The NFL's Top 100 Players: Where Does Your Favorite Player Rank?

John Frascella@@RedSoxAuthorCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2011

The NFL's Top 100 Players: Where Does Your Favorite Player Rank?

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    These two have been battling for the top spot for quite some time.
    These two have been battling for the top spot for quite some time.Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

    As another incredibly entertaining NFL season roars towards its conclusion, it's time to put things in perspective. Who are the top 100 players in the league, and why?

    I'm throwing everyone into the mix, skill players and linemen alike, and only readership will determine if this list is a comprehensive success or monumental disaster.

    A couple of important notes: 1. The emphasis will be upon the current season, but the previous two years will receive some consideration, and 2. I'm only providing one sentence per player because I'm not getting paid for this.

    That being said, bring on the debate...

100. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Say what you want about this kid's peripheral numbers; all I know is that he's been in the NFL for two seasons, his Jets have reached the AFC Championship both times and he plays his best ball in the playoffs.

99. Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots scores an 18-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter against Drew Coleman #30 of the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by E
    Elsa/Getty Images

    His run as a superstar receiver is over, but he's still the best receiver on one of the top passing teams in the NFL.

98. Robert Mathis, DE, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after a sack during the NFL game against the New York Giants  at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    He may be a bit overrated at this stage of his lengthy and successful career, but Mathis is a proven pass rusher who teams with Dwight Freeney to form an intimidating duo.

97. Stephen Tulloch, ILB, Tennessee Titans

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    NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 1:  Stephen Tulloch #55 of the Tennessee Titans looks on during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field on November 1, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    One of the most under-appreciated players on either side of the ball, Tulloch finished second only to Jerod Mayo in total tackles.

96. Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17:  Trent Cole #58 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a sack against Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 17, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Imag
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    A consistently good, veteran pass rusher who has also shown the ability to drop into coverage against tight ends (when necessary).

95. Jordan Gross, LT, Carolina Panthers

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24:  Jordan Gross #69 of the Carolina Panthers against the San Francisco 49ers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    This persistent competitor is so good that the Panthers were still able to run the ball off his end with their third-string quarterback and running back playing simultaneously.

94. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Jeremy Maclin #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs down field against the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by C
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    This deceptively quick playmaker has fully established himself as one of the top WR2s in the game.

93. Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 28:  Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their game on November 28, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Welcome back to prominence, Osi: 12 sacks and the Giants' pass rush was feared again.

92. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12:  Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't make this endzone catch against the Washington Redskins  at FedExField on December 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers defeated the Redskins 17-16. (Photo by Larry
    Larry French/Getty Images

    I was highly impressed by this rookie receiver, and it's overtly clear that the future is bright for the Bucs and their one-two passing punch.

91. Devin McCourty, CB, New England Patriots

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 25:  Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots celebrates a fourth quarter interception while playing the Detroit Lions on November 25, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. New England won the game 45-24.  (Photo by Gregory Sha
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Another of this year's outstanding rookies, this kid has all of the tools necessary to be a top-tier cornerback for a long, long time.

90. Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens as the Ravens defeated the Chiefs 30-7 in their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9, 2011 in Kansa
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    This normally efficient quarterback backdoored his way into the Pro Bowl, but his embarrassing playoff performance against the Ravens is hard to sweep under the rug.

89. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers

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    SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 12:  Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after a catch as Lawyer Milloy #36 of the Seattle Seahawks defends during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on December 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jaco
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    After a breaking out in a big way a year ago, this enigmatic tight end was quietly one of the most effective and productive at his position this season.

88. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants runs against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game on December 19, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This relentless rusher led the NFC in yardage for much of the season, but his consistent fumbling issues keep him out of serious contention for my top 50.

87. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LT, New York Jets

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 31:  D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets looks on late in the game against the Green Bay Packers on October 31, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Packers defeated the Jets 9-0.
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    This former first-round selection does a better job on "The Blind Side" than Sandra Bullock.

86. Lance Briggs, OLB, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Linebacker Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears reacts after an interception late in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Pho
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This LB with appropriate initials has been causing havoc alongside Brian Urlacher for quite some time now.

85. Mario Williams, DE, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Mario Williams #90 of the Houston Texans in action during the game against the New York Giants at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    He played only 13 games, and I wish he'd be better against the run, but "Super Mario" still fired off the edge for nine sacks.

84. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears during pregame before the Bears take on the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    I originally had this gunslinger at No. 38, but then I watched him leave the Bears' hard-fought season in the hands of Todd Collins (and then Caleb Hanie) without batting an eye.

83. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints reacts against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    I love that he's out of Hofstra University, but I consider this guy more of a "system" WR1 than a pure WR1.

82. Tamba Hali, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 09:  Linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after recovering a fumble by the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9, 2011 in Kansa
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    How did this beast get left off the AFC Pro Bowl roster after a 15-sack season?

81. Andre Gurode, C, Dallas Cowboys

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 11:  Andre Gurode #65 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during warm-up prior to the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadiumin on October 11, 2009 Kansas City, Missouri. The Cowboys defeated the Chiefs 26-20 in o
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    This absolute mammoth is well respected and quite simply one of the premier centers in the world.

80. Jason Babin, DE, Tennessee Titans

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    NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21:  Jason Babin #93 of the Tennessee Titans reacts after sacking quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins during the first half at LP Field on November 21, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    This hard-working pass rusher is a warrior, and he's not flying under the radar anymore—not by any means.

79. Chad Clifton, LT, Green Bay Packers

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Chad Clifton #76 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Packers won 48-21. (Photo by Streeter Leck
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    This reliable and irreplaceable big man is slated for a start in the Pro Bowl, but something tells me he's more concerned about that other Bowl.

78. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02:  Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings smiles on the bench after returning an interception for a touchdown while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 20-13.  (Ph
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The expectations are so high for this electric end that his 11-sack season was seemingly dismissed.

77. Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins

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    LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12:  Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball after a catch during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  at FedExField on December 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers defeated the Redskins 17-16. (P
    Larry French/Getty Images

    This veteran speedster had a sensational season (93 receptions, 1,115 yards) despite the Donovan McNabb/Rex Grossman flux in Washington.

76. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Josh Freeman #5  of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws the ball during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Finishing the year with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions, this kid is quietly becoming one of the most trustworthy quarterbacks in the business.

75. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  John Abraham #5 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts against the Green Bay Packers during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    He never seemed to stay healthy for his old team, the Jets, but they certainly could have used his relentless pass rush this season (13 sacks).

74. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Tight end Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the field during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This cerebral on-field leader has lost some explosiveness over time, but he makes up for it with multifaceted value and an unparalleled understanding of his craft.

73. Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans during warm ups before playing Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    After leading the NFL in passing yards last year (with a whopping 4,770), Houston's gunslinger quietly amassed 4,370 yards this season, good for fourth overall.

72. Chris Snee, RG, New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Chris Snee #76 of the New York Giants in action against the Washington Redskins on December 5, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Redskins 31-7.  (Photo by Jim Mc
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Protects well for Eli Manning but is best known for his ability to spring both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.

71. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Here's a quarterback whose arm strength I find to be severely underwhelming during live action; I'm sorry, but all I see is a better version of Chad Pennington in his prime.

70. Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Titans won 34-27.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    He missed four games due to injury, but this physical, well-rounded threat is a nightmare for corners in one-on-one situations, and the sky is the limit for his career.

69. Asante Samuel, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 28, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    I think he gambles too often at times, but he finishes plays, and there's no denying the Eagles' severe defensive drop-off when he's sidelined by injury.

68. Brian Urlacher, ILB, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Running back Brandon Jackson #32 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears in the second half in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo b
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    This venomous veteran has surely lost a step, but he remains a playmaker and is the heart and soul of the Bears' high-quality defense.

67. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to their 2011 AFC Championship game against the New York Jets at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Ben's big-play burner finished fifth in receiving yards (1,257) and added 10 impressive touchdowns.

66. Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Tailback Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball by linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    This bulky back was a fantasy football darling this season (13 total TDs), but he fumbled eight times and lost five.

65. Vince Wilfork, DT, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20:  Vince Wilfork  #75 of the New England Patriots  chats on the side line during preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    This monster in the middle of Bill Belichick's defensive line continues to suffocate the run and age like fine wine.

64. Tramon Williams, CB, Green Bay Packers

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Tramon Williams #38 of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a pass in the endzone against Michael Jenkins #12 of the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georg
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    A phenomenally athletic playmaker, "T-Will" was one of the most improved defensive players in the NFL this season.

63. Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 21: Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a third quarter touchdown on a 3 yard pass from Jon Kitna #3 as DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions defends during the game at Dallas Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Arlington, T
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The emergence of rookie Dez Bryant hindered Austin's production to some extent, but the latter is still an explosive receiver with impressive ability.

62. Adrian Wilson, SS, Arizona Cardinals

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Safety Adrian Wilson #24 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game against  the Green Bay Packers at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardina
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A pro's pro who deserves all of the praise he receives from teammates, coaches, commentators and—believe it or not—opposing players around the league.

61. Jahri Evans, RG, New Orleans Saints

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Jahri Evans #73 of the New Orleans Saints in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
    Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images

    Another well-deserved Pro Bowl selection for Drew Brees' best friend on the field.

60. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Gett
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Surprisingly poised and efficient, this young quarterback finished with a 25/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a higher passer rating than stars like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.

59. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens rushes against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Image
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Unfairly viewed as one of this year's fantasy football disappointments, this versatile back actually finished with 1,200-plus rushing yards (without a fumble), 63 receptions and 556 receiving yards.

58. Nick Collins, FS, Green Bay Packers

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Nick Collins #36 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after Sam Shields #37 seals the win with a fourth quarter interception against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago,
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    With big names like Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews on his defensive unit, Collins flies under the radar as one of the top players relative to his position.

57. Cameron Wake, OLB, Miami Dolphins

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    MIAMI - OCTOBER 4: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit as he passes by Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Field on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    This animalistic speed rusher came out of left field to compile 14 show-stopping sacks, good for third in the NFL.

56. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

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    SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05:  Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 28-13.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/G
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Talent-wise he's still the premier tight end in the league, but I naturally have to wonder if he'll ever be healthy again.

55. Kevin Williams, DT, Minnesota Vikings

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins is sacked by Kevin Williams #93 of the Minnesota Vikings during the game on September 19, 2010 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    A perennial Pro Bowler who teams with Pat Williams to control the Vikings' consistent rush defense.

54. Ray Lewis, ILB, Baltimore Ravens

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 09:  Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens reads the play in 2011 AFC wild card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/G
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    I suppose some would consider this ranking a Career Achievement Award, but this maniac in the middle remains one of the best against the run.

53. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers

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    SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 14:  Frank Groe #21 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on November 14, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This consistent veteran played in just 11 games this season but somehow managed over 1,300 total yards and displayed that he's still one of the top two-way backs in the game.

52. Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23: Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets celebrates after he scored a third quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    After a four-game suspension to open the year, Holmes emerged as the Jets' WR1 and continued to show why he's considered one of the premier pressure receivers in the NFL.

51. Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami Dolphins

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 19:  Receiver Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins makes a catch against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Bills defeated the Dolphins 17-14.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    This troublemaker is one of the most naturally gifted players in the league, but it was difficult for him to showcase his skills with Chad Henne or Tyler Thigpen calling the signals.

50. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/G
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Head coach Mike Tomlin prides himself on power rushing football, and this strong, aggressive runner fits the bill perfectly.

49. Jerod Mayo, ILB, New England Patriots

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    SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 24:  Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots on defense against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 24, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The NFL's leading tackler is the MVP of the Patriots defense that improved dramatically during the second half of the season.

48. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Arguably the most underused weapon in the NFC, Forte was amongst the league leaders in yards per carry but was only called upon 237 times by pass-happy OC Mike Martz.

47. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    This seemingly unstoppable rookie force is going to be one of the top players in the world for quite some time.

46. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver Broncos

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 2:  Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd #84 of the Denver Broncos makes a touchdown reception against the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmon
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Lloyd is so predictable; before the season we all thought he'd lead the NFL in receiving with 1,448 yards, right?

45. Jay Ratliff, DT, Dallas Cowboys

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08:  Jay Ratliff #90 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This rambunctious and ruthless beast is, in my opinion, the second-best defensive tackle in the game today.

44. Logan Mankins, LG, New England Patriots

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:  Logan Mankins #70 of the New England Patriots against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    You've seen those plays when Tom Brady drops back and has enough time to read War and Peace; Mr. Mankins deserves much of the credit in those instances.

43. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03:  Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Effective against both the run and pass, Willis has consistently been one of the best at his position since entering the league in 2007.

42. Terrell Owens, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 05: Terrell Owens #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Saints won 34-30.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Get
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Bengals were a collective disappointment, but "T.O." certainly didn't disappoint; despite missing two games, he had 983 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and was Cincinnati's best player.

41. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens

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    OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 3: Haloti Ngata #92 of the Baltimore Ravens sacks Charlie Fry #3 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Ngata is the class of his position, a unique two-way interior lineman who stuffs the run but also pressures the quarterback.

40. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after their 16 to 21 loss to the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    He's clearly pissed about the loss to the Packers, but Jackson is likely the fastest player in the NFL and an impressive, naturally gifted athlete.

39. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 14:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants reacts against the Dallas Cowboys on November 14, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cowboys defeated the Giants 33-20.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    This raw and physical receiver was the cream of the crop at times this season, but injuries "limited" him to 1,000-plus yards and 11 TDs.

38. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by C
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    As a rookie he was indecisive and lacked explosion, but this season he was the most improved running back in the league: quick, shifty, versatile and dangerous.

37. Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, P
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Run for your life if it's a sure passing down; this guy will eat your children.

36. Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets looks on against the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17-16. (Photo by Jona
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Not only is this big fella the stabilizing force of the well-balanced Jets; he's also the finest center in the NFL.

35. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants throws against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    At times it was a sloppy season for "The Other Manning," but the Giants' signal caller still finished with over 4,000 passing yards and 31 touchdowns.

34. Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants celebrates  after sacking Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins who fumbled and loset the ball during their game on December 5, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East R
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    "JT" is an elite pass rusher who swats passes at an alarmingly high rate and also contributes against the run.

33. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during their game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    It was a breakout season for the injury-prone McFadden, who exploded for some jaw-dropping performances and showed that he can be a truly elite running back.

32. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 24:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers congratulates Greg Jennings #85 after Jennings' touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings  at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Im
    Jim Prisching/Getty Images

    Pictured with his partner in crime, Jennings is a steady sidekick and outstanding big-play receiver.

31. Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Running back Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams rushes with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during their game at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    "Jax" is an exceptional pass catcher out of the backfield and a persistent, physical runner, but his 3.8 YPC stat is a bit off-putting.

30. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 01: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears is double-teamed blocked by Joe Thomas #73 and Eric Steinbach #65 of the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 30-6. (Photo b
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This monster transformed Peyton Hillis from a third-stringer to a superstar, and hey, the best offensive lineman in the world has to be a top 30 player, right?

29. Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts hits Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants causing a fumble during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Im
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    This ferocious pass rusher has battled injuries throughout his career, but he's a beast whenever he's between the lines.

28. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26:  Receiver Dwayne Bowe #82 of the Kansas City Chiefs is congratulated by fans as he jumps into the stands after making a 75 yard touchdown catch during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 26, 2010 at Arrowhead S
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    He was strangely inconsistent and seemed to amass most of his gaudy stats over a five-game span, but there's no denying that "D-Bowe" was one of the top WR1s in the game this season.

27. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02:  Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts runs for a touchdown during NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Some say Old Reliable has lost a step, but he finished with a career high in catches and found a way to get it done against every corner but Darrelle Revis (a worthy adversary).

26. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Oakland Raiders

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Similar to the superstar at the No. 11 overall spot, Asomugha is consciously avoided by (even the best) quarterbacks.

25. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with the ball against the Green Bay Packers during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Packers won 48-21. (Photo by K
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFC Pro Bowl starter is an incredibly reliable bowling ball of a back.

24. Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers reacts against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/G
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    A rapidly rising star, Matthews is a fierce, persistent and nearly unstoppable pass rusher.

23. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Wide receiver Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans scores on a pass as he goes over safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob L
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Considered by many to be the premier wide receiver in the league, Johnson's history of injuries is a frustrating red flag for me.

22. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 19: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars dives against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jaguars 34-24. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty I
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    A jack of all trades at the running back position, "MJD" stays compact and low to the ground, making him a repetitive nightmare for opposing defenders.

21. Troy Polamalu, SS, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers lines up before the snap during the game against  the Oakland Raiders on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Polamalu may over-pursue the ball at times, but he's a legitimate playmaker who forces offensive coordinators to prepare for his hyper-aggressive and disorienting style of play.

20. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 2:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a touchdown against the San Francisco 49er during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on January 2, 2011 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    I think he's the most talented wide receiver in the game, but his production was understandably limited by the Cardinals' UFL-level quarterbacks and constant double teams from the opposition.

19. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears looks on against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Not only is he consistent from season to season and game to game, but "Sergeant Peppers" is also the most well-rounded defensive end in the league.

18. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions runs through the tackle of defensive back E.J. Biggers #31 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Whether it was Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, or Drew Stanton, "Megatron" made his quarterback look like a capable performer this season.

17. Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field after they won 48-21 against the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    This ageless wonder continues to showcase his unparalleled all-around ability in different looks, schemes and packages for the incredibly talented Packers.

16. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Running back Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs down field in a game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    This versatile breakout burner finished with more rushing yards than Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew and Steven Jackson and did so with only 230 total carries (6.4 YPC).

15. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27:  Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a pass during warm-ups prior to the start of the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on December 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty I
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    He may not be the most gifted wide receiver in the game, but he's tough, durable, consistent and makes "Matty Ice" look better than he actually is.

14. James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by G
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    This absolute animal and Pro Bowl starter was the only player in the league with double-digit sacks (11) and 100-plus tackles.

13. Ed Reed, FS, Baltimore Ravens

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens intercepts a pass in the first quarter against the New England Patriots during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Ravens
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Ho-hum, the best safety in the world led the NFL in interceptions...again.

12. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

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    SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 21:  Line backer DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys in action against San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 21, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    This physical freak led the NFL in sacks and is likely the most explosive defensive player in the league.

11. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets breaks up a pass intended for Deion Branch #84 of the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Deion Sanders is the best playmaking cornerback I've ever seen, but in terms of pure coverage Revis is the messiah.

10. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Perhaps the best pure rusher in the league, "AD" or "AP" lacks the third-down, pass-catching ability of the two RBs I rank ahead of him.

9. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown during NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    "CJ" was the premier player at his position a year ago, but the running back at the No. 8 overall spot is bigger, stronger, runs equally as well and is superior in the passing game.

8. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON - JANUARY 02:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes for major yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Foster established himself as the premier all-around RB in the NFL, leading in rushing by over 140 yards with 600-plus receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns.

7. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

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    DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers takes the field against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 33-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensing
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Chargers were a collective disappointment this season, but their fiery quarterback is a statistical monster and the model of consistency.

6. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs down field against the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chr
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The Michael Vick Bandwagon crumbled to pieces rather quickly after the Eagles' first-round exit, but the Packers' explosive defense was a tough draw, and No. 7 is still one of the most unstoppable players in the game.

5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Packers won 48-21.  (Photo by Streeter Le
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    His stunning postseason performance against the Atlanta Falcons made one thing perfectly clear: Mr. Rodgers has no mechanical weaknesses at the quarterback position.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick L
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    "Big Ben" is everyone's least favorite person off the field, but on the field he's a relentless warrior who elevates his level of play as the stakes increase.

3. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after the Saints were defeated 41-36 by the Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washin
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    He wasn't able to match his jaw-dropping production from the Saints' feel-good Super Bowl run, but "Cool Brees" continued to make defensive preparation a near impossibility.

2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Colts were decimated by injuries this season, and only a quarterback of Manning's Hall of Fame caliber could have carried them into the playoffs.

1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on near the end of their 28 to 21 loss to the New York Jets in their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by
    Elsa/Getty Images

    He's understandably disappointed about the crushing playoff loss to the Jets (as you can probably see), but this miracle worker led a team without a legitimate RB1 or WR1 to an outstanding 14-2 regular season.

Breakdown By Position

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09:  Harry Connick Jr. leads a float out onto the field which carried the VInce Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy won last year by the New Orleans Saints prior to the Saints playing against the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In numerical order:

    QB (15 total): T. Brady, P. Manning, D. Brees, B. Roethlisberger, A. Rodgers, M. Vick, P. Rivers, E. Manning, J. Flacco, M. Ryan, M. Schaub, J. Freeman, J. Cutler, M. Cassel, M. Sanchez.

    RB (15): A. Foster, C. Johnson, A. Peterson, J. Charles, M. Jones-Drew, M. Turner, S. Jackson, D. McFadden, L. McCoy, M. Forte, R. Mendenhall, F. Gore, R. Rice, P. Hillis, A. Bradshaw.

    WR (21): R. White, C. Johnson, L. Fitzgerald, A. Johnson, R. Wayne, D. Bowe, G. Jennings, H. Nicks, D. Jackson, T. Owens, B. Lloyd, B. Marshall, S. Holmes, M. Austin, M. Wallace, K. Britt, S. Moss, M. Colston, M. Williams, J. Maclin, W. Welker.

    TE (3): A. Gates, J. Witten, V. Davis.

    LT (4): J. Thomas, C. Clifton, D. Ferguson, J. Gross.

    LG (1): L. Mankins.

    C (2): N. Mangold, A. Gurode.

    RG (2): J. Evans, C. Snee.

    DE (11): J. Peppers, D. Freeney, J. Tuck, T. Suggs, J. Abraham, J. Allen, J. Babin, M. Williams, O. Umenyiora, T. Cole, R. Mathis.

    DT (5): H. Ngata, J. Ratliff, N. Suh, K. Williams, V. Wilfork.

    OLB (6): D. Ware, J. Harrison, C. Matthews, C. Wake, T. Hali, L. Briggs.

    ILB (5): P. Willis, J. Mayo, R. Lewis, B. Urlacher, S. Tulloch.

    CB (6): D. Revis, C. Woodson, N. Asomugha, T. Williams, A. Samuel, D. McCourty.

    FS (2): E. Reed, N. Collins.

    SS (2): T. Polamalu, A. Wilson.