By: James Johnson
I’m sure by now you’ve all seen at least one episode of the interesting (yet controversial) NFL Network show, NFL Top 100. What started in 2011 has since become a big hit with both those who agree with the show’s rankings and those who disagree, like myself. The NFL Top 100 has also been a controversial hit in the world of sports journalism as many analysts have begun to make their own top 100 lists to compare with NFL Network’s. Count IES in; I’m joining the party with my own list. For the record, as I’ve said, I do not to use the actual show as a guideline because I feel it’s a bit misleading. However, I use a mix of my personal knowledge alongside the opinions of other analysts who study film. Another good source I use is that of Profootballfocus.com as you’ll see in my summaries. Lastly, you’ll notice that I gravitated more towards players who played a majority of the season. Now enough of the babbling, let’s get into IES’s first ever top 100 NFL players list.
100.) Steve Smith – WR, Carolina Panthers – He may not have but four TD’s on his 2012 stat sheet but as Pete Prisco pointed out he averaged 16.1 yards per catch which is a little scary considering he’s 34 years old.
99.) Bobby Wagner – LB, Seattle Seahawks – A bit of an unknown player, but he’s the real deal. He was in consideration with Kuechly for defensive rookie of the year and I can see why. Wagner was a terror in the backfield, and would’ve been defensive rookie of the year if he played for a team with less of a supporting cast like Kuechly.
98.) Reshad Jones – S, Miami Dolphins – As a UGA fan I’m very familiar with Jones, and as the years have passed and the more starts he’s accumulated, the better he’s gotten. According to Profootballfocus.com he only gave up one TD in 2012, and on top of that he only allowed 38 throws in his coverage zone for the season.
97.) Justin Houston – OLB, Kansas City Chiefs – Coincidentally two UGA players in a row. He was nominated into the Pro-Bowl this year which can be very misleading, but Houston actually deserved to be there. What sticks out about Houston is how quickly he’s learning the NFL game. He’ll only get better in time.
96.) Michael Johnson – DE, Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati knows how to coach defensive lineman and Johnson is no exception. Like some of the young players you’ll see on this list, Johnson has gradually gotten better over time and with Mike Zimmer as his defensive coordinator he should only improve. I would like to see if he’ll fall off after being franchised this year, however.
95.) Doug Martin – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Put up great numbers his rookie season rushing for just under 1,500 yards and 11 td’s. He beat up on a lot of bottom tier run defenses, though, like the Raiders, Falcons, and Giants to name a few. I’d like to see what he’d do against a top 10 tier rushing defense. The best front he put up good numbers (135 yards, 1TD) against was the Vikings who were ranked 11th against the run. When he faced teams that were better the numbers weren’t as good.
94.) Eugene Monroe – LT, Jacksonville Jaguars – Most seem to think the Jaguars only have one star on the team, and overlook Monroe. Profootballfocus.com has him rated as a top LT in the league and he barely missed their top 101. If he didn’t play for Jacksonville I bet he’d get more praise, but true fans of the franchise know he’s the real deal and that’s all that matters.
93.) Maurkice Pouncey – C, Pittsburgh Steelers – The ultimate center that has it all. He’s agile, gritty, etc. He’s only getting better by the year. You think he’s good now, but he still has room to get better which is scary.
92.) Sean Weatherspoon – LB, Atlanta Falcons – A very high energy player, and leader of the Falcons defense. At one point in time he was the Falcons best source of a pass-rush which is good for him, but says a lot about their defensive line.
91.) Luke Kuechly – MLB, Carolina Panthers – What can I say, he lead the league in tackles as a rookie with 164. He was also named defensive rookie of the year by the Associated Press. Very smart and instinctive kid that will only get better in time, notice a trend here?
90.) Frank Gore – RB, San Francisco 49ers – I really wanted to put him higher than this but the RB position is fairly crowded on the the top.He also had a mobile QB in Kaepernick which helped to ease the load, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.