Two current New York Giants and one former Giants are included in the first installment of the Pro Football Focus top 101 players of 2015. Center Weston Richburg, defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison, and defensive end Robert Ayers are included in this list, showing players ranked 101st to 76th.
In reverse order
No. 91 -- Robert Ayers
Seen by many as simply a first-round bust with the Broncos, Ayers has quietly developed into a fine player, first before leaving Denver and then in New York, parlaying his way into a healthy free-agent deal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ayers was one of the few bright spots on the Giants defense this past season, and yet still played just 581 total snaps, being held back by the Giants from being even more productive simply based on how much he was on the field. He notched 48 total pressures from 381 pass-rushing snaps.
Best performance: Week 8 at New Orleans: +5.2 grade
Key stat: Ayers had the ninth-highest pass-rushing productivity at 10.5
Despite Ayers' production during two solid seasons in New York, the Giants made the decision to replace Ayers with Olivier Vernon. The obvious reason is that Ayers will be 31 this season and his window of top-shelf performance is closing. Vernon will be 26, and should have several prime seasons ahead. Also, despite his pass-rush productivity, Ayers is not an every-down player. He played 570 snaps in 2015, just 49.35 percent of defensive plays. Vernon played 942 snaps for the Miami Dolphins, 81.7 percent of Miami's defensive snaps.
No. 89 -- Weston Richburg
After struggling as a rookie at guard, Richburg was moved back to his natural position of center for the 2015 season and showed why he was a second-round pick with an impressive performance. He graded well in all areas of the game PFF measures, and was particularly impressive on the move and on screens for the Giants. He didn’t allow a sack all season long, and was only responsible for Eli Manning hitting the ground once over the season.
Best performance: Week 7 versus Dallas: +4.7 grade
Key stat: Richburg allowed only 12 total pressures, the third-fewest among centers last season
There are Pro Bowls, and perhaps All-Pro honors, in this young man's future.
No. 77 -- Damon Harrison
There may be no better run defender in the game than Harrison, who in his final season for the Jets won the inaugural PFF Ted Washington award for run defense. He moved to the blue side of New York to the Giants in free agency. Harrison had the highest percentage of run plays in which he recorded a defensive stop we have ever measured for a defensive interior player, dating back to 2007, and only a lack of any real presence as a pass-rusher keeps him this far down the list. One-dimensional players can only be valued so highly.
Best performance: Week 11 at Houston: +6.7 grade
Key stat: Harrison had the highest run-stop percentage we have ever recorded for an interior defensive lineman at 18.1 percent
Yeah, this guy will be an excellent addition to the porous Giants' defense. Plus, he's a great follow on Twitter.