Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Julio Jones should own 'Top 100' list


NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2017" has come to its final chapter. With the first 90 names revealed, we're down to the top 10 players in the game today -- at least, according to NFL player voting.

The final order will be revealed on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET this coming Monday, June 26. But we got a sneak peek on Tuesday night, when the names of the top 10 players were unveiled -- without the rankings. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

» Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
» Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
» Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
» Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
» Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
» Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
» Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders
» Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
» Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
» Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Those are the guys the players themselves have feted as the best of the best. Not exactly the same group of guys I would pick, personally, but an enticing list of stars nonetheless. How'll the order shake out on Monday night? You'll have to tune in to see. But allow me to whet your appetite by arranging those names as I see fit.

Here is my ranking of the players' top 10, in countdown fashion:

10) Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers running back is a flat-out star -- a do-it-all back who can kill you running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. After all, the guy averaged 105.7 yards rushing and 51.3 yards receiving per game. That's wild. At this point, the only thing that can stop Bell is injury or suspension.

I think the 25-year-old could have the best year of his career in 2017, given the talent around him and the motivation that comes from playing under the franchise tag.

9) Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

Denver's pass-rushing dynamo brings consistent dominance. Outside of his abbreviated 2013 campaign (six-game suspension and a knee injury), Miller has hit double-digit sacks every season. After guiding the Broncos to a title in 2015 (SEE: five sacks, two forced fumbles and a pick in the AFC title game and Super Bowl), Miller churned out another excellent season in 2016 with 78 tackles, 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Miller has a great motor and flair for getting to the quarterback. He's the best player on a great defense -- a bona fide star and champion.

8) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

I thought Zeke was a top-four candidate for MVP last year, and he got my AP votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Pro. I mean, the dude led the league in rushing by more than 300 yards.

Elliott is just special as a runner -- the ultimate blend of speed and power. And he is such a great weapon for Dak Prescott out of the backfield. Not to mention, Elliott greatly aides the Dallas defense by keeping the unit off the field. I believe Elliott was most responsible for the Cowboys' rebirth last year and will keep them moving forward.

7) Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

This cat is a freak. His 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns meant the world to the 2016 Giants as they overachieved and made the playoffs. The crazy thing? That was the least productive of his first three seasons. Yep, three years into his NFL career, Beckham is averaging 1,374 yards and 12 touchdowns. This is one of the great starts to a career in league history.

Beckham is, quite simply, one of the most feared players in the NFL -- at any position. He cannot be contained with a single corner -- and often times, two DBs still aren't enough. Speaking of unguardable receivers ...

6) Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

A brilliant and breathtaking talent who plays big in big games and has an amazing rapport with Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers just gave him a four-year, $68 million extension that makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in football. And he's worth every penny for Pittsburgh.

Over the past four seasons, Brown has averaged 120 catches for 1,579 yards and 11 touchdowns. Good grief. And he's gone over 100 yards receiving in four of his past five playoff games, posting seven catches for 77 yards in the one where he fell short.

5) Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders

Last September, I predicted Mack would win Defensive Player of the Year -- and the Raiders pass rusher delivered the goods. The sack total (11) was nice, but it was the uncanny timing of his big plays that made his 2016 special. Five forced fumbles and a pick didn't hurt, either.

The Raiders' defense still has many holes, but No. 52 covers for them. That's why no one will be surprised if the 26-year-old adds more hardware to his mantel in the years to come. And given the talent across the Raiders roster, a ring is well within striking distance.

4) Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta QB earned the 2016 MVP with a juggernaut season, leading the NFL in passer rating (117.1) and yards per attempt (9.3) while brilliantly guiding the Falcons to the Super Bowl. And it's because of Ryan's play and leadership that I firmly believe Atlanta will avoid the infamous Super Bowl hangover and can definitely get back to the big game.

No doubt about it: Ryan is elite. Just look at his numbers from the 2016 postseason: 71.4 percent completion rate, 10.3 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns against zero interceptions. That equals a 135.3 passer rating. I'm thrilled to see him getting the attention he richly deserves.

3) Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Jones topped my list of the most indispensable offensive players (I purposely omitted QBs from the exercise). He just makes everyone around him better, including reigning MVP Matt Ryan. Jones has gone over 1,400 yards receiving in each of the past three seasons. But his value -- what he means to the Falcons' receiving core, run game and win total -- goes well beyond the stats.

This is the guy defenses MUST game plan for. His hands, body control, athleticism and ability to make plays in traffic are special. If you made a wide receiver in a lab, he'd resemble Julio Jones.

2) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

The best quarterback of all time is still producing at an insane level. After a four-game suspension to start the season (a punishment that I took serious issue with), Brady came back with a vengeance, completing 67.2 percent of his passes with 28 touchdown strikes and two picks. Oh, yeah: And for good measure, Brady won the Super Bowl by engineering the greatest comeback ever, overcoming a 28-3 second-half deficit.

I don't care about his age. Tom Brady will go off again this year. And for many years after that.

1) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

It's Aaron Rodgers' world and we are just living in it. Forget the stats or the fact that the Packers don't employ a legit, NFL-caliber starting running back. Rodgers does things with the football that others can't do. No need to overthink this or overanalyze with a series of numbers -- it's quite simple ...

Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.



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