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NFL Power Rankings 2011: Top 100 Players in the NFL Today

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 21, 2011

NFL Power Rankings 2011: Top 100 Players in the NFL Today

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    The National Football League is all about statistics and rankings. 

    Who has the most rushing yards, which team gives up the most passing yards and so on and so on. Players and teams in the NFL are constantly evaluated and ranked. 

    What better way to get into the offseason mood than by ranking the top 100 players in the NFL today?

    How did we rank them? 

    Players are ranked based on age, production, 2010 performance and overall potential. 

    Think of this as a list of, "If I had to start a team today, who would I pick?"

    Without further ado, here we go.

    Author's Note: Due to a few glaring omissions we are working on an updated Top 200 Players list that will be released soon. Thank you for your feedback.

Players 100-85

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    100. Miles Austin, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys: The talent to be an elite wide receiver. Receives more hype than might be warranted due to playing for Dallas Cowboys.

    99. Zach Miller, Tight End, Oakland Raiders: An up-and-coming tight end for the dismal Oakland Raiders. With a better, more consistent quarterback, he could become elite.

    98. Ovie Mughelli, Fullback, Atlanta Falcons: You won't see many fullbacks rated this high anywhere else. Mughelli is simply the best at what he does.

    97. Matt Cassel, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs: Had a brilliant 2010 season. Will shoot up our rankings if he repeats in 2011.

    96. Tyson Clabo, Offensive Tackle, Atlanta Falcons: One of the most underrated right tackles in the NFL. A key to the success in Atlanta.

    95. Brandon Lloyd, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos: Lloyd was a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year after washing out in his other NFL stops. He quickly became the best receiver for the pass-happy Broncos.

    94. Rich Seubert, Offensive Line, New York Giants: Over the course of his career, Seubert has played guard, center and even tight end. He was the 2010 Giants team MVP.

    93. Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles: Not many players in the NFL have Maclin's ability to separate from a defense. He is one of the most dangerous young players in the game.

    92. Carl Nicks, Offensive Guard, New Orleans Saints: A fifth-round draft choice to play offensive tackle, Nicks has found his niche at right guard for the offensive juggernaut Saints.

    91. Chris Harris, Safety, Chicago Bears: Surprised to see Harris on our list? His 2010 season was among the best of any safety in the NFL.

    90. Champ Bailey, Cornerback, Denver Broncos: A future Hall of Famer, but his best days are long gone. Bailey is still a solid No. 2 cover man and irreplaceable leader.

    89. Tony Gonzalez, Tight End, Atlanta Falcons: Another player destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Gonzalez doesn't have game-breaking speed anymore, but makes up for it with smart play.

    88. Donald Penn, Offensive Tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: An emerging talent at left tackle, Penn is becoming known as one of the best run blockers in the NFL at his position.

    87. LeSean McCoy, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles: If his 2010 season was a hint of what to expect in the future, LeSean McCoy will be moving up this list quickly.

    86. Wes Welker, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots: Not a physically dominating player, but smart, tough and the perfect target for Tom Brady and the Patriots' spread offense.

    85. Brent Grimes, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons: Overshadowed by Dunta Robinson playing opposite him, Grimes might be the best cornerback most NFL fans have never heard of.

Players 84-70

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    84. Jay Ratliff, Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys: A three-time Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro in 2009, Ratliff is quietly one of the best 3-4 defenders in the league.

    83. Shaun Phillips, Outside Linebacker, San Diego Chargers: Phillips has been the pass-rushing force the Chargers need to power their aggressive defense. Phillips made his first Pro Bowl in 2010.

    82. Brandon Meriweather, Safety, New England Patriots: Issues off the field aside, Meriweather has been a very important player for the Patriots defense over the past two seasons.

    81. Kris Dielman, Offensive Guard, San Diego Chargers: Dielman has made four straight Pro Bowls and was All-Pro in 2008 and 2009. He's one of the best guards in football.

    80. Antoine Winfield, Cornerback, Minnesota Vikings: A smart veteran that too many overlook, Winfield has made the last three Pro Bowls and is consistently considered for All-Pro honors.

    79. London Fletcher, Inside Linebacker, Washington Redskins: A rare undersized inside linebacker for a 3-4 defense, Fletcher defies the odds every Sunday. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2000 and 2010.

    78. John Abraham, Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons: Abraham is enjoying a jump-start to his career in Atlanta. Abraham's 2010 season led him to receive a Pro Bowl invite and All-Pro honors.

    77. Peyton Hillis, Running Back, Cleveland Browns: A big, bruising runner who excelled in his first season as a featured back. Hillis is a key to the Browns' plans to rebuild their team.

    76. Ryan Kalil, Center, Carolina Panthers: A Pro Bowl alternate in 2009 and 2010, Kalil is perhaps the most important player on the Panthers' entire roster.

    75. Davis Harris, Inside Linebacker, New York Jets: The Jets thought enough of Harris to re-sign him before Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards. We think he is one of the top 3-4 inside linebackers around.

    74. Brandon Moore, Offensive Guard, New York Jets: A powerful run blocker, Moore is the key to the Jets' outside run game.

    73. Eric Winston, Right Tackle, Houston Texans: Not a highly decorated player, but we consider him a top-five right tackle. The picture of consistency. Winston is everything you could want in a lineman.

    72. Jermichael Finley, Tight End, Green Bay Packers: Finley has not been able to live up to his massive potential yet due to injury, but 2011 will be his All-Pro season.

    71. Andre Gurode, Center, Dallas Cowboys: Gurode has made five straight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams as a center since 2007.

    70. Jon Beason, Linebacker, Carolina Panthers: Able to play inside or outside linebacker, Beason is constantly around the football. He's been rewarded with three Pro Bowl trips and two years as a second-team All-Pro.

Players 69-55

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    69. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Offensive Tackle, New York Jets: The anchor to the Jets offensive line and a two-time Pro Bowl selection at left tackle.

    68. Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers: Jennings made his first Pro Bowl in 2010 after being named to the All-Rookie team in 2006. Jennings' numbers will only go up.

    67. Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs: If Jamaal Charles can repeat his awesome 2010 season he will move way up this list in a hurry.

    66. Dallas Clark, Tight End, Indianapolis Colts: He may be slowing down some late in his career, but Dallas Clark is still the best receiver on the Colts roster.

    65. Marshall Yanda, Offensive Guard, Baltimore Ravens: Able to play guard or tackle, Yanda is the type of versatile offensive lineman that NFL teams will start drafting higher and higher. At right tackle, he is one of the best.

    64. Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs: Bowe lit it up in 2010 once he bought in to Todd Haley's offense. Good things are on the horizon for Bowe.

    63. Nick Collins, Safety, Green Bay Packers: A leader on the Packers' Super Bowl-winning defense, Collins' best years are ahead of him.

    62. Marcedes Lewis, Tight End, Jacksonville Jaguars: A Pro Bowler in 2010, Lewis set the Jaguars' single-season receiving touchdown record.

    61. Frank Gore, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers: Gore has the talent to lead the NFL in rushing, but has trouble staying healthy for all 16 games.

    60. James Harrison, Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers: Four straight Pro Bowls, three All-Pro seasons and the 2008 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    59. Darnell Dockett, Defensive Tackle, Arizona Cardinals: A Pro Bowler in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Dockett is the leader on the Cardinals' young defensive line.

    58. Jahri Evans, Offensive Guard, New Orleans Saints: Evans won't get mentioned along with the best guards in the NFL, but he should. Evans has made the last two Pro Bowls and been an All-Pro in both seasons.

    57. Earl Thomas, Safety, Seattle Seahawks: No rookie has made a bigger impact at safety since the late Sean Taylor. Earl Thomas could be the best safety in the NFL as early as 2011.

    56. DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles: An All-Pro as a punt returner and two-time Pro Bowler, Jackson is part of a very exciting offense in Philadelphia.

    55. Michael Roos, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans: In his five years as a starter, Roos has only given up 17 sacks. He's quietly been one of the best left tackles in the business.

    (The above selection previously contained an error referring to Titans right tackle Daniel Stewart- MM)

Players 54-40

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    54. Michael Turner, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons: An underrated runner and key to the Falcons' success offensively. Will post bigger numbers as Atlanta's passing attack improves.

    53. Tramon Williams, Cornerback, Green Bay Packers: Williams is a season or two away from being an All-Pro cornerback. A perfect fit for the Packers' scheme.

    52. Brian Orakpo, Outside Linebacker, Washington Redskins: Hidden on a bad defense, Orakpo is one of the best outside linebackers in football. Orakpo has been a Pro Bowler in his two NFL seasons.

    51. Robert Mathis, Defensive End, Indianapolis Colts: Mathis has made it to three straight Pro Bowls and just might be the best defensive end on the Colts roster.

    50. Nick Mangold, Center, New York Jets: Mangold has been one of the best at his position since entering the league. He'll get an argument from us as the best center in the NFL.

    49. Ed Reed, Safety, Baltimore Ravens: Reed's play has dropped off in the last few seasons, but he remains a game-changing safety who can completely alter the course of a game.

    48. Kyle Williams, Defensive Tackle, Buffalo Bills: Not your prototypical nose tackle, but Williams' 2010 season earned him a Pro Bowl and a second-team All-Pro vote.

    47. Lawrence Timmons, Inside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers: Timmons has yet to receive the attention of his teammates on defense, but he is the team leader in tackles and an emerging star at inside linebacker.

    46. Justin Tuck, Defensive End, New York Giants: A Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2008 and 2010, Tuck has unlimited potential when healthy.

    45. Jordan Gross, Offensive Tackle, Carolina Panthers: Gross has quietly put together a very good career. He's been an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler and received the team's 2010 Ed Block Courage Award.

    44. Vernon Davis, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers: On a team with a better quarterback, Vernon Davis would be an All-Pro every year. He has unmatched athletic ability and potential.

    43. Adrian Wilson, Strong Safety, Arizona Cardinals: Four times a Pro Bowler and three years as an All-Pro, Wilson is deserving of mention as the best safety in the NFL.

    42. Steven Jackson, Running Back, St. Louis Rams: Jackson could arguably be listed higher than this. He has amazing physical ability, but has been trapped on a bad team.

    41. Chris Snee, Offensive Guard, New York Giants: Snee fits the model of what every offensive guard should be like. He's big, tough and plays consistently every down.

    40. Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts: Despite his age, Wayne remains one of the best wide receivers in football. His consistency and production throughout his career are remarkable.

Players 39-26

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    39. Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback, New York Jets: Taking in to account his on-field accolades only, Cromartie is an elite cornerback. People may not like him as a person, but you have to respect his play.

    38. Roddy White, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons: As Matt Ryan emerges, so does Roddy White. White and Ryan have a chemistry that could carry Atlanta to a Super Bowl title.

    37. Ray Lewis, Inside Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens: Lewis continues to defy logic by playing at an incredibly high level, even late into his career. Lewis is arguably the best middle linebacker to ever play the game.

    36. Alex Mack, Center, Cleveland Browns: In what may surprise some people, Alex Mack is our No. 1 center. In two seasons as a starter he has allowed 1.75 sacks. Total.

    35. Lamarr Woodley, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers: A Pro Bowler, All-Pro and Super Bowl champion, Woodley's name is rising up our board of the NFL's best.

    34. Cameron Wake, Outside Linebacker, Miami Dolphins: Wake exploded on the scene in 2010 with a Pro Bowl and All-Pro season. The sky is the limit for this former CFL player.

    33. Jerod Mayo, Inside Linebacker, New England Patriots: The leader of the Patriots defense, Mayo is as solid as any player in the NFL. He's been the Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro.

    32. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons: If you were to list the best quarterbacks age 25 and under, Matt Ryan would have to be No. 1. We predict Matt Ryan will top this entire list at least once in his career.

    31. Troy Polamalu, Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu could be higher on this list if he were able to stay healthy. Troy was named the 2010 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    30. Michael Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles: Like him or not, Michael Vick is nearly unstoppable at quarterback. His 2010 season was one of the best comeback years we've ever seen.

    29. Arian Foster, Running Back, Houston Texans: From undrafted to the 2010 rushing title, Foster is what's good about the NFL. And to think he was available to every NFL team twice (undrafted, cut by Houston, signed to Texans' practice squad).

    28. Philip Rivers, Quarterback, San Diego Chargers: A three-time Pro Bowler and 2010 NFL Alumni Quarterback of the Year, Rivers is heading toward the top of the list of best quarterbacks.

    27. Logan Mankins, Guard, New England Patriots: Mankins made the Pro Bowl in 2010 after playing in only nine games. Mankins is hands-down the best guard in football.

    26. Terrell Suggs, Defensive End, Baltimore Ravens: Suggs continues to get better the older he gets. His 11 sacks in 2010 set a personal best and also helped drive the Baltimore defense.

25. Mario Williams, Defensive End, Houston Texans

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    Mario Williams' short career has been brilliant. He's a three-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro twice during his five NFL seasons. Williams holds the Texans' all-time single-season sack record with 14 sacks in 2008.

    Houston will move to a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips this season, putting Williams head-up on the offensive tackle and potentially limiting the offense's ability to double-team him.

    With this new alignment, Williams' sack numbers could soar.

24. Antonio Gates, Tight End, San Diego Chargers

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    Antonio Gates' career has been a testament in how wrong scouts and general managers can be at times. This is a player who was undrafted in the 2003 NFL draft. By 2004, he was a Pro Bowler.

    Gates is a seven-time Pro Bowler, five times an All-Pro and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

    He's a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

23. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings

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    Few things can stop Adrian Peterson. Prior to the 2010 season, his penchant for fumbling kept him from reaching the level of greatness that many predicted for him.

    In four seasons as a pro, Peterson is averaging 1,446 yards per season. At this pace he'll shatter every NFL rushing record if he can stay healthy.

22. Ryan Clady, Offensive Tackle, Denver Broncos

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    Clady missed the 2010 season, causing too many to write him off and forget him when talking about the best offensive tackles in football.

    We haven't forgotten.

    Clady was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler before missing the 2010 season. We even had him in the discussion as the best left tackle in the game before his injury.

    Clady will be back in 2011 and will quickly reclaim his spot among the best tackles in the NFL.

21. Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals

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    There may not be many players in the NFL more physically gifted than Larry Fitzgerald.

    When looking at production only, you have to be amazed at the level of play Fitzgerald achieved with Kurt Warner as his quarterback. During the 2010 season, his production fell off only due to the poor play of the Cardinals quarterbacks.

    A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Fitzgerald is still in the top tier of wide receivers in the NFL.

20. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans

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    In three NFL seasons, Chris Johnson has made three Pro Bowls, been a first-team All-Pro selection, been the 2009 NFL Alumni Running Back of the Year, set the single-season record for yards from scrimmage (2,509 yards in 2009) and was the 2009 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

    Once the Titans get a stable quarterback under center to deter defenses from placing nine and 10 tacklers in the box, Johnson's numbers will shoot back up near 1,500 yards per season.

19. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

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    Drew Brees ranks as our No. 5 quarterback on the list of 100 best players in the NFL.

    Brees has made five Pro Bowls, been an All-Pro twice, won a Super Bowl as the MVP of the game, and was the 2010 AP Male Athlete of the Year.

    He also resurrected a city by leading the Saints to a Super Bowl win, something no one would have ever thought possible before Brees signed with the Saints.

Vince Wilfork, Defensive Tackle, New England Patriots

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    Vince Wilfork is not about numbers and stats.

    He won't lead the NFL in sacks or tackles for a loss. He's not concerned with Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections.

    Vince Wilfork is, however, the best nose tackle in football. As the 3-4 defense becomes more prominent, other NFL teams will look for a Wilfork clone to clog the middle of their defensive line.

17. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions

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    Calvin Johnson's career cannot be judged by statistics. When looking at the whole of his career, you must consider that Johnson has never played a full season with a legitimate franchise quarterback.

    On talent alone, Johnson is rated in our top 20 players. Given a healthy Matthew Stafford at quarterback for a full season, he could easily rank as the best receiver in the NFL.

    His 77 receptions for 1,120 yards and 12 TDs during 2010 were all the more impressive considering it was Shaun Hill throwing him the ball the majority of the time.

16. Charles Woodson, Cornerback, Green Bay Packers

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    Charles Woodson is the unquestioned leader of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. His value is not judged in stats alone, but in heart and leadership.

    Woodson's career awards read like a Hall of Famer's. A seven-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro, three-time second-team All-Pro, Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

    Charles Woodson is the best cornerback in the history of the NFL in our eyes.

15. Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions

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    Ndamukong Suh graded out as our No. 1 player in the 2010 NFL draft and as the second-best prospect we had ever scouted (behind Peyton Manning).

    As a rookie, Suh took the NFL by storm. His play earned him a number of accolades and awards.

    Suh was named to the All-Pro team. Due to his successful rookie season, Suh was named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year, the Pro Football Weekly and Pro Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year, the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year and the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

14. DeMarcus Ware, Outside Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

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    DeMarcus Ware is everything you would want in an outside linebacker.

    In 104 NFL games, he has recorded 448 tackles, 87.5 sacks, 66 tackles for a loss, 26 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (one of which he returned 69 yards for a touchdown), 19 passes defended and one interception, which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown.

    All of this adds up to Ware being the second-best outside linebacker on our list.

13. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Big Ben has won two Super Bowls, been the NFL Rookie of the Year and been named to one Pro Bowl in his short career. As Tom Brady and Peyton Manning near the end of their Hall of Fame careers, Roethlisberger is hitting the stride of his own Hall of Fame career.

    Too often, Roethlisberger is left out of talks about the best quarterbacks in the NFL. We contend he's in the top four.

12. Haloti Ngata, Defensive Tackle, Baltimore Ravens

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    Haloti Ngata is the best player in the NFL that no one talks about.

    He's been to two straight Pro Bowls, been a first- and second-team All-Pro and has been an anchor of the Ravens defense for the last five years. Ngata was also selected to the 2010 All-Fundamentals team by USA Football and the NFL Players Association.

    As Ray Lewis and Ed Reed become less important to the Ravens' success, Ngata and Terrell Suggs become the best players on this defense.

11. Julius Peppers, Defensive End, Chicago Bears

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    Is Julius Peppers the best defensive end in football?

    That's what is at stake here. We believe he is.

    Peppers' accomplishments make for a long list of awards and achievements. He's been to six Pro Bowls since 2004 and named to five All-Pro teams during that time.

    Since signing in Chicago last summer, Peppers has looked rejuvenated. With a better team around him, Peppers will regain his elite status in the eyes of NFL fans.

10. Clay Matthews, Outside Linebacker, Green Bay Packers

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    Clay Matthews III did not waste any time making his mark on the NFL.

    After being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft, Matthews was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. His 2010 sophomore season was even better, with a second Pro Bowl birth, NFC Defensive Player of the Year honors and a Super Bowl win.

    Matthews' potential is unlimited. In Green Bay, he will become the focal point of defense that is stocked with enough players to keep the Packers in Super Bowl contention for years to come.

9. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

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    Pop quiz: Who is the best quarterback in the NFL after Tom Brady and Peyton Manning?

    Chances are you will receive answers of Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and maybe Aaron Rodgers. If you ask us, it's an easy answer.

    Rodgers has been brilliant since taking over for Brett Favre in Green Bay. His play resulted in him being the only player in NFL history to have 4,000 passing yards in each of his first two starting seasons.

    A Super Bowl win in 2010 was just the beginning for Rodgers.

8. Jake Long, Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins

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    Jake Long is your prototypical left tackle. He's what every NFL general manager wants and needs on his offensive line. But he's still our No. 2 overall offensive lineman.

    In 2009, Long yielded only four sacks and was ranked the second-best offensive tackle, behind Joe Thomas of Cleveland. His 2010 season was less impressive due to poor play of the quarterbacks in Miami, who far too often held the ball longer than they should have.

    Long remains the second-best left tackle on our board, but more importantly, the eighth-best player in the NFL.

7. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, New York Jets

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    Darrelle Revis has made his mark on the NFL during his four seasons as a New York Jet. Many consider Revis to be the best cornerback in the NFL. It's hard to argue with.

    He is a three-time Pro Bowler, twice an All-Pro, and was the 2009 AFC Defensive Player of the Year.

    That 2009 season was regarded by most as the best season ever for a cornerback. Revis racked up 47 tackles, six interceptions and an amazing 31 passes defensed.

    While he is not the No. 1 cornerback on our board, he's very close.

6. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders

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    In 2010, Asomugha was selected as a member of the Fox Sports and USA Today NFL All-Decade Teams. This was after playing in only seven seasons during the decade.

    Asomugha is a four-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro. Asomugha allowed just 10 receptions on the 27 passes thrown his way during the 2010 season, and most importantly, Asomugha did not give up a touchdown all year.

    Darrelle Revis may receive the hype, but NFL quarterbacks simply stay away from Nnamdi Asomugha.

5. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

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    What more can be said about Peyton Manning?

    In 2009, he was listed by The Sporting News as the No. 1 player in the NFL today and Fox Sports named him player of the decade. In 2010, he was named the eighth-best player in NFL history, according to the NFL's top 100 show, and was the only active player in the top 10.

    In many years he would be listed No. 1 or 2 on our list of the best players in the NFL. Age, a bad offensive line and too many missed passes in 2010 led us to moving Manning down the board slightly.

    Manning has four to five good years left in the tank. He could easily stay in the top 10 for the remainder of his career.

4. Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

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    If you were to sit down and sketch out the perfect wide receiver, Andre Johnson would be the result.

    He has the hands of Jerry Rice, the size of Michael Irvin and the deep speed of Randy Moss all rolled into one unstoppable package.

    Through the 2010-11 NFL season, Johnson currently ranks first all-time in NFL history in receiving yards per game (79.7) for a career. He has twice led the NFL in single-season receiving yards and has been named to four All-Pro teams along with five Pro Bowls.

3. Patrick Willis, Middle Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers

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    Patrick Willis is already regarded as the NFL's best linebacker, and not just by us. The New York Times, Pro Football Weekly and NFL.com's Bucky Brooks agree.

    Willis backs up the hype with his play on the field.

    As a rookie, Willis led the NFL in tackles, earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors while being named the 2007 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Willis has earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors all four years he has played in the NFL.

    If we were asked to start a new franchise tomorrow and had to pick one offensive player and one defensive player, Willis would be our guy on defense without a second thought.

2. Joe Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Cleveland Browns

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    Joe Thomas ranks as our No. 1 overall offensive lineman and No. 2 offensive player.

    His play during four seasons in the NFL has been elite from the first game. In four seasons, he's allowed only 19.25 sacks and committed only 21 penalties. During his rookie season, he was named to the Pro Bowl, and has been every year since.

    Four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections later, Thomas is building a Hall of Fame career.

1. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots

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    Tom Brady was rated the No. 21 NFL player of all time by NFL.com as of the 2009 season. We're going to disagree, wholeheartedly.

    In 2010, Brady became the first unanimous choice for the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award since the AP began using a nationwide panel of media members who cover the league. This capped a season in which Brady led the Patriots to an NFL-best 14 wins.

    Brady has won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVP awards, two AP NFL MVP awards and became the quickest to achieve 100 regular season wins with a laundry list of other awards and records.

    You can look at records, statistics and wins to measure Tom Brady against the best players ever. He stands up with any of them.

    Brady deserves mention not only as the best player in the NFL today, but as the best player in the NFL ever.

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