The 25 Biggest Mistakes from the NFL Network's Top 100 Players Rankings

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIIMay 18, 2012

The 25 Biggest Mistakes from the NFL Network's Top 100 Players Rankings

0 of 25

    The "Top 100" list that the NFL Network puts out every year may not have any true meaning, but it does make for a fun debate as we enter the quietest part of the offseason.

    Because every position is grouped into one list, the argument of positional importance comes into play. Should the best center in the league be ranked as high as the best quarterback? Or should position come into play when making these rankings?

    With so much discretion in terms of how exactly to rank these players, there are bound to be mistakes in their list. 

Tim Tebow

1 of 25

    Rank: 95

    Should be: Off the list

    While Tebow did make some timely throws to get the Broncos wins at the end of games, the truth is, he was more of a liability than anything in 2011. 

    What is often forgotten about the Broncos 2011 season is just how inept their offense was at times. They would often go nearly scoreless for three quarters before making one last miraculous drive to pull out a win. 

    In the regular season, Tebow completed just 46.5 percent of his passes. Most Pro Bowl-level quarterbacks complete somewhere around 65 percent. 

    When a former first-round quarterback is being traded for a fourth round pick just two years after being drafted, it tells us how the top football minds view Tebow as a player. 

NaVorro Bowman

2 of 25

    Rank: 85

    Should be: Top 30

    Detractors will point to the fact that he plays around a lot of great players, including the great Patrick Willis right next to him. 

    Nonetheless, there is no denying the fact that Bowman is one of the best young defenders in the game. The combination of him and Willis make up for the best set of inside linebackers in the NFL, hands down. 

    He had 143 tackles in the regular season to Patrick Willis' 97. Bowman is not just a complimentary player in a great defense; he is a star in his own right, and should be recognized for it. 

Chris Johnson

3 of 25

    Rank: 100

    Should be: Off the list

    If we are in agreement that this list is purely based off play in 2011, Chris Johnson should not even touch this list. 

    He did manage to barely eclipse the 1,000 yard mark, but Johnson looked so slow at the start of the season that he began to lose significant snaps to Javon Ringer. 

    His massive dip in production was probably a result of his lengthy holdout during training camp, which also explains how he improved as the season went along. 

    Regardless of where he is ranked on the list, he is not even coming close to giving the Titans any kind of return on their investment. 

Derrick Johnson

4 of 25

    Rank: 78

    Should be: Top 25

    The fact that players like DeSean Jackson and Justin Tuck are rated ahead of Johnson is absurd. 

    Johnson was not only the best defender on the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011, but he was one of the best linebackers in football racking up 131 tackles. Unlike guys like Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis, Johnson is not playing behind an elite defensive line that opens up tackling lanes for him. 

    He is also terrific in coverage, intercepting two passes last season. 

    Johnson appears to be yet another victim of being an excellent player on a losing team in a smaller market. 

Justin Tuck

5 of 25

    Rank: 62

    Should be: 90-100

    In just about any other year, I would have no problem ranking Tuck in the top 20. 

    However, in 2011, injuries caused Tuck to play as a shadow of himself. He was flushed out on a lot of plays and was at times more of a liability than a productive player, which Tuck has admitted himself

    As the season went on, Tuck gradually became healthier and was able to have a great showing in the playoffs, particularly in the Super Bowl, which earned him a spot on this list. 

    Still, the bottom line is that Tuck did not play as well as the 62nd best player in the NFL, despite his name value. 

Fred Jackson

6 of 25

    Rank: 83

    Should be: Top 50

    I understand the need to lower Jackson's ranking because of an injury he suffered in late November, but you cannot ignore the production he was putting up before his injury. 

    Jackson had 934 yards on just 170 attempts, giving him an average of 93.4 yards per game, giving him the third-highest average in the NFL. 

    If he stayed on the same pace for the rest of the season, he would fall just shy of 1,500 yards, putting him among the top running backs in the NFL. 

    When Jackson went down, the Bills offense began to deteriorate. The Bills recognize his importance to their team and awarded him with a contract extension earlier this month. 

Michael Turner

7 of 25

    Rank: 88

    Should be: 95-100

    Turner certainly has the numbers of a top-100 running back, but he is simply not the same player he was two or three years ago. 

    Turner appears slow and does not break nearly as many tackles as he used to. After getting such a heavy workload when Matt Ryan was still breaking into the NFL, Turner may be running out of gas. 

    Don't be surprised if Turner's production falls off a cliff next season.

Tony Romo

8 of 25

    Rank: 91

    Should be: Top 50

    Romo's face palm-evoking late-game decisions will haunt him throughout his career, but for as many crucial mistakes he makes at the end of games, he makes his share in brilliant plays to make up for it. 

    If you cannot get over his fourth quarter blunders, flashback to Week 2 against the 49ers, where Romo went back into the game with a rib and lung injury. His late-game heroics were enough to beat the 49ers, who would turn out a 13-3 record with the best defense in football. 

    Without Romo, the Cowboys would be fighting with the Redskins for third place in the NFC East. 

John Kuhn

9 of 25

    Rank: 92

    Should be: Off the list

    While Kuhn is a nice role player as a part-time fullback and goal line back, he is simply not worth of being recognized as one of the top 100 players in the NFL. 

    As a fullback, Kuhn is very average. Only fullbacks of Vonta Leach's caliber should be even considered to make the list. 

    As a runner, Kuhn failed to eclipse 100 yards on 30 carries, averaging just over 2.6 yards per carry. 

    Bottom line, while Kuhn is a very popular player in Green Bay, there are plenty of other players that were excluded that bring much more to the table. 

Carl Nicks

10 of 25

    Ranked: 76 

    Should be: Top 50

    Other than Peyton Manning, Carl Nicks was the top offensive free agent in this year's class. 

    While offensive guards may not sell many tickets, the Saints are heavily reliant on their two guards to run their offense. After losing Nicks in free agency, the Saints rushed to find his replacement in Ben Grubbs. 

    Nicks is a perfect example of a player falling in the rankings simply because of the position he plays. 

Hakeem Nicks

11 of 25

    Rank: 90

    Should be: Top 40

    While Victor Cruz was getting all of the media attention for his astonishing breakout year, Nicks was still the Giants' best receiver. 

    While Cruz made a ton of great plays in his own right, he was also a beneficiary of Nicks' presence on the outside. While Nicks' numbers took a dip in the middle of the season as he was hampered by injuries, Cruz emerged as a superstar. 

    Once teams started keying on Cruz, Nicks was able to take advantage,and his numbers rose back to the top of the NFL. 

    Despite the fact the Cruz was getting most of the attention, Nicks is still the superior player. 

Logan Mankins

12 of 25

    Rank: 64

    Should be: 70-80

    While Mankins is certainly one of the top guards in football, he should not be ranked significantly higher than Carl Nicks. 

    Picking between the two players is like splitting hairs, but if you are going to rank Nicks 76th, Mankins should be a little closer to there, whether it means bringing Nicks up the board or lowering Mankins down a peg. 

    Mankins gets the benefit of the doubt because he has been playing for the Patriots for a longer time, while Nicks' fame has only existed for a few years after the Saints' Super Bowl run. 

Jonathan Joseph

13 of 25

    Rank: 73

    Should be: Top 45

    Wade Phillips gets a lot of deserved credit for the remarkable defensive turnaround for the Texans in 2011, but the reality is that he could not have had the same success if it had not been for the Texans' decision to Joseph. 

    At the start of free agency last August, the Texans were more interested in winning the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes. Deciding to bow out of the race and "settle" for Joseph turned out to be a brilliant decision. Not only did they save some money and secure themselves a new cornerback, but Joseph actually outplayed Nnamdi by a rather significant margin. 

    In fact, other than Darrelle Revis, Joseph was arguably the best corner in the AFC, making him worthy of a higher ranking. 

Jordy Nelson

14 of 25

    Rank: 80

    Should be: Top 60

    With over 1200 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns to compliment them, Nelson has the numbers to be considered one of the top receivers in the game. 

    Being ranked 80th is a nod of the head of recognition, but it hardly reflects what Nelson did on the field. So why is Nelson not in the same group as some of the other top receivers?

    Detractors say that Nelson was just a beneficiary of playing with an outstanding quarterback play, which does have some validity. Nelson would not even make this list if he played for the Broncos. 

    However, if you watch the catches he made, he and Rodgers used a lot of over-the-shoulder throws that are very precise and require excellent timing and body control. 

    As a result, Nelson is not quite worth a top-20 ranking, but he does deserve a bump. 

Leon Hall

15 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: 80-90

    Before an injury that ended Hall's season in the middle of November, the Bengals were regarded as one of the best defenses in the AFC. 

    After Hall was removed from the game, the Bengals defense took a nosedive because they were not able to use many of the man coverage concepts they rely on. 

    Currently, Hall has not been ranked, and with Jonathan Joseph and Nnamdi Asomugha already off the board, it is safe to assume that Leon will not make the cut. 

    While he should not be ranked too high, as he missed significant time, Hall deserves to be on this list. 

Andy Dalton

16 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: 95

    Andy Dalton joins the group of underrated Bengals that were snubbed in favor of undeserving players. 

    In preseason, the Bengals were viewed as candidates to hold the top pick in the 2012 draft. Had it not been for Andy Dalton's nerves of steel, the Bengals would have been bottom feeders once again. 

    Instead, Dalton pushed the Bengals into the playoffs. 

    If it were up to me, I would put Dalton right where Tim Tebow was ranked. 

D'Qwell Jackson

17 of 25

    Ranked: 96

    Should be: 70-60

    2011 was not a good year for the Browns, but they can take solace in knowing that they have found several good young players on defense, including D'Qwell Jackson. 

    Playing on an overworked defense, he racked up a mind-blowing 158 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Still in his prime, Jackson will be a leader on the Browns defense for the foreseeable future. Therefore, he deserves to be higher than number 96 on the list. 

LaMarr Woodley

18 of 25

    Rank: 63

    Should be: 70-80

    Normally, I would have not problem with Woodley's ranking. 

    However, it appears as if several players fell because of injuries, but Woodley seemed to avoid the same fate, despite the fact that he missed six games. 

    He did manage to post nine sacks in ten games, but if other players like Fred Jackson were dropped because of injury, Woodley should have been too. 

Eric Winston

19 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: Top 50

    There is still a chance that Winston's name gets called, but with Joe Staley and Joe Thomas already off the board, it seems unlikely. 

    If Winston is indeed excluded, it would be one of the biggest mistakes of this list. Winston is the best right tackle in the game and was a huge part of the dominant Texan running game that carried them into the playoffs. 

A.J. Green

20 of 25

    Rank: 77

    Should be: Top 50

    While Andy Dalton certainly deserves a lot of credit for taking the Bengals to the playoff in his rookie year, he could not have done it without his top receiver. 

    He did miss a few games due to injury, but he still managed to catch seven touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards—all with a rookie quarterback.

    My biggest issue with Green's ranking is how he is ranked below DeSean Jackson, who is coming off a disappointing season.  

    Within a few years, Green will be regarded as one of the best receivers in the NFL. 

Red Bryant

21 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: 80-90

    Run-stuffing defensive ends are not going to sell many tickets, but Red Bryant is good enough to earn a spot on this list. 

    Bryant is not much of a pass rusher (which is why the Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin), but he is a dominant force against the run and sets the edge as well as anybody. 

    One of the most underrated player in the league, it comes to no surprise that Bryant was kept off the list. 

Sione Pouha

22 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: Top 40

    There is a solid chance that Pouha could still make this list, but as the weeks go by, his chances of getting on seem far less likely. 

    Pouha is perhaps the best pure 3-4 nose tackle in the game. He has allowed the Jets to continue to have a good run defense after losing star nose tackle Kris Jenkins to multiple injuries that led to his eventual retirement.

    If Pouha doe not make the list, it will be because of the position he plays which does not allow him to make many tackles or sacks. 

Ed Reed

23 of 25

    Rank: Unknown

    Should be: 70-80

    This is based purely on the assumption that Reed will be ranked somewhere in the top 50 players, however he does not deserve a very high ranking on this year's list. 

    In fact, if you remove his name from the equation, Reed would probably not even make this list. He had just three interceptions all season.

    Still, he has enough respect from his peers to possibly receive a high ranking. 

LaDarius Webb

24 of 25

    Rank: Not ranked

    Should be: Top 60-70

    Webb is one of the most improved players from the 2011 season.

    He had five interceptions on the season, and as the year went on and teams started to take notice of his play, quarterbacks shied away from throwing in his direction. 

    With so many quality corners already off the board, however, it looks like Webb will be excluded. 

Marshawn Lynch

25 of 25

    Rank: 94

    Should be: 70-80

    Since becoming the feature back in Seattle, Lynch's production has soared, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns—almost doubling his career total. 

    The Seahawk's offense runs through Lynch with so much turnover at the quarterback position.

    I would put Lynch about fifteen spots higher, perhaps switching places with Michael Turner who is clearly the inferior back to Lynch at this point in Lynch's career.