With the NFL draft upon us, it's time for the return of one of the most popular and controversial shows in all of sports to make its return. For the third consecutive year, NFL Network's Top 100 Players series will commence on April 27.
Every episode consists of ranking blocks of 10 players as voted on by the players themselves as well as the fans. The goal is to rank the top 100 players in the NFL regardless of position and to definitively decide who is the best player in the entire league.
It's far from an exact science and it certainly creates its share of arguments, but it's a fun show that generates discussion. Here are the important dates that you need to know with regards to when the show will air as well as when and how you can vote.
When: Begins Saturday, April 27, at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
List Release Schedule
100-91: Saturday, April 27, at 8 p.m. ET
90-81: Thursday, May 2, at 8 p.m. ET
Projected Top Five
Last year, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was voted the best player in the NFL. A strong case can still be made for him, but he didn't improve upon his 2011 MVP campaign in 2012 and other players stepped up, so he is likely to drop to No. 5.
Rodgers is certain to end up somewhere in the top five, so it's just a matter of exact positioning. It's hard to believe that a season of 4,295 yards, 39 touchdowns and just eight interceptions can be considered a drop-off, but that was the case for Rodgers. Even so, he's an elite quarterback in the league and could easily regain the top spot in 2014.
4. Tom Brady
Choosing between New England Patriots quarterback Tim Brady and Rodgers is like flipping a coin, but Brady's playoff success puts him over the top and lands him at No. 4. Brady nearly led the Pats back to the Super Bowl once again this past season, although they ultimately fell to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.
Brady's regular-season numbers were rock solid as well. He threw for 4,827 yards, 34 touchdowns and just eight picks. Brady was No. 4 in last year's rankings, so he definitely has a chance to move up at least one spot. Brady has been among the NFL's best for many years and nothing happened last season that should change that fact.
3. Calvin Johnson
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was voted the No. 3 player in the NFL last year and he proceeded to follow that up with an NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards this past season. Despite that monster year, Johnson likely won't move up in the rankings because of big moves made by other players.
As great as Johnson was last season, he only scored five touchdowns and the Lions had a rough season, so that has to factor in. With that said, Johnson is a physical freak and he is easily the best pass-catcher in the entire NFL. If Johnson can post similar yardage numbers in 2013 while increasing his touchdown production, he could conceivably reach No. 1 in 2014.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's inclusion on last year's list was controversial to say the least as he didn't play a single game in 2011. Despite that, Manning was placed at No. 50 based on reputation alone. Manning proved last season in Denver that his reputation should have earned him an even higher ranking as he didn't miss a beat after sitting out the entire 2011 season.
Manning won the AP Comeback Player of the Year thanks to his 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. He led the Broncos to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and although they were upended by the Ravens in the playoffs, Manning clearly rejuvenated the franchise. Last season was Manning's best since his 49 touchdown outburst in 2004, so he definitely deserves this spot on the list.
There was no guarantee that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson would even play in 2012 after tearing his ACL and MCL in Week 16 of the 2011 season, but through hard work and dedication he was able to make it back for Week 1 in 2012. That alone was a huge accomplishment, but what Peterson did over the course of the season was nothing short of miraculous.
Peterson had one of the greatest seasons ever put together by a running back as he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns while also catching 40 passes. His gaudy yardage total left him just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season record. "All Day" essentially willed the Vikings into the playoffs despite their shortcomings in other areas as well. While he was voted No. 8 overall last year, there is little doubt that he will shoot to the top of the list this time.
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