The NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2013 continued its rankings on Thursday, May 16 with the announcement of spots 61-70. Linebacker Chad Greenway was voted No. 70 among all players in football on NFL.com
The ranking of Top 100 players began in 2011, with Tom Brady ranked No. 1 as voted by fellow NFL players. The criteria for the list is based on the prior season's performance and prediction of how the player will perform in the upcoming season.
While some may see the selection of Greenway as an honor, especially since he did not crack the top 100 list in 2012, I would argue that the Vikings' strong-side linebacker is still very underrated in the NFL.
Last season, Greenway recorded 148 tackles, three sacks, four passes defended and one interception. He ranked tied for second in tackles among all players in the NFL and became the first Vikings linebacker since Scott Studwell in 1987-88 to play in consecutive Pro Bowls.
Greenway has finished his last five of seven seasons as the Vikings' leading tackler.
Defensive end Jared Allen weighed in with his assessment of his fellow Pro Bowl teammate on NFL.com:
He just kind of gets lost in the shuffle with these 3-4 outside linebackers that have 10-plus sacks. He's a true outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and for the last three years he's been playing at an elite level. He's a tackle machine.
Allen's comments are true for Greenway on the Vikings squad, as well as the rest of the NFL. Over those same five years leading Minnesota in tackles, Greenway ranks second in tackles among all players with 455. Only Patrick Willis has more in that time frame with 493.
In addition to Greenway's statistical performance last season, he was named to USA Football's 2012 All-Fundamentals Team, which honors 26 NFL players for demonstrating fundamentals at their respective position. Greenway joined London Fletcher and Aldon Smith at linebacker.
Based on Greenway's performance last season and projecting into 2013, he should be ranked in the top 50 of all NFL players. As a comparison, Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch was ranked No. 63.
Second-year safety Harrison Smith also added his thoughts in NFL.com's video:
He's just relentless to the ball. He just does not stop. He's always trying to get in on the tackle no matter what, even if it's on the other side of the field. You love having him around because you think, if I miss the tackle, Chad's coming. He's going to be there if I miss it.
Greenway's constant motor and tackling ability are definitely strong suits for the upcoming eight-year veteran. He takes excellent angles to the ball and never gives up on a play. His instincts and quickness make him a faster player on-field than his 40-yard dash may indicate, which was clocked at 4.76 at the NFL combine in 2006.
Heading into the 2013 season, Greenway is expected to lead a linebacking corps that may have former weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson move to the middle and fourth-round draft pick Gerald Hodges out of Penn State replace Henderson at the "Will" position.
However the linebacker mix shakes out this coming season for the Vikings, Greenway will continue to play a vital role on the team's defense. Barring injury, he will lead Minnesota in tackles for a sixth straight season and compose himself as a true professional on and off the field.
And with time, more of Greenway's peers will recognize his abilities as a top player in the NFL.
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