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ATL writers weigh in on 'The Top 100 Players of 2014'

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And now, another wholly organic email chain from the Around The League boys:

From: Sessler, Marc
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 7:59 AM
To: Hanzus, Dan; Rosenthal, Gregg; Wesseling, Chris; Starr, Kenneth
Subject: ORGANIC EMAIL CHAIN: Top 100 -- are you kidding me, people?

Gentlemen:

I am genuinely disturbed on this otherwise fine morning by the sea. Let me explain.

The NFL Network on Wednesday dropped its latest batch of "The Top 100 Players of 2014," lifting the veil on Nos. 90 to 81 and giving fans plenty to grumble over.


Watch "The Top 100 Players of 2014" every week at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network as we count down to the top player in the NFL. "The Top 100 Players of 2014 Reactions" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

For me, it starts with Charles Clay, the Dolphins tight end who hit at No. 89 after hauling in 69 catches for Miami last season.

I appreciate Clay's talents and talked him up in December, but he's ranked nine spots above Jason Witten. Witten surpassed Clay in receptions, touchdowns, yardage and YPC in 2013. The madness doesn't stop there: Our beloved "Top 100" brain trust also ranked Clay atop Matt Forte, who crash-landed at No. 91.

I need voters to put down the bath salts before this list burrows deeper into travesty. Am I the only one with my panties in a bunch?

CW: You are correct. Charles Clay's spot on this list is an outrage. He's a fine H-Back, but hardly a difference-making talent on par with Witten.

Jordy Nelson is the other name that stands out. I like to use him as a test case for who is actually watching NFL games. Football players are supposed to be film watchers. If they had watched Nelson play last season, he would be a unanimous top-50 player. No wide receiver made spectacular catches look routine to the extent that Nelson did. He's taken the baton from Hall of Famer Cris Carter as the NFL's ideal boundary receiver, whether that's via back-shoulder sideline grabs or highlight catches in the end zone. Nelson is a beast.

GR: There is a completely ridiculous ranking like Clay every year. John Kuhn made the list in 2012! Jacoby Jones made it last year.

I'm more offended that Matt Forte is ranked below DeMarco Murray, Reggie Bush and Eddie Lacy. Murray is inferior to Forte in every conceivable NFL skill, other than running in a straight line. Murray had more than 500 fewer yards from scrimmage last year than Forte, and that was easily Murray's career year.

I'm also offended Sessler used the words "bath salts" and "panties" in the same paragraph. No one should ever type or say the word panties again.

MS: I'll drop the word "panties" on this website whenever I feel so inclined, dear sirs.

To Wesseling's point: We know this list includes a whopping 15 receivers, meaning our precious player-voters ranked 14 targets above Nelson. Outrageous. "The Top 100" also features 13 quarterbacks, which tells us NFL athletes don't view Colin Kaepernick as a top-10 passer.

The 49er is notched at No. 81, same as last year. Two straight trips to the conference title game didn't sway the players, and I'd argue they got this one right. Kap is right where he should be. Maybe a beefed-up receiving corps -- with an endless terrain of No. 1s, per Stevie Johnson -- will help him to a better rating next spring.

Wait. We're assuming Romo made the list this time, right?

GR: Romo should be on the list, but he's generally been in a slight decline the last few years. Kaepernick seems fairly ranked. Then again, it's so weird to compare quarterbacks on lists to other positions. It's hard to say how guys like T.J. Ward, Kiko Alonso, and Evan Mathis stack up to Kaepernick. Alonso and Ward are nice players, but they aren't huge game-changers compared to league-average starters. (Not yet anyhow for Alonso.)

CW: Correct. Kaepernick is not a top-10 passer. But he is a top-10 quarterback, which factors in all of Kap's contributions. I'm glad you brought up the Stevie Johnson addition, to which we should add a healthy Michael Crabtree for the entire season. At times last season, Kap had one legitimate option in the passing game. It's no wonder he suffered through a mid-season slump. That won't be an issue in 2014.

Quarterbacks unquestionably superior to Romo: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan. That's it. That's the list.

Quarterbacks in the same sub-stratum: Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Nick Foles.

GR: Dan is really bringing the heat in this email thread. #TeamPlayer

DH: Marc wears panties?

The "Around The League Podcast" predicts which rookie quarterbacks will start first and what veterans are in trouble after the draft.

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