A Pro Football Focus ranking this week named Tom Brady the best player in Super Bowl LI, ahead of No. 2 Julio Jones and No. 3 Matt Ryan.
On career accomplishments, it's a no-brainer, but will Brady really be the "best" player on the field a week from Sunday? It depends how far you want to jump into the rabbit hole of defining the word "best." So let's do exactly that.
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe tackled it on Wednesday's episode of Undisputed.
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Shannon: Julio Jones is the better player
The electrifying Falcons receiver is the best player in the Super Bowl, simple as that, according to Sharpe.
"When I watch the tape, when I look at the guy, he’s it," Sharpe said. "Huge catch ratings. He catches the ball in a crowd. Tremendous yards after the catch. ... And what I love most about Julio Jones, he’s a team-first guy. It’s not about Facebook likes ... the only followers that I know Julio Jones has? Defenders following him into the end zone. … He has no weakness."
Sharpe went a step further and suggested he'd even rank Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ahead of Brady.
"Two players that I think outplayed Tom Brady this year at (quarterback): Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers," he said.
Sharpe pointed to New England's success during Brady's four-game suspension.
"I believe wholeheartedly that had Jimmy Garoppolo played, they still would’ve been in the AFC Championship Game, and they still would be playing in the Super Bowl."
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Skip: Don't overthink it -- Brady is the best
Skip wasn't having it.
"'Based on this throw-by-throw performance, which included the highest percentage of big-time throws and the lowest percentage of turnover-worthy plays,'" Bayless said, reading from the study, "'he is the NFL’s best player.' Period, end of critique. So to me, 28 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions, albeit in just 12 games, is pretty special. ... As much as I believe in every word you uttered about Julio Jones ... which is the more important and tougher to play position? It’s quarterback, by far."
Shannon: So you're saying Blake Bortles is better than Julio?
"By that theory," Shannon said in response, "all 32 quarterbacks are better than any other player outside of quarterbacks."
If you did a poll of those around football, Sharpe said, Julio Jones would get more first-place votes at his position for best player than Brady would at his. And that matters.
"They didn’t say the hardest position," he said. "They said, 'best player.'"
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Skip: Brady's brilliance is harder to stop
Skip countered that it's easier to neutralize Julio than it is to do the same to Brady.
"It’s much easier to control and contain a wide receiver than it is to stop a quarterback," Bayless said. "(Brady) makes decisions that you can’t stop and he makes accurate throws that you just can’t defend."
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Shannon: There's a difference between 'best' and 'most important'
Brady may play a more critical role, but the issue is who is the better flat-out player. This year it's still Julio, according to Shannon.
"It’s not about importance. It’s about the best player," Sharpe said. "Julio Jones is a better player. ... What other sport would you give a guy (Brady) this much credit for missing a quarter of the season?"