Aaron Rodgers was named the No. 1 player during the "Top 100 Players of 2012." One year later, he only ranked as the third quarterback on the list.
Rodgers landed in the overall rankings Thursday night at No. 6 on the "Top 100 Players of 2013," behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. (Not to mention J.J. Watt, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.) There have been more egregious mistakes on the Top 100 list, but ranking Rodgers so low was the worst call in the top 10.
This is what happens in annual rankings, lists or even awards. We get bored and make change for change's sake. But Rodgers is no different than he was a year ago when he was No. 1. He still provides the best combination of athleticism, experience, arm strength, smarts and "Did you see that throw?" moments of any quarterback in the league. He creates the most problems for defensive coordinators.
Adrian Peterson and J.J. Watt have better cases as the best players of last season. Brady and Manning have the edge when it comes to all-timer status. But for 2013, there's no way I'd pick against Aaron Rodgers in his prime.
Now 29 years old with a new contract and five full seasons as a starter under his belt, Rodgers is hitting that sweet spot of a quarterback's career where his physical skills and mental mastery perfectly align. Staying in coach Mike McCarthy's system throughout the process gives Rodgers a "coach on the field" vibe like Manning and Brady. Unlike Manning, Rodgers hasn't seen any diminishing arm strength. Brady is a better quarterback in some ways than his younger days, but he no longer ignores the pass rush as much.
I'm admittedly splitting hairs among three great players. This is a golden era of quarterback play, and we're lucky to watch all three. Manning and Brady deserve to be in the top 10. There's just no way any NFL general manager would take them over Rodgers for this year.
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