01 July 2021
By: Terrance Biggs
Sheboygan, WI - While the 50-26 appeared like the most arduous of task, the 25-1 presents its own set of unique challenges. Regardless of league affiliation or loyalty, one thing about the APDFL bears out: talent resides everywhere. As a result, ordering this list for 2021 became a tough task to handle. However, therein lies the work. Film, stats, intangibles, and behind-the-scenes interviews with teammates and opponents shape this list. So, feelings remain out of this situation.
25. Jack Jackson (LB, Georgia Thrashers)
Rationale: Everywhere! This is where Jackson shows up on film. Possessing the ability to trace sideline to sideline, the Thrashers benefit from Jackson's propensity to shed blocks and locate ball-carriers. Never talks, just executes.
24. Troy Glenn (ATH, Crescent City Kings)
Rationale: With the ball in his hands, few in the league can score quicker. What separates Glenn from many is how quickly he arrives at top speed. With minimal steps, he will get even and leave opposing corners. Additionally, the ability to score via a plethora of routes keeps opponents guessing.
23. Patrick Campbell (EDGE, Alabama Blackhawks)
Rationale: Another year, another excellent year. The veteran pass rusher keeps moving. Fourteen sacks, including five in the playoffs, seems like an annual occurrence for Campbell. This year you even caught glimpses of Campbell rushing from the interior a bit more.
22. Shaun Jones (ATH, Crescent City Kings)
Rationale: The do-it-all Jones needed to fill in at more positions this season, considering the Kings' lack of depth. Under those consequences, you'd expect a drop off. Yet, what film speaks to is the maintained level of quality play along both sides of the line of scrimmage. If you are looking for aesthetically pleasing play, look elsewhere. Jones meets each snap with ferocity and effort that usually ends in success.
21. Corey Wells (LB, Alabama Blackhawks)
Rationale: Eeven without a stellar pass rush, Wells finds a way to make himself felt on just about every play. Granted, his tackling acumen is well known, but the ability to blitz is something that needs further discussion. Wells reads footwork and hand placement of blockers to defeat them.
20. Jay Hicks (LB, Mississippi Dynasty)
Rationale: Hicks chooses violence on every single snap. Whether he demolishes a fullback attempting to lead block, or funneling down to make the play, contact occurs. Hicks plays the most downhill style of linebacker in the league. He attacks the play, looking to stop the ball-carrier. Now, with that aggression, an understanding of context exists. While big hits pop on film, the ability to intelligently make the play stands out.
19. Demetrious Adams (OL, Alabama Blackhawks)
Rationale: Adams quietly put together an excellent season. Vision for offensive linemen goes rather unnoticed. Yet, for Adams, he understands where he needs to be at all times. The rarely-discussed cog in the Blackhawks offense, Adams helped pave the way to his team's playoff run.
18. Jamarius Green (RB, Gulf Coast Gators)
Rationale: Eight of Green's eleven touchdowns occurred versus playoff teams. On top of that, the 7.2 yards per carry and zero fumbles solidify this placement on the list. Green's power and burst gave the Gators another weapon to harass defenses with.
17. Harry Burke (LB, Gulf Coast Gators)
Rationale: The highest-ranked linebacker on this list, Burke's knack for the big play stood out once again. However, this year, the wily veteran excelled in coverage, picking off three passes and looking rather comfortable in space. If you can keep a linebacker in sub-packages and he doesn't hurt, but actually benefits you in coverage, take that win!
16. Jeffrey Hampton (K/S, Crescent City Kings)
Rationale: At first blush, the hard-hitting safety would make this list alone, based on his ability to separate the ball carrier from their senses. Yet, Hampton's leg earns this spot. Around the league, the prevailing thought became that if the Kings were within three points, that Hampton would find a way From extra points to game-winning field goals, Hampton stands head and shoulders above every single kicker in the league. Pressure burst pipes but makes diamonds. Hampton delivered the jewelry.
15. Marcus Brooks (QB, Unconquered Cobras)
Rationale: Replacing an elite passer doesn't appear to be the easiest task. Brooks succeeded in guiding the Cobras to an undefeated regular season. Simultaneously, Brooks' ability to take care of the ball (16 TD/4INT) while remaining aggressive allowed the Cobras the ever-important run/pass blend.
14. Jarod Lewis (RB, Unconquered Cobras)
Rationale: Lewis broke the single-season rushing touchdown record. Teams really need to focus on the Americus, Georgia product. In space, Lewis rarely allows opponents a wide tackle target to attack. The Cobras possess what many teams lack: a franchise running back
13. DeMarcus Sweat (WR, Georgia Thrashers)
Rationale: In discussing Sweat, the word no rises to the surface. No receiver in the APDFL enjoyed a better season. No receiver did more with fewer catches. By totaling 692 yards on 21 catches, Sweat looked like a threat to score on every single play. For context, put thirty-three yards in perspective. A football field is 100 yards long. Sweat average a pass the equivalent of a third of that. Film also shows a gifted route runner with the nuance to sharply break off routes and not lag.
12. (tie) Louis Ellis and Sam Washington (DT, Mississippi Dynasty)
Rationale: By their own admission, Ellis nor Washington care about stats. In this case, they're right. They dominate the line of scrimmage from the interior. The best defensive tackle duo in the league. On their own, each are phenomenally talented in crushing the pocket. Yet, together, teams eschew running between the tackles and choose running wide. While Ellis brings power to the table, Washington's instinct for anticipating blocking patterns tends to disrupt offenses.
11.Tristan Gould (RB, Metro Atlanta Horsemen)
Rationale: His numbers do not lie. Three games with more than eighty-five yards plus seven scores on just 75 carries. Bigger than that, the game film. What garnered Gould this spot is his running style. He runs to contact with malice, aforethought, and aggression. He does not flow east to west instead, he makes impact memories. On the other hand, his ability to pick up the blitz needs adulation.
10. Darrel Crawford (OL, Metro Atlanta Horsemen)
Rationale: When Crawford entered the league, he boasted about his play. After the opener versus the Alabama Blackhawks, he can feel free to speak his mind. The blend of physicality and uncanny on-field insight to feel pre-snap isn't a common occurrence. The Horsemen, after early-season tumult looked headed for a disastrous season. Crawford's heady play and leadership held that offense together, making a run to the playoffs. A student of the game, Crawford never looked uncomfortable or out of place when faced with adversity.
9. Rodrick Gladney (OL, Mississippi Dynasty)
Rationale: Gladney earned his title as the league's premier offensive linemen based on several factors, First, as a guard, he shows the skill to engage a bull rusher with either power or technique, often during the same play. Next, the versatility to play all five positions without a scintilla of drop-off. Lastly, in front of a new quarterback, and many new starters, Gladney's role as offensive leader became of supreme importance.
8. Tyrone Jones (QB, Gulf Coast Gators)
Rationale: In what seems like an annual trip to the Top 10, the evolution of Tyrone Jones continues. After posting career highs in passing touchdowns (16) and percentage (60.1), you can see the development. Jones appeared calmer in the pocket. His feet finally spaced far enough apart to generate torque on deeper throws. We all know Jones, the league's rushing leader, but the improvement at quarterback should not be a surprise.
7.Tyrun Lemon (CB, Mississippi Dynasty)
Rationale: Entering the season, questions about Lemon's size and frame circled. Yet, with an off-season of lifting, strength did not appear to be an issue. More importantly, that did not affect his ability to move and drive in coverage, shadowing defenders from snap to whistle. Lemon improved his physical without sacrificing the coverage aspect. What amazed me was the late hands aspect. When you think a receiver will catch the ball, you will see Lemon's hand knock the ball away late.
6. Amos Tatum (CB, Mississippi Dynasty)
Rationale: Physical corner that embraces the ability to use those five yards to assault wide-outs. Tatum contains that to the legal yardage. Yet, he competes, regardless of route and does not shy away from tackling. Others will have more interceptions and gaudy stats, and that's fine. Many quarterbacks, and they know who they are, choose to throw away from Tatum. Stats don't make corners great, the lack of them do. In 2021, teams were reticent about trying Amos.
5. William Howard (EDGE, Georgia Thrashers)
Rationale: You do not find many converted rovers that acclimate to becoming a pass rusher. For Howard, 2021 presented a challenge and one that he readily accepted and excelled. Blessed with the ability to bend the corner and close, Howard tallied 17 sacks. What should worry offenses is that his ceiling to add new rush moves remains high. Granted, he can rush with speed, if he adds two or three more to his repertoire, the APDFL will have a problem.
4. Kivon Taylor (QB, Georgia Thrashers)
Rationale: Somehow, Taylor didn't walk away with the OPOY. Based on film and the most prodigious passing year in league history, someone failed. Anyway, look past the 2449 yards and 22 TD, watch the film. The ball flies out of his hand with excellent velocity and touch. He earned this spot, not for those numbers but throws in a loss. In monsoon-like conditions versus the Blackhawks, Taylor threw the ball better than most do in dry conditions.
3. Justin Robinson (EDGE, Alabama Blackhawks)
Rationale: Before the playoffs, opponents decided to chirp at Robinson and his team. To their ultimate disappointment, Robinson notched 5.5 sacks, adding to his 11.5 in the regular season. Teams struggle with single-blocking him. If they manage to slow him down, understand that sooner or later, he will hit your quarterback repeatedly. The most accomplished pass rusher in league history continues to add to his legacy with another elite season.
2. Nathan Caldwell (QB, Alabama Blackhawks)
Rationale: Nathan Caldwell may use social media however, I have no idea. I have never read a word from him. On Saturday, he shows up and plays. Caldwell adjusts to what the defense will give him. If the ends crash, he sees this and will take the offense wide. In space, he shows the ability to create his own throwing lanes, if need be. The MVP of the league and the engine of the Blackhawks' offense.
1. Jyron Walters (QB Crescent City Kings)
Rationale: No player in 2021 shouldered the leadership burden more than Walters. After starting the season with a loss via municipal paperwork, the Kings took the long trek to Atlanta. The Thrashers soundly defeated the Kings. In an 0-2 hole, the whispers of the Kings' demise became screams. Yet, Walters soldiered on. When the Kings alternated wins and losses in the middle of the season, the playoffs seemed to drift away from them. Twenty-six players and fatigue are not the most conducive combination. Walters ignored conventional thought and led his team on the most improbable run in league history. Every game on the road, versus stout defenses that would test his resolve. Walters, through introspection and adjustment guided the Kings to their first national championship. Many will dispute this ranking because others posted serious numbers. Stat-based rankings can work. It doesn't fly here! Money on the table, win or go home, no player delivered more than Jyron Walters.