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:Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
» No. 2:Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
» No. 3:Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 4:Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 5:Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
» No. 6:J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
» No. 7:Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
» No. 8:Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
» No. 9:Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
» No. 10:Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Oakland Raiders
The No. 1 player should be a guy who has a lasting effect on the game. Well, Von Miller's impact gave Denver a ring, as he single-handedly dominated the playoffs. He went on a run that we've never seen before. If Tom Brady isn't at the top, he's always going to be a close second. His team has a chance to win any game as long as he's on the field. Cam Newton didn't just jump on the scene in 2015, he was the scene. Everybody wrote off Carolina's offense in the preseason, but SuperCam led them to a 15-1 regular season and Super Bowl appearance.
Antonio Brown gets better and better every season. I can only expect to see more catches, more yards and more touchdowns -- especially if Big Ben stays healthy. Julio Jones truly performed like the player we thought he was, which is why he earned top-10 honors. J.J. Watt earned his third Defensive Player of the Year award in the past four campaigns, so this shouldn't be a surprise. He carried and willed the Texans to the playoffs last year. Aaron Rodgers put up great numbers without his best receiver. Oh, and he completed not one but TWO Hail Mary touchdown passes.
We've learned that Rob Gronkowski is unstoppable. Gronk always seems to get open and make plays. The same goes for Odell Beckham Jr. But the thing I love about OBJ is he accepts and takes on every challenge, and it shows in his play. Khalil Mack is a phenomenal player for the Raiders. Getting five sacks in one game speaks for itself. So does his first-team All-Pro nods at two positions.
» No. 11:Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
» No. 12:Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 13:Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 14:Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets
» No. 15:Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 16:Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
» No. 17:Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns
» No. 18:Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 19:Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
» No. 20:Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
There's no doubt that this year's rushing leader will be Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley or Le'Veon Bell. I can't see another player sneaking into this elite group. Peterson has been dominant in Minnesota -- but how long can he keep it up? Gurley is poised to have a stellar season after having an entire offseason to train and condition -- unlike in 2015, when he was recovering from an injury suffered in his final college season. Bell's season-ending injury in 2015 kept him from being higher on this list. He's the most versatile back in the league, and we should see that come September.
Russell Wilson is Seattle's magic man, as his teams are never out of the game. I'm curious to see if his magic will take the Seahawks back to the top of the NFC in 2016. The only reason the Eagles stayed competitive in many games last season was because of the pressure Fletcher Cox puts on the quarterback. The guy is an animal on the D-line. Justin Houston is the heart and soul of the Chiefs' D, but I want to see him stay injury-free. He's too good to be sitting on the sidelines. Joe Thomas is the best left tackle in the game. He's overlooked because he plays in Cleveland, but he doesn't give up sacks or get holding calls. Muhammad Wilkerson is a dominant force for the Jets' defense, as he does a great job against the run and sacked the quarterback 12 times in 2015. Since Luke Kuechly's arrival, Carolina's defense has continued to get better. He's the leader and does things that we haven't seen a middle linebacker do. Rounding out this group is a guy who I think is the most impactful defensive tackle in the game: Aaron Donald. The third-year Ram creates pressure from inside and makes plays in both the run and pass games.
» No. 21:Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
» No. 22:Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 23:Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 24:Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 25:DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
» No. 26:Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 27:Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
» No. 28:Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 29:Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 30:Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Four of the best cornerbacks in the NFL fall in this segment. Marcus Peters deserves to be in the top 30 for the way he performed in his rookie season. He was constantly targeted and responded with big plays. Richard Sherman does a great job for the Seahawks, but I'm still finding myself questioning whether or not he's a shutdown corner. Patrick Peterson is a versatile weapon and helps take the Cardinals' D to another level. Darrelle Revis is aging and we're starting to see Father Time slow him down. This is probably the last time he's ranked this high. At safety, Earl Thomas does it all and has been for several years. Gerald McCoy continues to be the anchor of the Bucs' defense, but I'd like to see him get double-digit sacks this season.
If it wasn't for Dez Bryant's foot injury, he would've been much higher on this list. In the trenches, Tyron Smith is a technician and one of the best in the league. Heading south to Houston, DeAndre Hopkins is uncoverable. In the last three years, he's had seven starting quarterbacks -- but he doesn't let that affect his game. It's plain and simple: Steeler Nation needs Big Ben. The 34-year-old QB takes the team to a different level when he's on the field. He plays hurt and is willing to do what it takes to get a win.
» No. 31:Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
» No. 32:Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
» No. 33:Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 34:Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
» No. 35:Tyrann Mathieu, FS, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 36:A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 37:Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 38:Kawann Short, DE, Carolina Panthers
» No. 39:Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 40:Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
Chandler Jones and Josh Norman were big-time playmakers for New England and Carolina last season. Both are with new teamsin 2016, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table. Norman had a good season, but I'm still questioning if he is a lockdown corner. By going against Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant twice per year, we should have a good idea come season's end. Over in the desert, I think Jones will have more sacks than he had in 2015. His new teammate, Tyrann Mathieu, will be back as one of the most versatile defenders in the secondary after being sidelined from his ACL injury last year.
Maurkice Pouncey is a dominant center and is a smart and physical player for the Steelers. Kawann Short brings the same to the Panthers' D-line and is one of the reasons Carolina was a force to be reckoned with. In the 3-technique, Geno Atkins can't be blocked. He's a huge player for the Bengals and should have another good season.
Derek Carr is ready to make the jump. He's smart and a competitor and has a major playmaker in Amari Cooper, who jumped on the scene and dominated a lot of top corners during his rookie season. I think he'll put up even bigger numbers in his sophomore campaign. A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall also had at least 1,000-yard seasons in 2015. I think Green would've been higher on my list if it hadn't been for Andy Dalton's thumb injury. Marshall is a combat catcher, meaning he will come down with the ball no matter who's throwing the ball or covering him.
» No. 41:Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
» No. 42:Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
» No. 43:Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 44:Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 45:Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 46:Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
» No. 47:Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 48:Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos
» No. 49:Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
» No. 50:Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota Vikings
The three linebackers mentioned above have great impacts on the field. Anthony Barr has size, speed and can rush the passer -- he has proven to be a versatile threat for the Vikings. Buccaneer Lavonte David is a turnover machine, very explosive and underrated. Bobby Wagner is the leader of the Seahawks' defense. In 2015, the unit didn't play like we're used to seeing, but I think Wagner will help the group return to form. Ezekiel Ansah was a great defender in the passing game but needs work against the run. Denver's secondary fed off the attitude and performance of Aqib Talib, and it worked. Talib made plays week in and week out against top receivers. Eric Berry's story is amazing, but as a football player, it was like he never went through anything -- he was as dominant as ever.
I fully expect Keenan Allen to bounce back from his injury and have a great season with Philip Rivers. The same expectations are there for Sammy Watkins. The third-year receiver, who is recovering from a foot injury, is a huge component of the Buffalo offense, and the Bills need him to make plays. I'm really hoping Jamaal Charles has a strong year after coming off his second ACL injury. He came back swinging in 2012 after his first surgery, but he's a little older this time around. It seems like injury was the name of the game in 2015, and Andrew Luck was another victim. He's a better player than No. 41, but being sidelined and throwing turnovers really hurt his case.
» No. 51:Haloti Ngata, DT, Detroit Lions
» No. 52:T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
» No. 53:Jason Verrett, CB, San Diego Chargers
» No. 54:Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
» No. 55:Reggie Nelson, S, Oakland Raiders
» No. 56:Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
» No. 57:Kelechi Osemele, OT, Oakland Raiders
» No. 58:DeMarcus Ware, LB, Denver Broncos
» No. 59:Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
» No. 60:T.J. Ward, FS, Denver Broncos
T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware were two huge contributors on a defensive unit that led the Broncos all season. Ward is a hard-hitting safety and did a great job covering some of the top players in the league. Ware is still doing some good things despite getting older. I'm guessing he's got one or two years left in the tank. Staying in the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders have already made huge strides with their offseason moves. Kelechi Osemele is a big-time guard and should boost the Raiders' running attack, while Reggie Nelson is a ballhawk who will fit well in their Cover 3 system. Despite switching teams a year ago, Haloti Ngata continues to put up great performances. He is probably one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen that I ever played against.
There's no doubt about it: Philip Rivers is a competitor and his 2015 performance was impressive, even without his injured top receiver Keenan Allen. On the other side of the ball, Jason Verrett is emerging as a top corner in this league. He's underrated and can make plays against top receivers. Speaking of good wideouts, T.Y. Hilton was able to do some good things without Andrew Luck last season. I expect these two will become the dynamic duo they once were. With Cam Newton as his quarterback, Greg Olsen was able to produce even when defenses knew the ball was coming his way. Olsen really stepped up when Kelvin Benjamin went down in the preseason and made huge plays for the Panthers' offense. Eli Manning, aka Easy E, is always a toss-up for me. He's the best quarterback in the league one minute and in the next, he's the exact opposite. I wonder which QB will show up come September.
» No. 61:Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers
» No. 62:Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
» No. 63:Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 64:Donald Penn, OT, Oakland Raiders
» No. 65:Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
» No. 66:Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
» No. 67:Richie Incognito, OG, Buffalo Bills
» No. 68:Cameron Heyward, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 69:Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
» No. 70:Bradley Roby, DB, Denver Broncos
I believe Bradley Roby is the unsung hero of Denver's dominant defense. He can win matchups with anyone, along with the rest of his fellow "No Fly Zone" members. Super Bowl 50's other team, Carolina, is getting its dominant receiver back in 2016. Kelvin Benjamin should be even better than he was in the 1,000-yard rookie season he put up before missing 2015 with a torn ACL. The other two receivers in this section, Allen Robinson and Julian Edelman, should also have big years if they can stay healthy. Robinson had a breakout season in Year 2 and should only get better with the chemistry he has with quarterback Blake Bortles. Edelman would be higher on this list if not for the foot injury that cost him seven games in 2015. Even if the Patriots are without Tom Bradyfor the first quarter of the season, Edelman should rack up plenty of catches.
Cameron Heyward played an instrumental role in a Steelers defense that played well down the stretch. He's the anchor on the D-line and should help lead his team to a huge season. Richie Incognito plays a similar role for the Bills, albeit on the other side of the ball. He's one of the top guards in the league and is a big reason why Buffalo was able to have a stellar run game in 2015. Speaking of the run, Doug Martin had a huge year, and it paid off. With the same group around him, Martin should enjoy another good season. Delanie Walker was the only consistent weapon for the Titans last season, and he routinely made big plays. Now that the Titans have a 1-2 punch in the run game (DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry), a little pressure should be taken off the tight end this season.
What can I say about Donald Penn? The guy plays against Melvin Ingram, DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in the AFC West, and he still makes plays. He is a lights-out offensive tackle. He probably should be higher on this list, along with Clay Matthews. The long-haired Packer is No. 61 because I'm not sure which position he's going to play this year. Either way, he's versatile and should continue to be a playmaker for Green Bay.
» No. 71:David DeCastro, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers
» No. 72:Julius Peppers, OLB, Green Bay Packers
» No. 73:Calais Campbell, DL, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 74:Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
» No. 75:Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
» No. 76:Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills
» No. 77:Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
» No. 78:Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings
» No. 79:DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins
» No. 80:Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Injury was the name of the game in 2015 for this receiving group. With 13 touchdowns last season, Tyler Eifert was a huge reason why the Bengals won the AFC North, but he's struggled to consistently stay on the field in his three NFL seasons. (UPDATE: Eifert will undergo ankle surgery to address an injury suffered at the Pro Bowl.) Meanwhile, after missing a load of games early in 2015, DeSean Jackson had a good spurt for Washington. He is a player Kirk Cousins needs on the field if the Redskins want to repeat as NFC East champs. A healthy Alshon Jeffery should be higher on this list, but he wasn't healthy last season, which is why he's at No. 77. Miami's Jarvis Landry did play in all 16 regular-season games and is a great talent. If he wasn't held back by his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, I think we'd be seeing a lot more of him. Speaking of quarterbacks, Drew Brees is still putting up big numbers even at his advanced age (37). He needs more weapons if the Saints want to capitalize on the last few years of his career.
Eric Kendricks and Julius Peppers are at opposite ends of their respective careers, but the two NFC North linebackers have one thing in common: They dominate their opponents. In Kendricks' rookie season with Minnesota, he led the team in tackles. Peppers is entering his 15th season and still makes plays. Calais Campbell is the anchor of Arizona's defensive line, but needs to apply more pressure on the quarterback. Though Marcell Dareus played a similar role for the Bills, I think Rex Ryan's scheme held Dareus back. I think he'll be used more in 2016, or at least I hope he is. David DeCastro is a huge component for the Steelers' O-line. If he continues to protect Big Ben, he'll be on this list again one year from now.
» No. 81:Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
» No. 82:Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
» No. 83:T.J. Lang, OG, Green Bay Packers
» No. 84:Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks
» No. 85:Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina Panthers
» No. 86:Thomas Davis, LB, Carolina Panthers
» No. 87:Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 88:Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
» No. 89:Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
» No. 90:Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams
Trumaine Johnson showed a little of what he can do in 2015, covering mostly WR2s (and some WR1s). But if he is the Rams' top corner, he has the opportunity to show everyone he's capable of covering a WR1 week in and week out. If he succeeds, he'll be higher on this list a year from now. Carlos Dunlap is a very good defensive end (13.5 sacks in 2015) and one of the many reasons the Bengals made it as far as they did. He's productive, but he didn't make as many "splash" plays as I would've liked to see. One thing comes to mind when I think of Demaryius Thomas: too many drops. If he caught half of the passes he dropped, he'd be in the top 30. On top of that, he disappeared in the playoffs (seven catches for 60 yards and zero TDs in three games last season).
After a solid season, Jameis Winston cracked my top 100; with fewer turnovers (15 picks, two fumbles lost in 2015), he could be even higher after Year 2. Thomas Davis is an underrated linebacker -- mainly because he's next to Luke Kuechly -- but did an exceptional job last season. We saw how much the defense was affected in Super Bowl 50, when Davis was bandaged up from a major surgery. He played through it, though. This guy is as tough as they come, but hopefully his injuries are behind him. Ryan Kalil was another solid player for Carolina at center. He anchored that offensive line and helped the run game rank second in the NFL. T.J. Lang played a similar role for the Packers' offensive line. If this unit improves, Lang moves up.
After being the league's best for several years, the Seahawks' defense struggled early in 2015. A lot of the Seahawks on this list -- including Michael Bennett -- are lower than they probably should be due to those struggles. Ndamukong Suh should be way higher on my list, but his film shows that he takes plays off. He improved with the coaching switch in the middle of the 2015 season, but this guy is getting paid way too much to not be dominating each week. Jordan Reed is a playmaker, but the Redskins haven't gotten a full season out of the three-year veteran yet. He will be a bigger weapon for Kirk Cousins if he can stay healthy.
» No. 91:Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» No. 92:Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
» No. 93:Alex Mack, C, Atlanta Falcons
» No. 94:DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
» No. 95:Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
» No. 96:Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
» No. 97:Leonard Williams, DE, New York Jets
» No. 98:Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
» No. 99:Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
» No. 100:Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Devonta Freeman had a great five-game stretch last year -- recording four 100-yard performances in Weeks 3-7 -- but I'd like to see him put together a full season in 2016. He'll have some extra help this time around in Alex Mack, who joined Atlanta this offseason after a solid seven-year stint with the Browns. I'd have rated Mack higher, but he'll be 31 in November, and I don't know what he'll have left in the tank. ... Which brings me to 36-year-old Carson Palmer. He's great during the regular season, but his postseason struggles -- including the six-turnover debacle in the NFC title game -- keep him from ranking higher. As with Mack, I'm concerned about how much elite play Palmer has left in him. While Palmer's stock might be falling, Blake Bortles' could be on the rise. This is a make-or-break season for the third-year pro, who needs to cut down on his interceptions (he led the NFL with 18 in 2015) and show the Jags organization he can be the guy.
Both DeMarco Murray and Mike Evans should be higher on this list, but I'm not sure the former will bounce back from his "year off" with Chip Kelly in Philly. As for the latter, while he's a tremendous talent, he simply drops the ball too much. I'm expecting big things from Leonard Williams in his sophomore season. He and Muhammad Wilkerson will form a dominant force for the Jets' D. Malcolm Butler, another up-and-comer, has done a great job in the Pats' system and has shown he can elevate his game under pressure (see: Super Bowl XLIX).
Travis Kelce is an all-around stud who came into his own last season as a consistent weapon in the passing game and a solid blocker in the running attack. Cameron Jordan was the lone bright spot on a porous Saints defense last year. He's a good player (10 sacks in 2015) on a bad unit (31st in yards allowed), which hurts him in this poll.