Honorable Mention: Vernon Carey (Dolphins), Devon Hester (Bears), Clinton Portis (Redskins), Jeremy Shockey (Saints), Willis McGahee (Ravens), D.J. Williams (Broncos), Kellen Winslow (Bucs), Chris Myers (Texans)
It is discouraging that nobody on this list played at Miami in the last five years. That’s a sign Miami’s program needs to make some changes, but that’s for another article.
The following are the Top 10 Canes in the NFL today, at this moment in time. It’s where they currently are in their careers, not the entire career itself.
Top 10 NFL Canes as of November 4, 2010
10. Santana Moss, Washington Redskins – Moss was one of the most dangerous wideouts in Canes history. He made just as big an impact in the return game as he did on offense.
In the NFL, he has provided great consistency and ranks among the better wideouts out there. He is on pace for a career-high 96 receptions this year. Not many get in and out of their cuts as quickly as Santana.
9. Antrel Rolle, New York Giants – He has the versatility to play safety and corner. He’s big and he can tackle. He was a great pickup for the Giants this summer and plays on one of the best defenses in football.
8. Bryant McKinnie, Minnesota Vikings – This mountain of a man has owned the Vikings’ left tackle spot for what seems like decades. Sure he’s lost a step at 31, but he is still a disruptive force up front when he wants to be.
7. Jon Vilma, New Orleans Saints – He might not be as powerful of a hitter as Ray Lewis, but who is? What he lacks in flair, he makes up for with smarts and sound mechanics. He’s a disciplined, instinctive linebacker who is rarely out of position.
6. Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots - Vince is arguably the best nose tackle in football. He is a mainstay on the Patriots defensive line and does an excellent job at filling the gaps at the point of attack with his behemoth 325-pound frame.
And that’s a very generous listing. I remember during his days at “The U”, they would leave him in all game even with 30-point leads to get him in better shape.
5. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – How’s this for Wayne’s legacy? He will go down as one of the greatest to ever play. Period.
Sure Peyton Manning helps, but he has over 10,000 yards in his NFL career and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. He owns some of the best hands in the game.
4. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers - The man who once averaged nine yards a carry as a Miami freshman has becomes one of the NFL’s premier running backs. He has had some issues with injuries over the years but looks to be back on the track of stardom. He has become a complete back and is on pace for a career-high 76 receptions this season.
3. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens – Flat out the greatest linebacker to ever play the game at the pro level. It’s good his time in the NFL will be coming to an end in a few years, although he hasn’t dropped off, because of the more sensitive rule changes regarding hard hits. There wasn’t and probably never will be a more ferocious terror roaming the middle of the field.
2. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens - “2-0 E-Reed boy, knock you off ya feet boy.” My favorite line from the song Ballin Boys-Hurricane Remix by No Good.
Just as Lewis is the most dangerous linebacker of his time, Reed makes a great case at safety. There isn’t a bigger playmaker in the secondary in football. He is a ballhawk and his 48 career interceptions prove it.
He missed the first six games of this season due to injury and there were whispers that Reed’s best days were over. Well, nobody told him that. Last week in his return to the gridiron, he proved the doubters wrong with two picks.
He also is an incredible runner with the ball and probably could have been an All-Pro running back or receiver.
1. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans - Standing at 6’3″, 225, there isn’t a more imposing physical specimen at receiver in the league. He has the speed to beat you deep and the smarts and route running to carve you up underneath. If he isn’t double-teamed, he is going to beat you, and even if he is, there’s no certainty you’re shutting him down.
He’s also a no-nonsense type of player who doesn’t attract attention to himself for the wrong reasons. With AJ, it’s strictly business. He’s had over 1,500 yards and 100 receptions each of the last two seasons.