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GQ ranks Top 8 Brainy players in the NFL

January 11, 2011



1.QB

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans- Peyton Manning is too obvious, so let’s start with Schaub. He doesn’t have a big arm or fast feet, so he has used his timing and intelligence to become a 4,000-yard passer.

2.DE
Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos- Under six feet tall and not that fast—but still a dominating pass rusher. He’s like a boxer who doesn’t have a great punch but still knocks guys out because he knows how to set up his opponent. Also, he can think on the move, get his brain to quickly tell his feet what to do. That’s very hard, even for NFL athletes.


3.WR
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys- Undrafted out of tiny Monmouth University, he improves each year because of his rare ability to concentrate. Runs crafty routes, deadly after the catch.

4.
CB
Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans- Like a crafty lefty in baseball. Unheralded coming out of Samford University but made an impact right away, because he’s the best line-split reader in the NFL: He watches how a wideout lines up and figures out the route he’s gonna run.

5.
OT
Michael Roos, Tennessee Titans- Some players watch tape; good players study it. An offensive lineman has to know the guy he’s up against. Being analytical in his weekly preparation is how Roos, the best player on a very good O-line, handles Colts pass rusher deluxe Dwight Freeney twice each season.
6.
RB
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens- Exceptional at reading defenses and making quick decisions. And he can master all the pass-protection schemes—so he stays on the field for third-and-long

7.
LB
London Fletcher, Washington Redskins- Constantly knocked for his lack of size (he’s just five feet ten), but he has what I call “crib” talent: He had the smarts and instincts to be a Pro Bowler from the moment his momma plucked him out of his crib.

8. TE
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers- He played hoops at Kent State, and his basketball mind has served him well. He knows how to position himself once the ball is in the air—like a great NBA rebounder—and set up defenders with his timing and his route running.

9 .S
Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens- An offensive player lining up for the defense. A cornerback sees the game with one eye looking in toward the rest of the field. But Reed sees it out of both eyes, and he covers ground like Willie Mays blanketed center field.

GQ

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