Top 100: Mind Blowing Stats  

 

Published: July 7, 2015 at 02:06 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2016 at 07:37 p.m.

NFL's top 10 players in 2015

Aaah yes. It's an annual tradition: The players vote for the NFL's best ... and I respectfully (and/or vehemently) disagree with their ballot.

The final 10 names of "The Top 100 Players of 2015" were revealed Wednesday night on NFL Network. To keep with tradition, here's my annual countdown of the league's finest. (For a point of reference, here's last year's list.)

Couple quick notes:

» I don't have a receiver listed. In an expanded list, Dez Bryant would have ranked 12th.
» I only have one running back ... and he didn't really play last year.

Let the debate begin!

10 Photos Total

  • Tough to separate Sherman from Darrelle Revis (whom I would rank 11th in an expanded list), but I'm giving the Seahawk a slight edge here. The former fifth-round pick has established himself as a truly elite NFL corner, with shutdown ability and a knack for playmaking. In four NFL seasons, Sherman has picked off 24 passes -- that's a remarkable number, considering quarterbacks are spooked and generally avoid his side of the field. 10

    Ben Margot

    10) Richard Sherman, cornerback, Seattle Seahawks

    Tough to separate Sherman from Darrelle Revis (whom I would rank 11th in an expanded list), but I'm giving the Seahawk a slight edge here. The former fifth-round pick has established himself as a truly elite NFL corner, with shutdown ability and a knack for playmaking. In four NFL seasons, Sherman has picked off 24 passes -- that's a remarkable number, considering quarterbacks are spooked and generally avoid his side of the field.

  • Gronk is an absolute beast, the ultimate target for Tom Brady in the red zone. After a couple of injury-riddled seasons, the Pats tight end returned to awe-inspiring form last fall, racking up 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season -- and then scoring a touchdown in each playoff game en route to his first Super Bowl ring. You just <i>can't</i> cover him. Linebackers are too slow, while Gronk overwhelms safeties and eats corners for lunch. (Figuratively, of course. Or maybe not ...) 9

    Paul Spinelli

    9) Rob Gronkowski, tight end, New England Patriots

    Gronk is an absolute beast, the ultimate target for Tom Brady in the red zone. After a couple of injury-riddled seasons, the Pats tight end returned to awe-inspiring form last fall, racking up 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season -- and then scoring a touchdown in each playoff game en route to his first Super Bowl ring. You just can't cover him. Linebackers are too slow, while Gronk overwhelms safeties and eats corners for lunch. (Figuratively, of course. Or maybe not ...)

  • I know, I know: Peterson played one game last season. And he deserved the punishment he received following charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. But there's a reason why Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman insisted on bringing him back: Peterson is the best running back in the NFL. He was the league MVP in 2012 and should be a prime candidate for the hardware this year. <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000495602/article/minnesota-vikings-rising-as-adrian-peterson-rejoins-young-core">As I wrote earlier this offseason</a>, Peterson can carry these upstart Vikes to the playoffs. 8

    Ann Heisenfelt

    8) Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings

    I know, I know: Peterson played one game last season. And he deserved the punishment he received following charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. But there's a reason why Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman insisted on bringing him back: Peterson is the best running back in the NFL. He was the league MVP in 2012 and should be a prime candidate for the hardware this year. As I wrote earlier this offseason, Peterson can carry these upstart Vikes to the playoffs.

  • He's a tackling machine (see: 473 tackles over three NFL campaigns) and the glue of a stout defense that has spearheaded the Panthers' back-to-back division titles. Kuechly is a true leader and a star. He was the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and he's earned first-team All-Pro honors in each of the past two seasons. What more could you want from an inside 'backer? 7

    Kevin Terrell

    7) Luke Kuechly, inside linebacker, Carolina Panthers

    He's a tackling machine (see: 473 tackles over three NFL campaigns) and the glue of a stout defense that has spearheaded the Panthers' back-to-back division titles. Kuechly is a true leader and a star. He was the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and he's earned first-team All-Pro honors in each of the past two seasons. What more could you want from an inside 'backer?

  • The hard-hitting, playmaking safety is the best in the game at his position, and the pulse of the best defense in football. With unbelievable range, Thomas breaks up passes, <i>picks off</i> passes, forces fumbles and rocks anyone who dares to come over the middle. He's a stud, a true game-changer who keeps offensive coordinators up at night. 6

    Aaron M. Sprecher

    6) Earl Thomas, free safety, Seattle Seahawks

    The hard-hitting, playmaking safety is the best in the game at his position, and the pulse of the best defense in football. With unbelievable range, Thomas breaks up passes, picks off passes, forces fumbles and rocks anyone who dares to come over the middle. He's a stud, a true game-changer who keeps offensive coordinators up at night.

  • Miami made a fantastic move signing this one-man wrecking crew in free agency. Suh gets to the quarterback, stops the run and makes everyone around him better. Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are about to feast on quarterbacks off the edges. 5

    Wilfredo Lee

    5) Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Miami Dolphins

    Miami made a fantastic move signing this one-man wrecking crew in free agency. Suh gets to the quarterback, stops the run and makes everyone around him better. Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are about to feast on quarterbacks off the edges.

  • Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, which makes him one of the great players in the sport. Brady's stats are still fantastic, but like Derek Jeter, if you judge his genius solely by numbers, you're missing the point. Brady, as we saw in the playoffs and <a href="http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2015020100/2014/POST22/patriots@seahawks">Super Bowl XLIX</a>, is always special when it matters the most. 4

    Patrick Semansky

    4) Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

    Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, which makes him one of the great players in the sport. Brady's stats are still fantastic, but like Derek Jeter, if you judge his genius solely by numbers, you're missing the point. Brady, as we saw in the playoffs and Super Bowl XLIX, is always special when it matters the most.

  • Luck has cemented himself as a true star quarterback. He <a href="http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=0&season=2014&seasonType=REG&d-447263-n=1&d-447263-o=2&d-447263-p=1&statisticCategory=PASSING&conference=null&d-447263-s=PASSING_TOUCHDOWNS">led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes</a> last season -- pretty incredible, considering Indy's subpar running attack and offensive line. And although the season ended on <a href="http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2015011801/2014/POST20/colts@patriots">a sour note</a>, Luck notched two more playoff wins and got his team one step closer to the promised land. 3

    Perry Knotts

    3) Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

    Luck has cemented himself as a true star quarterback. He led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes last season -- pretty incredible, considering Indy's subpar running attack and offensive line. And although the season ended on a sour note, Luck notched two more playoff wins and got his team one step closer to the promised land.

  • This cat is a freak, plain and simple. Having just earned his second Defensive Player of the Year nod in the past three seasons, Watt's an unstoppable megastar. He eclipsed 20 sacks for the second time in his four-year career. Oh, and for good measure, he established himself as a red-zone threat on offense, catching three touchdown passes. This dude's unfair. 2

    Matt Patterson

    2) J.J. Watt, defensive lineman, Houston Texans

    This cat is a freak, plain and simple. Having just earned his second Defensive Player of the Year nod in the past three seasons, Watt's an unstoppable megastar. He eclipsed 20 sacks for the second time in his four-year career. Oh, and for good measure, he established himself as a red-zone threat on offense, catching three touchdown passes. This dude's unfair.

  • He's the best player at the game's most important position. End of story. Rodgers won his second MVP award last fall, and deservedly so, throwing just five picks against 38 touchdown passes. At the moment, Rodgers boasts a career passer rating of 106.0. No one else in NFL history even touches 98.0. 1

    Kevin Terrell

    1) Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

    He's the best player at the game's most important position. End of story. Rodgers won his second MVP award last fall, and deservedly so, throwing just five picks against 38 touchdown passes. At the moment, Rodgers boasts a career passer rating of 106.0. No one else in NFL history even touches 98.0.