Every year the NFL Network runs a special called “NFL Top 100,” which lists the top 100 players in the league according to the players themselves. This season’s countdown ended one month ago, and it has stirred up some controversy among NFL fans. Five Broncos made the list: Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Wes Welker, Champ Bailey, and Demaryius Thomas. I’m going to break down whether these five Broncos were rated accurately, and if any Broncos were snubbed.
My Verdict: Too High
Don’t freak out, I’m not about to hate on Peyton Manning in any way, shape, or form. What he did in 2012 coming off of a serious injury with a new team was nothing short of remarkable. In most seasons, his performance would have been enough to win the MVP, but instead Adrian Peterson decided to turn into the Terminator. However, I still think #2 is a little too high for Peyton. In my mind, there is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers (#6 on the list) is the best quarterback in the NFL. Even in a “down year” for Rodgers, he threw for 39 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. He’s also younger and more mobile than Peyton, and has fewer weapons to work with. While an argument can be made over who is the best quarterback in the NFL, the same cannot be said about wide receiver or defensive end. Calvin Johnson (#3) and J.J. Watt (#5) both own their positions, yet they both finished behind Peyton in the rankings. I do think Peyton Manning is a top-five player in the NFL, but #2 is a little bit too high.
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My Verdict: Just Right
Von Miller was chosen as the ninth best player in the NFL, which is a perfect place for him. The runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, Miller finished last season with 18.5 sacks and solidified the Broncos Defense. The scary thing is that he’s going into his third season, so he should only improve from here. While I find it ludicrous that Aldon Smith (#7) finished ahead of the much-superior Miller, it’s also a bit unjustified that Miller clocked in one spot ahead of Patrick Willis, the best linebacker in the NFL. If these rankings were calculated after news broke of Miller’s possible four-game suspension, then his ranking would have fallen. But since they were not, #9 is a good spot for Von.
My Verdict: Just Right
There are some legitimate concerns about Welker coming into the 2013 season. He plays primarily out of the slot, a position that is reliant on good chemistry. Chemistry normally takes some time to develop when a receiver joins a new team, but this is Wes Welker and Peyton Manning, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Welker might not catch as many passes as he did in New England, but he will still be among the league leaders in receptions and should even score some more touchdowns. The #44 spot rates Welker as the 10th best wide receiver in the NFL, right in between Roddy White and Vincent Jackson. Sounds good to me.
My Verdict: Just Right
The casual NFL fan probably thought that this rating was way too high for Bailey, because their only memory of him from last season was of him getting burnt by Torrey Smith in the playoffs. No, Champ did not play his best game that day. But yes, Champ Bailey still deserves to be in the Top 100, and #53 is a fitting place. Even at age 35, Champ Bailey is still a true number one cornerback, which is becoming more rare every year in the NFL. While he doesn’t have the same speed he used to, Champ can still hang with almost any receiver in the league, and he will never get bullied at the line of scrimmage. Champ probably won’t be among the top 100 players in the league for long, but for now, he belongs.
My Verdict: Too Low
94 receptions, 1,434 yards, 10 touchdowns, and only 25 years of age, and he’s the 14th best receiver in the NFL? That doesn’t sit well with me, especially because he’s ranked behind Dwayne Bowe. Dwayne Bowe! Are you kidding me? Look, Bowe is a good player, but he’s been in the league for years and he probably won’t get much better than anything we’ve seen of him. Not only did Thomas have an incredible year last season, but he’s also still on the rise. Thomas should be ranked at least 20 spots higher, somewhere in the Dez Bryant and Roddy White territory. Pshhh, Dwayne Bowe.
My Verdict: You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me
Look, if it were the fans that compiled this list, then I would understand why one of the league’s best left tackles was left out. It’s an unglamorous position, and there is practically no way to keep stats for them. But the players decided these rankings, which makes it really disappointing that Clady was excluded. I’m not saying that he should be at the top of the list, but Ryan Clady should be on it. I think that he and Joe Staley (#78) are similarly skilled players, so Clady should be ranked accordingly.
Seriously, what on Earth is Jacoby Jones (#88) doing on this list?
– PJ Moran