NFL Network continued its unveiling of "The Top 100: Players of 2012" on Wednesday night, rolling out Nos. 71-80:
What was the most surprising development to you?
I love how this list is so fluid from year to year. Reputation plays a part in all voting, but from the list presented, I see some "What have you done for me lately?" with Nnamdi Asomugha down at 79. I also see some respect earned with Jordy Nelson at 80 and Derrick Johnson at 78. Meanwhile, there's instant admiration for last year's rookie sensation A.J. Green at 77.
But Joe Flacco at 74 is the biggest statement to me. SO much talk and debate about his bona fides, yet the players check him in at 74 -- higher than he would rank in a fan poll (my guess). My sense is the way he played in the AFC Championship Game vs. New England went a long way toward helping him in this poll. If he leads the Ravens to a Super Bowl appearance, he could really shoot up the list (as I anticipate Eli Manning will this year).
As the "Top 100" series rolls on, we continue to receive an education on how players view their colleagues. The latest surprise is Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha ranking 79th. Yikes. Remember who this guy used to be? A first-round draft pick who had eight interceptions in 2006. A shutdown corner who was thrown at fewer times than any other defender in 2007. The recipient of a massive contract in Oakland.
Yet one injury-plagued, lackluster year for a miserable Eagles team and we've forgotten all that. (Or at least the players have.) Don't be surprised if Asomugha forces everyone to remember in 2012.
Overall, I like the grouping of these players. Two guys who should be higher based on pure talent are Eagles teammates DeSean Jackson and Nnamdi Asomugha. I could see both making a huge jump next year.
If Jackson stays healthy, he should return to being the most dangerous deep threat in the league. If Philly decides to use Asomugha as a press CB to take away the other team's best receiver, he'll get right back into the discussion of the league's top corners.
Joe Flacco had to be stunned he wasn't the top vote getter in the "Top 100" and likely flipped furniture while wondering what to do with all of the guacamole he ordered for his "Top 100" reveal party.
I'm kind of surprised Flacco is held in such high esteem of his peers, especially when you consider Cowboys QB Tony Romo clocked in at No. 91 on this list. I like to knock Romo for his December failures as much as the next guy, but he had more passing yards, more touchdowns, less interceptions and a higher passer rating than Flacco last season.
So, despite Flacco's assertion that he's the best quarterback in the league, I'm surprised he even made this list.
- Jason Smith NFL.com
Eagles are to blame for Asomugha's low standing, while Jackson doesn't deserve his rank
Two things stand out to me on this list. First of all, talk about how the mighty have fallen ... Nnamdi Asomugha was a total non-factor for Philadelphia much of last season. But I don't know how much of it was his fault. Let's see, the Eagles had one of the top two shutdown corners in the game, and what did they do? Move him all over the field, and even have him play a bunch of safety. I'm all for expanding horizons, but how do you break the bank to sign a player who can take away the opponent's No. 1 receiving threat and then remove him from what he does best? That's like going off-roading with a Mercedes, or putting Jason Statham in a Broadway musical.
In terms of the second surprise ... Did DeSean Jackson pay to have his name ahead of A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson? He might've been the biggest disappointment in the NFL last year. He had to be benched for a game and looked like he just didn't care at other times. He failed to top 1,000 yards receiving and his numbers have been on a three-year decline. Sure, Nelson might be a product of Green Bay's system, but you can't knock a guy for having a terrific year with 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns (11 more than Jackson). And Green posted a 1,000-yard season as a rookie without a legitimate receiving threat opposite him, showing he can be one of the great wideouts in the game. He and Julio Jones did something rare: make a huge impact as rookie pass catchers. I'd rather have either of them than Jackson.