The NFL's Top 100 Players of 2013 concluded recently with five Kansas City Chiefs players making the list. Although the team mustered just two wins in 2012, its record was not enough to overshadow the talent within.
The Chiefs were one of six teams to have at least five current players place in the top 100 of the list. Going into 2013, many fans are excited that all five of these players were retained. These five, plus a couple of other players, are expected to make a big impact.
But for now, let’s look at the Chiefs players who made the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2013 and explore other players who could have made the list.
Brandon Flowers has yet to appear in a Pro Bowl since coming out of Virginia Tech in 2008. He's been viewed as one of the better cornerbacks in the league, but never was he considered one of the best.
This year, Flowers is one of seven cornerbacks to be part of the 100 players on the list this year.
Flowers isn't known for collecting many interceptions, preventing him from receiving the elite label. Despite getting just three interceptions this year, he gave his team opportunities when picking off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
The biggest reason Flowers is recognized on this list is because of his solid coverage and support against the run.
When then-Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn struggled to find a rhythm in the passing game late in the season, Dwayne Bowe's value went up, even after missing the final three games due multiple broken ribs.
This offseason, Bowe is getting everything he’s wanted in Kansas City. The Chiefs granted Bowe a five-year deal worth $56 million. The Chiefs also landed quarterback Alex Smith in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
All that’s left for Bowe is to go out and succeed, which will guarantee him a higher placement next year. And he’s proven before that he can be one of the best receivers.
It wasn’t long ago when Bowe snagged a league-high 15 touchdowns when Kansas City won the AFC West in 2010.
If Bowe returns to his 2010 form with Smith under center, he will be compared to some of the top wide receivers in the NFL.
Outside of Jamaal Charles, Kansas City’s biggest strength comes on defense with its linebacking corps. The team sent three linebackers to the Pro Bowl as two appeared on this list.
Derrick Johnson is one of two linebackers on the team to be among the 16 linebackers to earn a spot on the top 100. Johnson flourished under Romeo Crennel, who served as a defensive coordinator and briefly as a head coach, making back-to-back Pro Bowls and leading the team in tackles.
The former Texas Longhorn successfully rebounded his career after the 2009 season and has recorded over 120 tackles in each of the past three years.
If the Chiefs do better in 2013, expect Johnson to get more attention and a higher placement next year.
After an impressive rookie season, Justin Houston soared in his second year and is quickly becoming one of the most feared pass-rushers in the NFL.
Houston led the team in sacks with 10 and became a force with Tamba Hali, who provides pressure on the other side. He tied for 19th in sacks with then-Falcons defensive end John Abraham.
Despite being a Pro Bowl alternative, it didn’t stop him from being ranked the seventh-best linebacker on the list.
If this was only his second season in the league, Houston could be a problem for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
You can make a case against Jamaal Charles and his inability to protect the football, as well as his fatigue. But the truth is, Charles’s weaknesses are outshined by his overall performance, hence an impressive placement after tearing his ACL in 2011.
For the second time in three years, Charles finished in the top five in rushing and led the AFC in 2012. He had the second-longest rushing touchdown of the season and used his breakaway speed to gain over 200 yards in two different games.
With a better coaching staff and better quarterback to work with, Charles’ placement can only go up. Under Andy Reid’s offense, his role will be different than before and he’ll become a threat not only on the ground but in the passing game too.
Eric Berry and Tamba Hali appeared in the Pro Bowl, but weren't selected in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2013.
With Charles, Houston, Johnson, Bowe and Flowers being the only five players on the list, there are a couple of other players who were worthy of cracking the list but didn’t make the cut.
For the remainder of the slideshow, I will go over three players who could have made the list and are likely candidates to make it next year.
Branden Albert spent all five seasons in Kansas City and probably had his best season individually this past year.
Albert was penalized six times in 2012, the second-fewest he’s ever had in his career. He also gave up a season career-low of just one sack in 13 games.
It appears Albert will stay in Kansas City and continue to play left tackle. With a new offense with high standards, Albert has a chance to make his debut into the NFL’s Top 100 list next year.
One of the biggest surprises on the list includes Tamba Hali being absent from the list. Prior to 2012, Hali has been Kansas City’s leader in sacks since 2008. His transition to the 3-4 defense turned him into one of the most dominant pass-rushers in the NFL today.
Hali received a late Pro Bowl invitation in 2010, but earned a top spot in 2011 and 2012. Although he was just second on the team in sacks, he’s labeled as a dangerous pass-rusher as many quarterbacks have a hard time sticking with plays due to Hali’s invasion in the pocket.
If Kansas City is more competitive next year, the players individually will receive more exposure. Perhaps Hali will then get a spot in next year’s NFL Top 100 list.
Eric Berry didn’t have an eye-grabbing season last year, but he sneaked into the Pro Bowl, possibly because of name recognition.
Should Berry have been named one of the 100 players on this year’s list? Probably not, but many fans might argue against that.
Berry dominated his rookie season and can return to that level of prominence again. With a strong defensive front, Berry is bound to get multiple interceptions just from ill-advised throws by opposing quarterbacks due to pressure.
Outside of relying on pass rushers, Berry’s coverage and hard hits are what allowed him to shine at Tennessee as he’s tried to carry it over in the NFL.