Every year over hundreds of players select their top 20 players in the league and the NFL Network compiles those lists to build the NFL Top 100. The first problem is that each player only lists his best 20, in which some of the guys at the bottom should never come up if everybody gave an objective opinion. The second one is that each player sees some on their fellow athletes twice during the season and some not at all and therefore they don’t get to see everybody on tape. So some mistakes are made and players get listed too high, too low or not at all. Here are my corrections:
Tyrann Mathieu (No. 28)
To me the Honeybadger is the best defensive back in today’s game. It doesn’t matter if you want to call him a corner or a safety, he’ll line up everywhere and show what a special player he is because you can’t define his position. For a guy his size to be that fearless and getting such huge plays because of that is unreal.
Muhammad Wilkerson (No. 39)
Opposed to that, Wilkerson is still waiting for the Jets to pay him like an elite player, because he is one of them. He is extremely active, plays hard and puts up the numbers. New York has one of the best defensive lines in football, but Wilkerson is the star among them.
Fletcher Cox (No. 49)
I really think Cox is the third-best interior defensive lineman in the league today. He demands double-teams, can push the pocket like no one else and shut down the run by himself. He got paid big this offseason as well.
Lavonte David (No. 53)
Other than Luke Kuechly and maybe one player who I have as one of my snubs, there is no better true linebacker in this league I think. He’s called “The Flash” because of his blazing speed and in combination with elite feel for the position and the heavy tackling production he is the prototype linebacker in today’s pass-heavy game.
Earl Thomas (No. 66)
If you don’t count Tyrann Mathieu as a safety, Thomas is still the number one free safety in the NFL. He has outstanding range and playmaking ability with an intidimation factor you rarely see out of a 200-pounder.
Michael Bennett (No. 59)
Everybody talks about J.J. Watt moving all over the defensive line, but Seattle uses Bennett in a similar way on passing downs. He’s a nightmare for guards because of his quickness and hands and he reads plays better than any other defensive lineman. There’s no better 4-3 defensive end in the league today in my opinion.
Gerald McCoy (No. 63)
The last two years I thought G-Mac was overrated, but now this year just like his teammate Lavonte David without any reason he drops almost 40 spots. McCoy still wreaks havoc and is in the backfield half of the plays he’s on the field. As a pass rusher he’s one of the few inside players who has the quickness to get around offensive linemen but also strength to push them into the quarterback’s lap.
Jamaal Charles (No. 75)
A couple of years ago Charles was probably a top five player in this league. I know that he got hurt last season and the Chiefs were still successful in the ground game and as a team, but other than maybe Le’Veon Bell and Adrian Peterson there might be no other back who does as much for a team as Charles. Pound for pound he is the toughest player in the league and he leads all running backs in NFL history in yards per carry.
Andrew Luck (No. 92)
Just one year ago we were talking about Andrew Luck being the next great quarterback and then he almost falls out of the Top 100. Sure, he was hurt and even when he was on the field he didn’t perform under his usual standards, but he was never 100% healthy and he still is the quarterback of the future. He has a killer arm, outstanding athleticism for the position and prepares harder than anybody else.
Mike Daniels (No. 95)
I know that not a lot of 3-4 defensive ends get the respect they deserve, but you can’t underestimate what Mike D brings to the Packers defense. He plays with great leverage and uses brute force to jam blockers or drive them into the quarterback, but what he also brings to the table is the intimidation factor to set an attitude up front and make everybody around him better.
Jarvis Landry (No. 98)
Juice has amassed more catches in his first two seasons than any other receiver in NFL history. But not only does he have a high volume of catches, he also makes big plays. He has great hands and feet, but what I like most about him is the aggressiveness and power he plays with. As a receiver he doesn’t shy away from contact at all as he tries to run defenders over if necessary.
Cameron Jordan (No. 99)
This is a guy not a lot of people talk about, but Jordan is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in football. Not only did he have 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hurries in 2015, he also made a third of his tackles in the backfield, which shows how disruptive he is against the pass and the run.
Others: Le’Veon Bell, Chris Harris Jr., Clay Matthews, Harrison Smith
Carson Palmer (No. 12)
This is a guy who I really like and could easily see taking his team to the Super Bowl this year, but you have to look at what he did in the playoffs. He had a mediocre game against the Packers in the divisional round (in which his stats were sweetened by Fitz’s heroic overtime run-and-catch) before having a complete breakdown in the NFC Championship Game against the Panthers. I want guys that perform well in the biggest games.
Todd Gurley (No. 22)
Before anybody wants to boo me out, you should read this first. I think Gurley could easily be the next great running back and build on an impressive rookie campaign, but you honestly want to tell me he is the 22-best player in the league already? I really like the kid, but I still want to see him do it over an entire season before I put him ahead of guys like Geno Atkins and Brandon Marshall.
Kam Chancellor (No. 32)
You could see what a difference Kam can make for a defense when he came back from holding out the first couple of weeks to immediately making an impact and forcing the game-winning fumble against the Lions. Still, to me he just isn’t the best safety in the NFL (or second-best if you count Tyrann Mathieu in). He has a lot of success in Seattle’s scheme where he has the freedom to come up and take on the intimidator role, but you can’t ask him cover slot-receivers or quick tight-ends one-on-one. I just don’t understand how he can be 34 spots ahead of his teammate Earl Thomas.
Andy Dalton (No. 35)
I know Dalton had an MVP-caliber start to the season and he has certainly erased some of his doubters, but he had a lot of help around him. At number 35 he is right on the edge of being in the upper-third of the top 100 players in the league and I just don’t think he is there yet. First he has to show me he can do it with a more limited receiving corp, which he will have to this season and he has to win a playoff game. Sure, you don’t have to win a championship to be one of the greatest, but the Bengals have had one of the most talented rosters in the NFL for quite a while now.
Demarcus Ware (No. 36)
No question this guy is one of the all-time great pass rushers. No question he belongs in the Hall of Fame. And no question he was a crucial part to the Broncos defense and the title run, but he is not the same player he was during his prime with the Cowboys and I’d put some of the young bucks like Ezekiel Ansah and Chandler Jones ahead of him.
Tyler Eifert (No. 44)
The Bengals tight-end had a spectacular 13 touchdowns and really emerged as the next star at his position, but putting him among the top 50 players in all of football sounds a little harsh to me. He averages just around 50 yards a game and although he makes some big plays down the field I’d like to see him be more of a security blanket. He is special in the red zone, but he is not as complete a player at his position as guys like Delanie Walker, who ranks 38 spots lower.
Demaryius Thomas (No. 62)
If you look at DT’s stats from last season you’d think he could also be higher than where he is ranked, but the tape tells the truth. He is in the top five among receivers when it comes to drops, but I feel like he got lucky when it comes to that as well. I can recall tree or four games where he had multiple drops on easily catchable balls in crucial situation. He has to bring more security for his quarterbacks to be ranked ahead of his teammate Emmanuel Sanders.
Others: Cam Newton, Josh Norman, Aquib Talib, Blake Bortles, Doug Baldwin
Jamie Collins, Patriots
How in the world is this guy not on the list? There is no way there are more than three or four true linebackers who should be ranked ahead of him. He missed a quarter of the 2015 season, but he does everything for the Patriots. He can run, blitz, cover, disrupt and also coordinate. He can do so many different things well, he has to be one of the top linebackers in today’s game.
Jurrell Casey, Titans
This Titan might not be a household-name, but believe me – offensive linemen know who he is. Casey can split up double-teams, he can run around guards, he can slip blockers and bring down ball-carriers behind the line of scrimmage and he does it every week. Tennessee is not a very big market and therefore none of their players were on the list, but this one should have made it.
Marcell Dareus, Bills
I know Mr. Big Stuff had a bit of a down year, as did the entire defensive line of the Buffalo Bills, but let’s not forget Dareus probably was the best D-tackle in the NFL the year prior to that. His strength and quickness are ridiculous, but it’s his feel for where plays are going and how to get rid of blockers that make him dominate opponents on a weekly basis.
Vontae Davis, Colts
The Colts defense needs some help to compete with elite offenses, but what they certainly have is a true number one cornerback. Davis is one of the very few players at his position that can match up with the big red zone threat – type wideouts in the league and really take them out of their game. He fell off the list after debuting at number 59 on last year’s addition, but he didn’t lose a step. So it was probably dependent on the Colts overall dropoff.
Desmond Trufant, Falcons
This is another cornerback who doesn’t get the love he deserves. Trufant can thrive in any scheme and has played great for a very bad Falcons defense the last couple of years. He doesn’t put up any big interceptions numbers or anything, but that’s just because he’s always in such good position and opposing quarterback don’t challenge him very often.
Robert Quinn, Rams
Just a couple of years ago Quinn was rated the 13th-best player in the NFL after wrecking up 19 sacks. He only played half of the 2015 season and that was during a time where the Rams didn’t get any sacks at all. I expect him to turn back into the pass rushing monster with an offseason to get healthy and one of the most disruptive defenders in the game inside called Aaron Donald.
Others: Keenan Allen, Bobby Wagner