There are a plethora of these lists on the internet, so you probably should just skip mine seeing as I’m nothing more than a fan who spends a bit too much time drinking beer and following this league. I have a weird love-hate relationship with the NFL.
Anyways, every year the NFL Network puts out a list voted on by the players but it’s COMPLETE BULLSHIT because the formatting has each player name 30, not 100 players, which obviously gives a heavy advantage to the more notrious players (and QB’s, RB’s, and WR’s).
My list is trying to identify the top 100 players in the league, regardless of position, heading into the 2015 season. So while the 2014 season counts, it’s not the only thing that counts. No rookies allowed. Essentially, this is a list ranking how much better I feel certain guys are than other guys at their position.
I initially drew up a list of 175 and then narrowed it down. Both lists from Pro Football Focus and Bill Barnwell of Grantland helped with some info I couldn’t find on film or through basic stats, and I used some other resources as well, such as Football Outsiders, when making decisions.
Ultimately, it’s my opinion, man. Let’s get into it, but first, a few notable omissions:
Cam Newton, Elvis Dumervil, Matt Forte, Patrick Peterson, Sheldon Richardson (duh), Antonio Gates, Jeremy Maclin, Alex Mack, DeMarcus Ware, Glover Quin, Haloti Ngata, Donald Penn.
#100) Thomas Davis (4-3 OLB, Carolina Panthers)
Despite being 32 and ripping up his knee more times than I can count, Thomas Davis remains one of the very best coverage linebackers in the league. An effective blitzer as well, Davis’ presence allows Luke Kuechly the freedom to move around and find the ball.
#99) C.J. Mosley (3-4 ILB, Baltimore Ravens)
Mosley didn’t just replace Ray Lewis, he stepped in and was immediately more effective than Lewis had been for the last few years of his career. He’s the prototypical 3-4 ILB, as he’s a tackling machine but also extremely capable in coverage on both tight ends and backs. Here, Mosley (#57) goes right at Ryan Kalil but keeps his balance and finishes the play…
#98) Brandon Flowers (CB, San Diego Chargers)
Flowers is a small guy so the transition from Kansas City to San Diego, who didn’t need him to press as much, proved to be great for him. He had his best season and finally lived up to his billing as a top-shelf corner.
#97) Dontari Poe (NT, Kansas City Chiefs)
Poe hurt his back and figures to miss at least the first few games of the season. But this 345 lb. man is perhaps the most disruptive NT in the league. The Chiefs D needs him back ASAP.
#96) LeSean McCoy (RB, Buffalo Bills)
It’ll be interesting to see how Shady does in Buffalo. He’s coming off a relatively down year in which he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry to go with just 28 receptions. Once again the heart of an offense, McCoy will need to have a better season or we could very well be talking about him as being “washed” by this time next year.
#95) Joe Staley (LT, San Francisco 49ers)
A lot of players aren’t on the 49ers anymore, but Staley still is. Staley has started all 16 games at LT for the last four seasons, making four straight Pro Bowls. Staley’s effectiveness in the run game could give his career a second act once the athleticism starts to go.
#94) Will Hill (S, Baltimore Ravens)
While he may be more well-known for his suspensions and tweets, Hill is one of the league’s best safeties. He was arguably the Ravens MVP during their win over Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Athletic, rangy, and a hitter…Hill is the complete package when focused and on the field.
#93) Louis Vasquez (G, Denver Broncos)
Possibly the best run-blocking guard in the league, Vasquez had to face the challenge of playing a bit of tackle last year for Denver. He’ll be back at his natural position of RG this year, and Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking roots and emphasis on the run game should give Vasquez a chance to shine.
#92) Vontaze Burfict (4-3 OLB, Cincinnati Bengals)
Burfict might not be 100% this year after getting his knee scoped in January, but he’s a terror when on the field and healthy. Probably the rangiest LB in the league, Burfict is always throwing his head into plays (which is kind of dangerous). The Bengals LB core desperately needs Burfcit to return to form. STATE TROOPER SPANK ALERT.
#91) T.J. Lang (G, Green Bay Packers)
One of two Green Bay guards on this list, Lang is coming off perhaps his best season despite a really ugly showing in the playoff game against Seattle where he was directly responsible for multiple blown-up running plays and a sack.
#90) Jason McCourty (CB, Tennessee Titans)
One of two McCourty’s on this list, Jason doesn’t get the credit his brother does because he plays in Tennessee. It’s a travesty that McCourty has never been selected to a Pro Bowl and a testament to how DB analysis is still too focused on INT numbers.
#89) Jimmy Graham (TE, Seattle Seahawks)
One of many guys who had a down year statistically in New Orleans, Graham now goes to Seattle, hoping to give Russell Wilson the dominant red zone weapon he’s never had. Graham’s blocking struggles will always hold him back from being as valuable as a Gronk or Witten, but the matchup nightmare should be a safe bet for 1,000 yards and double-digit TD’s in Seattle. This one was funny…
#88) Maurkice Pouncey (C, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Pouncey shook off an injury-raddled 2013 to reclaim his position as one of the league’s top centers last season. The Steelers have built their line from the inside out, and Pouncey has become a franchise-type guy for them.
#87) Karlos Dansby (ILB, Cleveland Browns)
No matter where he goes, Dansby shows out. Despite 10+ years in the league, Dansby is still one of the most fluid backers in coverage. The real shame is that he’s wasted his last few years on mediocre teams.
#86) Kam Chancellor (S, Seattle Seahawks)
He’s often forgotten about when we discuss the Seahawks defense, but Chancellor jumps out at you on tape. He’s a savage hitter. While he struggles in coverage, his hybrid position allows him to hide it and focus on doing what he does best…hitting people very very hard.
#85) Jurrell Casey (Interior Defender, Tennessee Titans)
Another talented player wasting away his prime years in Tennessee. Casey is an outstanding pass rusher from the inside. He may not rack up huge sack numbers (just 5 last year), but if you’re relying solely on sacks to look at rushers, you’re doing it wrong. Casey is always pushing through into the backfield and disrupting offenses.
#84) Evan Mathis (G, Free Agent)
Still unsigned because he’s a guard seeking top dollar, Mathis missed half of the season in 2014 but when he played he was the best run blocker in the league yet again. Someone will bring him in. Mathis (#69), finishes off a double team here…
#83) Greg Olsen (TE, Carolina Panthers)
Always a solid blocker and good athlete, Olsen put up 1,000 yards for the first time last season. He’s sure-handed, and by far the most reliable target for Cam Newton. It’s not ridiculous to expect another 1,000 yards out of him this year.
#82) Pernell McPhee (Edge-Rusher, Chicago Bears)
McPhee’s play as a situational guy in Baltimore got him a big contract with the bears, and with plenty of snaps left in him, it appears to be a good one for the team. He earned the second-highest PFF grade of all outside backers last year despite not even getting 600 snaps. He recorded a sack once in every 72 plays on the field, which is insane.
#81) Brandon Marshall (4-3 OLB, Denver Broncos)
Marshall’s emergence from nowhere last season saved the Broncos defense. He’s outstanding in coverage and takes great angles when tackling. He’s one of the many great young players on the Broncos defense that will help keep them competitive even once Manning is gone.
#80) Brent Grimes (CB, Miami Dolphins)
This veteran corner continues to be one of the most stable in the league and a move to Miami a couple years ago allowed people to see it. He also did this…
#79) Clay Matthews (LB, Green Bay Packers)
Matthews preformed admirably in 2014 despite playing out of position. The Packers would be wise to move him back to the edge, but they’ll need somebody (cough cough Sam Barrington cough cough) to step up. When you have one of the leagues best rushers, you want them doing just that, rushing. It’s remarkable that Matthews managed to rack up 11 sacks last season.
#78) Kyle Williams (Interior Defender, Buffalo Bills)
Williams continues to be one the most unheralded stars in the NFL. He’s a very effective rusher from the interior. He draws double teams. He eats holes. He does it all, even if he’s not quite as dominant as he was two years ago.
#77) Randall Cobb (WR, Green Bay Packers)
Are Cobb’s statistics aided by the fact that he has Jordy Nelson drawing top CB’s and Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball? Sure, but he’s still great. Capable of lining up anywhere, Cobb is a much more physical catcher of the football than the “slot receiver” billing implies. 12 TD’s last year will likely prove to be a bit of a fluke, but Cobb should be a safe bet for 80 catches and 1,000 yards again.
#76) Anthony Castonzo (LT, Indianapolis Colts)
Once considered a relative bust, Castonzo has become one of the soundest pass blockers in the league. Andrew Luck takes a lot of hits, but he holds on to the ball too long and the rest of the Colts line is shaky. Castonzo is very good. FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN DOT GIF.
#75) Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta Falcons)
Yeah, the Falcons sucked in 2014. But Ryan threw for over 4,600 yards with a 2:1 TD:INT ratio and a great 7.5 YPA. He’s still one of the best pocket passers in the league. With Julio Jones and Roddy White still around, as well as a (hopefully) better line, 2015 should be another great season for Matty Ice.
#74) Mike Evans (WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
There was some great rookie WR play in 2014, and Evans was right near the top of that class. He uses every bit of his 6′ 5″ frame to snag balls in the air and muscle smaller CB’s at the LOS. Now the clear #1 and with an upgrade at QB, Evans should improve on his 1,000 yard, 12 TD rookie season.
#73) Ryan Kerrigan (Edge-Rusher, Washington Redskins)
When put in space and asked to tackle or cover, Kerrigan really struggles. But he’s one of the most effective pass rushers in the league and his play in 2014 was one of the few bright spots for Washington. Without Brian Orakpo, the ‘Skins will be relying on another double-digit sack season out of Kerrigan.
#72) T.Y. Hilton (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
Hilton is so shifty both on routes and after the catch. Coming off two straight 1,000+ yard seasons, Hilton figures to be Luck’s go-to guy even with Andre Johnson in town. He’s one of the best deep threats in the league. Luck throws maybe the league’s best deep ball. You do the math. Here, he takes the top off the Houston defense…
#71) Sharrif Floyd (Interior Defender, Minnesotta Vikings)
Floyd put it all together in his second season. Adding a pass rush (4.5 sacks in just 587 snaps) to his elite run-stuffing, Floyd blossomed into one of the league’s best all-around players. Along with Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr, he forms an impressive young trio for the Vikings defense.
#70) Duane Brown (LT, Houston Texans)
As steady as they come, Brown is a franchise LT who’s missed just six starts in his seven-year career. He’s made three straight, well-deserved Pro Bowls. Whoever ends up playing QB for the Texans will at least have this guy protecting their blindside.
#69) Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)
#68) Emmanuel Sanders (WR, Denver Broncos)
Sanders had the second-best drop rate in the NFL last season and was actually the most reliable target in Denver due to his ability to get open as well. If Peyton Manning really is losing arm strength, Sanders could actually benefit from an adjusted playbook.
#67) Travis Frederick (C, Dallas Cowboys)
There isn’t a better C in the league when it comes to pushing the pile forward to open up holes. The goal for Frederick in his third season will be improving in pass pro. There was a time when Jerry Jones picked him the first-round and we all laughed because he’s a center. Jerry Jones was right.
#66) Terrell Suggs (Edge-Rusher, Baltimore Ravens)
Fine wine ages like Terrell Suggs. He’s an interesting pass-rusher because he sort of just powers through tackles rather than going around them. He’s also great against the run. Suggs’ 12 sacks were his most since 2011. T-SIZZLE FTW.
#65) Connor Barwin (Edge-Rusher, Philadelphia Eagles)
There’s a lot Barwin doesn’t do well, but you can’t ignore 14.5 sacks, especially when drawing double teams. He sacked Cam Newton three times in that Monday Night game and I thought that was funny.
#64) Joe Flacco (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
Yes, he’s divisive. But looking at other QB contracts, is Flacco really overpaid? He had a quietly impressive statistical year (3900 yards, 27 TD, 7.2 YPA) after finally getting some ground support. He’ll have some new guys to throw to, which will take adjusting, but the Ravens have multiple deep threats which plays to Flacco’s strengths.
#63) Eddie Lacy (RB, Green Bay Packers)
It’s easier as an RB when you have Aaron Rodgers to draw attention from a defense and an elite interior line, but we shouldn’t hold that against Lacy. He’s obviously a bowling ball when going downhill, but he’s much shiftier and skilled than he gets credit for. Stay healthy, Eddie, please, stay healthy.
#62) Devin McCourty (S, New England Patriots)
The Pats lost a lot of talent in their secondary, but McCourty returned. It’s easy to see why McCourty was originally as CB, as he’s a lockdown coverage guy. But he’s also a sound tackler who holds down the back end of the defense.
#61) DeAndre Levy (4-3 OLB, Detroit Lions)
It’ll be interesting to see if Levy can remain one of the league’s top backers without Suh and Fairley in front of him. I think he will. He’s always been very good in coverage but now he’s developed into one of the best tacklers in the league. Great burst through the hole by Levy (#54) here…
#60) Desmond Trufant (CB, Atlanta Falcons)
The guy people forget about when discussing top CB’s, Trufant has had a great first two years in the league. Via PFF, QB’s throwing at Trufant had a completion percentage of just 58.7%. That’s a good, if unspectacular, number.
#59) Joel Bitonio (G, Cleveland Browns)
What a great rookie year for this interior lineman. He’s elite as both a pass and run blocker. That’s very hard to find. Well worth the high 2nd round pick.
#58) Nick Mangold (C, New York Jets)
A late-season injury soured the narrative surrounding this Hall of Fame level player a bit, but it shouldn’t have. He’s still the best center in the league.
#57) Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
We’ll probably never know exactly how good Russ is until we see him run an offense without Marshawn Lynch, but in the meantime, he’s a remarkably efficient passer who highlights as the league’s best running QB. He’s also just 26. Yeah, he’s worth that contract. He can throw…
#56) DeMarco Murray (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)
The Cowboys dominant line certainly helped Murray last year, but he’s still a great back with good vision and acceleration when he needs it. Can he stay healthy moving forward? That’s the real question for him in Philly.
#55) Philip Rivers (QB, San Diego Chargers)
Until he has a really deep playoff run, a lot of people won’t realize just how good Rivers is. He threw too many picks last year, but having a better running game supporting him should help aide that.
#54) Michael Bennett (Edge-Rusher, Seattle Seahawks)
Dear Seahawks, pay this man. Bennett has another phenomenal year as both a rusher and run-stopper. You could argue he’s the most important player on the Seattle defense. I personally wouldn’t, but you could. Yeaaaa buddy.
#53) Marcell Dareus (Interior Defender, Buffalo Bills)
Dareus is the dominant run-stuffer who allows Buffalo’s other guys up front to focus on getting to the QB. He’s big enough to plug holes by holding his ground, but also quite athletic and can get off blocks.
#52) Bobby Wagner (4-3 ILB, Seattle Seahawks)
Another Seahawks defender? Yep, another Seahawks defender. Despite battling injuries for much of 2014, Wagner was still dominant. He covers and he tackles.
#51) Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints)
Don’t be fooled by a down year in New Orleans. Brees is still one of the league’s best. He throws the ball so much that there are always going to be INT’s. But when he can get you 5,000 yards on impressive efficiency numbers with 35+ TD’s, who cares?
#50) Jamie Collins (3-4 ILB, New England Patriots)
The Pats have maybe the league’s best LB group, and Collins’ athleticism/versatility is a big part of that. Collins moves well and is probably the best pass rusher in the league from the interior LB spot. Did I mention he’s athletic?
#49) Trent Williams (LT, Washington Redskins)
Poor Trent. He’s still stuck in Washington. He lost nearly 30 lbs this offseason in an attempt to recapture some athleticism. I’m sure he will.
#48) Jason Witten (TE, Dallas Cowboys)
One of the best players of his generation continues to get it done for Dallas. He runs great routes, he’s sure-handed, and he’s one of the league’s best blockers. There’s a reason Tony Romo targets him so much on 3rd down.
#47) Harrison Smith (S, Minnesotta Vikings)
Harrison Smith is so exciting to watch. He’s a playmaker both against the run and pass. PFF graded him 2nd amongst all safeties against the run. He’s only 26. Pick six!
#46) Jordy Nelson (WR, Green Bay Packers)
Jordy’s averages over the last two years: 92 catches, 1416 yards, 10 TD’s. Skin color be damned, he’s an elite receiver and a welcome target for Aaron Rodgers. His exceptional body control means he’s open even when he’s not.
#45) Fletcher Cox (Interior Defender, Philadelphia Eagles)
I’m not sure why Cox continues to fly under the radar. He plays in Philly, and he’s really freakin’ good. He’s capable on all four downs and one of the best run stoppers in the league.
#44) Tony Romo (QB, Dallas Cowboys)
After a career-best season, Romo has a sneaky-good, HOF-caliber resume (save for the playoff success fans seem to live and die by). Romo’s averages over the last four years: 66.2%, 4155 yards, 31 TD, 12 INT, 7.8 YPA. YEESH. He just needs to stop hurting his ribs…
#43) Lavonte David (4-3 OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Even after a bit of a down year, it’s hard to not look at David as one of the league’s very best LB’s. The 7 sacks he had in 2013 set an unrealistic expectation for his pass-rushing.
#42) Dont’a Hightower (3-4 ILB, New England Patriots)
After a shaky start to his career, Hightower emerged as one of the very best in 2014. He’s sooooo good against the run, gives a little pass rush, and has improved in coverage. A foundational defensive player for New England.
#41) Muhammad Wilkerson (Interior Defender, New York Jets)
Got hurt towards the end of the year but he’s arguably the best run defender in the league. Nice swim move too…
#40) Jason Peters (LT, Philadelphia Eagles)
Via PFF, Peters had the highest run blocking grade of all LT’s last season. When you add that to the fact that he’s truly an elite blindside protector, you get a dominant player.
#39) Demaryius Thomas (WR, Denver Broncos)
Thomas moves so well for somebody his size and he’s polished his routes to the point where he’s basically become uncoverable. Another 1,400+ yard season should happen in 2015.
#38) Robert Quinn (Edge-Rusher, St. Louis Rams)
Quinn had a slow start to 2014 but recovered and ended up as the 6th best pass rushing DE (via PFF). Even if 2013 Robert Quinn was a fluke, he’s still very good.
#37) Khalil Mack (Edge-Rusher, Oakland Raiders)
The Raiders found a true defensive cornerstone in last year’s draft with Khalil Mack. Already one of the best all-around players in the NFL, Mack’s ability to stop the run is what makes him so special. Here’s a fine example of how Mack’s (#52) pedestrian sack numbers aren’t really indicative of his rushing ability, as he burns Duane Brown (#70 on this list)…
#36) Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
This future HOF-er had a bounce back year that saw him rediscover his deep ball. He’s so tough to defend because of his arm and the way he keeps plays alive outside the pocket. He’ll headline one of the league’s best offenses in 2015.
#35) Jamaal Charles (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
5.5 career yards per rush on over 1,200 carries. Serious question, is Jamaal Charles the best RB of the 2010’s?
#34) Cameron Wake (Edge-Rusher, Miami Dolphins)
Wake is a pass-rushing specialist who constantly ranks amongst the best rushers in the league. He’s limited, but what he does he does very well, and it’s valuable. Remember that time he had a walk-off safety sack?
#33) Joe Thomas (LT, Cleveland Browns)
The most dependable LT in the league. He doesn’t miss games. He doesn’t give up sacks. He’s also an underrated run blocker. The Browns at least got this draft pick right.
#32) Josh Sitton (G, Green Bay Packers)
A very good pass blocker from the interior, Sitton is the unheralded star of the Packers offense. He’s also durable, starting all 16 for the last three years.
#31) A.J. Green (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)
Green missed three games last year yet put up 1,000 yards with ANDY DALTON as his QB. He still carries the ball too loosely, but that’s a minor gripe for an elite all-around WR. EXTENSION.
#30) Earl Thomas (S, Seattle Seahawks)
Thomas’ aggressiveness is what makes him so exciting, but it also gets him in trouble (as some of his missed tackles in the Super Bowl showed). He’s still the most athletic safety in the league and one of the very best players, but he should be more consistent than he is.
#29) Calais Campbell (Interior Defender, Arizona Cardinals)
Campbell is the best player on one of the league’s best defenses. He stops the run as well if not better than any 3-4 end in the league and continues to provide stable pass rush. It’s crazy to think that last year was the first time Campbell was voted to a Pro Bowl.
#28) Adrian Peterson (RB, Minnesotta Vikings)
This is tricky, since AP only played in one game last year. In the two years prior he averaged 1682 yards and and 5.4 per carry. Maybe a season of rest can help extend what has been an HOF career.
#27) Tyron Smith (LT, Dallas Cowboys)
The league’s most athletic lineman is nearly impossible to beat in pass protection. He does well in a zone-blocking scheme that allows him to use his footwork. Other Cowboys lineman get all the credit for what they did for Murray last year, but Smith is the best big guy on the team. Here’s smith (#77) pulling around the TE’s to help open a hole…
#26) Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions)
Nagging injuries and the rise of some other guys dethroned Megatron of his “best WR in the league, no question” title, but he’s still one of the true elites and should be in for a bounce-back season if he’s healthy seeing as he’ll turn 30 just before it starts. Calvin put up over 1,000 yards with 8 TD’s in just 13 games last year. That’s a “down” year for him.
#25) Aaron Donald (Interior Defender, St. Louis Rams)
An outstanding rookie year for a guy who somehow didn’t even open the season as the starter. He’s so explosive off the snap so it doesn’t matter that he’s a bit undersized for his position. We could be looking at a double-digit sack guy who’s also elite against the run moving forward. The number of current players who can claim that is three (all higher on this list).
#24) Chris Harris Jr. (CB, Denver Broncos)
The best CB in Denver last season was not the expensive and loud Aqib Talib, it was formerly undrafted Chris Harris Jr. Harris graded 4th out of ALL players according to PFF. His versatility makes him valuable. He can play in the slot or out wide, in zone or in man. He can press or bump-n-run. He’s an elite CB.
#23) Julio Jones (WR, Atlanta Falcons)
Look at this nugget from the Barnwell column I linked to at the beginning of this…
#22) Richard Sherman (CB, Seattle Seahawks)
As expected, Sherman had an exceptional 2014. Teams ignore his half of the field like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I’m always impressed by his play in run support. A lot of teams have drafted big corners to try and replicate him. But there is only one Richard Sherman, and I think one is enough.
#21) Peyton Manning (QB, Denver Broncos)
Don’t listen to people who tell you Manning is done and has a dead arm. He had a bum leg late last year and couldn’t plant off it, which explains the relative lack of velocity on his flows. If being “washed up” means throwing for 39 TD’s with a 7.9 YPA, which Manning did last year, more teams should sign washed up QB’s.
#20) Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, New York Giants)
Had OBJ played all 16, it’s safe to say he would’ve had the greatest rookie season ever. He had 1,300 yards and 12 TD’s despite sitting out the first four games. On a per-game basis, he was the league’s best receiver. He has ridiculous body control and hand strength, as evidenced by the catch you’ve surely seen a hundred times.
#19) Eric Weddle (S, San Diego Chargers)
Now 30, Weddle is still the most dependable safety in the league despite lacking the athletic talent of a Harrison Smith or Earl Thomas. There’s not a single thing he can’t do, but it’s his ability in man coverage that really separates him.
#18) Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts)
Luck is not perfect, yet. He still holds on to the ball too long. He still turns it over too much. He still overthrows guys across the middle. But that’s nitpicking when talking about a guy that’s revitalized a franchise and taken them to the playoffs three years in a row. Luck’s video game numbers from 2014 figure to become the norm for him moving forward.
#17) Von Miller (Edge-Rusher, Denver Broncos)
Miller developing into an elite run stopper has made him one of the most complete players in the league, as he was already one of the most explosive pass rushers. The ACL tear didn’t slow him down at all. Von has played in 56 games and recorded 49 sacks. That’s good, guys.
#16) Gerald McCoy (Interior Defender, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Injuries and penalties prevented McCoy from being quite as good as he was in 2013…but he’s still dominant. He rushes the passer as well as any interior guy in the league.
#15) Dez Bryant (WR, Dallas Cowboys)
IT WAS A CATCH EVEN THOUGH I DON’T KNOW WHAT A CATCH IS.
#14) Andrew Whitworth (LT, Cincinnati Bengals)
Injuries forced the Bengals to move Big Whit around last year, but he’s at his best at LT, where he’s the best pass protector in the NFL. The fact that Whitworth, who’s been one of the league’s best for nearly a decade, only has ONE Pro Bowl selection is a joke. Fuck the Pro Bowl, anyways.
#13) Darrelle Revis (CB, New York Jets)
How confident is Revis? He took a one-year “prove it” type deal with the Pats, won a Super Bowl, and then signed a mega-contract back with the Jets. He has every right to be confident, as he’s still the best pure man-coverage corner in the league and probably the best of all-time.
#12) Ndamukong Suh (Interior Defender, Miami Dolphins)
If Suh doesn’t completely transform the Dolphins defense, I’ll be surprised (and disappointed, given the contract). Say whatever you want about him being “dirty” -whatever that means in a sport that literally kills people- just don’t deny his impact on the field. His run-stopping has finally improved to the point where’s he’s elite all-around. Also, anyone who thought this play was dirty needs to watch this gif 100x until they come to their senses. The most offensive thing here is Rodgers going for the ass-grab…
#11) Tom Brady (QB, New England Patriots)
Fuck Tom Brady for dragging this out. Seriously, even if he truly believes he’s innocent, he was still dishonest initially. He’s the greatest QB ever and is still one of the best, but for real, fuck him.
#10) Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
The league’s most versatile RB, Bell is outstanding downhill or dancing around. He’s also an incredible catcher of the football. He apparently didn’t know you get a DUI for being high, but it’s cool. Again, this is a sport that kills people. I don’t really care if Le’Veon was smoking before a preseason flight.
#9) Vontae Davis (CB, Indianapolis Colts)
The best CB in the league last year? Not Revis or Sherman. Vontae Davis is just a monster in coverage, completely engulfing WR’s with his fluidity and size. And he’s finally dialed back his aggressiveness a bit, no longer slipping up for homeruns and whiffing because of bad angles. BEAST.
#8) Marshal Yanda (OG, Baltimore Ravens)
Perennially the league’s best interior lineman, 2014 was another banner year for Yanda. PFF graded him as the 7th best pass blocker in the league, which is crazy when you consider that his pass blocking is looked at his “weakness”. He’s THAT good in the run game. Just ask Justin Forsett, who had a career year and got a new contract by getting behind Yanda. Here’s Yanda (#72) holding off Suh…
#7) Marshawn Lynch (RB, Seattle Seahawks)
Lynch is the NFL’s best pure runner. He throws tacklers off of him, and always seems to hit the right hole. After a rocky start to his career in Buffalo, Lynch found his home in Seattle. In his four full seasons as a Hawk, he’s averaged 1339 yards with 12 TD’s on 4.5 YPC. He doesn’t have to answer the media’s questions if he doesn’t want to.
#6) Justin Houston (Edge-Rusher, Kansas City Chiefs)
Houston is coming off a 22 sack season that likely would’ve netted him DPOY if a certain somebody who’s #1 on this list didn’t exist. While sack numbers can be deceiving, Houston is a great rusher. What’s perhaps most impressive is that PFF also graded him out positively both against the run and in coverage. Maybe Houston will never have another season like he did in 2014, but even a step back will still have him amongst the games elite.
#5) Luke Kuechly (4-3 ILB, Carolina Panthers)
Kuechly is so much fun to watch play. He’s everywhere on the field at once. So rangy, great angles, great anticipation. Kuechly would be a great player even if he wasn’t a freak athlete with impressive tackling ability. Look at him (#59) recognize the play pre-snap and shed two Chicago blockers to stop Matt Forte.
#4) Antonio Brown (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Amidst all the talk of the NFL trending towards big receivers, the league’s best over the last couple years has been this 5′ 10″ dude out of Central Michigan. Brown gets out of his cuts quickly, making him a deceptively effective possession guy. He’s also the one of the NFL’s premier deep threats, and underrated when it comes to muscling DB’s for the ball. Brown has amassed 239 catches for 3,197 yards over the last two years. TWO YEARS.
#3) Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
Not much I can say about Rodgers that hasn’t already been said a hundred times. He’s the league’s best QB by a decent margin and its most valuable player.
#2) Rob Gronkowski (TE, New England Patriots)
Isn’t it sort of unfair how much better Gronk is than any other TE? No player at the position in the history of the league has impacted the game like Gronk. The Pats offense is completely built around funneling it to him medium-range over the middle, and utilizing the space for others the threat of that opens up. Gronk is coming off his first healthy offseason in his career. It’s crazy to think he might not even be at his best yet.
#1) J.J. Watt (Interior Defender, Houston Texans)
Over/Under on J.J. Watt total TD’s this year: 4.5?