10. VONTAE DAVIS – INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (CORNERBACK)
Vontae Davis has seemed to have lost a step after finishing his 2016 season with only one interception, and 10 passes defended. A year after finishing 59 overall in the NFL Network’s Top 100 players, Davis seems to be seeing his way off the field with his poor play. The Colts secondary was ranked 29th in the NFL. Davis got some help from his defensive line, but not enough to help make him make his 2016 season look like a good performance.
Vontae Davis was constantly battling injuries throughout the 2016 season, which may had led to his poor play. But the Colts may have been better without him on the field. Davis struggled to defend against the pass, and make tackles after the catch. Injuries may have played a part in the poor season of Davis, but for now, he is the worst cornerback in the NFL.
9. JAKE RYAN – GREEN BAY PACKERS (INSIDE LINEBACKER)
The Packers struggled all over the defensive side of the ball, including a weak link at the inside linebacker position. Jake Ryan finished his season with 82 combined tackles, but was unable to get a sack or interception throughout the season. Ryan has some good games in 2016, including his 12 tackles in a loss to the Colts. Ryan helps the inside of the defense makes tackles, but doesn’t show the explosiveness to truly make an impact, or change the game. More experience may lead his game to improve, but for now, he struggles to play at the highest level for a team that was a win away from the Super Bowl.
Green Bay ranked fairly well against the run in 2016, but would like to see Ryan make those extra steps to help become a bigger impact on the defensive side. With Clay Matthews production level declining, the Packers are in need of a playmaker from the linebacker position.
8. VINCENT REY – CINCINNATI BENGALS (OUTSIDE LINEBACKER)
One of the captains for the Cincinnati Bengals may need to concentrate on his game play, rather than being a leader for this team. With the way many teams play in the NFL, outside linebackers tend to become the players that accumulate the most sacks on teams. Vincent Rey struggled to get to the quarterback at all this past season. Rey did finish with one interception and 86 combined tackles, but his play will need to improve to help stop quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco from dominating against the Bengals defense.
His story may be interesting, an undrafted free agent from Duke, to the leader of the Bengals, but his story won’t help improve his game. His inability to get to the quarterback keeps him from being on an elite level in this league. The Bengals may want to change the defensive scheme up to help Rey get to the quarterbacks, or find a new outside linebacker in the future drafts.
7. JAMIE MEDER – CLEVELAND BROWNS (DEFENSIVE END)
Jamie Meder has struggled as a defensive end in this league since his start in 2014. His struggles lead to the Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft. Meder’s game struggles all around, from playing against the run to getting to the quarterback. Meder finished the 2016 season with 48 combined tackles and one sack.
With a team that is trying to build up and make an impact on the league, they need a defensive end with better performances than one sack in a season. Myles Garrett should help improve the Browns defensive end position, but also may cost Meder a job. With Carl Nassib also making an impact, Meder’s time as a starter for the Browns are closing in on him.
6. XAVIER COOPER – CLEVELAND BROWNS (DEFENSIVE TACKLE)
With talking about the worst starting players at each position in football, it’s expected to see many players pop up from the worst teams in the NFL. Here we see again another Cleveland Browns player. This one is defensive tackle, Xavier Cooper. The fact that Cooper still has a position in the NFL is embarrassing on its own. Cooper finished the 2016 season with only 20 combined tackles and no sacks. His best game came on the first game of the season where he had four tackles.
Cooper has the body type to be a dominant force in the NFL, but seems to struggle to get to the ball and make the plays needed. Cooper has potential, but with no strong veterans to help him improve, it seems unlikely that we will see Cooper live up to his potential.