How does one split hairs between some of the greatest athletes on the planet?
The NFL has almost 1,500 players active on any given Sunday. Without exception, those are some of the biggest, fastest and strongest people around. So trying to pick out the top three percent is an almost impossible task.
Know this: There are players whom you think will be on this list that aren't. I'm positive of that, because there are lots of players I thought should've been on here that didn't make the final cut. This doesn't diminish the performances of those players at all; it just puts the performances of the top 50 players in perspective.
Throughout the season, part of my job has been to watch every single game, every single week—usually re-watching the games in "coaches' tape" once it is released. On top of that, I've made heavy use of Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders to quantify some of the elite performances of the season.
Finally, this list doesn't care about position value. We all know a team needs a quarterback more than they need a right guard, but that truth doesn't diminish the incredible performances of some of the league's linemen. So, if your favorite passer was left off the list, take this opportunity to learn about one of the league's best at another position.
Without further ado, the top 50 NFL players of 2012.
Note: This list was compiled before Week 17 and stats/rankings/etc are reflective of the first 16 weeks of play.