The NFL Network's fantastic "Top 100 Players of 2011" series has sent my mind racing about the possibilities of putting together a list of the league's best players.
While I have the utmost respect for the players' opinions of their peers, I believe a list of the game's best should feature players who would rank at the top of evaluation boards across the league.
The criteria are subjective based on the position, but the critical factors in the evaluation should include production, skill level and overall game-day impact.
Granted those traits are not easily definable, they serve as a solid basis for compiling a list that will certainly lead to some debates from my colleagues, players and fans.
With the NFL Network's version of the list set to crack the top 50, let's take a peek at picks 41 through 50 in my mind:
41. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: He might be the most explosive big-play runner outside of Chris Johnson with his deadly combination of speed, quickness and burst. He has the ability to turn the corner against elite defenses, and his robust 6.4 yards-per-carry average is indicative of his explosiveness.
42. Devin Hester, WR/PR, Bears: He might not be ready to function as the Bears' No. 1 receiver, but he deserves a high mention on this list solely based on his spectacular return skills. He ranks as the most prolific returner of all-time and has become the game's biggest difference maker despite receiving limited touches. With 10 combined returns of 40 yards or more and three punt-return scores in 2010, Hester continues to prove he is a big play waiting to happen with the ball in his hands.
43. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: After serving a four-year apprenticeship under LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner has emerged as a terror as the Falcons' feature back. His combination of strength, power and quickness wears down defenses, which leads to big gains in the game's late stages. He has surpassed the 1,300-yard mark twice in a three-year period and tallied 39 touchdowns during that span.
44. Richard Seymour, DE, Raiders:Bill Belichick opted to trade Seymour because he felt his game was on the verge of declining, but two solid years in Oakland suggest otherwise. He has been highly productive as an interior defender, while providing the Raiders with the kind of leadership that the team has sorely missed over the years.
46. Lance Briggs, LB, Bears: He has long resided in the shadow of Brian Urlacher, but those within the game understand his value to the Bears' defense. He has excelled as the designated defensive playmaker with the ability to create disruption against the run or pass. His numbers took a slight dip last season, but he still provided the impact plays that have become his trademark since arriving in Chicago.
47. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: He is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field, which is reflected in his 24 career touchdowns as a receiver, runner and returner. While his return skills bring an added benefit, he is worthy of inclusion on this list as a receiver due to his penchant for delivering explosive plays (18 receptions over 40 yards the past two seasons) in the passing game.
Just getting started
48. Asante Samuel, CB, Eagles: He has more than lived up to his lofty price tag by thriving as one of the top playmakers at the position. He has amassed 42 interceptions in his career, which includes 20 picks over the past three seasons with the Eagles. Although he is not a "shutdown" corner per se, his game-changing ball skills are remarkable, and he is one of the few difference makers.
49. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions: As a rookie, he took the league by storm with his rugged style and remarkable physical tools. He has shown the ability to single-handedly take over games as an interior rusher and finished the season with 10 sacks. With his game certain to improve with more experience, Suh is poised to be one of the best defensive tackles in the foreseeable future.
50. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: He has emerged as a dominant player at the position by using his unique combination of speed, quickness and athleticism to overwhelm defenders in space. Davis has topped 900 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons and found the end zone 20 times during that span.