Freeney heads the wrong direction on 'Top 100' list

After the inclusion of John Kuhn left colleague Gregg Rosenthal rocking in the corner of a white padded cell, I was understandably spooked by my assignment of breaking down the next 10 names on NFL Network's "The Top 100: Players of 2012" list.

Luckily, this group of players is far less polarizing. There are no mid-tier fullbacks, scrutinized Cowboys QBs or men known for iconic acts of public worship.

Instead, we have a list of very good NFL players. Let's have a look, shall we?

90. Hakeem Nicks, NYG
89. Dwight Freeney, IND
88. Michael Turner, ATL
87. London Fletcher, WAS
86. Darren Sproles, NO
85. NaVorro Bowman, SF
84. Chris Long, STL
83. Fred Jackson, BUF
82. Joe Thomas, CLE
81. Vince Wilfork, NE
 

Freeney jumps out immediately at 89. He was ranked as the 15th-best player in the NFL on last year's list, so 2011 wasn't kind to either the Indianapolis Colts or the perception of their star defensive end. Freeney's numbers didn't exactly nosedive last season (sack-total down from 10 to 8.5, tackles from 25 to 19), but this is what happens when you're associated with a 2-14 team.

If Freeney doesn't quickly take to the Colts' new 3-4 defense, look for him to fall off the list entirely in 2013.

Jackson is a new face on the "Top 100" who almost certainly would've been higher had he not been sent to IR after Week 11 (he was leading the league in rushing before suffering a broken leg against the Miami Dolphins). Jackson is the highest-ranked of six running backs in the bottom 20, the best represented position so far.

Finally, an ATL tip of the cap to London Fletcher, easily the oldest player to crack the bottom 20. The 36-year-old linebacker started all 16 games for the Redskins in 2011 and led the NFL with 166 tackles. By comparison, your 36-year-old uncle is mostly known for passing out in his own mess every St. Patrick's Day.