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Stafford only Lion among Pro Football Focus’ top 101

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions need playmakers. You’ve probably heard that often since the end of the season, but Pro Football Focus’ top 101 players from the 2016 season showcases the team’s lack of top-tier talent.

The Lions landed just one player, quarterback Matthew Stafford, in the league’s top 101 players. And even he barely made the cut, checking in at No. 99 on the list.

In 2015, Detroit had two players on the list, cornerback Darius Slay (No. 44) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (No. 57).

Based on their grades, the publication still thinks highly of Slay, but he finished 17th in their cornerback rankings, in a tightly bunched group. While Slay continued to make strides as a playmaker, he was hurt by giving up seven touchdown receptions, more than the average starter at this position.

Stafford had a fine season, and probably would have been ranked higher had he not struggled down the stretch, hampered by an injured finger on his throwing hand. He completed 65.3 percent of his passes in 2016 for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Stafford (ninth) and kicker Matt Prater (seventh) were the only players ranked among the top 10 at their position by Pro Football Focus. The group does not have publicly available grades for punters, but Sam Martin would have presumably also made the list.

Running back Theo Riddick, who missed five games due to injury, was the No. 12 running back. Healthy, the playmaker out of the backfield could have possibly cracked the top 101.

The Seattle Seahawks led the way this year, with eight players on the list. NFC North rival Green Bay had six players make it, while division foes Chicago and Minnesota were also limited to one player each.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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