NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: Analysis

I berated the players for their crappy rankings in the Top 100 NFL Players of 2011 and people seemed to like that. I’ve gotten many requests to do the same for the 2012 version, so here we are.

I really find it amazing how NFL players can screw these rankings up. Think about it – if you’re in an office, you and your other co-workers can probably rank the best employees and come to a smart consensus. NFL players, however, continuously bungle things like this, probably because many of them don’t watch film or pay attention to the other games. I mean, they ranked Donovan McNabb in the top 100 last year. Donovan freaking McNabb.

Predictably, there were some really dumb choices in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2012. I’ve highlighted them, marking the underrated players in blue and overrated players in red:

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 100-91:

100. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
99. Ryan Kalil, C, Panthers
98. Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos
97. Donald Penn, OT, Buccaneers
96. D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, Browns
95. Tim Tebow, QB, Jets
94. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
93. Cortland Finnegan, CB, Rams
92. John Kuhn, FB, Packers
91. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys

100. Chris Johnson: Tennessee’s starting running back was No. 13 on this list last summer. So, he somehow plummeted from 13 to 100 because of one bad year in which he struggled because of contractual issues? Talk about overreaction.

98. Willis McGahee: Ugh, really? Willis McGahee will be 31 in October, and most of his 2011 productive was the result of opposing defenses being terrified of Tim Tebow’s rushing ability.

92. John Kuhn: Am I missing something here? I know John Kuhn is a popular player in Green Bay, but he’s not even a good blocker for a fullback.

91. Tony Romo: Everyone loves to hate on Tony Romo. I do too sometimes. But he’s way better than No. 91. He was 72nd last year, so I don’t get why he slid 19 spots.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s what I wrote about McNabb last year:

100. Donovan McNabb: Rush Limbaugh is turning in his grave right now. If this were a 2006 list, Donovan McNabb would definitely deserve a spot in the top 100. But right now? I wouldn’t place McNabb in the top 300. He’s a fat, pompous, lazy, washed-up quarterback who doesn’t deserve to start ever again. There’s a reason the Eagles jettisoned him last year, as the Redskins quickly found out.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 90-81:

90. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants
89. Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
88. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
87. London Fletcher, ILB, Redskins
86. Darren Sproles, RB, Saints
85. NaVorro Bowman, ILB, 49ers
84. Chris Long, DE, Rams
83. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
82. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
81. Vince Wilfork, NT, Patriots

88. Michael Turner: Michael Turner is an old running back who does not deserve a spot in the top 100. Turner wore down last season, averaging more than 3.6 yards per carry in only one of his final seven games, and that came against a Buccaneer team that just gave up. His own coach told the media that he’ll need to be used more sparingly. Does that sound like a top-100 player?

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 80-71:

80. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
79. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Eagles
78. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Chiefs
77. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
76. Carl Nicks, G, Saints
75. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
74. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
73. Johnathan Joseph, CB, Texans
72. Lance Briggs, OLB, Bears
71. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles

74. Joe Flacco: Really? Better than Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub? It would make a lot of sense if they swapped Flacco and Romo on this list.

71. DeSean Jackson: Ugh. DeSean Jackson is one of the most overrated players in the NFL. In fact, he’s No. 3 on my Most Overrated NFL Players list.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 70-61:

70. QB Eagles No. 7, QB, Eagles
69. Carlos Rogers, CB, 49ers
68. Elvis Dumervil, DE, Broncos
67. Joe Staley, OT, 49ers
66. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks
65. Roddy White, WR, Falcons
64. Logan Mankins, G, Patriots
63. LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Steelers
62. Justin Tuck, DE, Giants
61. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

70. QB Eagles No. 7: The man commonly known as QB Dog Killer on this Web site is No. 2 on my Most Overrated NFL Players list. I wonder whom the Eagles will start at quarterback in the 4-6 games he misses in 2012.

65. Roddy White: The problem with the player voting is that they’re apparently stuck in the past. Roddy White used to have a spot in the top 70, but that’s no longer the case. He lost some of his explosiveness, as he’ll be 31 in November. He also has unreliable hands; no one in the NFL had more drops than White last season (15). Julio Jones should be slotted ahead of White, and he’s not even in the top 100.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 60-51:

60. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
59. Jake Long, OT, Dolphins
58. Jonathan Vilma, ILB, None
57. Trent Cole, DE, Eagles
56. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
55. Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, Cardinals
54. Brian Cushing, ILB, Texans
53. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
52. Von Miller, OLB, Broncos
51. Brian Urlacher, ILB, Bears

58. Jonathan Vilma: I highlighted Jonathan Vilma with a maroon shade because his ranking is downright embarrassing. Vilma is 58? More like 258. He’s absolutely terrible. I mean, talk about being slotted based on past credentials; Vilma hasn’t been good in years. He constantly gets washed away against the run; not that it matters anyway because he’s been kicked out of the league for a year. This was a good thing for one of the 32 teams out there because some inept general manager would have been dumb enough to pay him lots of money.

53. Tony Gonzalez: There’s no question that Tony Gonzalez is arguably the top tight end of all time. There’s also no question, however, that he’s old (36) and about to completely fall off. I don’t think he should be ranked No. 53.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 50-41:

50. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
49. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers
48. Devin Hester, KR, Bears
47. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers
46. Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos
45. Vonta Leach, FB, Ravens
44. Jason Babin, DE, Eagles
43. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
42. Jason Peters, OT, Eagles
41. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

50. Peyton Manning: Peyton Manning has had four neck surgeries. I don’t know why people are dismissing this so thoughtlessly. He had four neck surgeries, and he was already showing signs of regression at the end of the 2010 season. I don’t see how he can be ranked in the top 50 when he’s such an unknown. Maybe he’ll defy the odds and perform on a Pro Bowl level in 2012, but there’s also a chance his play could really drop off.

42. Jason Peters: I’m not questioning Jason Peters’ talent; but this is a list for 2012, and Peters won’t be able to play in 2012. He tore his Achilles, and unfortunately, there’s a good chance he may never play up to 2011 form ever again.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 40-31:

40. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
39. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
38. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
37. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
36. Charles Woodson, CB/S, Packers
35. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
34. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs
33. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
32. Jahri Evans, G, Saints
31. Eli Manning, QB, Giants

37. Steven Jackson: Though he’s been a great running back stuck on a terrible team for years, Steven Jackson shouldn’t be ranked here. Not anymore. He’s logged more than 2,000 career carries, so it’s likely that he’ll regress this season.

31. Eli Manning: There’s no way Eli Manning should be No. 31. He’s come up extremely clutch in two Super Bowl runs now. He also threw for 4,933 yards in 2011, so it wasn’t just playoff luck. Manning is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and has to be ranked much better than this. I don’t understand why he gets so little respect, but maybe a third Lombardi Trophy will remedy that.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 30-21:

30. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
29. James Harrison, DE/OLB, Steelers
28. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
27. Clay Matthews, DE/OLB, Packers
26. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears
25. Arian Foster, RB, Texans
24. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
23. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
22. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
21. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

28. Frank Gore: This is almost as bad as Jonathan Vilma. Frank Gore just can’t stay healthy. He’s unreliable, and he’s wearing down. Gore, 30 in May, had just one game in which he averaged more than 3.9 yards per carry after Week 9 last year – and that was based on just 10 attempts against the Cardinals.

25. Arian Foster: I’m not casting doubt that Arian Foster is a really good running back, but there’s no way in hell that he’s a better player than Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. Many running backs would be highly productive in Gary Kubiak’s system.

24. Jason Pierre-Paul: Despite being just a second-year player, Jason Pierre-Paul emerged as one of the most feared pass-rushers in the NFL. This is quite scary for the other 31 teams in the league because Pierre-Paul was raw coming into the NFL, so he still has room to improve. Pierre-Paul has to be in the top 20.

23. Wes Welker: And now we’ve reached the most overrated player in the NFL. Wes Welker is a fantastic slot receiver, but that’s all he is. You can read more of my rant in my Most Overrated NFL Players list.

21. Rob Gronkowski: I’m marking Rob Gronkowski in blue because he’s somehow ranked behind Jimmy Graham, who is No. 14. Both are terrific pass-catching tight ends, but there is a major difference between their blocking abilities. Gronkowski is a fierce blocker, while Graham isn’t really used in that role. The former is just a better overall player. I don’t get how the people voting on this list didn’t see that.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 20-11:

20. Ray Lewis, ILB, Ravens
19. Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers
18. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
17. Justin Smith, DE/DT, 49ers
16. Ed Reed, S, Ravens
15. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
14. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
13. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings
12. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
11. Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB, Ravens

14. Jimmy Graham: Already discussed. Let’s move on to the top 10.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012: 10-1:

10. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
9. Haloti Ngata, DL, Ravens
8. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
7. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
6. DeMarcus Ware, DE/OLB, Cowboys
5. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets
4. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
2. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

8. Adrian Peterson: Not as bad as last year when Ray Lewis was No. 4. Adrian Peterson’s ranking is the only qualm I have with the top 10. He’s coming off a torn ACL incurred in late December, so how good can he possibly be in 2012? And even if that’s not taken into account, Peterson is just not much of a factor in the aerial game. The NFL is now a pass-first league, so how can a player be ranked in the top 10 if he can’t contribute to that part of the offense? There’s no denying Peterson’s running abilities – he’s an absolute stud in that department – but he doesn’t play all three downs, which is something a player has to do to be in the top 10.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2012 – Snubs:

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers – Some would argue that Antonio Brown is better than Mike Wallace. Hauling in 69 receptions for 1,108 yards and two touchdowns in only his second season, Brown is a good bet to be the most productive Steeler receiver in 2012, especially considering Wallace’s holdout.

Bryan Bulaga, OT, Packers – Bryan Bulaga is one of the premier right tackles in the NFL. He permitted only one sack in 2011.

Calais Campbell, DE/DT, Cardinals – Aside from perhaps Justin Smith, Calais Campbell is the top 3-4 defensive lineman in the NFL. Not only should he be in the top 100; he has to be ranked somewhere in the top 30.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – This is an obvious omission I don’t have to delve into.

Brent Grimes, CB, Falcons – Opposing quarterbacks found it difficult to throw against Brent Grimes last year, as they completed only 44.6 percent of their passes. Grimes surrendered only two touchdowns.

Joe Haden, CB, Browns – Snubbed for the second year in a row, Joe Haden limited opposing passers to a 49.4 completion percentage. I don’t understand why one of the top corners in football keeps getting excluded from this list.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – One of the most dynamic weapons in football, Percy Harvin’s exclusion from this list is downright criminal. He was trending on Twitter for five straight days after asking for a trade. Five straight days!

Nick Mangold, C, Jets – The top center in football is not on this list, but yet an average fullback is? Weh?

Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, 49ers – There’s a chance that Aldon Smith could be the league’s top pass-rusher in two years or so. Coming off a rookie campaign in which he notched 14 sacks, Smith is unquestionably a top-100 player.

Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Steelers – I don’t know why Timmons is continuously excluded from this list. He’s one of the better inside linebackers in football.

Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Dolphins – Yet another dynamic pass-rusher who is undervalued. Cameron Wake unquestionably should have made the list.

J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Texans – Entering his second season, J.J. Watt was a force for the Texans as a rookie. He had 5.5 sacks in the regular season and then four more in the playoffs, which doesn’t even include his ridiculous pick-six of Andy Dalton in the opening round. Watt is one of the young, bright stars in the NFL, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the top 100.

Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Falcons – Another Falcon defender snub, though this one isn’t as egregious as Brent Grimes. Sean Weatherspoon had a terrific 2011 campaign, though I understand it if the players kept him out because he’s essentially a one-hit wonder. If he has another strong season in 2012, he’ll have to be in the top 100.

Eric Weddle, S, Chargers – The No. 3 safety in the NFL was excluded from this list. Interesting. All Weddle did last year was pick off seven passes and play well in both coverage and run support.

Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals – Snubbed last year as well, Andrew Whitworth did a terrific job protecting Andy Dalton’s blind side in 2011, surrendering just three sacks.

Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings – Easily a top-50 player, Kevin Williams is one of the elite defensive tackles in the NFL. He has no holes in his game, so I don’t know how he missed this list.

Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens – How does one of the top guards in the NFL not make the top 100? Ugh. I guess I shouldn’t expect much from a collective that thought Donovan McNabb deserved the distinction last year.

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