Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford showed up Wednesday night on the "Top 100: Players of 2012" list at No. 41. He earned it with a 5,000-yard season. Stafford's fellow players recognized that he made an enormous leap last season, especially with his strong play down the stretch.
We couldn't help but notice that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was not mentioned in the show. We still haven't found out where Newton will land on the list, but we know he's ahead of Stafford. We've criticized the voters more than once this year, but they got this call right.
This isn't about Newton's potential. He's already a superior quarterback. Newton showed the ability to stand tall in the pocket, like a veteran, and deliver with pressure in his face. He's a good progression reader. Stafford has also made great strides in these areas, but Newton's running skills put him over the top. Newton may be the best goal-line back in football.
This past season was such a massive success for Stafford. In his third season, the former No. 1 overall pick had to prove he could stay healthy. He did it. He had to prove that all his potential could translate into production. He did that, too.
Stafford was sensational last year, which makes it even more remarkable that the first overall pick of 2011 is already better than him.