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NFL Top Players of 2012: Did Ben Roethlisberger Deserve Higher Than 30?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
William RenkenCorrespondent IIIJune 14, 2012

Wherever you turn you're bound to find debate when it comes to the NFL's Top Players of 2012 list. From whether Tony Romo should have been higher than 91 or Tim Tebow deserved to even be on the list at 95.

The latest reveal in the rankings of 30-21 lands Ben Roethlisberger at No. 30 on the list, up from 41 for the 2011 list and one spot ahead of last year's Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.

Even though Big Ben made a jump from last year, the question remains—did he deserve higher?

In terms of quarterbacks on the list, Roethlisberger ranks fourth with most likely Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees appearing ahead of him. Being considered one of the top five quarterbacks in the league seems fitting for Roethlisberger. If you're going by Super Bowl wins, then you probably slot Roethlisberger into a top three slot. But alas, the NFL Top 100 is a player driven list that has its own non-descriptive criteria for ranking.

Obviously, Roethlisberger's stats were up from last year. That's an easy given because he played in 12 games in 2010 versus 15 in 2011 due to his suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. His 4,077 yards was his second highest output in his career and placed him at number nine among quarterbacks last year. His overall passer rating of 90.1 put him at number 10 as well.

With the majority of his stats ranging from fifth to tenth last year among the league's other quarterbacks, some would argue that 30 would be too high. They would say that with winning the Super Bowl last year, Manning should be higher.

But, let's face it—it's not all about stats.

Last year was clearly a difficult a year for the Steelers, losing both of their regular season games to the Ravens and getting bounced from the playoffs by the Broncos in the first round. And yet, their 12-4 record was due mainly to Roethlisberger being the ultimate gamer on a team that had to endure injuries at many key positions throughout the year.

That is why it also becomes questionable why players such as James Harrison (although another valuable Steeler), Wes Welker, Frank Gore and Ray Rice, for example, are all ranked ahead of Roethlisberger in the 30-21 portion of the list.

Here is the easiest litmus test: if any one of those players was injured for the entire year, would their teams still have been successful? Some would waver a little bit, definitely. These are elite caliber players at their positions. But if the Steelers are without Roethlisberger for that 2011 season, you can take that 12-4 record and toss it into the fire. There is no way the Steelers are even close to that without number seven.

The end result is, the list misses the mark with Roethlisberger at 30. Plain and simple.

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