NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 10 Most Surprising Players of 2010 NFL Season

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 10 Most Surprising Players of 2010 NFL Season

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    NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 19:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans runs against the Tennessee Titans  at LP Field on December 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texans, 31-17.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    After 15 wild and crazy weeks of football, the regular season is finally winding down, and just like every other season in the past decade, it was an exciting one.

    There have been breakout performances, amazing comebacks and players shutting up critics along the way, to the delight of the fans.

    There always seems to be a slew of surprising performances each and every NFL season, from Maurice Jones-Drew's 2006 season to Miles Austin exploding onto the scene a year ago. There always seems to be a guy to come out of nowhere every year.

    This year was no different, with many players surprising the country with their stellar play.

    So, here I have compiled the top ten surprising players of the 2010 season.

10. Austin Collie

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    LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 17: Austin Collie #17 of the Indianapolis Colts moves the ball upfield after making a reception against Kareem Moore #41 of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 17, 2010 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Gett
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Yeah, but Austin Collie was pretty good last year, you'll say. Well this year he was downright amazing, and if it weren't for injuries he would probably be the toast of the town.

    It's true, Collie had seven touchdowns and nearly 700 yards last season, and this season he had eight touchdowns and still not quite 700 yards.

    The only difference? He did it in an injury-plagued nine games this season. Really, he did it in seven games, as two returns mid-season were premature and he was only used a few times in those games.

    In the first three weeks of the seasons he had four touchdowns and 359 yards. Fantasy owners rejoice.

9. Sam Bradford

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 12:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams looks to throw a pass during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 12, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Rams
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    It's funny how we always hail a rookie quarterback as the savior of a franchise, and every few years or so when he comes out as a rookie and plays well, we're shocked.

    It happened with Mark Sanchez last year and Ben Roethlisberger a few years before, and now it's happening with Sam Bradford.

    Bradford hasn't had a great year by other quarterback's standards, but by rookie standards he has been excellent.

    His 75.9 QB rating is admittedly unimpressive, but he does have over 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns against only 14 interceptions.

    Kudos Mr. Bradford.

8. Kyle Orton

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the B
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A mile above us all in Denver, Kyle Orton has had a great season, save for his team's lousy three wins.

    Orton has put up career numbers. That is a sentence that, if I heard it three years ago I would think, "What did he get like 1,200 yards and six touchdowns?"

    Well, the man has passed for 281 yards a game (career high) for 20 touchdowns against only nine interceptions and one fumble. He also has his highest quarterback rating ever, at 87.5.

    For a guy who had a pretty ugly case of "fumbleitis" for a while and threw ugly interceptions in almost every game, it's a huge step.

    Of course, to thank him for his great season, the Broncos have replaced him with the Mile High Jesus for the remainder of the season.

7. Darren McFadden

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 12:  Sean Considine #37 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts to tackle Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders during the game at EverBank Field on December 12, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty I
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    I can assume the only people unhappy about McFadden finally living up to his expectations are Al Davis' handlers, who are probably hearing, "See! I told you so! Let me have control of the draft again, I may look like a dead, crazy zombie in warm-ups but I can still run a football team!"

    Sure you can Al, now go sit in the corner and continue to wither away, please.

    Along with having the most underrated nickname in football (Run DMC) that isn't just a lazy first letter of his first name and first few letters of his last name combo (in this case it would end up being D-Mac), he is finally living up to his potential.

    He broke 1000 yards for the first time in his career and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Here's looking to more of that in the future Mr. DMC.

6. Cameron Wake

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    MIAMI - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is sacked by linebacker Cameron wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins and fumbles at Sun Life Stadium on November 18, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Two years into his young NFL career and Miami's Cameron Wake has burst onto the scene in a big way.

    A year ago he had a decent rookie season which included 23 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 14 games, enough to show that he should have at least been drafted in 2005.

    This year, he is making scouts from that same draft look dumb, with 51 tackles and an NFL-leading 14 sacks, all through 14 games.

    He has left countless quarterbacks on the ground in his wake play after play. Pun definitely intended.

5. Brandon Lloyd

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 28:  A pass from Kyle Orton slips through the fingertips of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd #84 of the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 28, 2010 in Denver, Colorado
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Brandon Lloyd had pretty much settled into his career before this season. He was a good second receiver or a great third receiver on any football team, but never an elite receiver.

    Naturally he is only 20 yards behind Roddy White for most reception yards in the NFL.

    Lloyd's 1264 yards are nearly double his former career high of his eight year career, that never seemed to takeoff.

    He also had ten touchdowns, prior to this season he had 15 touchdowns in seven seasons in the NFL.

    I think he should send Brandon Marshall a "thank you" note for acting dumb and getting traded.

4. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 03: LaDanian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets runs against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. The Jets won 38-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Why did we doubt this guy?

    He spent the last two seasons on San Diego in an obvious decline, going from 4.7 yards per carry, down to 3.8 and finally 3.3.

    So, obviously he's going to come out and average 4.3 yards this season.

    LT Part II has 150 more yards on 20 fewer carries in the same number of games compared to a season ago.

    He may have been down, but by God, you can't keep the guy out.

3. Peyton Hillis

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 05: Running back Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns carries against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Peyton Hillis had a decent rookie season, 343 yards on 68 carries (that is five yards a carry), and then went down to only 54 yards a season ago.

    Then Denver traded him for Brady Quinn and Browns fans rejoiced.

    Hillis is averaging 4.5 yards a carry, totaling 1129 yards, to go along with 469 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.

    His 1598 total yards are the most on the Browns, as in he has more yards than any other player on the team, including their quarterbacks.

    Nice trade Denver.

    Hillis is already beloved in Cleveland, and people throughout Ohio have adopted him as their favorite white running back of all time.

2. Arian Foster

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 02:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans celebrates after he scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Arian Foster is one of those guys that makes fantasy football all worthwhile.

    Foster ran for 257 yards last season, a decent rookie start, and then nearly met that total on opening day against the Colts with 231 yards.

    He has taken off since, averaging nearly five yards a carry all season long, amassing 1,345 yards this season on the ground and 550 through the air, totaling 15 touchdowns for the season.

    He has the record this season for most phone calls/texts on Tuesday morning that are some variation of, "I would have won my matchup this week if not for that damned Arian Foster."

1. Michael Vick

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 19, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The only guy that could surpass the surprise that was given by two guys who were previously unknown to most of the country is a guy that hasn't started a game since 2006 and is getting play in the MVP race.

    It's hard to express in words how insane what Michael Vick has done is.

    He came back from a two-year absence last year as a backup's backup, got the starting gig because of a trade and a concussion, got hurt, won the starting gig back and is now the best he has ever been.

    He can still run the ball as good as ever, only he has combined it with some inspired play at quarterback.

    His throws are so precise that he could knock a soda can off a fence post from fifty yards away.

    His spiral is so tight (that just sounds dirty) that it could drill a hole in the ground deep enough to penetrate the earth's core.

    Vick has truly been an amazing player to watch this season.