NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 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 four other critiques of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2013, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2014, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2015, and the Top 100 NFL Players of 2016. I’ve gotten many requests to do the same for the 2017 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 five years ago, yet the guy couldn’t even move. Three summers ago, the fossilized Jared Allen was voted 68th. When he tackled players, he had to find his walker afterward. Last year, Carson Palmer was 12th, Blake Bortles was 56th, and Chris Ivory was 78th! Here was my reaction:

OH MY GOD. CHRIS IVORY IS 78TH?!??!?! ARE YOU F***ING SERIOUS??? CHRIS IVORY… IS 78TH!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

Predictably, there were some very dumb choices in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017. I’ve highlighted them, marking the underrated players in blue and overrated players in red:

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 100-91:

100. Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Chargers
99. Malcolm Butler, CB, Patriots
98. Adrian Peterson, RB, Saints
97. David DeCastro, G, Steelers
96. Damon “Snacks” Harrison, DT, Giants
95. Kelechi Osemele, G, Raiders
94. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Patriots
93. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles
92. Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings
91. Lorenzo Alexander, LB, Bills

100. Joey Bosa: Bosa was stellar as a rookie last year, logging 10.5 sacks in 12 games. He was dominant for the Chargers despite having no experience, and he’s going to continue to improve. He’s most certainly better than No. 100.

Otherwise, the players are off to a good start. By the way, I’m not going to count out Adrian Peterson quite yet. He was awful in 2016, but no one should be surprised if he rebounds in 2017. I don’t have a problem with his ranking.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 90-81:

90. Malcolm Jenkins, S, Eagles
89. Thomas Davis, LB, Panthers
88. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
87. Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys
86. Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans
85. Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Cardinals
84. Mike Daniels, DT, Packers
83. Calais Campbell, DE/DT, Jaguars
82. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers
81. Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs

89. Thomas Davis: Something players often are guilty of is ranking old, declining players too high as “lifetime achievement” awards. This is a prime example of that. Davis isn’t a poor player yet, but he’s definitely much less effective than he’s been in the past. He’s not a top-100 player anymore.

87. Travis Frederick: Frederick is arguably the top center in the NFL. Considering that center is one of the most important positions in football, Frederick should be much higher than this.

81. Alex Smith: Alex Smith was ranked 81st last year as well. Amazingly, the people voting on this list still don’t get it. Here’s what I wrote in 2016: “Ladies and gentlemen, the most mediocre quarterback in the NFL has been declared to be the 81st-best player in the league. I think the NFL players have reached a new low with this ranking. This is completely embarrassing.”

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 80-71:

80. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles
79. Sean Lee, LB, Cowboys
78. Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Titans
77. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Packers
76. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Chiefs
75. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
74. Harrison Smith, S, Vikings
73. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
72. Taylor Lewan, OT, Titans
71. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

80. LeGarrette Blount: What!? LeGarrette Blount is a better player than Travis Frederick? Joey Bosa? Former teammate Dont’a Hightower? Bill Belichick gave Hightower a 4-year, $35.5 million contract this offseason. Belichick, meanwhile, was more than willing to let Blount go. Belichick has to be looking at this list and laughing his a** off. How can an average running back be ranked the 80th-best player in the NFL? Wow.

76. Justin Houston: Houston is one of the top edge rushers in the NFL, yet he’s somehow 76th on this list. I don’t get it. He was hurt last year, but no one would be surprised if he approached 20 sacks in 2017.

71. Julian Edelman: Edelman was too high last year as well. Here’s what I wrote: “Just like Wes Welker was overrated years ago, Edelman is getting the same treatment. He’s just a system slot receiver who would be almost worthless on many other teams. ”

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 70-61:

70. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins
69. Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
68. Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals
67. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
66. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings
65. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
64. Casey Hayward, CB, Chargers
63. Chris Harris, CB, Broncos
62. Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins
61. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

70. Kirk Cousins: I don’t have a huge problem with this ranking, but considering how Cousins has repeatedly chocked in big games, I think it’s a bit too high for him. I wonder if this is a ploy by the players to get the Redskins to pony up and pay him.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 60-51:

60. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
59. Josh Norman, CB, Redskins
58. Zack Martin, G, Cowboys
57. Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
56. Cliff Avril, DE, Seahawks
55. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins
54. Janoris Jenkins, CB, Giants
53. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
52. Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers
51. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

52. Gerald McCoy: When discussing the top 4-3 defensive tackles in the NFL, Gerald McCoy needs to be near or at the very top of the list, especially with Aaron Donald transitioning to the 3-4. McCoy has always been underappreciated throughout his career, and this is another instance of that.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 50-41:

50. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
49. Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, Texans
48. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
47. Trent Williams, OT, Redskins
46. Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks
45. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
44. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
43. Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens
42. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins
41. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons

42. Jarvis Landry: The Dolphins definitely don’t agree with this ranking. They’re reluctant to give Landry a long-term deal because they view him as replaceable. Landry makes too many mistakes for my liking to be placed this high. I’d put him in the 80-100 range.

41. Devonta Freeman: Devonta Freeman averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry just once following Week 8 in 2015. That’s why I wrote he was too high in 2016. Now, he’s nine spots higher. Freeman had a great season, but that was a byproduct of running behind an elite offensive line.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 40-31:

40. Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Falcons
39. Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks
38. Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles
37. Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos
36. Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
35. J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Texans
34. Kam Chancellor, S, Seahawks
33. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
32. Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs
31. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

33. DeMarco Murray: Here’s another instance in which a running back is slotted way too highly because he produced behind an elite offensive line. Murray is a good running back, but there’s no way in hell he’s the 33rd-best player in the NFL.

By the way, some of you might think Tyreek Hill is too high. Sorry to disappoint you, but I think this might be correct. Hill definitely wasn’t the 36th-best player in the NFL last year, but he’s a very intriguing talent who seems poised to take the next step in 2017. In a rare occurrence, NFL players are projecting forward with a player on this list. Whether they did this intentionally or not remains to be seen.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 30-21:

30. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks
29. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
28. Landon Collins, S, Giants
27. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
26. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
25. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
24. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
23. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
22. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
21. Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks

I don’t see anything wrong with the 30-21 list. Maybe Russell Wilson should be higher, but I don’t have a huge issue with slotting him 24th. Hopefully there are some mistakes in the top 20!

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 20-11:

20. Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
19. Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals
18. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys
17. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
16. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
15. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
14. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
13. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
12. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
11. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders

14. Dak Prescott: Here’s the mistake! I like Dak Prescott as much as the other guy, but to slot him over Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and some others seems like an egregious error. Prescott had tremendous success as a rookie, but he had the luxury of operating behind the best offensive line in football. He would have done well elsewhere, but he wouldn’t have been nearly as prolific.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017: 10-1:

10. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
9. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
8. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
6. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
5. Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Raiders
4. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
3. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
2. Von Miller, DE/OLB, Broncos
1. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

I’d slot Rodgers over Brady, but that’s just me. I’m not going to argue over where the top two quarterbacks in the NFL belong.

I think the players did a much better job of ranking players this year. They still made some atrocious mistakes – I’m still not sure what they were smoking with the LeGarrette Blount ranking – but the count on those was far fewer than what we’ve seen in past summers.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017 – Snubs:

Some very talented players were omitted from the top 100. Last year, some snubs I listed here included Matt Ryan, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. Here are this summer’s snubs:

Rodney Hudson, C, Raiders – It’s amazing how important centers are in relation to how disrespected they are. Hudson is a top-three center in the NFL, meaning he’s one of the most important non-quarterbacks in the league. Forget being in the top 100; he should be inside the top 50!

Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints – Because New Orleans’ defense has been so awful in recent years, Cameron Jordan has been underappreciated. Jordan is one of the better edge rushers the league has to offer. He notched 10 sacks in 2015 and then had 7.5 sacks in 2016 despite playing through a sprained MCL.

Kyle Juszczyk, FB, 49ers – Come on, put a fullback in the top 100! Juszczyk is the best player at his position in the NFL, and he’s going to be a valuable member of San Francisco’s improved offense.

Alex Mack, C, Falcons – Had the Falcons held on to their 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, I would have argued for Alex Mack to be the MVP. Mack is the main catalyst for Atlanta’s resurgence, so to keep him off the top 100 list is a great disservice.

Devin McCourty, S, Patriots – What I wrote the past two years applies: “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.” This is the third consecutive summer McCourty has been snubbed, and it needs to stop.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers – The Panthers believed Short was so good that they gave him a 5-year, $80 million contract in April. And they were right to do so! Short is one of the top defensive linemen in the league, so he should have been in the top 50.

Josh Sitton, G, Bears – What I wrote last year applies, which is funny because I also wrote it in 2015. And 2014: “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.”

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints – If the players can project Tyreek Hill going forward, why can’t they do the same for Michael Thomas? The Saints wideout was much better than Hill as a rookie. In fact, he would’ve won Offensive Rookie of the Year if it wasn’t for the two Dallas players.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons – What I wrote the past two years: “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.” The only difference now is that Atlanta’s defense is better, yet Trufant is still getting snubbed!

Eric Weddle, S, Ravens – One of the top safeties in the NFL, Weddle should have been ranked. His exclusion in the top 100 doesn’t make much sense to me.

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles – I rank Wentz above Kirk Cousins and on par with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, so he needed to be on this list. Wentz made some mistakes as a rookie, but had plenty of bright moments as well. There will be much more of the latter in 2017.

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