20 New England Patriots land on MMQB’s top 400

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25: Tom Brady /

Sports Illustrated’s MMQB released their top 400 players for 2017 on Tuesday, and 20 New England Patriots made the list, with 2 in the top 10.

Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback, or MMQB, released their top 400 players in the NFL for 2017. 20 members of the New England Patriots made the list, with two offensive superstars in the top 10. The 20 players are the most for any team on the list, with the Kansas City Chiefs a close second at 19.

Of course, we all knew Tom Brady would rank high on the list, and just like with the NFL Top 100 from the NFL Network, TB12 finished on top at No. 1. Behind him, there are a number of Patriots who have proven their abilities on the field, but I don’t completely agree with all of their rankings.

Here’s a look at the New England Patriots players that made the MMQB list.

  • 1. QB Tom Brady
  • 7. TE Rob Gronkowski
  • 36. FS Devin McCourty
  • 86. LB Dont’a Hightower
  • 106. CB Malcolm Butler
  • 119. WR Julian Edelman
  • 120. CB Stephon Gilmore
  • 138. WR Brandin Cooks
  • 148. DE Trey Flowers
  • 191. SS Patrick Chung
  • 212. DT Malcom Brown
  • 268. LT Nate Solder
  • 272. DT Alan Branch
  • 273. RT Marcus Cannon
  • 313. EDGE Rob Ninkovich
  • 329. RB Rex Burkhead
  • 331. DE Lawrence Guy
  • 335. RB James White
  • 345. RG Shaq Mason
  • 383. LB David Harris

Now, here’s a look at who joined Brady and Gronk in the top 10.

  • 1. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  • 2. DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
  • 3. LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos
  • 4. LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
  • 5. RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 6. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  • 7. TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
  • 8. DE Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
  • 9. WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
  • 10. WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

How the list was created

According to MMQB, the list was quite a project to tackle. One of the toughest parts is comparing players at different positions, but they took that into account.

"“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.”"

The team also made their list based on film not stats.

"“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.”"

MMQB’s take on Brady and Gronk

In New England, no two Patriots may be as beloved as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Each is the best player at their position in the NFL, and each may go down as the greatest of all-time at their position. Here’s MMQB’s words on TB12 and Gronk.

On Brady

"“After the Super Bowl 51 comeback everyone seems to be in agreement: He’s the greatest of all-time. But you never hear why, and ‘he’s a winner’ isn’t a reason (that’s the result, not the cause). So here are the top three actual causes of Brady’s greatness, in no particular order: (1) He’s a better thrower than people realize, both in terms of arm strength and especially in terms of accuracy (his is pinpoint). (2) His pocket movement is brilliantly nuanced. Often, it’s almost imperceptible. When Brady moves in the pocket, he never compromises his readiness to throw. His mechanics stay sharp under duress. He also doesn’t move in the pocket unless it’s necessary. That means he can play quicker. (3) He’s smart, especially before the snap. We’ve always thought of Peyton Manning as the ultimate pre-snap field general, getting up to the line of scrimmage, making dummy calls and then audibling into the perfect response for the defensive look. Brady does this, too. And he spearheads a system that’s better at using formations that make the defense reveal its hand.”"

On Gronk

"“He probably needs one or two more healthy seasons in order to go down as the greatest tight end of all-time. Besides being a juggernaut receiver who can beat defenders as an in-line tight end, slot receiver or backside wide receiver, he’s also a premier run-blocker. And coaches and teammates love his football character.”"

Cooks ranked too low at 138

Brandin Cooks is going to be a difference maker for the New England Patriots this season, so I really don’t understand his low ranking. Here’s the list of wide receivers that are ranked ahead of Cooks.

  • 9. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
  • 10. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 23. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
  • 33. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 70. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 75. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
  • 89. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
  • 97. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
  • 108. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
  • 109. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
  • 115. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
  • 119. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
  • 132. DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I believe that Cooks and Edelman both deserve a bit of a bump. Jules should be in the top 100, ahead of Jordy Nelson, while Brandin Cooks should be in the top 120.

Alan Branch should be ahead of Malcom Brown

Alan Branch has been a stellar find for the New England Patriots, and while Malcom Brown has the potential to become a star, he’s not quite there yet. Branch should still be looked at as a better player than Brown for 2017. MMQB had this to say about Branch’s play, which makes me wonder why he wasn’t ranked a little higher.

"“Branch was outstanding down the stretch last season. In New England’s scheme, his type of dominance leads to more tackles for the linebackers and edge defenders, which is why it often goes unnoticed.”"

Swap Burkhead and White

James White is a better player than Rex Burkhead. The Patriots depth chart will show it this season, so I’m not sure why this list doesn’t.

Burkhead is a good player, and he will make some contributions on offense, but he’ll mostly be a special teams player behind James White and Mike Gillislee (who somehow isn’t on this list).

MMQB on Rex Burkhead

"More from Chowder and Champions3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster DeadlineMLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 SeasonRed Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win“Don’t be surprised if he supplants James White in the pecking order. White is great, but Burkhead is the more dynamic all-around player.”"

I’d be very, very surprised. Rex will stay behind White for the remainder of the season.

MMQB on James White

"“The Falcons considered White a wide receiver in Super Bowl 51 and game-planned to play dime (six DB’s) when he was in. At some point, does New England need to incorporate him more in the running game?”"

I agree that James White needs to become more involved in the running game, and I think he will be. With LeGarrette Blount out of the picture, I fully expect more first and second down carries for White.

Next: Patriots Training Camp Battles: Running back

I love that MMQB views the Patriots as the best team in the NFL with the best roster of any team, but I think they should have taken a closer look at some of their rankings. The defensive tackle and running back rankings irk me the most, and I certainly believe Mike Gillislee deserved a spot on this list as well. Who else do you think was snubbed by MMQB? Do you think their order is correct or do you agree with my take on who should be higher and lower? Let us know on Twitter @CandCFansided!