "He's an assertive matchup cover guy, but Darby was better as a rookie in 2015 than as a sophomore in '16."
• 3o2. DT Kyle Williams –" The Bills will tell you he's the best athlete on their team; he just happens to have one of the worst bodies. Wear and tear should take a toll any minute now, but he's long been, and remains, just a really, really good player."
• 303. TE Charles Clay – "Clay was better in Miami than he's been in Buffalo, though that could be a function of his circumstances. He's best served as an H-back receiving weapon."
• 325. DE Lorenzo Alexander – "In 2016, Alexander had the type of breakout season that 33-year-olds only have in the movies. Two things are true: (1) He's not a true edge rusher, despite 12.5 sacks last season. And (2) Those sacks, accumulated in a variety of ways, were great plays and a legitimate reflection of his overall performance in 2016. I have no idea of what to make of a guy like this. He won't have the same pass rushing opportunities in Sean McDermott's scheme as he had in Rex Ryan's."
• 326. LT Cordy Glenn – "Like with referees, an offensive lineman going unnoticed is often a good thing. Does anyone ever notice Glenn?"
The teams with the most and fewest players on Benoit's list are also in the AFC East – New England leads the way with 20, while the New York Jets have just five. Benoit lists Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at No. 1.