When it comes to NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2016," there's plenty of room for argument. So as the list is unveiled, NFL Media's Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor will be sharing their own takes on the top 100 for 2016, identifying who they think are the league's best heading into next season.
"The Top 100 Players of 2016" will conclude on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. The conversation will continue on the "Top 100 Players Reactions" show, airing immediately after at 10 p.m. ET.
» No. 1:Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
» No. 2:Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 3:Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
» No. 4:Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
» No. 5:J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
» No. 6:Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 7:Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 8:Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
» No. 9:Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
» No. 10:Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
I have five quarterbacks in the top 10 for a reason: This is a quarterbacks' league. And it's led by Tom Brady. He's arguably the best of all time and gives his receivers a name. My guy Big Ben consistently performs year after year. You have to give this man props because he has played with late-round receivers and still produces on the field. Aaron Rodgers can throw it on a beeline. He is very accurate and is fluid in body movement.
Rob Gronkowski is a big kid at heart and nobody can cover him. Case in point: He had 1,176 receiving yards in the 2015 regular season, the most for a tight end. J.J. Watt, an occasional tight end, has swag and soul and puts everything he has into the game. You can't question his dedication -- it shows in his numbers. Antonio Brown, who developed under Roethlisberger, also has an insane work ethic that has turned him into the best receiver in the NFL. His pristine footwork helps set him apart. Cam Newton is the new up-and-coming quarterback of the NFL. He still has a ways to go, which is scary considering he already has so much talent in the position.
Drew Brees is the heart and soul of the Saints. He led the league in passing in the 2015 regular season with 4,870 yards -- and also posted a 68.3 completion percentage. After a lost year in 2014, Adrian Peterson returned as a man on a mission. He tallied 1,485 yards in his comeback, winning the rushing title for 2015. Finally, Von Miller had to make the top 10. He's one of most talented defensive players in the league. In 2015, he compiled 11 sacks an elite pass rusher -- and then helped carry the Broncos to a Super Bowl title with five more sacks in the postseason.
» No. 11:Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
» No. 12:Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
» No. 13:Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 14:Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 15:A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 16:Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 17:Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 18:Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
» No. 19:Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns
» No. 20:Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Darrelle Revis is one of the reasons why we associate the word "island" with cornerbacks. Nobody could beat him in his prime, and despite a recent wrist injury, he's still one of the best in the game. Philip Rivers was second in passing yards last season, even though half his team was sidelined with injuries. He always plays with heart and passion, which is one of the reasons he's consistently able to put up big seasons. I recently wrote that Patrick Peterson is the most valuable defensive back in the league, and he earned a top-20 ranking with his 2015 performance. Maurkice Pouncey is one of the best centers in the league right now, and his aggressive play on the O-line is a big reason the Steelers' offensive stars are able to produce.
A.J. Green is a freak of nature. If the ball is anywhere near him, he'll catch it. Green has hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his five NFL seasons, and I don't expect anything different in 2016. Luke Kuechly is more than Carolina's top defensive player -- he's a coach on the field. Richard Sherman has proven himself since his draft day in 2011. He's a top-tier cornerback, and I like how he is challenging himself by not only playing on one side of the field but by following receivers.
It's incredible what Odell Beckham Jr. can do in double coverage. He's more than a superstar for the Giants; his passion and numbers are demanding attention from all over the league. Cleveland's standout tackle Joe Thomas has been a first-team All-Pro selection six -- yes, SIX -- times in nine seasons. This guy is a beast. Some people might be surprised by this one, but Jason Witten continues to be a star for the Cowboys. His quarterbacks always look for him, and although he is a tight end, he plays like some of the NFL's top receivers -- specifically Brandon Marshall.
» No. 21:Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 22:Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
» No. 23:Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
» No. 24:Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
» No. 25:Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 26:Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 27:Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets
» No. 28:Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
» No. 29:Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 30:Tyrann Mathieu, FS, Arizona Cardinals
Earl Thomas is a passionate safety who understands the game. He's small in stature but plays big for Seattle's defense, which also gets a lot of production from Bobby Wagner. Greg Olsen is entering his 10th NFL season in the fall, but he showed no signs of slowing down in 2015. He created a huge mismatch for defenses and was Cam Newton's go-to guy in crunch time. Speaking of a go-to player, Julio Jones made play after play for Atlanta last season. The star receiver is in his prime and he's the only person who can stop him.
Steve Smith, Tony Romo, Jamaal Charles and Tyrann Mathieu are coming back from injuries that ended their respective 2015 campaigns. The three offensive players here are the leaders of their offensive units. All three are capable of big seasons, so I'm curious to see how they do after major injuries. Mathieu is a jack of all trades and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year honors before he went down with a knee injury in December. Antonio Gates was also banged up in 2015. He's entering his 14th season and still ranks in the top five at his position.
» No. 31:DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
» No. 32:Thomas Davis, LB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 33:David DeCastro, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 34:Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
» No. 35:Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets
» No. 36:Alex Mack, C, Atlanta Falcons
» No. 37:NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers
» No. 38:Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 39:Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 40:Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
Like Brandon Marshall, DeAndre Hopkins doesn't need a quarterback to make plays -- although, I'd like to see what crazy numbers he'd put up with a consistent starter in Houston. Hopkins can roast any corner in the league with his God-given talent. Thomas Davis continues to impress me by how he comes back from injury. The guy played in Super Bowl 50 with a plate and 11 screws in his right forearm. David DeCastro quietly made his way to the Pro Bowl in January and is a valuable component to the Steelers' O-line. Aaron Donald fits well in the Rams' 4-3 system. He's a great penetrator in the two-gap and should continue to produce in Los Angeles.
Muhammad Wilkerson applies constant pressure for the Jets' defense and plays well against both the run and pass. Alex Mack has been Mr. Consistent for the Browns, and his offseason move to Atlanta should only help his career. The way NaVorro Bowman came back from his knee injury to lead the NFL in tackles shows how tough he is. He's a great talent for the 49ers. Tyron Smith sets the tone for the Cowboys' offensive line. Nobody can get past this guy, and he will lead the charge for the RB tandem of Darren McFadden and Ezekiel Elliott.
Atkins has consistently been a force for the Cincinnati Bengals. He reached double-digit sacks for the second time in his career, and he has a good shot to do that again in 2016. Suh can dominate the league -- when he wants to. Nobody can stop him when he's giving 100 percent, but he's only average when he lets laziness creep in. He has the potential to easily be in the top 10, but I need a lot more effort.
» No. 41:Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Oakland Raiders
» No. 42:Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
» No. 43:Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 44:Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 45:Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 46:Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 47:Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos
» No. 48:Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
» No. 49:Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
» No. 50:Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina Panthers
Khalil Mack was an All-Pro selection at two positions. Need I say more? With Eli Manning, you either get a gift or a curse. If Eli gets hot, we've seen what he can doin the playoffs. If he's cold, well, we've seen that, too. Gerald McCoy is the foundation of the Bucs' defense and he should have another good season. The only reason Le'Veon Bell is this far down my list is because he's battled injuries in the past several seasons. He is a two-for-one player, the way he can run and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Justin Houston is a freak of nature, period. He sets the tone for the Chiefs' defense and players across the NFL respect him. It'll be a big blow if he can't play this season. Darren McFadden resurrected his career in 2015. Dallas is going to have a great 1-2 punch with McFadden and first-round draft pick Ezekiel Elliott. McFadden should still be effective, even when sharing carries. Being a former NFL cornerback, Aqib Talib is exactly what I would want playing beside me in the secondary. He's passionate and makes big plays.
Todd Gurley is one of the main reasons why the Rams won seven games last season. He's a special back, and he's going to get better and better. Josh Normandoesn't back down from anybody and we saw him come into his own in 2015. He's a shutdown corner on most plays, but I'm looking for him to dominate against top receivers in order to jump to the next level. Ryan Kalil did a great job for Carolina and Cam Newton last year. He protected Cam and is one of the best centers in the NFL.
» No. 51:Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 52:Eric Berry, FS, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 53:Reggie Nelson, S, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 54:DeMarcus Ware, LB, Denver Broncos
» No. 55:Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
» No. 56:Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
» No. 57:Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 58:Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 59:Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
» No. 60:Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Jimmy Graham is a nightmare when he's healthy. Seattle's athletic tight end gives Gronk a run for his money. Eric Berry's story will be told for years to come. He's an inspiration to players and non-players alike, and I expect another strong season from him. Reggie Nelson saw the field better in 2015 and tied for the league lead in INTs because of it. DeMarcus Ware was still productive in his 11th season and is one of the main reasons why Von Miller has had so much success. I love this Batman and Robin combo in Denver.
Brandon Marshall doesn't need a quarterback. Heck, I could be under center and he'd still come down with the ball. He's bounced around during his career and is still productive each year. That's how good he is. Amari Cooper is a young Marshall, constantly coming down with the ball. He and Derek Carr are a match made in heaven, and I'm excited to watch them develop together. Larry Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer. He went to the Fountain of Youth in his 12th NFL season and carried the Cardinals in the playoffs. I don't see this guy dropping off anytime soon.
Russell Wilson is an upgraded version of Teddy Bridgewater -- always cool and never panics. Wilson has led a confident Seahawks team that is never out of any game. Delanie Walker is very talented and dominates against linebackers and safeties. He comes down with the rock whenever the ball is in his area. I think he'll be Marcus Mariota's No. 1 target this year. Michael Bennett plays with a high motor and is the heart and soul of Seattle's defense. He had a productive year in 2015 and should lead the unit to another top 5 finish in 2016.
» No. 61:Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
» No. 62:Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
» No. 63:Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
» No. 64:Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 65:Malcolm Jenkins, S, Philadelphia Eagles
» No. 66:Kwon Alexander, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 67:Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 68:Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
» No. 69:Richie Incognito, OG, Buffalo Bills
» No. 70:Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
It's time to give some love to the guys in the trenches. The lone offensive lineman in this group would be a guy I would have liked to play with. Richie Incognito is an old-school, hard-nosed brawler who paves the way for the Bills' ground game. All four D-linemen here are cornerstones for their respective units. Kawann Short, a great two-gap player, is a reason why Carolina might have one of the best rotations from a 4-3 standpoint. Chandler Jones led the Patriots in sacks last season, and he should do the same for the Cardinals in 2016. Ezekiel Ansahwas third in the league in sacks in 2015, and he was able to do that because he's quick and gets after the quarterback. Cameron Jordan is the anchor of the Saints' defensive line and is one of the most versatile DEs in the league.
Kwon Alexander had a solid season for the Bucs -- aside from a four-game suspension -- that included 93 tackles, three sacks and two picks, and he should only build off his rookie performance. Malcolm Jenkins resurrected his career in Philly by figuring out his strengths and understanding offenses. He had a heck of a 2015 and should continue to help lead the Eagles' D.
Each of the wide receivers in this group had 1,000-yard seasons. Allen Robinson is Blake Bortles' go-to guy, and there's no stopping this duo. Any time a player can reunite with a former head coach, it's a bonus. That's exactly what Jeremy Maclin and Andy Reid were able to do in Kansas City. Maclin showed what he can do when healthy, and I'm excited to see what he does this season. When operating at 100 percent, Sammy Watkins -- who had surgery on a broken foot this spring -- can beat almost any corner he wants to, because of his speed. That's something you can't teach, and it's the reason he's a dominant receiver for Tyrod Taylor.
» No. 71:Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
» No. 72:T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
» No. 73:Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 74:Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 75:Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 76:Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
» No. 77:Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
» No. 78:Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 79:Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 80:Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
All five wide receivers in this group have playmaking abilities. Mike Evans and Jarvis Landry are both entering their third NFL seasons and have established themselves as go-to receivers for their respective QBs. Evans has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons, while Landry just accomplished this feat for the first time. With a healthy Andrew Luck returning in 2016, I expect to see more big plays with deep threat T.Y. Hilton. Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are capable of being higher on this list, but they each have something holding them back. Thomas has been consistently inconsistent, and Dez has battled injuries that have kept him off the field.
The NFC South had two running backs -- Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin -- rush for at least 1,000 yards in 2015. Martin finally returned to the form of his rookie season, but my question is ... Was he looking for a big payday or will he continue to put up big numbers? Freeman's breakout season in Year 2 should give him the confidence to remain a top-tier running back. Travis Kelce made a splash in the early goings of 2015 and remained a threat for Alex Smith. I look for this QB-TE tandem to have another solid season together. Sean Lee has been a quiet cornerstone for the Cowboys. He is one of the leaders on the defense and had a good season a year ago.
It's too bad Andy Dalton wasn't able to play in the postseason last year, especially after he led the Bengals to a 10-2 start before exiting with a hand injury in Week 14. He consistently has good numbers in the regular season, but I'm looking for the talented signal caller to break through in the playoffs. If he can do that, he'll move up the list and put himself in a whole new conversation.
» No. 81:Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns
» No. 82:DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins
» No. 83:Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Green Bay Packers
» No. 84:Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 85:D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Indianapolis Colts
» No. 86:Julius Peppers, LB, Green Bay Packers
» No. 87:Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos
» No. 88:Adam Jones, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 89:Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
» No. 90:Cameron Heyward, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Heyward is a big part of the Steelers' up-and-coming defense. He had seven sacks in 2015 and should lead the defensive line again. Julian Edelman can run routes better than most receivers in this league, and he is often Tom Brady's go-to guy. The only reason he's down at No. 89 is because he was out for nearly half of 2015. If he's on the field for 16 games, he moves up. The Broncos' Chris Harris Jr. and the Bengals' Adam "Pacman" Jones are a few of the best man-to-man corners in the league. Their play elevated their respective defenses throughout the season.
Julius Peppers and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are two reasons why the Packers are a top-15 defense. In the secondary, Clinton-Dix has come into his own in just two seasons and fits well in Green Bay's defense. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, Peppers is entering his 15th season but still sacked the quarterback more than 10 times in 2015. Talk about a force to be reckoned with. He's still a major factor at 36 years old and has to be game-planned against. D'Qwell Jackson had a monstrous 150 tackles last season (second in the league, behind NaVorro Bowman's 154), but that's all the Colts had on defense. Get the man some help!
DeSean Jackson continues to be a great receiver despite his small stature (5-foot-10, 178 pounds), but a hamstring injury in 2015 kept him from getting his fifth 1,000-yard season. The emergence of Kirk Cousins should help the wideout move up this list. Gary Barnidge had a breakout season with 1,043 receiving yards in 2015 -- he even caught circus TDs between his legs -- but that's one good season. I need to see this performance for three years; then I'll be convinced Barnidge is a top-tier tight end.
» No. 91:Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
» No. 92:Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota Vikings
» No. 93:Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
» No. 94:Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
» No. 95:Jason Verrett, CB, San Diego Chargers
» No. 96:Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings
» No. 97:Stephon Tuitt, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 98:Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams
» No. 99:Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
» No. 100:Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
This is a relatively young crop of players, with the oldest guys in this group (Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson) coming up on just their fifth season. Teddy Bridgewater and Cousins led the Vikings and Redskins, respectively, to division titles in 2015 and both should be solid again with an influx of talent in the pass game. There's a reason why there are three guys in purple on this list. The Vikings are an up-and-coming team under head coach Mike Zimmer, whose defense was a big reason for Minnesota's success in 2015. Anthony Barr is slowly emerging as the leader of the Vikings' defensive unit. Thomas Rawls missed his opportunity to play in the playoffs in January, as his rookie season was cut short by a fractured ankle. However, prior to his injury, the running back was on his way to becoming a baby Beast Mode -- something the Seahawks' rushing attack will need him to be this season.
Johnson snagged seven INTs in 2015 and has the potential to become a shutdown corner in this league, if the Rams' front seven improves. Jason Verrett has shown glimpses of greatness. I think he's going to quietly emerge onto the scene this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers' run defense is effective when Stephon Tuitt is healthy. He had a solid second season (54 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT in 14 games). If he can stay on the field, this guy has no ceiling.