NFL Power Rankings 2011: Top 200 Players in the NFL Today
If you were asked to start an NFL team tomorrow and could pick any player to start that team with, who would you choose?
This is the question we asked ourselves when looking at all 1,900 players in the NFL this past weekend.
Would you take a young up-and-comer like Ndamukong Suh, or go for the proven veteran Tom Brady?
We previously looked at the top 100 players only to realize that too many great players were missing. After 12 hours back in front of the dry-erase board, we have a top 200 list that is sure to cover all bases.
How did we rank them?
Players are ranked based on age, production, expected future performance and overall potential.
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200. Chris Cooley, tight end, Washington Redskins: Cooley's earlier years were better than his recent statistics. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and he was an All-Pro selection in 2005.
199. Montell Owens, fullback, Jacksonville Jaguars: An ace special teams player and fullback for the Jaguars. Owens was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2010.
198. David Diehl, offensive tackle, New York Giants: Injured in 2010, Diehl was a Pro Bowler in 2009 and a second-team All-Pro at left tackle.
197. Yeremiah Bell, safety, Miami Dolphins: Bell was Miami's leading tackler in 2008, 2009 and 2010, earning his first Pro Bowl selection after the 2009 season.
196. Leonard Weaver, fullback, Philadephia Eagles: Injured after one carry in the 2010 season, Weaver was on his way to elite status after a Pro Bowl berth and All-Pro selection in 2009.
195. Shaun O'Hara, center, New York Giants: O'Hara is a two-time Pro Bowler, playing as reserve center for the NFC All-Stars in both the 2009 and the 2010 Pro Bowls.
194. 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.
193. Jason Babin, defensive end, Tennessee Titans: Babin's 2010 season was remarkable, earning him a Pro Bowl selection, but can he back it up in 2011? Consistent play will move him up our list.
192. Vonta Leach, fullback, Houston Texans: After bouncing around the league early in his career, Leach has found a home blocking for Pro Bowler Arian Foster in Houston. Leach was rewarded with a Pro Bowl invite of his own in 2010.
191. Brandon Lloyd, wide receiver, Denver Broncos: Lloyd's 2010 season was good enough to place him in our top 100 previously. Taking a second look at him, we saw the need for a solid follow-up season before placing him too high.
190. Mark Sanchez, quarterback, New York Jets: Sanchez has gone deep in the playoffs in both of his first two seasons, but his play has not been great. There is potential here, but Sanchez needs to grow in Year 3.
189. Jairus Byrd, free safety, Buffalo Bills: Byrd's fantastic rookie season led to his being named to the Pro Bowl, the NFL All-Rookie team and second-team All-Pro. Had his 2010 season been better (just one interception), he would be higher.
188. Mike Williams, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Williams played like a top-five pick during his rookie season. Williams started all 16 games as a rookie and led all rookies with 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns, a franchise single-season record.
187. Jermaine Gresham, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals: Gresham led all rookie tight ends with 52 receptions in 2010.
186. 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.
185. Randy Starks, defensive end, Miami Dolphins: Starks found a home in the Dolphins' 3-4 defense, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2010.
184. Terence Newman, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys: A two-time Pro Bowler, Newman continues to stay competitive as he ages. He may be let go in Dallas, but he will quickly find a new home.
183. Chris Long, defensive end, St. Louis Rams: Slow to develop in St. Louis, Long is finally reaching his potential under head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
182. Jeff Saturday, center, Indianapolis Colts: A five-time Pro Bowler who has been named to four All-Pro teams. Saturday's career may be winding down, but he remains one of the most highly decorated centers of all-time.
181. D.J. Williams, inside linebacker, Denver Broncos: Williams' 2010 season ranked as the best in his career, with 119 tackles (94 solo), 5.5 sacks, nine pass deflections and one forced fumble.
180. Marcedes Lewis, tight end, Jacksonville Jaguars: A Pro Bowler in 2010, Lewis set the Jaguars single-season receiving touchdowns record.
179. E.J. Henderson, middle linebacker, Minnesota Vikings: Henderson earned his first Pro Bowl invite after a 2010 season that saw him lead the Vikings with 105 tackles.
178. Aqib Talib, cornerback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Talib made a name for himself in 2010. He was named the 2010 NFL Alumni Defensive Back of the Year after the season. His six interceptions before an injury in Week 13 were second in the league at the time.
177. Quintin Mikell, safety, Philadelphia Eagles: An underrated playmaker for the Eagles, Mikell has twice been named second-team All-Pro and he was a Pro Bowler in 2009.
176. Kyle Vanden Bosch, defensive end, Detroit Lions: Vanden Bosch has been named to three Pro Bowls in his career and he is widely regarded as a leader in the Lions clubhouse.
175. Darren Sharper, safety, New Orleans Saints: Sharper has been named to five Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams, the 2000s All-Decade team and he is a Super Bowl champion.
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174. Sedrick Ellis, defensive tackle, New Orleans Saints: In Ellis' first full season as a starter, he led the Saints with six sacks. An underperformer to date, Ellis looks to have turned the corner.
173. Darren McFadden, running back, Oakland Raiders: In his first season as a featured back, McFadden finished with the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL. His future is bright.
172. Le'Ron McClain, fullback, Baltimore Ravens: McClain has twice been named to the Pro Bowl on the AFC squad and he has been recognized as a two-time All-Pro selection.
170. Andy Levitre, offensive guard, Buffalo Bills: Named to the NFL All-Rookie team in 2009, Levitre is considered one of NFL's best young players.
169. Dustin Keller, tight end, New York Jets: Keller led the Jets in receptions with 55 catches in 2010, over Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.
168. Calais Campbell, defensive end, Arizona Cardinals: Campbell has quietly put together two very solid seasons as a starter in the Cardinals hybrid defensive system. His stock is on the rise.
167. Antoine Cason, cornerback, San Diego Chargers: In his first year as a starter, Cason looked solid with 67 tackles and four interceptions. He has the potential to shoot up the rankings.
166. Louis Delmas, free safety, Detroit Lions: A member of the NFL All-Rookie team in 2009, Delmas was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the NFC during the 2010 NFL season.
165. 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.
164. Steve Smith, wide receiver, Carolina Panthers: Smith's production has dropped in recent years but his impact is still felt every week. He remains one of the toughest players in the NFL.
163. Casey Hampton, nose tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers: Hampton has been a five-time Pro Bowl selection and twice a Super Bowl champion during his illustrious career.
162. Roman Harper, safety, New Orleans Saints: A two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2009 and 2010, Harper is establishing himself among the best strong safeties in the NFL.
161. Matt Forte, running back, Chicago Bears: Forte opened the season sharing carries with Chester Taylor and quickly emerged as the go-to back for the Bears. Expect a big season from Forte in 2011.
160. Jabari Greer, cornerback, New Orleans Saints: Underrated and overlooked by many, Greer is becoming a very solid cornerback. A Pro Bowl berth in 2011 is very likely.
159. Johnathan Joseph, cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals: Joseph is one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL. In fact, in 2010 USA Today named Joseph to their annual "All-Joe" team, which recognizes quality players that don't get their due.
158. Jonathan Stewart, running back, Carolina Panthers: Given a featured-back role, Stewart has the talent to become one of the best running backs in the NFL. While he shares carries, his limited production keeps him lower on our list.
157. Rich Seubert, offensive guard, 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.
156. Kerry Rhodes, free safety, Arizona Cardinals: An All-Pro in 2006, Rhodes bottomed-out in New York before being resurrected in Arizona. At one point Rhodes was considered a top free safety in the NFL by Peter King.
154. Joe Haden, cornerback, Cleveland Browns: Haden finished his rookie season with 64 combined tackles, six interceptions and one forced fumble, along with intercepting at least one pass in four straight games. There are All-Pro selections in his future.
153. Carlos Dunlap, defensive end, Cincinnati Bengals: Dunlap's 9.5 sacks were the most by a rookie in team history. What's more impressive is he did that in 12 games.
152. 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.
151. Marshall Yanda, offensive tackle, 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.
150. Mike Jenkins, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys: A Pro Bowler in 2009, Jenkins is the perfect fit for new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's aggressive scheme.
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149. Bradie James, inside linebacker, Dallas Cowboys: A leader on the Cowboys defense, James has posted 100-plus tackles each of the last five seasons.
148. Brent Celek, tight end, Philadelphia Eagles: A complete player as a blocker and a receiver, Celek is an integral part of the Eagles dynamic offense.
147. T.J. Ward, safety, Cleveland Browns: Ward's 123 combined tackles and two interceptions marked his coming-out party in the NFL. His potential is unlimited.
146. Brett Keisel, defensive end, Pittsburgh Steelers: Keisel earned his first Pro Bowl invite in 2010 as part of the AFC-champion Steelers defense. He is the picture of what a 3-4 defensive end should be like.
145. Miles Austin, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys: He has the talent to be an elite wide receiver. He receives more hype than might be warranted due to playing for Dallas Cowboys.
144. Hines Ward, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ward may not be the game-changing receiver that he used to be, but he still terrifies defenders with his blocking ability from the wide receiver position. He is a four-time Pro Bowler and Steelers career leader for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
143. Tyson Clabo, offensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons: One of the most underrated right tackles in the NFL and a key to the success in Atlanta.
142. Nick Collins, safety, Green Bay Packers: A leader on the Packers Super Bowl-winning defense, Collins' best years are ahead of him.
141. Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings: Despite missing three games due to migraine headaches in his two-year career, Harvin has been named to the Pro Bowl and he was an All-Pro as a kick returner.
140. Davin Joseph, offensive guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In five years as a starter, Joseph has allowed only 11.5 sacks. He ranks as one of the most underrated guards in football.
139. Laron Landry, strong safety, Washington Redskins: A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Landry seems to be coming into his own after a move back to strong safety.
138. 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.
137. Devin McCourty, cornerback, New England Patriots: McCourty finished his rookie season with 82 tackles, seven interceptions, one sack, and 17 passes defensed in 16 starts. He was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro by the Sporting News and second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.
136. Michael Oher, offensive tackle, Baltimore Ravens: Oher finished second in the voting for Associated Press' NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award while playing right tackle during his rookie season. A move to left tackle slowed his progress in 2010.
135. Steve Johnson, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills: Johnson burst onto the scene in 2010 with an impressive season, tallying 82 catches and over 1,000 yards. The best is yet to come.
134. Brian Waters, offensive guard, Kansas City Chiefs: Waters' career has resulted in five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections and the 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
133. Jonathan Vilma, middle linebacker, New Orleans Saints: Vilma was the AP Rookie of the Year in 2004 and has since been named to three Pro Bowls, two of which were consecutive.
132. Antre Rolle, free safety, New York Giants: Rolle has made the last two Pro Bowls and racked up a first-team All-Pro selection in 2010.
131. 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.
130. 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.
129. Sam Bradford, quarterback, St. Louis Rams: Bradford's rookie season ranks as one of the best ever for a quarterback. He was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and he set records for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception by a rookie, most attempts by a rookie and most completions by a rookie.
128. Lance Briggs, outside linebacker, Chicago Bears: Briggs has been named to six Pro Bowls and he is a three-time All-Pro.
127. Josh Freeman, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Freeman was named as a Pro Bowl alternate after an impressive sophomore campaign. Freeman engineered six come-from-behind wins during the 2010 season.
126. 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.
125. Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants: For all his media attention—both good and bad—Manning has made just one Pro Bowl. He remains maddeningly inconsistent.
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124. Jay Cutler, quarterback, Chicago Bears: Like him or not, Jay Cutler led the Bears to the NFC championship game in 2010. Under Mike Martz, he will continue to improve.
123. Earl Thomas, free safety, Seattle Seahawks: Few rookies have 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.
122. Charles Johnson, defensive end, Carolina Panthers: The 2010 season was a breakout year for Charles Johnson. His 11.5 sacks led the team and were good for fifth in the NFL.
121. DeMeco Ryans, middle linebacker, Houston Texans: Ryans was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2007. Injuries have limited him but he is still elite.
120. David 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.
119. David Stewart, offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans: There are few right tackles better than Stewart. He was recognized as a second-team All-Pro in 2008.
118. Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs: Bowe lit it up in 2010 once he bought into Todd Haley's offense. Good things are on the horizon for Bowe if he can remain consistent.
117. Ray Rice, running back, Baltimore Ravens: Ray was named to the 2009 Pro Bowl and also selected second-team All-Pro. In his short career, he already ranks as the Baltimore Ravens third all-time rusher in yards (2,844) and attempts (623).
116. Carl Nicks, offensive guard, New Orleans Saints: A fifth-round draft choice selected to play offensive tackle, Nicks has found his niche at right guard for the offensive juggernaut Saints.
115. Matt Cassel, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassell had a brilliant 2010 season. He will shoot up our rankings if he repeats in 2011.
114. Vincent Jackson, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers: Jackson flashed Pro Bowl talent during 2009 but saw his follow-up season shortened due to contract issues.
113. Antoine Winfield, cornerback, Minnesota Vikings: A smart veteran who too many overlook, Winfield has made the last three Pro Bowls and is consistently considered for All-Pro honors.
112. Matt Light, offensive tackle, New England Patriots: Light is three times a Super Bowl champion, a three-time Pro Bowler, an All-Pro (2007) and the 2007 Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP Award Winner.
111. Chad Greenway, outside linebacker, Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota thought highly enough of Greenway to place the franchise tag on him this offseason. In 2010, he posted 5.5 sacks and led the team with 115 tackles.
110. Dunta Robinson, cornerback, Atlanta Falcons: Robinson has never been invited to the Pro Bowl but his 14 interceptions and 70 passes defensed in just seven years are impressive enough.
109. Zach Miller, tight end, Oakland Raiders: An up-and-coming tight end for the seemingly always-down Oakland Raiders. With a better, more consistent quarterback, he could become elite.
108. 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.
107. Heath Miller, tight end, Pittsburgh Steelers: Miller's career has been understated. Having been invited to only one Pro Bowl is surprising considering Miller's ability as a receiver and blocker on a perennial contender.
106. Tony Romo, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys: Romo may be hated by some but his three Pro Bowl appearances are worth something—so is his career quarterback rating of 95.5.
105. Cortland Finnegan, cornerback, Tennessee Titans: Aggressive or dirty? Finnegan has a bad reputation among some NFL fans, but you have to love his effort. He has been voted to one Pro Bowl and named an All-Pro in 2008.
104. Eric Winston, offensive 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.
103. Marques Colston, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints: How good is Marques Colston? Despite being a seventh-round draft pick, he holds the NFL record for most receptions in a player's first two seasons with 168.
102. Rashard Mendenhall, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers: Since taking over as the starter in Pittsburgh before the 2009 season, Mendenhall has averaged 1,190 yards per season and 10 touchdowns.
101. Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens: The 2008 Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year winner has never missed the playoffs in his career.
100. 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.
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99. 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 an irreplaceable leader.
98. 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.
97. Eric Berry, free safety, Kansas City Chiefs: As our readers generously pointed out on the Top 100 Players post, Berry had the best statistical season for a safety in the modern era. Berry was elite in college and he has carried over that talent well to the NFL.
96. Aaron Smith, defensive end, Pittsburgh Steelers: Smith has never received the accolades that he should. He has been named to just one Pro Bowl despite being named to the Sports Illustrated 2000s All-Decade team.
95. Cedric Benson, running back, Cincinnati Bengals: Since signing with the Bengals, Benson has averaged over 1,000 yards per season and he has shown the ability many saw when he was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
94. Leon Hall, cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals: A second-team All-Pro in 2009, Hall has elite talent. With a better pass rush in Cincinnati, his stats will improve.
93. Michael Griffin, safety, Tennessee Titans: Griffin has been named to two Pro Bowls and he was named a 2010 second-team All-Pro.
92. 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 he makes up for it with smart play.
91. 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.
90. Anquan Boldin, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens: Boldin hit the ground running in the NFL, being named the 2003 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and selected to three subsequent Pro Bowls.
89. B.J. Raji, defensive tackle, Green Bay Packers: In 2010, Raji had the most productive season of any nose tackle in the league, racking up 39 tackles with 6.5 sacks and three passes defensed.
88. 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.
87. 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.
86. 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.
85. 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.
84. Tamba Hali, outside linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs: Tamba Hali blew up in 2010, becoming the AFC sack champion with 14.5 sacks. He was also named to his first Pro Bowl. Hali's 2010 season was amazing, but to be higher on our list, he needs to do it again in 2011.
83. 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.
82. 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.
81. Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall holds the NFL record for catches in a game (21) and is one of only five players in NFL history to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons. Give Miami a better quarterback and Marshall will shoot up this list.
80. DeAngelo Williams, running back, Carolina Panthers: Williams holds the Carolina Panthers record for most rushing yards in a season (1,515) and he has made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in his short career.
79. Jason Peters, offensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles: Peters has made five-straight Pro Bowls and he has three times been named an All-Pro.
78. 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.
77. 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.
76. 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.
75. Justin Smith, defensive end, San Francisco 49ers: Smith is the epitome of a lunch-pail player. While he does receive plenty of recognition on pay day, Smith is quietly one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in football.
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74. 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.
73. 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.
72. Richard Seymour, defensive tackle, Oakland Raiders: Seymour won three Super Bowls in New England and he was named to five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. Since moving to Oakland, he has made one Pro Bowl after moving to defensive tackle. Seymour remains the example of how a 3-4 defensive end should play.
71. 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.
70. Andre Gurode, center, Dallas Cowboys: Gurode has made five-straight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams as a center since 2007.
69. 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).
68. 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.
67. Osi Umenyiora, defensive end, New York Giants: Twice a Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro, Umenyiora could dominate if he could maintain consistent play. He goes from elite to average every other year.
66. Darnell Dockett, defensive tackle, Arizona Cardinals: A Pro Bowler in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Dockett is the leader on the Cardinals young defensive line.
65. 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.
64. 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.
63. Leonard Davis, offensive guard, Dallas Cowboys: Davis has three Pro Bowls and an All-Pro selection under his belt since being labeled as a bust in Arizona.
62. 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.
61. Michael Turner, running back, Atlanta Falcons: An underrated runner and key to the Falcons' success offensively. He will post bigger numbers as Atlanta's passing attack improves.
60. Frank Gore, running back, San Francisco 49ers: Gore has the talent to lead the NFL in rushing, but he has trouble staying healthy for all 16 games.
59. Kevin Williams, defensive tackle, Minnesota Vikings: Williams made six Pro Bowls, including five straight, and has been named a first-team All-Pro five times. He was voted as a member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team.
58. Matt Schaub, quarterback, Houston Texans: Fantasy football players might want Schaub higher. His statistics are off the charts. Once Schaub can lead Houston to the playoffs, he may be higher on our list.
57. Jon Beason, middle 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.
56. Antonio Cromartie, cornerback, New York Jets: Taking into 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.
55. Brian Urlacher, middle linebacker, Chicago Bears: Urlacher is one of the most recognized linebackers in the history of the NFL. He is a lock for the Hall of Fame once his career ends.
54. 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.
53. 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.
52. Maurkice Pouncey, center, Pittsburgh Steelers: Rookies are not supposed to step in at center and anchor the offensive line to a Super Bowl appearance. Pouncey did.
51. 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.
50. Elvis Dumervil, defensive end, Denver Broncos: Had he not been injured in 2010, Dumervil may be much higher on our list. In 2009, he was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro.
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49. Justin Tuck, defensive end, New York Giants: A Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2008 and 2010, Tuck has unlimited potential when healthy.
48. Steve Hutchinson, offensive guard, Minnesota Vikings: Hutchinson has been named to seven Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro teams and the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team. He's one of the best guards to ever play the game.
47. Maurice Jones-Drew, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones' stock has exploded since the beginning of the 2009 season. He was named the NFL Alumni Running Back Player of the Year in 2010 and has made the last two Pro Bowls.
46. 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.
45. 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.
44. Ed Reed, free 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.
43. 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.
42. Jason Witten, tight end, Dallas Cowboys: Witten has made seven Pro Bowls, three All-Pro teams and he has twice won the NFL Alumni Tight End of the Year Award.
41. 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.
40. Trent Cole, defensive end, Philadelphia Eagles: A two-time Pro Bowler, Cole's stock is on the rise. He's among the best young defensive ends in the NFL.
39. Jay Ratliff, nose tackle, 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.
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. 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.
36. 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.
35. 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.
34. 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.
33. 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.
32. Troy Polamalu, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu could be higher on this list if he were able to stay healthy. Polamalu was named the 2010 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
31. Dwight Freeney, defensive end, Indianapolis Colts: Six Pro Bowls, three All-Pro seasons and being named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade team mark the excellence of Freeney's career in Indianapolis.
30. 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.
29. Logan Mankins, offensive 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.
28. Mario Williams, defensive end, Houston Texans: 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.
27. Vince Wilfork, nose tackle, New England Patriots: Vince Wilfork is 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.
26. Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals: 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.
25. 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.
24. James Harrison, Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Harrison has been named to four-straight Pro Bowls, three All-Pro seasons and the 2008 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
His play at outside linebacker has been the constant force for the Steelers defense since signing with the team in 2004.
As Harrison ages, the Steelers will be hard-pressed to replace his production and leadership.
23. Antonio Gates, Tight End, San Diego Chargers
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Antonio Gates' career has been a testament to 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.
22. 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 berth, 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 a defense that is stocked with enough players to keep the Packers in Super Bowl contention for years to come.
21. Ray Lewis, Inside Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
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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.
When you look at Ray Lewis' career accomplishments, it is easy to see why he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer:
- Lewis has been named to a record 12 Pro Bowls for an inside/middle Linebacker
- Named to 10 All-Pro teams
- Super Bowl XXXV MVP
- Two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year
- Three-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year
- Two-time NFL Alumni Linebacker Of The Year
- NFL 2000s All-Decade team
- 20 sack/20 interception Club—Quickest to reach (113 games)
- 30 sack/30 Interception Club—Quickest to reach (204 games)
20. Ryan Clady, Offensive Tackle, Denver Broncos
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Clady tore his patella tendon right before the 2010 season. This limited his mobility all 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 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 to his All-Pro form in 2011 and will quickly reclaim his spot among the best tackles in the NFL.
19. 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.
In his short career, Peterson has racked up a room full of awards:
- AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year (2007)
- Four-time Pro Bowl selection (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- Two-time first-team All-Pro selection (2008, 2009)
- Two-time second-team All-Pro selection (2007, 2010)
- FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award (2008)
- Pro Bowl MVP (2008)
- Bert Bell Award (2008)
18. Jared Allen, Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings
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Jared Allen continually ranks as one of the best defensive ends in football.
He has been named to three Pro Bowls and in those years he was also an All-Pro. He has four-straight seasons of double-digit sacks under his belt as well.
Allen has tallied 83 sacks since the 2004 season
17. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
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Drew Brees ranks as our No. 5 quarterback on the list of 200 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.
16. 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 best outside linebacker on our list.
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 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. Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, 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.
13. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
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In three NFL seasons, Chris Johnson has made three Pro Bowls, he has been a first-team All-Pro selection, he has been the 2009 NFL Alumni Running Back of the Year, he set the single-season record for yards from scrimmage (2,509 yards in 2009) and he 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.
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 he 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. 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.
10. 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.
9. 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 he was the only active player in the top 10.
In many years, he would be listed No. 1 or No. 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.
8. 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 he was 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.
7. 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.
6. 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 otherwise.
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.
5. 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 he 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.
4. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, Free Agent
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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.
3. Patrick Willis, Inside Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
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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
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 he 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
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.