Who are the best 25 players in the NFL right now with a quarter of the 2011 regular season in the books?
It's a valid question to ask, because the answers will reveal a lot about the current state of the league. You have some of the consistent names appearing on the list that come as little surprise, but it's two other categories of players that are far more interesting.
Who are the newcomers to the list, and what has happened in their development that has allowed them to reach this elite status?
Who are the players that should have made the list, but either aren't quite there or more than likely are disappointing for some reason?
First, there needs to be some ground rules for the top 25. There won't be any kickers or punters on this list. There is no punter or kicker that should be considered among the league's 25 best players unless he is making 90-yard field goals consistently so that his team never has to punt.
Offensive linemen are going to have to be spectacular to make this list, because their success is often measured as a unit instead of as an individual. There will be defensive players on the list, but it will still be dominated by offensive skill players, because defense is somewhat of a lost art in today's NFL.
Some statistics are going to mean more than others. If a receiver has 200 yards receiving, that's OK. If the same receiver has eight touchdown catches, that's special.
That about covers it. Here are the top 25 players at the quarter pole of the NFL season.