Patriots

Patriots

 

Pro Football Focus released its Top 25 players from 2015 on Thursday, and while it was pretty obvious that both Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady would be included somewhere in that range (they were nowhere to be found from No. 101-26), we now know exactly where they've slotted in. 

Gronkowski was the Patriots headliner, falling in at No. 4. Brady, meanwhile, came in at No. 14. 

It was an impressive showing for the guys from New England, joining only the Cardinals and Panthers as the teams with multiple players in the Top 15. Arizona checked in with defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (No. 10) and quarterback Carson Palmer (No. 15), while Carolina was represented by linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 3), quarterback Cam Newton (No. 8) and corner Josh Norman (No. 11), who now plays for the Redskins. 

The Patriots had seven players total listed by PFF: Gronkowski, Brady, linebacker Jamie Collins (No. 46), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (No. 59), safety Patrick Chung (No. 62), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (No. 63) and safety Devin McCourty (No. 94). Carolina was the only team that had more players mentioned with nine. 

PFF points out that Gronkowski's place atop the league's best tight ends was a no-brainer. He led all players at his position in yards, yards per reception, touchdowns and yards after catch. 

"His numbers were impressive, if not staggering," writes Sam Monson, "but when you add in the fact that he also led the league in blocking grade among TEs, you start to see what separates Gronk in an era of move TEs for whom blocking is a theoretical exercise." 

 

The only players ranked ahead of Gronkowski were Kuechly, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown and Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, the top player on the list. 

Brady was a candidate for MVP through the first 10 weeks of last season before he began losing teammates to injury on a seemingly weekly basis. Running back Dion Lewis suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 9, then Julian Edelman went down for the rest of the regular season in a win over the Giants the following week. Danny Amendola dealt with nagging issues late in the season, and Brandon LaFell had a hard time returning from an injury suffered in 2014. Brady's offensive line was forced to go most of the year without starting left tackle Nate Solder.

The 38-year-old quarterback also missed out on his chance at a better ranking due in part to 44 drops by his receivers, which was tied with Oakland's Derek Carr for most in the league, according to PFF. Still, the site felt as though Brady deserved a nod as its second-best quarterback.

You can see PFF's entire list, which based its rankings on last year's performance and last year's performance alone, on ProFootballFocus.com.