NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: Analysis

I berated the players for their crappy rankings in the Top 100 NFL Players of 2011 and people seemed to like that. I ran two othercritiques of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012 and the Top 100 NFL Players of 2013. I’ve gotten many requests to do the same for the 2014 version, so here we are.

I really find it amazing how NFL players can screw these rankings up. As I pointed out last year, 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 Michael Turner in the top 100 two years ago, yet the guy couldn’t even move!

Predictably, there were some really dumb choices in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2014. I’ve highlighted them, marking the underrated players in blue and overrated players in red:

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 100-91:

100. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
99. Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, Saints
98. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
97, Louis Vasquez, G, Broncos
96. Daryl Washington, ILB, Cardinals
95. Brent Grimes, CB, Dolphins
94. Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Jets
93. Ryan Kalil, C, Panthers
92. Eric Weddle, S, Chargers
91. Matt Forte, RB, Bears

99. Cameron Jordan: If you’re the fourth-best player at your position in the entire league, you should probably be higher than No. 99, right? Cameron Jordan is behind only J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell and probably Muhammad Wilkerson in the five-technique department. He dominated the line of scrimmage last year, and he was a major reason why New Orleans’ defense finished in the top 10 of most categories. Putting Jordan behind Jason Witten, for example, is absurd.

98. Jason Witten: This is a top-100 list for 2014; not 2010. Jason Witten is 32. He’s in severe decline, as he could barely move last year. He saw his receptions drop from 110 to 73, and 12 of them came in the finale against the Eagles, who couldn’t cover anyone. Witten doesn’t belong in a top-150 list; let alone a top-100 ranking.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s what I wrote about Donovan McNabb in 2011:

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 2014: 90-81:

90. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
89. Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins
88. Evan Mathis, G, Eagles
87. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
86. Duane Brown, OT, Texans
85. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions
84. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Bills
83. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
82. T.J. Ward, S, Broncos
81. Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers

89. Charles Clay: Charles Clay is a fine H-back, but he doesn’t strike me as a top-100 player. He had 34 career receptions prior to 2013, for crying out loud. Clay offers nothing in terms of blocking, so he probably got ranked this highly because he did well in some players’ fantasy leagues.

88. Evan Mathis: Arguably the best guard in the NFL, Evan Mathis should be closer to around No. 60.

87. DeMarco Murray: Any running back as injury-prone as DeMarco Murray doesn’t belong in the top 100. He’s just too unreliable, and he’ll almost certainly never play a full season.

85. Reggie Bush: Ugh, wow. This might be the worst ranking in the entire top 100. Was no one paying any attention to the Lions late last season? If they were, they would’ve noticed that Reggie Bush was benched on multiple occasions in favor of Joique Bell. I’d actually rank Bell over Bush, but neither deserves to be anywhere close to this list.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 80-71:

80. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins
79. Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos
78. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys
77. Clay Matthews, DE/OLB, Packers
76. Von Miller, DE/OLB, Broncos
75. Joe Staley, OT, 49ers
74. Tim Jennings, CB, Bears
73. Wes Welker, WR, Broncos
72. Antrel Rolle, S, Giants
71. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys

76. Von Miller: OK, I give up. Von Miller is the top outside linebacker in the NFL, regardless of scheme. I figured he’d be in the top 20, or perhaps in the 21-35 range because he’s coming off a torn ACL. To rank him 76th just shows how incompetent the players are when it comes to compiling this list.

73. Wes Welker: I give up. Again. Aside from the quarterback who just went from the Eagles to the Jets, Wes Welker has been the most overrated player in the NFL this century. He’s been a product of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning this entire time, and everyone thinks he’s an elite wideout because he posts awesome fantasy numbers. Welker has been a great slot receiver, but that’s all he was. Now, he’s a shell of his former self who barely did anything down the stretch in 2013 (before he got hurt).

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 70-61:

70. Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
69. Justin Smith, DE/DT, 49ers
68. Jared Allen, DE, Bears
67. Jason Peters, OT, Eagles
66. Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Dolphins
65. Kam Chancellor, S, Seahawks
64. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Chiefs
63. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
62. Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Bills
61. Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers

70. Nick Foles: Nick Foles had an unreal 2013 campaign. He threw 27 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions, all while completing 64 percent of his passes and maintaining a 9.1 YPA. Looking closer, however, and you’ll realize that those numbers are a bit deceiving.

Seven of Foles’ scores came against the Raiders, who didn’t bother showing up to that game. Foles’ 20 other touchdowns mostly came against teams that displayed some sort of effort, but nearly all of them were terrible. Take a look at the pass defense rankings (in terms of YPA) of all of Foles’ opponents once he took over the starting job for good in Week 9: 29th, 27th, 31st, 6th, 18th, 23rd, 25th, 26th. That’s one matchup against a team 17th or better in pass defense, and that happened to be a home tilt against the Cardinals – a game in which Philadelphia would have lost if a Foles interception wasn’t dropped in the fourth quarter.

Foles is solid, and perhaps he’ll prove me wrong when he battles the NFC West this year, but I remain skeptical that he’s as good as others make him out to be.

68. Jared Allen: I guess the players are just voting for Jared Allen out of respect here, given that he was very mediocre this past season. Allen is sadly no longer anywhere near the player he once was, and he has no business being in the top 100 any longer.

63. DeSean Jackson: The No. 63 player in the NFL was just released for nothing. That makes sense. Jackson has been terribly overrated for years. He’s an injury-prone, one-trick pony who is a terrible presence in the locker room. The Redskins made a huge mistake signing him, as they will soon learn that he’s subtraction by addition.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 60-51:

60. Trent Williams, OT, Redskins
59. DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions
58. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
57. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Chiefs
56. DeMarcus Ware, DE, Broncos
55. Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens
54. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
53. Greg Hardy, DE, Panthers
52. Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Bengals
51. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

59. DeAndre Levy: Uhh… what? DeAndre Levy is a fine linebacker, but the 59th-best player in the NFL? Not even close. I would put him in the 130-140 range. Ranking him in the top 60 is just stupid. Think about it this way: The players believe that Levy is better than Von Miller. Derp dee derp.

58. Joe Flacco: So, a quarterback who commits 24 turnovers and throws 19 touchdowns is the 58th-best player in the NFL, apparently. Never would have guessed.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 50-41:

50. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
49. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
48. Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals
47. NaVorro Bowman, ILB, 49ers
46. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
45. Haloti Ngata, NT, Ravens
44. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
43. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs
42. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Jets
41. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

46. Frank Gore: Yo, NFL players, it’s not 2009. Frank Gore doesn’t even belong in the top 200 at this stage of his career. He’s no longer an every-down player, and at 31, he’ll continue to decline. There’s a reason the 49ers spent a second-round on a running back, after all.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 40-31:

40. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
39. Joe Haden, CB, Browns
38. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
37. Darrelle Revis, CB, Patriots
36. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears
35. Lavonte David, OLB, Buccaneers
34. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
33. Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, 49ers
32. Kyle Williams, DT, Bills
31. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

37. Darrelle Revis: The best cornerback in the NFL east of Seattle is only No. 37. Why? Ugh. Let’s move on before I lose my mind.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 30-21:

30. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
29. Mario Williams, DE, Bills
28. Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers
27. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
26. Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB, Ravens
25. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
24. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
23. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
22. Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals
21. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

21. Andre Johnson: I’m not joking when I say this, but I nearly choked on a Starburst when I saw that Andre Johnson was ranked 21st. Johnson posted awesome numbers in 2013 amid quarterbacking issues – 109 receptions, 1,407 yards – but he’s not the No. 21 player in the NFL at this stage of his career. He just turned 33, so this could definitely be the year in which he drops off.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 20-11:

20. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
19. Robert Mathis, DE/OLB, Colts
18. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
17. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks
16. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
15. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Panthers
14. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
13. Robert Quinn, DE, Rams
12. J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Texans
11. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

19. Robert Mathis: Question: How is Robert Mathis going to be the 19th-best player in the NFL for 2014 when he’s sidelined for four games because he took PEDs? Mathis’ 2013 explosion was because of those PEDs, so he’ll probably be mediocre when he returns to the field this October.

16. Josh Gordon: I suppose this list was compiled before Josh Gordon was facing a year-long suspension for marijuana. What a terrible crime. He should be exiled from America for committing such an atrocious act. Maybe he should have hit his girlfriend instead. He’d be out for two games just for that.

14. Marshawn Lynch: Wasn’t this supposed to be a list for 2014? Marshawn Lynch has been an outstanding running back over the years, but it’ll be shocking if he doesn’t decline this season, given how much of a workload he has carried recently.

11 & 12. Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt: I haven’t looked at the top 10 yet, and I found myself shouting aloud, “Who the hell is ranked over Rodgers and Watt!?” I Those guys could be Nos. 1 and 2 on my list.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014: 10-1:

10. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
9. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
8. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
7. Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks
6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
5. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
3. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos

3. Tom Brady: I wish you could’ve seen the look on my face when I saw that Tom Brady was ranked third on this abomination of a list. What the hell did the players watch last year that made them believe that there are only two better players in the NFL than Brady? Granted, he didn’t have the supporting cast that Peyton Manning enjoyed, but Brady just didn’t look like the same quarterback. The “clutch” argument can’t even be used anymore because Brady has choked many times since winning his third Super Bowl.

1. Peyton Manning: I’d probably put Peyton Manning closer to No. 10. Yes, he broke all of the NFL single-season passing records, but consider the following: A) His supporting cast was ridiculous. B) He navigated through a joke of a schedule featuring an anemic NFC East that even made Alex Smith look good. C) Seattle 43, Denver 8. D) Manning no longer has the same arm strength he possessed five years ago. He’s a declining quarterback, and it’s very reasonable to expect him to get worse in 2014. This is a list for 2014, so Manning should not be at the very top.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2014 – Snubs:

Jairus Byrd, S, Saints – Jairus Byrd must be a real a**hole because this is the second year in a row he’s been snubbed. Does no one like him? Otherwise, why would a top-three NFL safety keep failing to make this list?

Calais Campbell, DE/DT, Cardinals – Aside from J.J. Watt, 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. I don’t get why he keeps getting excluded from this list.

Thomas Davis, OLB, Panthers – Luke Kuechly got all of the acclaim, but Thomas Davis was arguably the better linebacker in 2013.

Devin McCourty, S, Patriots – I don’t know what Devin McCourty needs to do to get noticed. He’s been a stellar safety for the Patriots the past couple of seasons, yet no one votes him into the top 100.

Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Redskins – It’s strange that one of the league’s elite pass-rushers somehow didn’t find himself on this list, yet Reggie Bush did.

Josh Sitton, G, Packers – Josh Sitton is easily a top-five interior lineman in the NFL. He might even be one of the best three. I don’t get how he’s not a top-100 player.

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