NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 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 three other critiques of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2013, and the Top 100 NFL Players of 2014. I’ve gotten many requests to do the same for the 2015 version, so here we are.

I really find it amazing how NFL players can screw these rankings up. As I pointed out before, 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 three years ago, yet the guy couldn’t even move. Last summer, the fossilized Jared Allen was voted 68th. When he tackled players, he had to find his walker afterward.

Predictably, there were some really dumb choices in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2015. I’ve highlighted them, marking the underrated players in blue and overrated players in red:

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 100-91:

100. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
99. Calais Campbell, DE/DT, Cardinals
98. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts
97. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
96. Jurrell Casey, DE/DT, Titans
95. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
94. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Ravens
93. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
92. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
91. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

99. Calais Campbell: Year after year, I keep saying it, and barely anyone listens: Calais Campbell is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. It’s criminal how low he is on this list, but at least he’s on it this summer. Well, I guess it’s good that he’s actually ranked now. He wasn’t in the top 100 in 2014, and this is what I wrote: “Aside from J.J. Watt, 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.”

98. Adam Vinatieri: Uhh… what!? A kicker… in the top 100? So, Adam Vinatieri is better than Calais Campbell and Randall Cobb, as well as many of the snubs on this list…? I don’t even…

91. Julian Edelman: This is just awful. Just because Julian Edelman caught the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl while clearly concussed doesn’t mean he’s the 91st-best player in the NFL. Just like Wes Welker was overrated years ago, Edelman is getting the same treatment. He’s just a system slot receiver who would be worthless on many other teams.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 90-81:

90. Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks
89. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
88. Glover Quin, S, Lions
87. DeMarcus Ware, DE, Broncos
86. Eric Weddle, S, Chargers
85. Golden Tate, WR, Lions
84. Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB, Ravens
83. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers
82. Haloti Ngata, DT, Lions
81. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

84. Terrell Suggs: This ranking may not seem terrible at first, but consider that other pass-rushers like Jerry Hughes are ranked ahead of Terrell Suggs. That makes no sense.

81. Darren Sproles: Are NFL players concussed enough that they think this is still 2011? Why is Darren Sproles No. 81, let alone in the top 250? Sproles had some big games early in 2014, and he managed to take two punts back to the house, but he was barely used offensively late in the year, and he turned 32 in June. He’s going to keep declining at this stage of his career.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 80-71:

80. Arian Foster, RB, Texans
79. Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens
78. Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Redskins
77. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
76. Sen’Derrick Marks, DT, Jaguars
75. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
74. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Jets
73. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
72. Kyle Williams, DE/DT, Bills
71. Julius Peppers, DE/OLB, Packers

79. Marshal Yanda: Guards are perennially underrated on this list, and that appears to be the case again this year. The best guard in the NFL should be higher than just No. 79.

76. Julius Peppers: Attention, NFL players: This is not a career-achievement list. This is a ranking for how players will perform in 2015. Julius Peppers is a future Hall of Famer, but at 35 years old, he is not the 71st-best player in the NFL.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 70-61:

70. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs
69. Bobby Wagner, OLB, Seahawks
68. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
67. Tashaun Gipson, S, Browns
66. DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions
65. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens
64. Charles Woodson, S, Raiders
63. Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, Bills
62. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
61. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs

68. Larry Fitzgerald: Here’s another career-achievement ranking. Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards since 2011. I know he’s been hamstrung with some terrible quarterbacks, but look at what Mike Evans did with the duo of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon as a mere rookie.

65. Justin Forsett: I like Justin Forsett, but he is not the 65th-best player in the NFL. I wouldn’t have even listed him in the top 100, and I most certainly wouldn’t have placed him ahead of Joe Flacco. That’s just stupid.

64. Charles Woodson: Hey, NFL players, this voting is for 2015; not 2005. Charles Woodson can’t cover anyone anymore, so this might be the dumbest ranking I’ve ever seen on these lists.

61. Jeremy Maclin: Jeremy Maclin’s stats were inflated by Chip Kelly’s high-volume system. Maclin is not going to have the same production in Kansas City, even if he stays healthy, which is not very likely to happen.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 60-51:

60. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
59. Vontae Davis, CB, Colts
58. Connor Barwin, DE/OLB, Eagles
57. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears
56. Lavonte David, OLB, Buccaneers
55. Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Jets
54. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens
53. Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Bills
52. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
51. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers

57. Brandon Marshall: See, this is proof that NFL players just aren’t watching film. Anyone who looked at Brandon Marshall closely last year noticed that he was regressing. Whether it’s because of age or time spent making TV shows, Marshall isn’t nearly the same player he once was.

54. Steve Smith: A 36-year-old receiver who has a history of quitting on his teams is not the 54th-best player in football. It’s amazing that the people in the league just don’t understand who’s good and who’s not.

52. Antonio Gates: Another old player who’s not nearly as good anymore. Yawn. Let’s move on.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 50-41:

50. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
49. Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Raiders
48. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
47. Trent Williams, OT, Redskins
46. Elvis Dumervil, DE/OLB, Ravens
45. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos
44. Robert Quinn, DE, Rams
43. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
42. Mario Williams, DE/OLB, Bills
41. Kam Chancellor, S, Seahawks

50. DeSean Jackson: DeSean Jackson has been the most overrated player in the NFL over the past several years. He’s an injury-prone, one-trick pony who is a terrible presence in the locker room. Most of Chip Kelly’s moves haven’t all made sense, but he was right to release Jackson for nothing.

45. Julius Thomas: There has been a long list of players who have separated from Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and have gone on to disappoint elsewhere. Julius Thomas is likely the next player to fit that profile, as he is one of the most overrated individuals in the NFL.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 40-31:

40. Jason Peters, OT, Eagles
39. Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins
38. Brent Grimes, CB, Dolphins
37. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
36. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys
35. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
34. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
33. Von Miller, DE/OLB, Broncos
32. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
31. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks

33. Von Miller: If you take J.J. Watt out of the mix, you could make the argument that Von Miller is the best defensive player in the NFL. He should be ranked higher than this.

31. Jimmy Graham: Probably about 20 spots too high. Jimmy Graham can’t be trusted to stay healthy.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 30-21:

30. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
29. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
28. Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers
27. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Chiefs
26. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
25. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
24. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins
23. Joe Haden, CB, Browns
22. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
21. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks

30. Drew Brees: I lost enough money on the Saints last year to know that Drew Brees is not the 30th-best player in the NFL anymore. He’s quickly declining and is no longer the player he once was. Perhaps NFL players should start gambling so they can make a more-accurate list. Get on that, Goodell.

27. Justin Houston: It seems a little odd that the player who nearly broke Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record is just 27th on this list.

23. Joe Haden: I like Joe Haden, but he should be in the 50 or so range. He’s not the 23rd-best player in the NFL, as there are a handful of cornerbacks better than him.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 20-11:

20. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
19. Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals
18. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
17. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets
16. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
15. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
14. Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
13. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
12. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
11. Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks

20. Demaryius Thomas: Another Peyton Manning product, Demaryius Thomas was likely voted 20th because he has a contract coming up, so his fellow commrades are trying to help him out. Thomas is talented, but he’s not a top-20 player. His numbers wouldn’t be nearly as good if he wasn’t paired with Manning these past few years.

19. Patrick Peterson: This is a tough one. Patrick Peterson is talented enough to be ranked 19th, but he didn’t play like it last year. Of course, he dealt with a medical issue for the first half of the season, so that could’ve been the culprit for his poor performance.

18. Jordy Nelson: This is one of the worst rankings this year. I like Jordy Nelson, and if he hovered around No. 60, I wouldn’t have an issue with it, but he is definitely not a top-20 player. Not even close. It just baffles me that players don’t understand that he wouldn’t be posting crazy numbers without Aaron Rodgers.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015: 10-1:

10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
9. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
8. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
7. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
6. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
5. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
3. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
1. J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Texans

7. Andrew Luck: Andrew Luck is the second-best quarterback in the NFL, so he should be ahead of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, so let’s get to them…

5. Peyton Manning: This is the ultimate career-achievement ranking. Peyton Manning is not the fifth-best player in the NFL right now. Not at 39 years old. Manning looked decrepit last season. Yes, he had a leg injury, but he was starting to show signs of regression even before getting hurt. And then there’s Manning’s tendency to choke in the playoffs. He was brutal in his most recent postseason defeat, but that performance looked like so many other epic failures of his. Manning is the best regular-season quarterback of all time, but his playoff ineptitude needs to be factored into this rating.

4. DeMarco Murray: Wow. This is horrible. DeMarco Murray was great last year, but shouldn’t NFL players realize that it kind of, sort of helped that he had the top offensive line in the NFL blocking for him? Running backs can often be products of blocking schemes – Mike Shanahan proved that – and Murray is the latest player to benefit from such a thing. Murray is a great player, and he definitely deserves to be in the top 100, but putting him at No. 4 is an absolute joke, and it speaks volumes about how clueless some of these NFL players are.

3. Tom Brady: Tom Brady just won the Super Bowl, but did so via dinking and dunking. He wasn’t very impressive, especially before Michael Bennett suffered an injury in the second half. If the Seahawks had their best pass-rusher for the entire contest, Brady probably never would’ve thrown that game-winning touchdown pass. He would’ve continued to struggle to move the chains. Granted, he was battling a stalwart defense, but Brady, at 38, has definitely lost some of his ability. He’s not the third-best player in the NFL anymore.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2015 – Snubs:

Fletcher Cox, DE/DT, Eagles – This one is puzzling. Fletcher Cox is a dominant force in the trenches, and he draws so much praise from nearly every broadcasting team, yet he somehow didn’t make it into the top 100. Someone needs to explain this one to me.

Thomas Davis, OLB, Panthers – Luke Kuechly gets all of the acclaim, but Thomas Davis is almost as good of a player. There’s no reason he should’ve been excluded.

Nick Mangold, C, Jets – Nick Mangold is better than Maurkice Pouncey. Yet, Pouncey qualified for this list, and Mangold did not. Not sure why that happened.

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 ever votes him into the top 100.

Josh Sitton, G, Packers – I wrote this last year, but no one listened: 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.

Harrison Smith, S, Vikings – The Vikings allowed nine fewer points per game on average in 2014 compared to the year before. The difference was that Harrison Smith was healthy.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons – Atlanta’s defense has been woeful the past couple of seasons, so maybe that’s why Desmond Trufant hasn’t been getting noticed. Trufant is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, and he definitely deserves a spot on this list.

Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals – Andrew Whitworth turns 34 in December, but he’s still getting it done. He surrendered no sacks in 2014, all while blasting open huge lanes for his two running backs.

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