First of all, I love the Top 100 Players show. I love most of the clips, the comments – pretty much everything. But that doesn’t mean I agree with the rankings. Not at all. I already mentioned once that I don’t think the voting players get to see everybody in the league play. This is no form of critique, but rather me understanding what preparing for opponents and getting ready for game day feels like. You don’t have the time to watch teams you don’t even play against the entire year. So much like last year, I thought it was time to get a few things right. What you can read right here are lists of who I thought should have been ranked a lot higher and lower plus who I thought would have deserved a spot himself.
Arian Foster, Texans, ranked No. 80:
He probably is the most underrated running back in the league. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which is even 0.1 yards more than the league’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray and he was also just behind Murray in average yards per game, while carrying the ball 4.5 times less. But all those statistics are just for guys who look on the stat sheet to evaluate a player’s performance. Just look at it this way: When the Texans give him the ball they have a chance to win every game. And it showed in games where they were unable to really do anything via the passing game. And he did it with an average O-line. That’s value!
Terrell Suggs, Ravens, ranked No. 84:
The extremely low ranking of Suggs was the reason I even decided to do my own top 100 list (which you can see right here). There are eight 3-4 outside linebackers ranked ahead of him – that’s crazy. One of them was his teammate Elvis Dumervil, who is a great pass rusher, but Suggs impact can’t be measured by numbers. He is consistently disruptive, sets a physical edge, is capable of making plays on the ball, is the Ravens’ leader and simply does his job.
Marcell Dareus, Bills, ranked No. 53:
This is one I can’t quite figure out. What I’ve come to understand is that voters don’t know that the list is based on this upcoming season and that they are high on stats. So how is it possible Dareus led all defensive tackles with 10 sacks and was top five in tackles among his position, but didn’t even crack the top 50? And now let’s get to the reason he should be ranked a lot higher – he is just the best D-tackle in the league. Plain and simple. Nobody takes on blockers and double-teams better than him and then he still has the athleticism to shed blocks and make plays on the ball carrier. He can make big men look like little kids.
DeAndre Levy, Lions, ranked No. 66:
Levy’s ranking to me proofs best why this list can’t be taken seriously. A couple of years ago nobody knew him until he finished second among all players in interceptions. This season he was asked to play much more in the middle of the defense and quarterback’s avoided his area, which resulted in only one interception. Sooo you’re telling me when someone helps his team by playing on the inside because their middle linebacker has a season-ending injury and plays the position better than almost everybody else in the league and leads the number two defense, he should even drop seven spots? No way. He should have been a candidate for defensive player of the year, if there wasn’t a guy in Houston who is making history right now.
Joe Flacco, Ravens, ranked No. 97:
I don’t care if people like him or not, Flacco has shown that he is one of top quarterbacks in the NFL with a respectable ground game. In 2013 the Ravens’ rushing attack was a mess, but with a great offensive line he had what was probably his best regular season and almost knocked out Tom Brady in the playoffs once again.
Eric Weddle, Chargers, ranked No. 86:
It’s probably because he isn’t as fast as Earl Thomas or hits as hard as Kam Chancellor, but show me a more complete free safety from 2014. I couldn’t find one. I wouldn’t rank him ahead of Earl since this list is about 2015, but he is still one of the best safeties in the NFL. Plus, he has very underrated athleticism. But the thing that makes him so good is his superb intelligence for the game.
Eddie Lacy, Packers, ranked No. 60:
Maybe I’m one of the few who think Lacy is already one of those elite running backs, but when you look at him you see he can do pretty much everything. Other than Marshawn Lynch I don’t think there’s an offensive player defenders are more tempted to get out of the way when he’s running towards them. But as I said he’s not just a power runner – he can always spin out of tackles, he can catch screens and take them to the house and coming from a run-heavy Alabama offense he has achieved great vision. I think he’s just overlooked a lot of times because of the guy who’s handing him the ball.
Calais Campbell, Cardinals, ranked No. 97:
I’m glad he even was on the list, because he hasn’t been so far. He creates havoc all day long and is a consistent basis for the Cardinals’ defense. Even with Darnell Dockett out, the defensive line got it done with a lot of rotation a large dose of Campbell. His name might not always be in the mouths of NFL fans, but believe me – offensive coordinators know it very well.
C.J. Mosley, Ravens, ranked No. 94:
Crazy to say, but he was a top three inside linebacker in his rookie season.
DeMarcus Ware, Broncos, ranked No. 87:
He still has a lot left in the tank and always is a pass rush threat.
Vontae Davis, Colts, ranked No. 59:
Only Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis are better at the cornerback position.
Kyle Williams, Bills, ranked No. 72:
Yep, it’s all about the stats. Other than that he’s an All-Pro defensive tackle.
Von Miller, Broncos, ranked No. 33:
He is the best all-around outside linebacker in the league.
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks, ranked No. 69:
Just look what happened to the Hawks’ defense when he came back. They went back to Super Bowl form.
Justin Houston, Chiefs, ranked No. 27:
He even came in a half sack short of the all-time record. Did you guys notice that?
Darrelle Revis, Jets, ranked No. 17:
He can take away pretty much any receiver in the NFL from the game. So why are there four ranked ahead of him?
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, ranked No. 16:
I know it was just his second season, but boy is he good. I even have him at number four!
Adrian Peterson, Vikings, ranked No. 62:
Everybody who says he might have lost a step because he missed a year is just lying to himself. And they know it.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys, ranked No. 4:
Yeah, I know he was the league’s leading rusher and that he carried the ball close to 400 times and that he started the year with eight straight games with at least a hundred yards rushing, but I certainly don’t think he’s the best running back in the game today. I’d take Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, Shady McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy ahead of him. Oh, and I haven’t even counted the number one guy for the last five years in Adrian Peterson. There’s no way you can put any back behind that O-line and hand him the ball 25 times a game to rush for over 1800 yards, but Murray isn’t the only one who would be able to do that.
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers, ranked No. 28:
I don’t have that big of a problem with his ranking, but rather how high he is ranked compared to other great interior defensive linemen. McCoy is as explosive as it gets when it comes to D-tackles, but you seriously try to tell me he should be 25 spot higher than Marcell Dareus? – No way. He has all the tools to be the best at his position, but he’s not quite there yet.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts, ranked No. 35:
As you may have realized, I look a lot at where players are ranked compared to others at their respective position, and there are many names I’d put ahead of T.Y. (who I really like)as far as receivers go. Just to give you a few of those: A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb – Um, nope. He’s a deep threat, he’s a Texans killer, he is becoming a complete route runner and pass-catcher, but he is not the eight-best receiver in the NFL. I’m sorry.
Julius Thomas, Broncos/Jaguars, ranked No. 45:
I have absolutely no idea how anybody could name Thomas a security blanket for Peyton Manning. He only caught 43 passes! I know he’s a matchup nightmare in the red zone and that’s why he is listed this high with 12 touchdowns, but there are a lot of other tight-ends who contribute much more to their team. With not even 500 yards receiving he certainly doesn’t deserve to be ranked higher than someone like Greg Olsen, who saved Cam Newton not just once last year.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins, ranked No. 50:
Pros: Unbelievable speed and ability to adjust to the ball in the air
Cons: Very limited route tree and therefore no qualification to be a number one receiver
This list is about who you’d start your team with next year and I wouldn’t even consider taking a pure deep threat with the 50th pick.
Tashaun Gipson, Browns, ranked No. 67:
This is a guy who seems to have a magnetic connection to the ball – as you see in his six interceptions. That is a very rare gift and he has a lot of potential, but I’m not ready to put him ahead of some veteran safeties like Eric Weddle because of one good statistical season.
Glover Quin, Jr., Lions, ranked No. 88:
Adam Vinatieri, Colts, ranked No. 98:
Do I really have to explain this? He’s on the field for about five times a game. At least the players voted for the best in the business.
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals, ranked No. 19:
No question Peterson is one of the most athletic cornerbacks in the league and he clearly has the potential to be the best at his position out there some day, but to me he had somewhat of a down year in 2014. I know he wasn’t healthy for large parts of the season and I think he’ll step his game up in 2015, but simply based on my feeling I wouldn’t put him ahead of a guy like Vontae Davis who really came into his own last year, showing the ability to take pass catchers out of the game while still making an impact in the run game.
Fletcher Cox, Eagles:
There is absolutely no way he doesn’t belong on this list. Average fans probably look at only four sacks and think he doesn’t have enough production to earn a spot in the top 100, but last year only J.J. Watt, Marcell Dareus and Ndamokung Suh were more disruptive from the interior of the defensive line. If you want to see what I mean, just turn up the Cowboys tapes – he was in the offensive backfield all day long. And you’re talking about one of the best O-lines we’ve had in some time. Cox is a force!
Dontari Poe, Chiefs:
Somehow I saw that one coming. Nose tackles don’t get a lot of love, but when you look what the Chiefs defense did last year, you come to understand Poe’s value. Middle linebacker Derrick Johnson was injured in the season opener, strong safety Eric Berry’s status is still unclear after only playing in six games in 2014, they were forced to rotate a lot of guys and they still finished second in points allowed. Sure, Justin Houston’s 22 sacks helped quite a lot, but Poe is the rock of the KC defense and right now already the best nose tackle in the NFL with the ability to get up-field and make plays against the passing game as well.
Frank Gore, Colts:
I’m just not a big fan of leaving a Hall of Fame running back, who still produces big-time off the list of the top 100 players. Has he lost some speed? Probably. Will he have to adjust to a different team and offensive scheme? Yes. But most importantly – Can he still carry a team on his back? – You bet! Gore can be a factor in passing concepts, is still the best pass protector at the running back position and runs hard every time he touches the ball. The 49ers didn’t quite rely that heavily on him in key situations in 2014 (while winning the fewest games since four years), but he still made things happen and averaged 4.3 yards a carry. And for anyone questioning his ability to carry the load at his age – When he was handed the ball at least 18 times, he averaged 5.2 yards!
Thomas Davis, Panthers:
Most people only think of Luke Kuechly when you talk about the Panthers D, but Thomas is very important to their success. I like the way he attacks the run, but most of all I love the way he can play man coverage on tight-ends and running backs. When he is signed up to one opposite player that guy will have a long day and he will feel it in the cold tub. Jimmy Graham is not the type of guy who gets intimated easily, but Davis regularly beats him up like a little kid on the school yard.
Antoine Bethea, 49ers:
So tell me who was a more complete safety in football last year! Because I can’t name one. Bethea was let go by the Colts and signed with the Niners last offseason and his impact was felt on both sides in the process. He probably was the most important piece of the San Francisco defense and helped them overcome terrible injuries (at times half the unit were backups), while Indy couldn’t find anybody to make plays at the backend or get any production from the safety position at all. He might not be the flashiest player, but he is all over the field and his presence is always felt. Turn on the Eagles film – I haven’t seen a lot of better games by a safety since I’ve been watching football.
Antonio Cromartie, Jets:
Whether it was Revis in New York or Peterson in Arizona last year, Cromartie has been the number two corner on the teams he’s been with for a couple of years now, but he can take on any receiver one-on-one and has shown he would be a great number one on most teams in the league.
Josh Sitton, Packers:
This depends on how high you are on offensive linemen, because Sitton is the number two guard in the league (right behind Marshal Yanda of the Ravens).
NaVorro Bowman, 49ers:
I know he’s missed the entire 2014 season and most of us don’t know how well he will play after serious knee surgeries, but let’s not forget he was the best linebacker in football before he got injured.