We didn’t have a lot to do during the lockout. So we ranked things. We ranked uniforms (both good and bad), we ranked stadiums, we ranked teams, we ranked Irish people, and of course we ranked players. In fact, by the time all was said and done, we ranked the top 10 players at every position (an idea stolen, of course, from the brilliant Scott Carefoot).

With half of the 2011 season in the books, this is as good a time as any to revisit those rankings with a fresh take at every position. But in the spirit of being at the halfway point, we’ll give you five each, not 10.

(Offseason ranking in brackets. NR = Not Ranked, obviously.)

Quarterbacks
1. Aaron Rodgers (2)
2. Matthew Stafford (NR)
3. Eli Manning (NR)
4. Tom Brady (1)
5. Drew Brees (5)

Stafford and Manning have quietly had tremendous seasons, while Brady and Brees have been yardage/interception machines with a lack of support. Rodgers is the best, period.

Running backs
1. LeSean McCoy (6)
2. Matt Forte (NR)
3. Adrian Peterson (5)
4. Frank Gore (NR)
5. Fred Jackson (NR)

You could shake these five up over and over and never have it wrong. All five have been sensational, but McCoy and Forte have the biggest numbers.

Receivers
1. Calvin Johnson (4)
2. Mike Wallace (8)
3. Wes Welker (NR)
4. Steve Smith (NR)
5. Greg Jennings (2)

Welker’s on a record pace despite some injury problems, but find me a team that would prefer him to Johnson or Wallace. Smith’s monster half-season has come out of nowhere, while Jennings is right where he belongs. At the end of the year, I’d expect Jennings to be higher on this list.

Tight ends
1. Jimmy Graham (NR)
2. Jason Witten (1)
3. Rob Gronkowski (NR)
4. Tony Gonzalez (9)
5. Aaron Hernandez (NR)

We covered Graham’s shocking rise yesterday. Impossible to leave either Patriot off the list. Witten and Gonzalez are mainstays who have lived up to expectations.

Offensive tackles
1. Andrew Whitworth (5)
2. Donald Penn (4)
3. Jason Peters (NR)
4. Joe Thomas (2)
5. Michael Roos (NR)

I hate including Peters, because he’s been overrated for so long. But this year’s been different. Michael Vick’s problems come from his blind side. Whitworth and Penn have been the top two left tackles in football, while Thomas and Roos have continued to perform well.

Guards
1. Marshal Yanda (NR)
2. Davin Joseph (9)
3. Logan Mankins (6)
4. Andy Levitre (NR)
5. Mike Iupati (7)

I really wanted to include Yanda on this list in the summer, but I think he was squeezed out because he was jumping around from guard to tackle and back. Now he’s excelling as a stud on the inside. Levitre has stepped up huge at both guard and tackle (when needed) for the Bills.

Centers
1. Chris Myers (NR)
2. Scott Wells (NR)
3. Jason Kelce (NR)
4. Ryan Kalil (6)
5. Nick Mangold (1)

Three unranked players right off the bat, which says a lot about the center position. Nick Mangold makes the list mainly because we saw how crucial his presence was when he was injured and the Jets couldn’t move the ball.

Pass rushers
1. DeMarcus Ware (1)
2. Jared Allen (3)
3. Tamba Hali (7)
4. LaMarr Woodley (8)
5. Clay Matthews (6)

Ware and Allen are on pace to break the single-season sack record, while Hali and Matthews get more pressure than any other rusher in the league. Woodley has been a star with James Harrison down.

Run stoppers
1. Haloti Ngata (1)
2. Justin Smith (3)
3. Sione Pouha (7)
4. Antonio Garay (NR)
5. Richard Seymour (NR)

I didn’t know how to classify Seymour, but he’s had another stellar year and deserves a spot here (too many good pass rushers for him to crack that list). Smith has had another near-perfect season, which again has me wondering why Cincinnati ever let him leave. Ngata’s a top-tier nominee for defensive player of the year, while Pouha continues to fly under the radar.

Inside linebackers
1. Patrick Willis (1)
2. Brian Cushing (NR)
3. NaVorro Bowman (NR)
4. David Harris (NR)
5. Ray Lewis (3)

That Willis-Bowman duo in San Francisco should be dominant for years to come. Cushing has really stepped up this year, adjusting quickly to the inside spot in a new 3-4 defense.

Cornerbacks
1. Darrelle Revis (2)
2. Johnathan Joseph (NR)
3. Corey Webster (NR)
4. Joe Haden (NR)
5. Carlos Rogers (NR)

Big bounce-back years for Webster and Rogers, who struggled in 2010. Also interesting that two of the guys on the above list — Joseph and Rogers — switched teams in the offseason. Sort of takes an excuse away from Nnamdi Asomugha. Revis has been almost perfect, while Haden has emerged in his second season.

Safeties
1. Kam Chancellor (NR)
2. Troy Polamalu (1)
3. Eric Weddle (8)
4. George Wilson (NR)
5. Malcom Jenkins (6)

I remember making fun of the Seahawks for their no-name defense prior to the season, and Chancellor’s name definitely came up. And now I look like a fool. Again.

Some notes:

  • Of the 60 guys on the list, 28 of them (47 percent) weren’t ranked among the 120 players in the offseason positional power rankings.
  • The top cornerback (Nnamdi Asomugha), guard (Carl Nicks), offensive tackle (Jake Long), receiver (Andre Johnson) and running back (Jamaal Charles) didn’t make the top five at their respective positions. In defense of Johnson and Charles, injuries got in the way.
  • Four previously unranked players — Chancellor, Myers, Yanda and Graham — have emerged as the best (or at least the hottest) players at their respective positions.
Also from GLS at the midway pole:
Record tracker
Midseason awards

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