He was changing schemes to an inside linebacker in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense and many thought he wouldn't fit. Instead, he put together a season that was worthy of Defensive Player of the Year consideration.
Debate: "Top 100" surprises
NFL Network continued with the "The Top 100: Players of 2012," rolling out Nos. 61-70. Our analysts debate the rankings. More ...
Rookie that wasn't overhyped
Rookie that was slightly overhyped
Longtime veteran that isn't coasting on his reputation
Longtime veteran that is getting by on reputation
Brian Urlacher is still a very good player, but he's not better than Lance Briggs. (Who ranked much lower on this list.)
Sign of the times
Dolphins tackle Jake Longfell 31 spots in the rankings to No. 59. He's the third tackle on this list and only one more -- Jason Peters -- is going to make the top 50. We think this makes sense. 2011 wasn't a great year for left tackles. While there are plenty of very good tackles, we don't know how many are playing a truly elite/Hall of Fame-caliber level.