NFL News & Analysis

Every NFL team's most improved player in 2022

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) pressures Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

• Giants DI Dexter Lawrence: The former first-round pick exploded for his best NFL season yet, improving his grade from 68.6 in 2021 to 91.6 in 2022.

• Bears OG Teven Jenkins: After earning a disappointing 47.5 grade in his rookie 2021 season, Jenkins burst onto the scene with an impressive 80.7 mark this past year.

• Linebackers headline the group: The volatile position saw a number of players improve in 2022, including Patrick Queen, Tremaine Edmunds and Germaine Pratt.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 mins

A player's performance in the NFL isn’t linear. Some are more up and down over the course of their careers, while others show progression in steps over time. It’s interesting to compare performance across seasons, and here we take a look at the biggest jumps in PFF grades from 2021 to 2022 for every team in the NFL.


ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Arizona Cardinals: OT Josh Jones

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 46.8
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 75.8
  • Improvement: 29.0

Jones went from a liability as a pass protector in his first season as a starter in 2021 to a more-than-solid player at the position this past season. The switch to left tackle, after he saw most of his snaps split between right guard and right tackle the year before, saw him produce a 74.0 PFF run-blocking grade and a 75.9 PFF pass-blocking grade, both top-32 marks among offensive tackles in 2022.

Atlanta Falcons: OT Kaleb McGary

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 62.8
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 86.6
  • Improvement: 23.8

The Falcons declined McGary’s fifth-year option heading into 2022 after three seasons where he had failed to make the type of impact one would expect from a first-round pick. The former Washington Husky responded by having a career year on the right side of the Falcons' line. Among tackles, McGary's 91.8 run-blocking grade trailed only the San Francisco 49ersTrent Williams.

Baltimore Ravens: LB Patrick Queen

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 43.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 69.7
  • Improvement: 26.2

Queen has flashed at times throughout this three-year career in Baltimore, but the consistency just wasn’t there. While he was still a little up and down for the Ravens this past season, we also saw the longest stretches of improved play. After improving his PFF grade from 29.7 to 43.5 from 2020 to 2021, Queen once again saw a huge jump in 2022, including career highs in PFF run-defense grade (64.6) and PFF coverage grade (65.5).

Buffalo Bills: LB Tremaine Edmunds

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 48.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 81.2
  • Improvement: 32.7

Like Patrick Queen with the Ravens, Edmunds displayed some big-time flashes over the first four years of his career, but a lack of consistency hurt his PFF grade. He eliminated a lot of the negatives in his play to deliver a phenomenal 2022 season in coverage where his 90.0 PFF coverage grade led all players at the position.

Carolina Panthers: DI Derrick Brown

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 64.4
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 84.4
  • Improvement: 20.0

Brown, who will still be just 25 when his fourth NFL season kicks off, has progressed nicely throughout his three-year career but significantly elevated his play from last season to this one. His 77.9 PFF pass-rushing grade ranked 12th among all interior defenders, with the former Auburn Tiger registering 40 total pressures on 514 pass-rushing snaps.

Chicago Bears: OG Teven Jenkins

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 47.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 80.7
  • Improvement: 33.2

Jenkins played only 160 snaps as a rookie but showed in 2022 why he was drafted early in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Solid as a pass blocker, he allowed 12 total pressures from 304 pass-blocking snaps and produced an 82.2 PFF run-blocking grade, which ranked third among all guards.

Cincinnati Bengals: LB Germaine Pratt

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 54.0
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 78.4

Pratt heads for free agency off the back of his best season in the NFL by far. Along with a career-high 64.3 PFF run-defense grade and a career-best 6.5% missed tackle rate, Pratt ranked third among all NFL linebackers with an 87.2 PFF coverage grade in 2022.

Cleveland Browns: LB Deion Jones

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 34.6
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 48.3
  • Improvement: 13.7

It speaks to the struggles of the Browns' defense that Jones, who finished the season as the 74th-ranked linebacker with a 48.3 PFF grade, was the player who improved the most on their roster in 2022. Jones' 2021 campaign with the Atlanta Falcons was the first time in his career that he produced a PFF grade lower than 65.0, and while he improved in 2022, he still failed to get back above that mark. 

Dallas Cowboys: DI Osa Odighizuwa

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 46.9
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 68.2
  • Improvement: 21.3

In just his second season in the league, Odighizuwa showed that he has the ability to at least be a solid contributor on the defensive line. And he finished 2022 with a stretch that hinted at something more. He registered 31 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, 12 more than he did as a rookie, and ended the season with three straight games of earning a 75.0-plus PFF grade.

Denver Broncos: LB Alex Singleton

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 54.1
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 79.1
  • Improvement: 25.0

One of the best run-defending linebackers in the NFL in 2022, Singleton produced the eighth-highest run-defense grade at the position over the course of the season. His 62 tackles resulting in a defensive stop were tied for sixth among all linebackers, and he missed just 6.5% of the tackles he attempted.

Detroit Lions: LB Alex Anzalone

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 35.4
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 59.2
  • Improvement: 23.8

A third-round draft pick in 2017, Anzalone played his most snaps in a single season and delivered a solid performance overall. There were some rough moments throughout the year, but he also had four games with a PFF grade higher than 80.0.

Green Bay Packers: DI Jarran Reed

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 54.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 61.9
  • Improvement: 7.4

Reed’s grade across his career really hasn’t fluctuated much. In seven seasons since entering the league as a second-round pick with the Seahawks in 2016, he has never recorded a season-long grade below 54.5 or above 68.1. He bounced back a little from that career-low grade this season, registering 28 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

Houston Texans: CB Desmond King II

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 53.0
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 73.2
  • Improvement: 20.2

King’s first season with the Texans in 2021 was his worst as an NFL player, as he allowed a career-high 729 yards in coverage. 2022 saw him bounce back with his highest-graded season since 2018, and the 413 yards he allowed were the second fewest of his career.

Indianapolis Colts: S Rodney McLeod

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 64.8
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 80.1
  • Improvement: 15.3

McLeod has always been a more-than-serviceable safety in the NFL, but his first season with the Colts, his 11th overall, wound up as his best ever in terms of PFF grade (80.1). He missed just 7.4% of the tackles he attempted, another career best, and made a career-high 28 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Foyesade Oluokun

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 47.0
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 70.5
  • Improvement: 23.5

Eyebrows were raised when the Jaguars handed a big contract to Oluokun this past offseason, but he rewarded the team with his best season since entering the league. He registered 84 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, 36 more than he had in any other season.

Kansas City Chiefs: S Justin Reid

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 50.9
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 70.3
  • Improvement: 19.4

After an impressive first two seasons in the league with the Houston Texans, Reid struggled in 2020 and 2021 before joining the Chiefs this past offseason. Playing 1,311 snaps in the regular season and playoffs for the eventual Super Bowl winner, Reid registered a career-high 27 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

Las Vegas Raiders: DI Andrew Billings

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 47.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 76.4
  • Improvement: 28.9

Billings played just 72 snaps in 2021 with the Cleveland Browns but returned to form as an above-average run defender with the Raiders in 2022. His 72.3 PFF run-defense grade was the highest of his career, while his 22 tackles resulting in a defensive stop marked just the second time he has made at least 20.

Los Angeles Chargers: CB Michael Davis

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 54.0
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 73.8
  • Improvement: 19.8

Davis has played at least 650 snaps in each of the past five seasons for the Chargers and followed up his worst year in the league in 2021 with his best this past season. He allowed a career-low 446 yards in coverage and registered a career-high 12 pass breakups.

Los Angeles Rams: RB Cam Akers

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 43.7
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 80.7
  • Improvement: 37.0

This was not just an improvement year over year; it wound up being an improvement from one half of the 2022 season to the second. Akers forced 36 missed tackles on 188 carries over the course of the season, but just seven of those came on his 52 carries before Week 11.

Miami Dolphins: EDGE Jaelan Phillips

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 53.7
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 88.8
  • Improvement: 35.1

Despite matching a 10-sack rookie season, Phillips was a dramatically better player in his second NFL campaign. While the sack numbers were the same, he almost doubled his total number of pressures, going from 39 to 77. On top of that, he registered 42 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, 26 more than in his rookie year.

Minnesota Vikings: CB Duke Shelley

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 53.7
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 82.9
  • Improvement: 29.2

Taking over as a starter in Week 15, Shelley produced 70.0-plus PFF coverage grades in all five games to close out the season. From 288 snaps in coverage, he allowed just 22 receptions, none of which resulted in a touchdown, and registered an interception and 11 pass breakups.

New England Patriots: LB Jahlani Tavai

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 38.7
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 73.5
  • Improvement: 34.8

Linebackers having career years with the Patriots is not a new concept, and Tavai did exactly that this past season. Coming into 2022, he had missed 17 of his 100 tackle attempts for the Lions and his first season on the Patriots. This past season, he didn’t miss a single tackle from 40 attempts.

New Orleans Saints: EDGE Carl Granderson

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 63.2
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 80.4
  • Improvement: 17.2

An undrafted free agent out of Wyoming in 2019, Granderson had a monster year against the run, with his 84.4 PFF run-defense grade the second-highest mark among all edge defenders in the NFL. Eight of his 22 pressures were sacks, and he registered 34 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

New York Giants: DI Dexter Lawrence

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 68.6
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 91.6
  • Improvement: 23.0

Dexter Lawrence didn’t just improve in 2022; he joined the ranks of the best players on the defensive interior with a huge season both as a pass rusher and against the run. His 43 tackles resulting in a defensive stop ranked seventh at the position, while his 70 pressures in the regular season and playoffs trailed just Chris Jones.

New York Jets: LB C.J. Mosley

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 42.0
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 69.8
  • Improvement: 27.8

2021 was Mosley’s first full season with the Jets after an injury ended his 2019 season and his opt-out of the COVID-impacted 2020 season, and it was a pretty rough one overall. The 2022 campaign saw him somewhat return to form, with him missing just 8.7% of his tackle attempts and registering 51 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

Philadelphia Eagles: DI Milton Williams

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 49.6
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 89.8
  • Improvement: 27.2

In just his second NFL season, Williams flashed potential as a rotational player on the Eagles' defensive line. Stout against the run, he finished the season with a 73.5 PFF run-defense grade and didn’t miss any tackles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Devin Bush

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 34.4
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 58.8
  • Improvement: 24.4

It might not have been an incredible season, but 2022 was a significant improvement for the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Still, it wasn’t impressive enough for the Steelers to think that they made the wrong decision in not picking up his fifth-year option. Bush did post a career-best 3.5% missed tackle rate, something he’ll hope can help him in free agency

San Francisco 49ers: S Tashaun Gipson Sr.

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 51.5
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 69.7
  • Improvement: 18.2

Gipson, coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in 2021, turned in his best year as a run defender, with his 89.1 PFF run-defense grade the third-best mark among NFL safeties. A sure tackler, he missed just two of his 56 tackle attempts over the course of the season.

Seattle Seahawks: S Ryan Neal

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 59.6
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 82.0
  • Improvement: 22.4

An undrafted free agent in 2018, Neal was on the field for a career-high 772 snaps including the playoffs this season. He finished the year as the fifth-highest-graded safety in football and was tied for third with six pass breakups.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 50.9
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 67.2
  • Improvement: 16.3

Tryon-Shoyinka, the final pick of the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft, took a nice step forward in his second season in the league. His pressure total moved from 33 as a rookie to 48 this past season, and his tackles resulting in a defensive stop jumped from 13 to 25.

Tennessee Titans: DI Teair Tart

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 59.2
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 73.1
  • Improvement: 13.9

An undrafted free agent back in 2020, Tart has improved in each of his seasons in the NFL alongside an increased workload. He finished his third season in the league with a career-high 26 total pressures and 23 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

Washington Commanders: LB Jamin Davis

  • 2021 PFF Grade: 46.8
  • 2022 PFF Grade: 62.9
  • Improvement: 16.1

Davis endured some real struggles as a rookie after being drafted with the 19th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He showed some real improvement in 2022, though, with his missed tackle percentage dropping from 14.3% in 2021 to 7.3% this past season. He totaled 47 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, up from the 21 he registered as a rookie. 


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