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'Top 100' reaction: Norman, Palmer vault into top 12

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If this week's reveal of The Top 100 Players of 2016 is not proof that coaching matters, we're not sure what is.

Checking in at No. 11 and No. 12 were Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, respectively. Neither of them made the list the previous year or any season prior. Both are playing for two of the most respected coaches in the NFL.

Norman ventured out to Washington in an effort to prove us wrong, leaving a hostile negotiating situation in Carolina after a banner season at age 27. Palmer returned from a serious injury at 36 to throw for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Cardinals' offense might get figured out at some point, but for now Palmer is behind the wheel of one of the most electric systems in football.

Though the two are nearly 10 years apart, it's a great example of never giving up on a player. Norman earned playing time tooth and nail, while Palmer drifted southwest after a pair of egregious seasons in Oakland near the apex of his prime. Both are getting the chance they deserve and both were serious contenders to win a Super Bowl a season ago.

While Norman will have an upstream swim to regain the same place on this list next year (Washington's defense will simply not be as dominant as Carolina's was a year ago), Palmer is entering the type of sweet spot where he can grab hold of his legacy in a Kurt Warner-type fashion. We would not be surprised to see him crack the top 10 a year from now.

Elsewhere between 20 and 11...

» Richard Sherman is too low at 20. We know that, and probably most of the players voting know it too. Sherman is still the best cornerback in football, and there would be more than a few executives lining up to sign him long term if he hit a contract snag and appeared on the open market this spring.

» I can't think of many players I'd rather have on my team than Khalil Mack (13) and Aaron Donald (14). On one hand, their presence this high on the list -- ahead of Von Miller of all people -- is progress. People are looking harder at non-playoff teams and recognizing how effective an explosive interior presence like Donald can be. I will continue to tell whomever will listen that, current salary factored in, Donald and Mack are the two most valuable defensive players in football. If nothing else, being this high on the list isn't a bad starting place for two players who haven't even tapped into their prime years.

» Cam Newton has yet to make an appearance, but Russell Wilson clocked in at No. 17 (Last year, 22). His progress was less meteoric but more tangible in terms of steady growth. Based on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's lofty offseason expectations, this might be the last time we see Wilson outside of the top 10 for quite some time.

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