The NFL Network released its version of the top 100 players following the 2012 season. The highly controversial list obviously sparked some debate.
After all, what list ranking the 100 best players in the game isn't going to be controversial?
Personally, I had my fair share of issues with the list. Whether it was the ridiculous bias toward the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens or the tendency to drastically overrate once-dominant players at the end of potential Hall of Fame careers, the list was far from my standards.
Then again, the list was compiled from input by players from around the league, so who am I to criticize it?
Anyway, I made my own list of the top 100 players in the National Football League.
For my list, I made a point of rating players based on a combination of their 2012 season and the couple of seasons before. I mostly looked for trends.
When a dominant running back like Maurice Jones-Drew struggles through an injury-plagued 2012 season, he still receives the benefit of the doubt in my rankings. After all, he won the rushing title in 2011 and has been an elite player for a number of years. The 2012 season was the anomaly, not the norm.
But a player like Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, who led the league with nine interceptions in 2012, did not make my top 100. That's because Jennings is a 29-year-old corner who has never displayed elite talent until 2012—and it helped that fellow Bears corner Charles Tillman turned in his best season as well.
I also didn't base my rankings off of projections. Trent Richardson is my pick to lead the NFL in rushing in 2013, but he shouldn't come close to the top 100 based on his rookie season.
You get the point. It's not perfect. No rankings list can be. It's all completely subjective. I'm sure the average fan will disagree and think that each player on his team was vastly underrated, but there was no intentional bias in any of my rankings.
I also added a (+) if a player is clearly going to improve (example: Andrew Luck) and a (-) if a player is still productive but his best years are definitely past him (example: Antoine Winfield).
Finally, I value the quarterback position much more than any other position. Throw in the ridiculous passing totals we've been seeing in recent seasons and you can understand why the top several players on the list are quarterbacks.
Likewise, a dominant guard or center simply will not be ranked higher than an equally dominant tackle.
10 Players Who Just Missed the Cut
- Trent Williams, Washington Redskins, Left Tackle
- Max Unger, Seattle Seahawks, Center
- Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals, Inside Linebacker
- Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins, Outside Linebacker
- Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills, Defensive Tackle
- Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs, Outside Linebacker
- Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns, Cornerback
- Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cornerback
- LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers, Outside Linebacker
- Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, Wide Receiver
10 Up-and-Coming Players Who Could Be on This List by 2014
- Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis Rams, Cornerback
- Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks, Linebacker
- Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles, Outside Linebacker
- Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, Running Back
- Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams, Defensive End
- Chris Harris, Denver Broncos, Cornerback
- Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles, Defensive End
- Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys, Left Tackle
- Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills, Defensive Tackle
- Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, Quarterback
Okay, enough. Let's begin. And if you have any questions on why a specific player is ranked at a specific spot, please leave a comment and let me know. I'll be happy to provide my opinion.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics and position rankings courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
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