This list is based on performance now and future potential. The list is actually more heavily weighed toward future potential. I also take into consideration my thoughts on the general positional and player value around the league.
10. Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Suggs has long been considered one of the more fearsome pass rushers in the entire league, but it's his versatility that might separate him from the rest. He is a jack of all trades in the Baltimore system and has been one of the most important pieces of a perennial dominant defense. The sky is the limit for T-Sizzle.
9. Haloti Ngata, DE, Baltimore Ravens
Ngata is getting better by the minute, and will be a key in the Baltimore defense for now and in the future. He's a DE in Baltimore, and is one of the best 3-4 DEs in the entire league. His versatility allows him to move around on the defensive line, as he is one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the NFL.
8. Mario Williams, DE, Houston Texans
Super Mario has made a name for himself, with 26 sacks over the last 2 seasons, silencing all the critics who blasted the Texans for taking him with the #1 pick in the 2006 draft. He has size and ability that isn't matched by many.
7. Patrick Willis- LB, San Francisco 49ers
Since he was drafted, Willis has been one of the most dominant MLBers in the league. He, in essence, was the 49ers D in '07, and he's the guy that keeps it going. In the last two seasons, his first two in the league, he notched over 300 tackles, on top of 15 pass deflections, five sacks, and one INT. I know statistics aren't everything for LBers, but it's hard not to like Willis given his raw ability and production.
6. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
With his ticket now punched to Chicago, Cutler moves on with a lot to prove. Thus far in his career, he's improved gradually from season to season, and has as much raw ability as any QB in the NFL. As he gets older and more seasoned he should be able to master the nuances and subtleties of the QB position and maximize his potential. Ultimately, I think with a couple more top notch seasons, he can leapfrog several people on this list.
5. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
After two stellar seasons in the league, Revis has already established himself as a top CB in the eyes of many. With his abilities in man coverage, his opportunistic ways and physical ability Revis looks to be a franchise cornerstone for years to come.
4. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald might have the best hands I have ever seen from the WR position. 1400 yds and 10+ TDs in three out of his five seasons in the NFL, 46 TDs in five years, insane athletic ability and a playoff run last season that dreams are made of make Larry one of the NFL's best players.
3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
I know it's early to put Calvin Johnson here, especially ahead of Larry Fitzgerald but did you see what this kid did last season? 78 catches, 1331 yards and 12 TDs on the Detroit Lions, the 0-16 pathetic, sorry sack Detroit Lions. The guy is arguably the best WR prospect EVER and probably would be widely considered the #1 WR in the sport, if not for the whole 'Winner-Loser' stuff that is beaten like a rented mule. And the scariest thing about Calvin is that he could potentially get better.
2. Adrian Peterson, HB, Minnesota Vikings
Essentially, Adrian is 1B on this list. 601 carries, 3,101 yards 5.2 YPC and 22 TDs. The man is as gifted as any running back in the game today and continues to get better. If the Vikings actually consider utilizing him in the passing game (a QB who can find him without using a compass could help in that regard), he could be that much better.
1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys
I'm still not quite sure how he didn't win Defensive Player of the Year this past season, compiling a mind blowing 20 sacks, but this guy is an unbelievable football player. Is there anything he cannot do? The best pass rusher in the business, and the best 3-4 OLB in the business, Ware has absolutely dominated to the tune of 53.5 sacks in 4 years. He is a dominant, unstoppable force who is also a do-it-all LBer. I definitely think Ware will eventually set the record for sacks in a season, when it's all said and done.
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