By: James Johnson
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally reached the mid-point of IES Top 100. Now we’ll enter the elite players and things will start to get a little more interesting. This week’s Top 100 has a bit of variety with a pair of quarterbacks, running backs, and safeties who make the cut with a few others in the mix. So who are they? I won’t keep you waiting any longer.
59.) Daryl Washington – LB, Arizona Cardinals – Coming out of TCU, I remember analysts labeling Washington as “too small” to play inside linebacker and projecting him to be a outside linebacker in 2010 when he was drafted…. well I’m no analyst, but I do remember disagreeing with them. I thought with a little weight added to his frame he’d be a great inside linebacker, and here we are three years later watching him take the league by storm. As an inside linebacker, Washington racked up 9 sacks, which is ridiculous considering his position. However, as PFF points out, he left 17 tackles on the field. Once he gets his missed tackles ratio down he’ll get the recognition he really deserves.
58.) Alfred Morris – RB, Washington Redskins – I’m one of the few people that you’ll see vote Alfred Morris higher than RGIII. As you all know, I was skeptical to vote RGIII (and the other young QB’s) too high in this countdown for multiple reasons, the main reason being I want to see if they’d back up their first year’s worth of play. I can almost guarantee Morris will, so I put him here in the countdown. As a rookie, Morris ran for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a 6th round pick, huh?
57.) Roddy White – WR, Atlanta Falcons – White is a player that you either love or hate, but regardless there is no denying he’s talented. Though Julio Jones may be the better among the two, White deserves his share of credit for making the Falcons one of the most dangerous aerial attacks in the game (no pun intended.).
56.) Jamaal Charles – RB, Chiefs – People tend to forget that Adrian Peterson isn’t the only player who came off ACL surgery in 2012 and put up great numbers. Though he didn’t have the amazing season Peterson did, he still finished the season with 1,509 yards and 5 touchdowns.
55.) Matthew Stafford – QB, Detroit Lions – I’ve pretty much followed this young man dating back to the time he was in high school since he was one of the most highly regarded recruits of my time in 2006. Now Stafford has been in the league 5 seasons and is one of the more promising QB’s in the NFL. His passer dropped a bit from 97.2 in 2012 to 79.8 in 2013, but I believe if the Lions figure things out around him and Megatron, they’ll be fine.
54.) Eric Weddle – S, San Diego Chargers – There’s only one free safety I feel is better than Weddle. He is as good as it gets in terms of coverage, and has consistently held it down in the middle for San Diego’s defense for a while now. According to PFF, he’s also one of the best safeties in the league when it comes to run support as well, and graded positive in every area possible.
53.) Evan Mathis – G, Philadelphia Eagles – He was #6 on PFF’s top 100. I won’t go that far but I’m fully aware that there aren’t many guards better than him in the NFL–as a matter of fact, I only have one guard ahead of him on this list. He’s probably the best run blocking guard in the league and that was evident as he graded positive in every game he played in 2012 in terms of run blocking. Now if only the Eagles could clone him and load their interior offensive line with similar players.
52.) Tony Romo – QB, Dallas Cowboys – I don’t know if I would’ve given him the extension the Cowboys did, but I feel he is under appreciated. He ended the season with a 90.5 passer rating and threw for 4,903 yards with 28 touchdowns. Those are numbers I’d take any day from my QB, which leads me (and most) to believe he’s not the problem in Dallas.
51.) Earl Thomas – S, Seahawks – Well, here is the highest ranked safety on our list. In my opinion there is none better at his position (at least for now). In my eyes, he’s pretty much a faster and younger version of Weddle. He can man the middle or any part of the field you put him, and despite his size he’ll stick his nose in the run game without hesitation.
50.) Charles Tillman CB, Chicago Bears – At the age of 32 Tillman had what was probably the best season of his career in 2012. I had him lower originally, but once I went back and evaluated his 2012 season it was clear to me that he was one of the best corners of 2012 by far. He was a turnover machine and disruptor throughout the season for Chicago with a staggering 10 forced fumbles, 16 pass deflections, 3 interceptions and 3 touchdowns.