NFL Network continued its unveiling of "The Top 100: Players of 2012" on Wednesday night, rolling out Nos. 61-70.
What was the most surprising development to you?
If there's one element of the "Top 100" players that has become most bothersome, it is the general lack of respect for the quarterback position. There's no question, despite the importance of a pass rusher or the need for a shutdown corner, that quarterbacks have the most difficult, most critical job on the football field.
I'm not suggesting QBs should be listed from No. 1 to No. 32, but I am at least saying a quarterback of Rivers' caliber, regardless of one down year in 2011, simply cannot be listed as the 61st best player in the NFL. He belongs higher.
There a three names I think are too high based on last season. Philip Rivers turned the ball over too many times. Sure, some of the turnovers were not his fault, but there also were some that were his mistakes from bad decisions. Logan Mankins, a great player for a number of years, did not play as consistently as he has in the past. This is a reputation ranking. Michael Vick missed time in 2011. He was also inconsistent. He did not stay with his read from the pocket like he did at the beginning of the 2010 season. I did not see the consistency to warrant this ranking.
In a way, I feel for Philip Rivers. A dynamic quarterback on a dysfunctional yet talented team, he's been held back by those around him too often. Whether the stubbornness of GM A.J. Smith or the gaffes of coach Norv Turner, Rivers has been lumped in with mediocrity. It's why he ends up being ranked 61st by his fellow players.
But really? A big-armed quarterback who can put a team on his back, Rivers has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past four years and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2-to-1. I'd trust him at the end of a game. He deserves much better. The story of his career.
Staley is a fine left tackle who was a big part of the 49ers' turnaround in 2011 because of his ability to protect quarterback Alex Smith and ensure space for running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter.
However, it is surprising to me that Staley was slotted ahead of Browns left tackle Joe Thomas (ranked No. 82), who many consider to be the top offensive tackle in the league, and star defenders like New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Indianapolis pass rusher Dwight Freeney.
- Jason Smith NFL.com
List seems to feature less controversy, more consensus
For me, the shocking thing is that this list isn't so shocking. I think the big names are where they should be, and maybe that's what we're going to see with this list from now on -- less controversy and more consensus. That being said, overall, I think the QBs should be evaluated differently because they play the most important position (can you really tell me Logan Mankins is better and more important than Tony Romo?), but let's agree to disagree on that.
Philip Rivers turned the ball over a ton last year. He wasn't one of the elite QBs in the game like he has been. But I think Rivers can bounce back. Vick is the really interesting case. He was injured and in the middle of the pack in yards and touchdowns. Just one rushing TD compared to nine from 2010. I think we've seen the best of Vick and it's just going to be harder for him to stay healthy and produce like he had before he was 30. His overall effectiveness will now begin to erode, and he's officially on the decline. Athletic QBs have a shorter shelf life for myriad reasons, and if you put the over/under for games he'll start this season at 13 (his total in 2011), I'd take the under.
Carlos Rogers had a nice season, but he's pegged at 69? Over 20 spots ahead of Tony Romo, who was No. 91? Are you kidding me? Do you think an NFL team starting from scratch would rather have Rogers -- who's had a strictly average career -- over a guy who threw 31 touchdowns to 10 interceptions with a 102.5 passer rating? Come on. Is Rogers better than London Fletcher (87)? No. Superior to Lance Briggs (72)? No way. Ahead of Joe Thomas (82)? Absolutely no way. Jason Witten at No. 75 has made about 600 Pro Bowls and is one of the best tight ends in league's history -- not to mention he was good in 2011.
This list is, well ... call it fun.