Calvin Johnson and the Most Dominant NFL Player at Each Position
The Most Dominant Players in the NFL
Last weekend, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson turned in one of the most dominant all-around performances in recent NFL history. Hauling in 14 passes for 329 yards and one touchdown, Johnson put up the second-most receiving yards in a game in league history.
While it's clear that Johnson is the most dominant receiver in the NFL, what about the other positions that make up the other 21 players on the field at any given time? There are plenty of dominant players who grace the gridiron every weekend with the same dominant skill set that Johnson displays.
What exactly is dominant, though? Is it a gauge of ability? Or a measure of how physical a particular player can be on any given down? More than anything, it's a relative term that gauges just how successful a player can be against their opposition, no matter the matchup.
Especially in the NFL, the highest level of competition in football, a dominant player is often hard to come by. With so much elite talent in the game, it's not very often you come across a player who can continuously manhandle anyone that lines up across from them. That's why, when it does happen, it's something that needs to be noticed and highlighted.
And, much like we've done with Johnson recently, highlight is what we will.
With that in mind, here's a look at the most dominant player at each position in the NFL and what makes them stand out above the other talents at their respective spot.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
At this point in the season, Manning is on pace to break just about every major passing record in the book. While the fact he has three phenomenal wide receivers definitely helps, the wily veteran's football IQ and understanding of the position is what has made him so successful. This future Hall of Famer may be the most dominant quarterback to ever grace the gridiron.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
As we saw last year, there's no running back in the NFL as dominant as Peterson. He fell only a few yards short of the single-season rushing yards record and was simply unstoppable with the football in his hands. He holds the single-game rushing yards record and has single-handedly helped the Vikings stay relevant over the last few seasons despite subpar surrounding talent and questionable coaching.
Fullback: Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs
Sherman might not be household name, but people in Kansas City are certainly enjoying his presence this season. The Chiefs' fullback excels as a lead blocker, evidenced by the plentiful successful that Jamaal Charles has enjoyed this season. That doesn't mean that Sherman isn't capable of picking up yards on his own, though, as he has made an impact as a runner and receiver this year.
Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
As much as Dez Bryant would like to believe that he deserves this spot, Johnson is clearly the most dominant receiver in the NFL. He might not be as dynamic as Bryant is after the catch, but his size and physicality allows him to catch anything in his general vicinity. On top of extremely reliable hands and prototypical size, he's a humble player who speaks with his play rather than his words.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
With the body of a power forward and the speed of a wide receiver, Graham has given defensive coordinators nightmares since entering the league. He's quickly become Drew Brees' go-to target, catching just about everything in his wide catch radius. As long as he's healthy – and even when he's not – Graham is a touchdown (or three) waiting to happen.
Offensive Tackle: Nate Solder, New England Patriots
This might not seem like an obvious choice, but Solder has been simply dominant this season since taking over as the Patriots' starter on the blindside. Not only has he excelled as a pass protector, but he's also opening holes on the ground and giving his running backs big lanes to run through. The Patriots spent a first-round pick on the massive tackle, and it's finally paying off.
Guard: Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
Despite their offensive struggles this season, the Eagles are lucky enough to have one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL gracing their front five. Mathis is a technically sound blocker who uses his size, athleticism and smarts to dominant opponents. He keeps the Eagles' quarterbacks clean while opening holes for LeSean McCoy. What more could you want from a dominant guard?
Center: Chris Myers, Houston Texans
The Texans' offensive line hasn't exactly been dominant this season, but Myers has certainly been a bright spot. Like many of the top centers in the league, Myers does a great job of blocking no matter the play call. He's the anchor of the Houston offensive line and is always setting a physical tone throughout games.
Defensive End: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
No matter what the offense throws at him, Watt finds a way to shut it down on a play-by-play basis. Not only does he terrorize opposing quarterbacks, but he lives in the backfield against the run and racks up tackles for loss like it's no big deal. Teams game plan ways to neutralize Watt, and yet it never happens. Sounds pretty dominant if you ask me.
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
One of the most physically dominant players in the NFL, Atkins has spent all of his short career striking fear in opposing blockers. With elite strength and surprising quickness for his size, Atkins easily gets the upper hand on anyone that stands in his way. He's an elite run defender, gets an outstanding push against the pass, and is clearly the most dominant defensive tackle in the league.
Outside Linebacker: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
Even though age has definitely caught up to Suggs, he's still the dominant player that won the NFL Defensive MVP only a few years ago. With Ray Lewis gone, he has stepped up as the leader of the Ravens defense and is still giving opposing offenses headaches. Suggs is still a dominant defender against the run and pass, and the tank isn't running on empty yet.
Inside Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals
It's not very often that inside linebackers can make an impact no matter what is asked of them. Usually, an inside backer has one weakness or another, but not in the instance of Washington. When he isn't serving a suspension, Washington is stuffing running backs in the backfield, putting pressure on opposing passers and batting down passes in coverage. He can do it all – dominantly.
Cornerback: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Some people might argue that Darrelle Revis fits in this spot, but Sherman has done more than enough to claim the top spot as the NFL's most dominant cornerback. Whenever he's in man coverage, you can basically count out the wide receiver he's locked in on. Sherman is also a willing run defender who isn't afraid to lay the wood. He might run his mouth quite a bit, but his bite backs up his bark.
Free Safety: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Have you ever seen Thomas fly around the field? Using his blazing speed to cover the entire field like a torpedo, he slams into opponents daring enough to come within reach. On top of being excellent against the pass, he isn't afraid to step up in traffic and play the run – often times knocking bigger backs backwards with ferocious hits. Thomas stands up to his status as part of the Legion of Boom.
Strong Safety: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have fielded one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, and the presence of Berry at strong safety is a big part of their success. Not only does he give Kansas City a terrific cover safety who can neutralize one side of the field, but he's a ferocious run defender who flies to ball and makes plays in traffic. As long as he's healthy, Berry is the most dominant strong safety around.