The NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2013" concludes Thursday night with the announcement of the top 10 players. We don't know the order of the players yet, but NFL Network did announce their identities on Monday.
At this stage of the show, there are no huge surprises left. It would have been stunning if any of these players were left off the list entirely. (Although you could make an argument that ignored tight end Jimmy Graham belongs ahead of a few players left on the list.)
Ian Rapoport did a nice job breaking down how each of the top 10 players got on the list, avoiding any opinion about which player belonged on top. I won't be so diplomatic. We won't know the official order until the NFL Network's back-to-back shows air Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. ET, but here's how my top 10 would look, given the remaining players.
7. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Rapoport made a great point Monday on NFL Network's "NFL AM," saying Manning's return was somewhat taken for granted. A year ago, we weren't even sure he'd ever be able to play a full season or look like "Peyton Manning" again. His arm might not be what it once was, but Manning never won with arm strength, anyway.
4. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: It says a lot about the era we're living in that Megatron only ranks fourth on my list. He's a virtually unguardable wide receiver at the very top of his game, coming off a 1,964-yard season. Johnson has improved his timing and route running, which goes along nicely with his otherworldly athleticism.
3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans:Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Watt might have enjoyed the most dominant defensive season of any player in NFL history. The crazy part: It's not that crazy a notion. I can't wait to see what Watt does for an encore. Like a lot of transcendent players, he's changed the way we view his position.
Rodgers is still the guy I'd take for one game, one season, one career. He's the most talented at the most important position. I thought about ranking him first, which is where he finished last year.
Enjoy Peterson's prime while you can.