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'Top 100' takeaways: Tailbacks showered with respect

In an era when runners are paid like kickers and punters, NFL players still believe in the featured back.

When the NFL Network unveiled its final wave of The Top 100 Players of 2014, no fewer than three workhorses found their way into the top 10.

Adrian Peterson (No. 4), LeSean McCoy (No. 5) and Jamaal Charles (No. 8) stand out as starry aberrations in a league currently infatuated with committee backfields. All three are special players, but I struggle with placing a runner this high.

When the ATL gang crafted our own top-10 lists, I didn't include a single back. Why? Because I'd sooner take a franchise signal-caller or game-changing pass rusher over anyone toting the rock.

While this year's player-voters disagree, consider the shaky outcome: Three running backs rank higher on The Top 100 than Aaron Rodgers.

That's just wrong.

Here's what else we learned from Wednesday's Top 100 curtain call:

» I spent all day sitting beside an enraged Chris Wesseling. He was red-faced to discover that Julio Jones was left off this list. It's an oversight that ranks alongside last year's exclusion of Jimmy Graham and only further muddies the voting process. Does anyone really believe Jones isn't a top 100 player in 2014? Beyond outrageous.

» The players justifiably adore Calvin Johnson -- No. 2 on the list -- for his freakish athletic gifts. I wouldn't take him over Tom Brady or Drew Brees, but Megatron is a lock for the Hall of Fame and worthy of every accolade despite playing a position that will never have the impact of a top-tier passer.

» Peyton at No. 1 is a no-brainer. It's also refreshing to see the players back Brady at No. 3. The offseason's most tedious narrative -- suggesting that he's no longer a top-five quarterback -- has been shattered against the rocks by his peers. Any defender facing Brady's two-minute offense last autumn knows he's still a cold-blooded machine on the field.

»Richard Shermanhas it right: Seattle's Earl Thomas deserved more top-10 consideration because of what he means to the league's nastiest defense. Safeties, though, struggled for respect on The Top 100. After Thomas at No. 17, none of the other six backstops on the list ranked higher than No. 50.

»I've been tough on the players, but I applaud Graham's ranking at No. 10. He's a matchup nightmare for New Orleans and a flagship example of the game's new wave of play-making tight ends. Graham's worth every penny the Saints will soon pay him.

In the latest "Around The League Podcast" the guys reveal their personal top 10 lists to coincide with the "Top 100" finale.

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