Top 10 NFL Players Entering 2012

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJune 28, 2012

Top 10 NFL Players Entering 2012

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    The NFL Network's Top 100 players poll came to a conclusion Wednesday with the presentation of the Top 10: 

    1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

    2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

    3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

    4. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

    5. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

    6. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

    7. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    8. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    9. Haloti Ngata, DL, Baltimore Ravens

    10. Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco 49ers

    It's certainly hard to disagree that those players listed don't belong, but we can certainly debate how the top 10 could have actually gone. 

    In that spirit, let's take a look at my answer to the NFL Network's Top 100 poll with my presentation of my top 10 players entering the 2012 NFL season. 

10. Patrick Willis, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers

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    Patrick Willis might have missed three games in 2011 for the San Francisco 49ers, but he still was a tackling machine and was the team's most valuable player—as he is the NFL's top inside linebacker.

    Willis recorded a massive 97 tackles, which is an impressive average of 7.46 tackles per game. To go along with those tackles, Willis also recorded two sacks, four forced fumbles as well as a whopping 12 pass deflections. 

    Willis is like a madman when he's running around the field for the 49ers as he's involved in almost every single play and has a real nose for the ball. 

    Let's just say that Willis will dominant the upcoming seasons much like the way Ray Lewis has dominated in past years

9. Haloti Ngata, Defensive Line, Baltimore Ravens

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    Haloti Ngata is the man that anchors the Baltimore Ravens defensive line as the team's starting defensive tackle.

    Forget Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs—this man is the team's most valuable player as he's the NFL's top interior defensive lineman. 

    Ngata played in all 16 games for the Ravens in 2011. He finished with a career-high 64 tackles as well as five sacks while forcing two fumbles, deflecting five passes and scoring one touchdown. 

    There is no one that dominants the interior line of scrimmage like the way Ngata does. 

8. Jared Allen, Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jared Allen came just a half of a sack short of tying Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5 sacks—Allen finished with 22 while doing so on a team that finished with a putrid 3-13 record.

    Ultimately, Allen was the only bright spot to Minnesota's 2011 season and was really the only reason why fans continued to show up to games for the Vikings.

    To go along with Allen's 22 sacks, he tallied up 66 tackles while forcing a stellar four fumbles and recorded a safety. 

7. DeMarcus Ware, Outside Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

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    DeMarcus Ware isn't just a sack machine, he's also a playmaking machine. 

    We haven't seen someone dominant the edge since the days of Lawrence Taylor—or at least that's how well Ware performed in 2011 for the Dallas Cowboys.

    Ware played in all 16 games for Dallas, and he recorded 58 tackles, two forced fumbles, two pass deflections as well as an incredible 19.5 sacks.

    Ware could not be blocked this past season and will likely continue his unprecedented success in 2012. 

6. Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals

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    No matter who's throwing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, as long as he has an arm, Fitzgerald will find a way to record the reception—he's just that good.

    With mediocre quarterbacks John Skelton and Kevin Kolb dropping back to pass for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, Fitzgerald made the best of it. Granted, he only recorded 80 receptions, but he turned those 80 receptions into a massive 1,411 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. 

    Fitzgerald isn't just a great wide receiver, he's also a proven leader and the face of the Cardinals organization. 

5. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, New York Jets

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    Darrelle Revis is the most dominant cornerback that I have ever seen in my life, and he is the most dominant cornerback that has played in the NFL for quite sometime.

    Whomever takes a step onto Revis Island is not going to have any luck whatsoever—he will shut them down and make sure that they don't have a chance to contribute to that game whatsoever. 

    As it stands right now, Revis is the NFL's best defensive player. 

4. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions

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    There was no one who dominated the wide receiver position the way Calvin Johnson did in 2011.

    Megatron recorded 96 receptions for a massive 1,681 yards while reeling in a phenomenal 16 touchdowns.

    Johnson was not only the key to the Detroit Lions offense this past season, but he was the key to their success and their Wild Card berth.

    It will definitely be hard to achieve the same numbers that Johnson did a year ago, but he'll definitely dominant the league for the second consecutive season. 

3. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots

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    Tom Brady is like a fine bottle of wine—he only gets better with age.

    At 34 years old, Brady led the New England Patriots to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance in 2011. Brady posted a 105.6 quarterback rating while finishing with a career high in passing yards at 5,235. Brady also completed 65.6 percent of his passes while tossing 39 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. 

    Brady was selected as the NFL's top player a year ago and didn't fall off too much from those rankings this past season. 

    He'll continue his reign of excellence in 2012. 

2. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

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    Drew Brees really lit up the sky in 2011.

    Brees posted astronomical numbers across the board while setting the NFL's single-season record for passing yards, as he surpassed Dan Marino's mark set back in 1984 with a whopping 5,476 yards.

    To go along with that massive amount of yards, Brees completed an unbelievable 71.2 percent of his passes for 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while finishing with a 110.6 quarterback rating.

    If it were any other year, Brees would have been selected as the NFL's top player. 

1. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

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    There's no debate here. None whatsoever.

    There is no other quarterback that is playing the position like Aaron Rodgers—he dominated the entire NFL in 2011 and should continue his domination entering 2012. 

    Rodgers finished last season with a 122.5 quarterback rating while tossing 45 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions and accumulating 4,643 yards—while sitting out the final regular-season game and playing with the NFL's worst defense. 

    Rodgers and Green Bay's offense simply could not be stopped in 2011, and there's no question about whether or not Rodgers will continue his reign as the NFL's top player in 2012—he's going to be here for a long time. He's only 28 years old. 

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