Patriots

These three Patriots stars made Pro Football Focus' Top 50 players ranking

These three Patriots stars made Pro Football Focus' Top 50 players ranking

We've reached one of the slow points of the NFL offseason.

The OTAs are over and training camps don't start until July. Therefore, unveiling the "top players in the league rankings" (and other such lists) is a good way to pass the time and stir up some healthy debate.

Pro Football Focus released its Top 50 NFL players entering 2019 list Thursday, and three New England Patriots stars made the cut. Here's the list:

50. Shaq Mason, OG
14. Stephon Gilmore, CB
2. Tom Brady, QB

Brady is the top quarterback and No. 1 offensive player on PFF's ranking. The only player ahead of him is Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald. Gilmore is the top-ranked cornerback on the PFF list, which makes sense after he was named to the league's All-Pro team in 2018. The veteran defensive back also gave a fantastic performance in the Patriots' Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams, during which he had a late interception in the fourth quarter that helped seal the victory. Mason at No. 50 is a deserved ranking as well. He had a tremendous 2018 season and cemented his place among the league's elite offensive guards.

Julian Edelman's absence from the list was pretty interesting. The 33-year-old is the most clutch wide receiver in the league, evidenced by his Super Bowl LIII MVP performance (among other stellar playoff games). He managed to tally 74 receptions for 850 yards and six touchdowns in 2018 despite missing four games due to suspension.

These individual honors are nice, but the Patriots' mantra always has been about the team. It's one reason why they've won six Super Bowl championships since 2000, and it's also why they're among the favorites to claim a seventh next season.

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Stephon Gilmore admits Patriots knew they could frustrate Eagles' Zach Ertz

Stephon Gilmore admits Patriots knew they could frustrate Eagles' Zach Ertz

The New England Patriots didn't prevent Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz from putting up good stats in Sunday's Week 11 matchup, but they were able to frustrate him at times throughout the game.

Ertz finished with nine receptions for 94 yards and zero touchdowns on 11 targets in the Eagles' 17-10 loss at Lincoln Financial Field, but according to Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, New England knew it could frustrate the talented tight end based on what the team observed on film. Ertz appeared disappointed not to see a few flags thrown in the second half, during which the Eagles scored zero points and punted five times.

Here is Gilmore's take on the matchup against Ertz after the game. It might not rise to the level of trash talk, but it was a pretty interesting reaction from the soft-spoken All-Pro cornerback.

NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry noted Gilmore covered Ertz quite a bit on third downs and other situations late in the game. Ertz was targeted on only one third down, and it came with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter. It was one of Ertz's two targets that didn't result in a catch. The Patriots defense held the Eagles to a poor 3-for-13 conversion rate on third downs overall.

The Patriots defense played well in just about every area Sunday. The secondary did a nice job on Eagles wide receivers, the pass rush tallied five sacks and hit quarterback Carson Wentz 11 times, and Philly gained only 81 yards on the ground. Ertz was among the few offensive bright spots for the Eagles, but the Patriots prevented him from making any big plays that could've changed the outcome of the game.

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Julian Edelman reacts to Patriots' win over Eagles with perfect tweet

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Julian Edelman reacts to Patriots' win over Eagles with perfect tweet

Julian Edelman delivered the knockout punch during the Patriots' 17-10 win over the Eagles on Sunday.

The Pats wide receiver and former Kent State quarterback tossed New England's only touchdown pass of the game in the third quarter. It's the first time a Patriot not named Tom Brady has led the team in touchdown passes in a game during the Brady era.

Edelman reacted to the victory with a perfect tweet after the game, channeling his inner Rocky Balboa.

No. 11 finished with five receptions and 53 yards to go along with the TD through the air.

Next up for the Patriots (9-1) is a matchup vs. the Cowboys (6-4) on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.