Quarterback is the most valuable position in the NFL, but there are plenty of other players who fill crucial roles in winning playoff games and ultimately the Super Bowl.
The New England Patriots have been the league's gold standard when it comes to winning in the 21st century. They've claimed six Super Bowl titles, nine conference championships and 17 AFC East banners. No other team is even close in any of those three categories since 2000.
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Therefore, it's not a huge surprise that in Pro Football Focus' recent ranking of the most valuable non-quarterbacks in the playoffs from 2006 to the present, a pair of Patriots players occupy the top two spots.
Here's the top four of PFF's ranking, which is based on its WAR (wins above replacement) stat.
Most valuable non-QBs in the playoffs since 2006 per PFF WAR— PFF (@PFF) June 6, 2020
1. Julian Edelman
2. Devin McCourty
3. Ed Reed
4. Richard Sherman pic.twitter.com/IJCItGbRdd
Julian Edelman being No. 1 is no surprise at all. The Patriots wide receiver ranks second all-time in playoff receptions with 118, which is 25 more than Reggie Wayne in third place. He also is No. 2 all-time with 1,442 playoff receiving yards, and that is 127 more than Michael Irvin in third place. Furthermore, only two non-QB offensive players have won Super Bowl MVP since 2006, and Edelman is one of them. He was named Super Bowl LIII MVP when the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. Edelman tallied 10 receptions for 141 yards.
Devin McCourty's inclusion is a little surprising, but probably not to many Patriots fans. The veteran safety has consistently ranked as one of the best players at his position throughout his career. In addition to his tremendous on-field skill and accomplishments, he's also been a great leader for the team on and off the field. The Patriots have had a lot of great secondary groups over the last decade, and McCourty has been the one constant in that area since he was drafted in 2010.
Another Patriots player who was pretty valuable come playoff time is tight end Rob Gronkowski. He missed a few of the Patriots' playoff runs due to injury, but New England wouldn't have won three Super Bowl titles from 2014 through 2018 without the future Hall of Famer.
The Patriots lost a lot of veteran leadership this offseason with players including Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Duron Harmon and others departing through free agency or via trade. Luckily for the Patriots, they have plenty of leaders remaining on their roster to guide them through the beginning of the post-Brady era, and Edelman and McCourty will play key roles in that transition.