Presenting Football's Future Top 100 NFL Players (2011)
Frequenting plenty of NFL forums all over the Internet, I looked to see how the fans felt about the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2011 list.
Having compiled such a list from 2007 to 2009, I understood how hard it is to create a list a lot of people would agree on but the general consensus seemed to be that I got it right. Such was not the case for the NFL Network’s list unfortunately.
On no forums or websites could I find a consensus that the people for that respective forum or site believed that the players did an excellent job on the list. In fact, most people felt they didn’t even accomplish a good level of acceptance to the list.
The general consensus around the net is that the list is flawed due to the flawed nature in which it was compiled.
In case you didn’t know, the NFL Network’s methodology was to ask 450 random players—most of whom were backups or role players—who their top 20 players were and then arrived at their conclusions based on this.
I don’t have to explain to you the four or five problems inherent with this methodology.
Rather than be pompous and make my own list again, I decided to employ the skills of some of the best posters on the NFL forum I frequent the most—Football’s Future—to help me.
We compiled a list of 24 of the most knowledgeable and least biased posters representing 21 different NFL teams to try and compile a list.
However, we didn’t just vote for our top 20 and go on from there. Rather, we tiered off the voting process via players 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80 and 81-100.
In each tier, the top finisher on each panelists’ ballot received 20 points all the way down to one point, the totals were found and the players were ranked on total points.
This methodology was done to prevent players from finishing at all extremes throughout the top 100 as well as to allow potential “honorable mentions” for the next section that may have been originally overlooked by other panelists.
For example, Panelist 1 may not have voted for Player X while Panelists 3, 4, 7, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18 and 24 did.
Although Player X did not make the top 20, it would alert Panelist 1 to Player X’s presence and to further examine if they overlooked them.
While this selection process too has its issues, I believe we arrived at a better list than the “official” one posted by the NFL Network as well as many of the ones I’ve witnessed around the Internet.
I also believe that we eliminated bias and hype from the equation for the most part, although I do have my own issues with a few of the players that arrived on the list.
With each selection you will find one or two pros and cons as to why they were ranked so high or low in comparison to where you may believe they should be.
With that said, this is the first draft of the list and the true intention was to unbiasedly compile a starting point so that constructive debate and criticism could be brought about.
You can provide your criticisms in the comments section or you can attempt to make a compelling case for change by posting your stances here.
With that said…on to the list….
Here are the players that received a significant amount of votes in the 81-100 bracket to be an honorable mention but did not receive enough to make the final list.
Matt Schaub: 74
Terrance Knighton: 73
Marcus McNeil: 72
Jon Vilma: 71
Shaun Phillips: 63
Jason Jones: 55
Jerod Mayo: 50
David Harris: 50
Anquan Boldin: 44
Santonio Holmes: 43
100. Darren McFadden, Halfback, OAK: 83 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Posted 1,600 yards from scrimmage and an additional 10 touchdowns despite only playing in 13 games.
Averaged over six yards per touch while producing those numbers.
Has only produced at an elite level for just one season and needs to replicate it to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
99. Ryan Kalil, Center, CAR: 83 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Far and away the best run-blocking center in the league who continues to play at a high level despite turnover at the guard, fullback and halfback positions.
Gets to the second level of the defense better than any other center in the league.
An average to below-average pass blocker who has trouble adjusting when a play breaks down.
98. Devin Hester, Return Specialist/Receiver, CHI: 91 Points [Bracket 81-100]
The all-time leader in return touchdowns who can change the outlook of a game with a single play often.
Frequency of impact has to be considered given that Hester was an average receiver and returner in 2008 and 2009.
97. Brian Orakpo, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, WAS: 98 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Tied James Harrison for the league lead in holding calls drawn by a pass-rusher in 2009.
Has notched 19.5 sacks in his first two seasons.
Seems spotty in his pass-rush in that he can disappear from game to game.
Seems to give up on plays when he knows that he has—or should have—drawn a hold.
96. Robert Mathis, 4-3 Defensive End, IND: 100 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Mathis has averaged 10 sacks a season over the past seven seasons, which places him in some pretty elite company.
Playing opposite of Dwight Freeney hurt his stock in the eyes of some panelists.
95. Alex Mack, Center, CLE: 103 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Excellent pass blocker that has only allowed 1.75 sacks over his first two seasons of his career.
Has worked with a round table of quarterbacks since being drafted and has played at the same level with all of them.
Has left something to be desired as a run blocker in his first two seasons.
94. Arian Foster, Halfback, HOU: 106 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Foster led the league in yards from scrimmage as well as touchdowns from scrimmage last season.
Foster willed the Texans into several games last year, single-handedly making them a contender.
Has only produced just one elite season.
Played in a favorable system for halfback production last year.
93. Jason Peters, Left Tackle, PHI: 111 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Since arriving in Philadelphia and getting his big payday, Peters has only allowed eight sacks including a mere two sacks last year.
Most people have dismissed Peters after his pathetic fiasco in Buffalo of playing poorly on purpose to get traded.
Peters was often injured on the most bizarre plays last season, shortening his season to 12.5 games.
92. Kyle Williams, Defensive Tackle, BUF: 115 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Excellent individual playmaker at the interior defensive line positions notching 95 solo tackles, 48 assists, 9.5 sacks and a ridiculous 22 run-stuffs over the past two seasons.
Although he makes tons of excellent individual plays, he often abandons his gap responsibilities for these plays resulting in big run gains for the opposition.
91. Josh Sitton, Right Guard, GB: 123 Points [Bracket 81-100]
An excellent pass blocker in 2010 that did not allow a single sack of Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn.
Had an excellent season and graded out as the Packers’ best run blocker as well.
Has only had one season as an elite guard in both phases of the game.
90. Osi Umenyiora, 4-3 Defensive End, NYG: 126 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Set the record for the most forced fumbles caused by a defensive player in a season last year with 10.
Has notched 31.5 sacks over his past three complete seasons.
A very streaky pass-rusher.
Although he improved last season, Umenyiora still remains one of the worst run defending defensive ends in the league.
89. Chris Long, 4-3 Defensive End, STL: 133 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Produced the most pressures amongst all pass-rushers last season with 43 resulting in James Hall notching double-digit sacks for only the second time in his career.
Has only played like a top 10 defensive end for one season and did not cross the magical 10-sack barrier
88. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, ATL: 136 Points [Bracket 81-100]
In his young career, Ryan has eight comeback wins and 13 come-from-behind wins, helping give him the title of “clutch” as well.
Ryan has posted very impressive numbers for a young quarterback, averaging 218 yards and 1.43 touchdowns per contest.
Ryan ranks third amongst active quarterbacks in win percentage.
Has yet to join the elite quarterbacks by posting a 4,000-yard season or a 30-touchdown season.
Has a low season yards per attempt and a low career yards per attempt.
87. Hakeem Nicks, Wide Receiver, NYG: 136 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Produced 79 receptions for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 13 games last season.
Produced 700 receiving yards as a rookie receiver.
Has only produced an elite receiving season only once and needs to prove that he can do it again.
86. Josh Freeman, Quarterback, TAM: 152 Points [Bracket 81-100]
In just his second season, he posted a 96.9 quarterback rating with 3,451 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions with a perceived lack of talent surrounding him.
Has shown flashes of being “clutch” as he has mustered seven career comebacks and game-winning drives in just 25 starts.
Only has one year of elite production and still was arguably not one of the best quarterbacks.
Due to his short career, he has yet to put up the elite numbers expected of a top quarterback.
85. Miles Austin, Wide Receiver, DAL: 172 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Passed the proverbial “what if” test when he played at a similar level despite losing his quarterback for most of the season.
Produced 1,300 yards receiving in 2009 despite only starting in nine of 16 games.
A lot of his production seems scheme specific based on flanker screens.
While he passed the “what if” test, his production did indeed drop when considering all factors.
84. Darnell Dockett, Defensive Lineman, ARI: 186 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Versatile defensive lineman with the ability to play the 3-4 defensive end role as well as both defensive tackle positions in the 4-3.
Has evolved into a well-rounded player with good run-stopping abilities evidenced by 89 run stops and 33 run defeats since ’08 and is an effective pass-rusher with 41 hurries over that span as well.
Positional value of the defensive end in the 3-4 tremendously hurts Dockett’s case.
Dockett’s numbers across the board come up vastly inferior to the other elite 3-4 defensive ends that make the list.
83. Frank Gore, Halfback, SF: 194 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Averages 1,592 yards and eight touchdowns from scrimmage since becoming a full-time starter with the first total ranking fifth amongst active halfbacks.
This figure is even more impressive due to the fact that he was the lone weapon for the 49ers offense for three years and has missed considerable time.
Often injured as he hasn’t completed a season since 2006.
At age 28 and with the current wear on his body, next season could be his last in the league.
82. Tamba Hali, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, KC: 217 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Finished second in the league in total sacks in 2010 notching 14.5 sacks over the course of the season.
Hali’s 63 quarterback pressures over the past two seasons leave him amongst the top 10 pass-rushers in terms of pressure provided.
Has only had one elite season as a pass-rusher that can close the deal.
Is a bit too one-dimensional to measure up to the 3-4 outside linebackers listed ahead of him.
81. Dallas Clark, Tight End, IND: 220 Points [Bracket 81-100]
Prolific pass-catcher for the Colts offense that is only bested by Witten, Gates and Davis in terms of receiving production from the tight end position.
Jacob Tamme’s production was very on par with Clark’s production over the past 20 games, bringing up questions of his importance.
80. Chad Greenway, 4-3 Outside Linebacker, MIN: 87 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Lead the league in run defeats last season and had a ridiculously low 2.9 yards per play against the run.
Fell just short of Lance Briggs in regards to coverage abilities last season.
The 4-3 outside linebacker position has never been one of glamor and continues to dim with the emerging popularity for their 3-4 counterparts.
79. Asante Samuel, Cornerback, PHI: 90 Points [Bracket 61-80]
One of the best players in the league at studying film as he usually doesn’t “gamble” but takes incredibly calculated risks based on film, resulting in 36 interceptions over the past five seasons.
When ignoring the yards after catch in Samuels’ 2009, his yards per attempt since coming to Philadelphia falls to 5.13 which ranks amongst the truly elite cornerbacks.
The perception that he’s just a gambler hurt his case despite his great metrics last season.
His great metrics last season were the result of a lack of defensive back talent around him.
A horrid tackler who makes Deion Sanders looks great at tackling.
78. Shane Lechler, Punter, OAK: 102 Points [Bracket 61-80]
One of only five players universally considered the best at their position by the panel.
No. 1 punter of all time in terms of yards per punt.
Obviously the perceived lack of importance of the punter position effected Lechler, as he’s one of the few players who are clearly No. 1 at their position.
77. Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, PIT: 104 Points [Bracket 61-80]
The league’s best deep threat since entering the league, averaging 20.3 yards per reception on his way to 2,000 yards receiving in his first two years.
Has only produced an elite receiving season once and needs to prove that he can do it again.
His production without Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t as impressive as with him, begging the question of if he can get it done without an elite quarterback.
76. Tramon Williams, Cornerback, GB: 111 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Was arguably the league’s best vertical cornerback as he was targeted 84 times for an average distance of 14.4 yards per throw but allowed a mere 5.8 yards per attempt while shadowing No. 1 receivers.
Exceptional playmaker notching six regular-season interceptions and an additional three postseason interceptions in four postseason games.
Has only had one year of success at a position where the back half of the top 10 continually fluctuates their production and thus almost never remains the same.
75. Kris Dielman, Left Guard, SD: 115 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Elite pass-blocking guard only allowing 9.75 sacks over the last seven seasons as a full-time starter.
Since 2004 when running left guard trap, the Chargers have rushed 483 times for 2,012 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Although he was a tremendous run blocker from 2004 to 2008, he may be on the downside of his career as a run blocker.
74. John Abraham, 4-3 Defensive End, ATL: 119 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Arguably the greatest pass-rusher of our generation averaging almost a sack per start over a career spanning over a decade long.
A one-dimensional pass-rusher who is more willing than able to play the run.
Getting up there in years and soon will be a situational pass-rusher if he already isn’t considered one.
73. Ray Rice, Halfback, BAL: 130 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Averaged an astounding 1,909 yards from scrimmage over his first two years as a starter.
Easily the best pass-catching back in the league, making him a mismatch problem for all linebackers in the league.
His numbers regressed across the board last season in comparison to his breakout season.
72. Jay Ratliff, 3-4 Nose Tackle, DAL: 133 Points [Bracket 61-80]
An amazing 1-technique who one gaps at an astounding level to notch sacks and stuffs at a position generally not thought to due to playing in a 3-4.
Tremendously underperformed last season notching zero run stuffs and only 3.5 sacks.
Could become less effective in Rob Ryan’s defense when he has to two-gap more often.
71. Cameron Wake, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, MIA: 139 Points [Bracket 61-80]
From a “big play” point of view, no 3-4 outside linebacker outperformed Wake last season, as he totaled 14 sacks, 12 run stuffs, three forced fumbles and four passes defensed.
Arguably the league’s best pass-rusher last season, totaling 38 quarterback hurries and 15 quarterback hits.
Wake is a late bloomer who only has one season of success to his name.
Although he was absolutely dominant in that phase, he was one-dimensional last season.
70. Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, MIA: 140 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Averaged 98 receptions, 1,181 yards and six touchdowns a season over the past four years despite four different quarterbacks throwing him the ball in three different systems.
The most physically imposing specimen at the wide receiver position currently.
Marshall has been the least efficient receiver with elite production for the majority of his career.
Has the worst hands of the elite wide receivers, dropping numerous catchable balls.
69. DeSean Jackson, Offensive Specialist, PHI: 154 Points [Bracket 61-80]
Arguably the most explosive offensive player in the league, hence being referred to as an “offensive specialist,” as he can score on receptions, end-arounds and punt returns.
Averages 1,524 total yards and eight touchdowns per season via receiving, rushing and punt returning.
Although incredibly productive, he lacks the traditional skill set of a No. 1 receiver in route-running, in-traffic catching and going over the middle.
Big boom-or-bust when it comes to his production throughout a game.
68. David Stewart, Right Tackle, TEN: 159 Points[Bracket 61-80]
An elite pass blocker that has only allowed 17 sacks over a five-year period.
Over the past three years, he has held LaMarr Woodley, Mario Williams, Robert Mathis, Justin Tuck and Cameron Wake to a combined three sacks allowed.
As a right tackle, Stewart is perceived as inferior to his left tackle counterparts due to positional value.
67. Lance Briggs, 4-3 Outside Linebackers, CHI: 173 Points[Bracket 61-80]
For years, he has been a top-five coverage linebacker and arguably the best coverage linebacker regardless of position.
Continues to be one of the 15 best run defenders across all linebacker positions, evidenced by his 18.5 run stuffs, 127 run stops and 34 run defeats over the past three seasons.
The 4-3 outside linebacker position has never been one of glamor and continues to dim with the emerging popularity for their 3-4 counterparts.
66. Lawrence Timmons, Inside Linebacker, PIT: 174 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Amongst all 100-plus tackle players, Timmons had the second-lowest yards per play allowed at 3.5, just .01 yards behind Jonathan Vilma but had 30 more plays.
Timmons was one of the top five well-rounded inside/middle linebackers in the league last season.
Timmons has only played at an elite level for one season.
Due to being surrounded by a lot of talent on the defense, the question arises if he is a product of the talent around him.
65. Brandon Mebane, Defensive Tackle: 176 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Capable of playing both the nose and under tackle in a traditional and hybrid defense.
An excellent pass-rusher under tackle notching eight sacks, 23 hurries and an additional 18 quarterback hits over the past three seasons.
Good run defender as well notching 13 run stuffs, 76 run stops and 22 run defeats over the past three seasons ranking in the top 10 for yards per play amongst interior linemen.
His numbers come up inferior to his opposing interior linemen that have graded out higher than him on the list.
He gets relatively less publicity than most other players on the list due to playing for Seattle.
64. Nick Collins, Free Safety, GB: 184 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Excellent coverage safety, having been targeted 99 times over the past three seasons with an average yards per attempt of 8.6.
Tremendous playmaker at the position, averaging just under six interceptions per season over the past three seasons.
Although firmly entrenched as the third-best safety, he doesn’t seem to take over games like Reed or Polamalu.
May blend in with the heap of talented players in Green Bay.
63. Champ Bailey, Cornerback, DEN: 196 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Despite having a high yards per attempt mark of 8.0, Bailey was only targeted a mere 66 times in 2010.
Has generally lacked a considerable pass-rush throughout his career to aid his coverage metrics.
Although only targeted 66 times, this could be arguably attributed to the lackadaisical numbers of the other Denver cornerbacks.
Bailey may only have a year or two left and arguably is getting by on reputation more so than lockdown play.
62. Jahri Evans, Right Guard, NWO: 221 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Evans is easily the league’s best pass-blocking guard in the league surrendering only eight sacks in his entire career.
Over the past two seasons, Evans has developed into a good run blocker as well.
Despite Coach Payton’s complaining that they weren’t legitimate, he was the most flagged offensive lineman in the entire league last year.
60. Vernon Davis, Tight End, SF: 90 Points[Bracket 41-60]
The most athletically gifted specimen at the position.
Has actualized his potential over the past two seasons averaging 67 receptions for 940 yards and 10 touchdowns despite inconsistent quarterback play.
Arguably one of the better blockers at the position.
Took a long time for Davis to finally actualize his talent.
Like Gates and Witten, even though a focal point in their respective offenses, the tight end position itself isn’t seen as a key position.
61. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Left Tackle, NYJ: 263 Points[Bracket 61-80]
Excellent pass blocker, allowing a mere 14 sacks over the last three seasons, some of which can be attributed to Mark Sanchez being lost as a rookie.
Excellent run blocker last season as the Jets halfbacks ran for 373 yards rushing on 84 rushing attempts running off-tackle left.
59. Michael Roos, Left Tackle, TEN: 95 Points[Bracket 41-60]
From 2006 to 2009, Roos was unquestionably the league’s most complete left tackle, pass blocking and run blocking at a top-two level in both phases.
Just like one great year does not overrule years of obscurity, one bad year does not overrule years of great play.
His last two seasons have unquestionably been the worst of his career and with a rookie QB coming in, it doesn’t look to get better.
58. Sebastian Vollmer, Right Tackle, NE: 98 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Has faced and shut down LaMarr Woodley, Robert Mathis, Ray Edwards, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews III, Shaun Phillips, Terrell Suggs and Cameron Wake to a combined one sack in one-on-one situations.
The Patriots had their most success running right off-tackle last season in which Vollmer was a key cog all season.
Has only produced at a high level 21 games, which is essentially the same as one season.
Only plays at the right tackle position, which is considered the lesser of the two tackle positions.
57. Justin Smith, 3-4 Defensive End, SF: 101 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Easily the best pass disruptor amongst 3-4 defensive linemen, evidenced by his 22 sacks, 66 hurries and 30 quarterback hits over the past three seasons.
Very good against the run as well, evidenced by his 12 run stuffs, 122 run stops and 28 run defeats over that same span.
The 3-4 defensive end isn’t much of a glamor position and is not inclined to tallying the sexy stats that get a player noticed.
The San Francisco defense doesn’t get much attention outside of Patrick Willis.
56. Logan Mankins, Left Guard, NE: 123 Points[Bracket 41-60]
When playing up to his game, Mankins is arguably the best pass-blocking guard in the league.
Pound for pound, he is one of the most talented guards in the league.
Has shown on a couple of occasions that he can check out when he is not getting the things that he wants.
55. Tony Romo, Quarterback, DAL: 128 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Currently ranks first amongst active quarterbacks in yards per start (268.7). He ranks second in touchdowns per start (1.89). Finally, he ranks third in quarterback rating (95.5).
His winning percentage of .639 ranks seventh amongst active quarterbacks and represents how he has helped turn around the Cowboys into a regular contender.
There exists the perception that Tony Romo isn’t “clutch” due to the fact that he only has one career postseason win.
The Cowboys arguably had just as much success without Romo as they did with him last season.
54. Steven Jackson, Halfback, STL: 133 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Averages 1,626 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns per season since becoming a full-time starter with the former figure ranking fourth amongst all active halfbacks. Jackson has done it the longest however.
Has been the focal point of the Rams offense for the past five seasons with little to no help.
Although he’s played 31 of 32 games over the past two seasons, he has been injured during both of them, still bringing up questions of his durability.
Even considering the lack of support argument, his 3.8 yards per carry last season leaves much to be desired.
53. Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver, IND: 136 Points[Bracket 41-60] Pros: - The best
The best straight-line route-runner in the game without question, which makes him such a deadly threat in combination with Peyton Manning.
Averages 99 receptions, 1,318 yards and eight touchdowns on 152 targets a season over the past four years.
The “Peyton Manning” effect has prevented Wayne from ever having to deal with an unfavorable quarterback situation.
Had by far his least efficient season of his career last season.
52. Jamaal Charles, Halfback, KC: 138 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Arguably has the best vision in the league, evidenced by a tremendous success rate in short yardage situations converting 17 of 21 situations and only lost yardage once.
His Chris Johnson-like speed paired with his vision makes him a supreme threat to break off a long run. He is always moving forward on his runs and is almost never stuffed.
While his numbers are impressive, the perception exists that he cannot carry the load, as he's averaging only 210 carries over the past two seasons.
Despite tremendous speed and vision, he isn’t perceived as a scoring threat.
51. Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, GB: 147 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Potentially one of the top three most complete wideouts in the league, as he’s a top-three route-runner and a top-five receiver when catching in traffic.
Averages 69 receptions, 1,148 yards and nine touchdowns a season over the past four years despite only starting 15 or more games for two of them.
When Jermichael Finley returns, Jennings’ production might see a dip if the first four games resemble last season.
Although very complete, he lacks the prototypical size of the other wideouts listed ahead of him that can take over games.
50. Jeff Saturday, Center, IND: 156 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Second-most important cog on the Colts offense who makes the reads for the four other members of the line when Peyton Manning calls an audible. He arguably has more responsibility than any other player at his position.
Has only allowed 8.25 sacks over a 12-year career.
Age is clearly a factor in his overall play, as his play has to decline soon.
There are emerging young guys that are much better run blockers than he is.
49. Mario Williams, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, HOU: 161 Points[Bracket 41-60]
When moving into the Wade Phillips’ system, Williams is projected to be a potential leading candidate for the sack title.
Even prior to the move to linebacker, Williams was a strong pass-rusher tying for the sixth most pressures amongst all pass-rushers despite missing three games.
Despite being the most athletically sound pass-rushing specimen in the league, he hasn’t materialized those abilities consistently.
Although not truly one-dimensional, he lacks the ability against the run that the others before him have and the pass-rush specialty that Freeney has.
48. Brian Urlacher, Middle Linebacker, CHI: 170 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Although he was once believed to be a great coverage linebacker due to his safety background, he wasn’t. However, since 2006, Brian Urlacher has turned it around and has been one of the five best coverage linebackers in the league.
He's eclipsed seven run stuffs in five of the past six complete seasons he has played demonstrating his ability to make plays at the line of scrimmage as well.
His return to the lineup was the key cog in the resurgence of the Chicago defense last season.
Panelists may believe that Urlacher is on his last legs due to his age and wear and tear on his body.
47. Michael Vick, Quarterback, PHI: 182 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Vick had a magical season last year where he was unquestionably the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league.
Reached career highs in passing yards (3,018), passing touchdowns (21), rushing touchdowns (nine) and quarterback rating (100.2)
Prior to going to jail, his play was incredibly erratic at best throughout the course of his career.
He only has one great passing season to his name, and it sort of unraveled toward the end of the year.
46. Terrell Suggs, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, BAL: 215 Points[Bracket 41-60]
The best run defending 3-4 outside linebacker as since 2008 he ranks first in overall number of defeats (40), stuffs (25) and ranks second in stops(123).
Although his sack totals aren’t the most consistent, he is a consistent pass-rushing threat having notched at least 16 hurries each of the past three seasons.
Of the elite 3-4 outside linebackers, he is arguably the most inconsistent at getting to the quarterback as evidenced by his 2009 sack totals.
45. LaMarr Woodley, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, PIT: 218 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Averages 42 tackles, 16 assists, 11.5 sacks, 25 quarterback pressures, 10 quarterback hits, four run stuffs, 20 run stops, seven run defeats, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed and one interception per season over the past three years.
A complete 3-4 outside linebacker that plays the run and coverage as often as he rushes the passer and does all three at a high level.
As he lines up opposite of James Harrison, many wonder if he would maintain his production as the premier pass-rusher on the team without help.
“Underperformed” in a contract year last season.
44. B.J. Raji, 3-4 Nose Tackle, GNB: 224 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Is the key cog in the Packers transition to the 3-4 defense over the past two seasons as they have finished first and second in defense.
Has mustered an impressive 43 run stops and 11 run defeats in his two short years at an impressive distance of only 1.6 yards away from the line of scrimmage.
Although his first two years have been impressive, he arguably wouldn’t be as recognizable to the general fan without his interception return in the NFC Championship Game.
43. Brandon Flowers, Cornerback, KNC: 237 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Has been the league’s best vertical cornerback for two years running doing so with a very simplistic pass rush.
While he doesn’t get beaten for big plays often, he doesn’t “shut down” his guy the same way Revis and Asomugha do.
Statistically coming off of his worst coverage season over the past three seasons.
42. Carl Nicks, Right Guard, NWO: 259 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Has arguably been the league’s best guard over the past two seasons based on well-rounded play as a pass blocker and run blocker.
Has only been playing at his high level for two years which hurts his case against Snee.
The guard position is arguably the least important on the offensive line.
His pass blocking and run blocking declined last season
41. Chris Snee, Right Guard, NYG: 305 Points[Bracket 41-60]
Since becoming a starter in New York the Giants have run to the right between the guard and tackle 765 times for 3,604 yards and 40 rushing touchdowns with over 200 first downs.
Snee has only allowed 20 sacks from the guard position over a seven- year period with a lot of them (six) coming in his rookie season.
While Snee may grade out as the best and most consistent guard in the league the guard position is arguably the least important on the offensive line.
40. Dwight Freeney, 4-3 Defensive Ends, IND: 77 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Freeney is arguably the best pass rusher of our generation. If he is not the best pass-rusher than he is firmly entrenched at second or third.
His 97 quarterback hurries since 2008 leads the league with the next closest guys having a mere 86. This is despite the fact that Freeney has missed substantial snaps due to injury.
Freeney has eclipsed double digit sacks every year of his career sans two.
Of the elite 4-3 defensive ends Freeney is clearly the most one-dimensional as he is rarely asked to defend the run.
Has displayed a history of injury at a position not known for injury.
39. Jason Witten, Tight End, DAL: 80 Points[Bracket 21-40]
The most complete tight end in the NFL capable of producing 90 receptions and 1,000 yards in a season while paving the way for the Cowboys’ rushers as well.
Fastest tight end in to record 600 receptions in NFL history.
Not as “flashy” as Antonio Gates from a production per game standpoint.
38. Justin Tuck, 4-3 Defensive End, NYG: 86 Points[Bracket 21-40]
The only elite 4-3 defensive end in the league that is also capable of kicking inside to take snaps at defensive tackle and do so at a high level.
Leads all 4-3 defensive ends on this list with 125 run stops over the past three seasons which is 10 more than the next guy.
Plays opposite a strong pass rusher in Osi Umenyiora which hurts his case in comparison to the three players at his position listed above him.
Playing through a relatively unknown injury in 2009 hurt his sack production
37. Ndamukong Suh, 4-3 Defensive Tackle, DET: 90 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Suh was explosive as a rookie and was arguably the league’s best interior/big defensive lineman making plays against the pass and the run as an under tackle.
Suh tallied 49 tackles, 17 assists, 10 sacks, seven quarterback hits, 18 hurries, six run stuffs, one forced fumble, three passes defensed, one interception and a touchdown.
Has only produced for one season and needs to repeat his success to be placed higher.
36. Casey Hampton, 3-4 Nose Tackle, PIT: 91 Points[Bracket 21-40]
As a nose tackle in the 3-4, Hampton has lead the Steelers to four first place finishes, one second place finish, four third place finishes and one 12th place finish in run defense over the past decade.
The 2010 Steelers run defense was statistically the third best run defense in NFL history anchored up the middle by Hampton.
Strictly one-dimensional as a two-gapping nose tackle who has issues penetrating.
He recently has started being taken out during obvious passing downs since 2009.
35. Jon Beason, Middle Linebacker, CAR: 102 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Has shown in his very short career that he can play the middle linebacker position at a top three level and the outside linebacker position at a top-five level highlighting his versatility.
Over the past three seasons his 218 stops and 66 defeats are only bested by Patrick Willis (236/81) and Ray Lewis (231/73), but his average play distance far outshines both of theirs despite less talent in front of him.
Lacks the overall athleticism of Patrick Willis and the perceived leadership of Ray Lewis.
34. Roddy White, Wide Receiver, ATL: 127 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Was unquestionably one of the two best receivers in the league last season finishing first in receptions, second in yards and tied for seventh in touchdowns.
Has displayed the ability to produce with a good quarterback over the past three seasons as well as with a carousel of average quarterbacks in 27.
Has averaged 92 receptions, 1,281 yards and eight touchdowns a season over the past four seasons.
Not as talented of a specimen as Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson.
Just made the jump to receiver “capable of taking over games” last season.
33. Richard Seymour, 4-3 Defensive Tackle, OAK: 134 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Has excelled in New England as a defensive end in the 3-4 as well as in Oakland as a nose tackle in the 4-3 and occasionally with defensive end responsibilities.
Has averaged 33 tackles, 15 assists, six sacks, 4.5 run stuffs, 33 run stops and seven run defeats at an average distance of 1.8 yards from the line of scrimmage over a three year period at two positions not designed for that sort of production.
Doesn’t produce as many splash plays as Williams.
Doesn’t get noticed as much as he once did as he plays for Oakland now.
32. Vince Wilfork, 3-4 Nose Tackle, NWE: 149 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Capable of two-gapping at a top five level and capable of one-gapping at a top-10 level making him a diverse nose tackle fit to excel in the Patriots scheme.
Has produced 116 run stops, 25 run defeats, four sacks, eight run stuffs and six passes defensed in a New England front seven that has been decimated by injuries and a lack of talent.
The 3-4 nose tackle will not produce individual statistics as flashy as their 4-3 counterparts thus lowering his perceived value.
31. Ray Lewis, Inside Linebacker, BAL: 162 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Easily qualifies as one of the five best inside/middle linebackers of all time from a leadership, statistics and game tape point of view.
Averages 97 tackles, 36 assists, three sacks, five run stuffs, two forced fumbles, six passes defensed and two interceptions a season over the past three years.
Unquestioned leader of an elite Ravens’ defense.
Due to his high age the perception is that his play is vastly declining more so than it may actually be.
Haloti Ngata being in front of him perhaps helps his production more so than the other middle/inside linebackers that made the list.
30. Kevin Williams, 4-3 Defensive Tackle, MIN: 178 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Long considered the premier under tackle in the NFL since his second year in the league.
Average 11 plays behind the line of scrimmage (sacks and run stuffs) per season throughout the entirety of his career.
Averages 22 hurries a season over the past three years from the under tackle position.
Drop in sack totals in combination with emergence of young guys have brought about the perception that his play is declining.
29. Trent Cole, 4-3 Defensive End, PHI: 186 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Ranks second amongst 4-3 defensive ends on this list since 208 in run stops (115) and first in run defeats (41) since 2008 representing that he is arguably the most complete player at the position.
Arguably has the least amount of talent around him on his defense amongst the 4-3 defensive ends that made the list.
Inconsistencies in notching double digit sacks (three times in past five seasons) hurts his case in comparison to Peppers and Allen.
28. Maurice Jones-Drew, Halfback, JAX: 200 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Averages 1,469 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns per season ranking sixth and third amongst active halfbacks.
Considered the lone consistent weapon in Jacksonville with little to no help.
While his overall production comes close to Peterson and Johnson, he isn’t perceived as having the ability to take over a game like those two are.
27. Clay Matthews III, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, GNB: 256 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Produced 24 quarterback hits, 48 pressures and 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons despite missing 4.5 games over that span
Dropped into coverage the third most amongst the 3-4 outside linebackers on this list displaying his multi-dimensionality.
Never gives up on a play leading many to believe he has the best motor in the league.
Due to 44 percent of his sack production coming in the first two seasons questions of consistency arose even with the shin injury.
Regression against the run in comparison to his rookie season effected belief that he was complete for some panelists.
26. Nick Mangold, Center, NYJ: 260 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Has allowed a mere eight sacks over a five-year career despite turnover at the quarterback position including Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez and Brett Favre.
Has faced and succeeded against Vince Wilfork, Kyle Williams, Kevin Williams, Ndamukong Suh and Casey Hampton in the previous season.
The Jets ran for 322 rushing yards on 77 carries last season as well as three touchdowns last season when going up the middle.
The center position is one that lacks an abundance of overall talent in comparison to the other positions on this list.
25. Antonio Gates, Tight End, SDG: 289 Points[Bracket 21-40]
One of only five players universally considered the best at their position by the panel.
Seven consecutive seasons with over 50 receptions, 700 yards and eight touchdowns.
The positional value of the tight end was probably brought into consideration in the minds of some panelists
24. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, DET: 310 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Johnson is the most physically gifted wide receiver in the NFL and will only be 26 at the start of the 2011-12 season.
Despite inconsistent quarterback play for the entirety of his career, his per game numbers rank amongst the top 10 since 2008.
Has single-handedly taken over games for the Lions over the past three years willing them into games.
Regardless of how you slice it, his production is inferior to Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson’s in all three major categories.
23. Julius Peppers, 4-3 Defensive End, CHI: 315 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Ranks tied for third amongst 4-3 defensive ends on this list since 2008 in run stops (73) and run defeats (25) highlighting how well-rounded he plays despite not going all out during that period.
Ties with DeMarcus Ware for third with 86 pressures over the past three seasons.
Evidence of him taking plays off can frequently be found in the 2008 and 2009 seasons in comparison to his latest season in Chicago.
22. Jake Long, Left Tackle, MIA: 337 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Prior to his shoulder injury, he was far and away the most dominant tackle in the league last season in both phases of the game.
Long held Jason Babin, James Harrison, Julius Peppers (2009) and Tamba Hali all without sacks and held Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney to two combined sacks in the past three years.
He has allowed a mere 13 sacks in his three-year career.
Has faced an easier/less frequent slate of elite pass-rushers than Joe Thomas and hasn’t fared as well against them.
Has had issues with elite defensive ends (Mario Williams, John Abraham and Julius Peppers) having multi-sack games against him.
21. Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, PIT: 346 Points[Bracket 21-40]
Averages 241 yards, 1.58 touchdowns and .76 interceptions per game over the past four seasons ranking top-six in terms of production at the position.
Positional value of the quarterback in combination with two Super Bowl victories and a third appearance weighed in on some voters.
Has the most comeback wins and fourth quarter comebacks amongst active quarterbacks since entering the league.
Lacks the overall consistency of production that the five quarterbacks who were ranked higher than him possess.
Team played well without him last year dampening the argument of his importance to the team even with the two rings.
20. Chris Johnson, Halfback, TEN: 66 Points[Bracket 1-20]
One of the two biggest big-play threats from the skill positions currently in the league.
Averages 1,869 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns per season ranking first and third amongst active halfbacks.
Success rate (9/22) on third down last season left much to be desired as a runner in crucial situations.
Sub 4.0 yards per carry running inside indicated a drop in play last season.
19. Ed Reed, Free Safety, BAL: 68 Points[Bracket 1-20]
The best zone coverage safety to ever play in the National Football League.
Lead the league in interceptions last season despite only playing in 10 games.
His recent injury history presumably hurt his case amongst the panelists
Although a tremendous zone coverage player he may have been perceived as one-dimensional.
18. Jared Allen, 4-3 Defensive End, MIN: 75 Points[Bracket 1-20]
His 88 pressures since 2008 is second amongst all pass-rushers in the NFL and his 40 sacks over that span ranks him second.
Ranks tied for third amongst 4-3 defensive ends on this list since 2008 in run stops (73) and run defeats (25) highlighting how well-rounded he plays.
Not as consistent from game to game as DeMarcus Ware as a pass rusher thus hurting his case for a higher position.
Decline in the overall play of the Vikings’ defense has hurt the perception of Allen’s overall abilities.
17. Charles Woodson, Defensive Back, GNB: 78 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Woodson does exactly what Polamalu does for LeBeau’s defense for Dom Capers’ defense only at a different position.
Has no flaws in his game other than the perception that he’s still supposed to play the traditional cornerback role.
Had his worst coverage season as a Packer in terms of targets (69), yards per attempt (7.7) and success rate (56 percent) and touchdowns which has led some to believe he’s not a good coverage corner anymore.
No longer used as the premier coverage cornerback on his team soured him in some panelists eyes as well.
16. Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, ARI: 84 Points[Bracket 1-20]
He managed to produce elite numbers in 2010 despite inconsistent quarterback play.
Averages 96 receptions, 1,267 yards and 10 touchdowns per season over the past four years.
Perceptions from his 2008 postseason are gone with his play over the past two seasons.
He required over 165 targets in order to produce his numbers last season.
15. Drew Brees, Quarterback, NWO: 113 Points[Bracket 1-20]
The most accurate quarterback in the National Football League; both tape and statistics prove this.
Averages 4,625 yards and 32 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions over the past four seasons with a completion percentage of 66.
Has produced these numbers with his rushing attack ranking 28th, 28th, sixth and 28th over the past four seasons.
Finishing second in interceptions last season lead some to believe he was affected by the “Madden Curse.”
The recency of Aaron Rodgers’ success is fresh in many’s minds leaving Drew Brees’ success in the background.
14. James Harrison, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, PIT: 121 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Leads all 3-4 outside linebackers in stops against thrown passes in '08, '09 and '10.
Leads all 3-4 outside linebackers in stops against the run (135) and defeats (32) since 2008 with the next closet guy being behind by 34 stops and eight defeats.
Ranks first in tackles, forced fumbles, interceptions, run stuffs and interceptions at the 3-4 outside linebacker position since 2008.
Extra time spent in coverage diminishes his sack totals which are the big stat at his position.
Perception that he is a dirty player may have turned off some panelists.
At age 33 coming off of two consecutive offseasons with back surgery, his durability is now in question.
13. Philip Rivers, Quarterback, SDG: 132 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Led the Chargers to the No. 1 overall offense ranking (based on yards) while having even more turnovers than Tom Brady.
Averages 4,324 yards, 31 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions over the past three years which is an efficiency streak only matched by Steve Young from ’92 to ’94.
Has production equal or superior to the quarterbacks listed ahead of him but without the hardware.
12. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, NYJ: 199 Points[Bracket 1-20]
2009 season redefined the importance of a cornerback in an elite defense.
Although his first four games while injured weren’t good, the remaining nine were arguably the best for any corner.
Asomugha’s metrics and consistency outshine Revis causing his own brilliance to be underrated.
Because his holdout was his own action, some panelists don’t feel that it should be negated he was hampered for the first four games.
11. Joe Thomas, Left Tackle, CLE: 211 Points[Bracket 1-20]
In his four years, he has shut down Tamba Hali, Terrell Suggs, James Harrison, Elvis Dumervil and Mario Williams.
In his four years, he has also limited Trent Cole, DeMarcus Ware and Dwight Freeney to a combined three sacks and four pressures.
Browns averaged over five yards a carry to his side and ran for six touchdowns last season.
Isn’t as dominant at his position as the offensive players ahead of him are at their respective positions.
10. Patrick Willis, Inside Linebacker, SNF: 229 Points[Bracket 1-20]
One of only five players universally considered the best at their position by the panel.
Elite tackler who has lead the league in tackle since his rookie season with 595 total tackles.
Has refined his game since his rookie year to be an all-around threat averaging three sacks, three run stuffs, two forced fumbles, seven passes defensed and an interception per season.
The middle linebacker position, while arguably the most important on defense, doesn’t have the most impact and hurts his case.
9. Haloti Ngata, Defensive Lineman, BAL: 293 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Is capable of lining up at the 5-Tech or 0-Tech in the 3-4 and two-gapping at an elite level.
Is capable of lining up at the 3-Tech or 1-Tech in the 4-3 and one-gapping at an elite level as well.
Arguably the league’s best run defender regardless of position.
Positional value of the defensive end in the 3-4 tremendously hurts Ngata’s case.
8. Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, HOU: 294 Points[Bracket 1-20]
One of only five players universally considered the best at their position by the panel.
Has averaged 97 receiving yards per game over the past three seasons which hasn’t been accomplished since the ‘90s.
Career leader in NFL history in receiving yards per game.
Positional value of the receiver position hurts his case against the top quarterbacks although he may be a “better” receiver than they are quarterbacks.
7. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, GNB: 298 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Ranks first in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown to interception ratio and quarterback rating amongst all active quarterbacks. Ranks second in passing yards per start.
Gives an added dimension of rushing averaging 293 yards and four touchdowns a season.
Produced his numbers last season without a running game to fall back on.
Manning and Brady have performed at the same high level longer.
6. DeMarcus Ware, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, DAL: 300 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Without question, the league’s best pass-rusher with two sack titles (2008, 2010).
Additionally he is tied for third in the league in pressures since 2008 with 86.
One of the two best 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL against the run.
Wade Phillips didn’t ask him to cover much, so he is perceived as one-dimensional hurting his case for best overall defender in the league.
5. Adrian Peterson, Halfback, MIN: 305 Points[Bracket 1-20]
When factoring in a blend of power and speed Peterson is the best runningback in the league.
Peterson improved upon the one perceived flaw in his game last season: fumbling.
Averages 1,738 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns per season ranking second and first amongst active halfbacks.
When considering positional value, the halfback position isn’t as important as the quarterback position.
4. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, FA: 332 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Has been the league’s least targeted starting cornerback in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Has allowed the least amount of yards for all of the league’s starting cornerbacks in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
When positional value is considered, even a truly shutdown corner might have issues being considered the league’s best player on offense or defense.
3. Troy Polamalu, Strong Safety, PIT: 352 Points[Bracket 1-20]
A complete player who has no noticeable weaknesses displayed when on the field.
The “Polamalu Effect.” The Steelers defense and team are a completely different unit and team when he does not play and the stats(points per game, turnovers per game and yards per play) show it.
Has only managed to play in all 16 games once over the past five seasons.
Had his worst coverage year in yards per attempt (5.8), yards allowed (220) and success rate (45 percent) in quite a while.
2. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, IND: 361 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Posted 4,700 yards and 33 touchdowns but it was a “down” year because of 17 interceptions.
Continually works with a patchwork offensive line of no-names at the guard and tackle positions.
Has not had a running game to fall back on for the past three seasons.
Perception is that Manning wasn’t “great” last season due to the high amount of interceptions he threw in combination with loss of weapons Clark, Gonzalez and Collie.
While Manning had a good season, it pales to Brady’s season when examining team success.
1. Tom Brady, Quarterback, NWE: 420 Points[Bracket 1-20]
Had one of the two best seasons in his career despite tremendous turnover at the skill positions and on the offensive line last year.
Despite having an average defense, the Patriots were 14-2 due to Brady’s control over the offense.
Some people still make cases for Peyton Manning as the No. 1 quarterback and/or player in the league.
So There You Have It....
So there you have it... The 100 best players in the league as determined by 24 panelists from Football's Future's forums...
If you don't agree then that is fine and dandy. I myself, although a member of the panel, disagree with many placements and think that some people shouldn't be on there myself. However, we would still like to hear what you have to say either here or on the link presented on the first page...
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