By: James Johnson
Ever heard someone say “offensive lineman don’t get any credit in the NFL”? Or have you heard the classic “NFL players start to decline after the age of 30”? Well, you wouldn’t think that’s the case by looking at this week’s top 100 from IES. Three of this week’s players are offensive linemen, and three are 30 years of age or older. There is also a mix of young players on this list, so strap up as I introduce to you players number 79-70 in this edition of IES’s top 100.
79.) Reggie Wayne – WR, Indianapolis Colts – Am I the only one who finds it amazing that this man had one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 34? He finished the season with 106 catches for 1,355. Those are numbers he didn’t even touch in the first five years of his career. Crazy, huh?
78.) Jared Veldheer – OT, Oakland Raiders – You’re probably looking at your screen like, “who?” Like the team I cover the (the Jags), the Raiders don’t have much, but both teams do have a franchise left tackle. I watched a lot of Veldheer’s college film in 2010 when he entered the draft and would’ve loved to see him in a Jags uniform. It comes as no surprise that both Pro Football Focus, and Pete Prisco have him rated as a top 100 player.
77.) Mike Iupati – OG, San Francisco 49ers – Another offensive lineman from the 2010 draft class. Iupati is a vital piece to the best offensive line in the game. Standing at 6’5 and 330 pounds, Iupati is without question one of the best run blocking linemen in the game. A lot of Gore and Kaepernick’s success is because of Iupati and the 49ers number 1 rated offensive line according to Pro Football Focus.
76.) Michael Crabtree – WR, San Francisco 49ers – I was critical of his game at first, but I must say Crabtree has gradually elevated his game to that of the first rounder he was drafted to be. He is probably one of the best pure route runners in the NFL. The achilles injury he suffered this year really concerns me, though, and I can only hope he can get back to the great receiver he had become prior.
75.) Ndmukong Suh – DT, Detroit Lions – I’m slowly starting to believe he may be a little overrated for my taste. I feel like the offensive lineman of the NFL have somewhat adjusted to his game and he has to do the same to the same with them. He still had a good season in the sack department (sacks aren’t everything by the way), but I feel he could be better if he adjusted to the game as it has to him.
74.) Cam Newton – QB, Carolina Panthers – Statistically he’s not as good as the quarterbacks I listed in last week’s top 100 (89-80) article, but I feel like they all have better supporting casts around them. If Newton had a running back like RGIII does in Alfred Morris or the offensive line Colin Kaepernick has, he’d look a lot better in my opinion.
73.) Vincent Jackson – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Hey, a big payday didn’t stop this man from playing well. He’s a big time threat due to his size and body positioning. Other than Calvin Johnson, I don’t think there is anyone who is better when it comes to boxing receivers out of his passing lane.
72.) Jared Allen – DE, Minnesota Vikings – He might have slowed down a bit, but he’s still effective nonetheless. If you think since his production is down from years past that he’s no longer a threatening pass rusher due to his age, you’re sadly mistaken. Allen still can wreak havoc–just ask Aaron Rodgers, who he sacked 4 times last year.
71.) Russell Okung – OT, Seattle Seahawks – Once again, another offensive lineman from the 2010 draft class. We all know Russell Wilson is a beast, but what some seem overlook the stud that is his left tackle in Okung and another very good offensive lineman, who I’ll reveal later down the road. Okung is a rising star and continues to get better on a year to year basis. Not only has he done a good job blocking for Wilson, but he’s also been a solid run blocker who’s paved the way for the next player on my list.
70.) Marshawn Lynch – RB, Seattle Seahawks – Very exciting runner to watch. He’s the perfect combination of size, power, elusiveness, and speed as a runner. His bread and butter is breaking tackles and there isn’t a back in the league who does it better. He finished the season with 1,590 yards, which is the highest total of his career so far.