The NFL Network does a countdown of the top 100 players every summer, as voted on by the players themselves. This year’s top 10 was released on Wednesday night.
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It will come as no surprise to you that eight of the top 10 players are offensive players, all of whom play skill positions. In other words, NFL players don’t exactly hold defenders — or linemen — in quite as high esteem as they do those that accumulate fantasy football points on a weekly basis. It’s not all that likely that there are actually three quarterbacks and three wide receivers but zero offensive linemen among the 10 best players in the league, but hey, who are we to argue with the players? They’d figure to know best.
Without further ado:
Beckham has racked up 187 catches for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons, in only 27 games. Those figures rank second, first, and fourth all-time, respectively.
Far and away the best tight end in football, and arguably the most terrifying offensive weapon in the league. Gronk is coming off back-to-back seasons of at least 72 catches, 1,124 yards, and 11 touchdowns and has hit paydirt double-digit times in five of his six seasons.
Jones led the NFL in receptions (136) and receiving yards (1,871) last season, though he “only” scored eight touchdowns. This after he put up a 106-1,593-6 line the year before.
The best player on one of the NFL’s best defenses, Kuechly is inarguably the best inside linebacker in football. He is both a tackles machine (at least 118 in every season of his career; an average of 155) and a pick-six machine (two last year) and he has deservedly made both the Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro each of the last three years.
Apparently, players are not quite as impressed with Rodgers as they were a year ago, when he ranked No. 2 in this exercise. That presumably has something to do with his comparatively down season, in which he still had a 31-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, even while he was without his top passing game target all year.
Peterson returned from nearly a year out of action to lead the NFL in carries (327), rushing yards (1,485), and rushing touchdowns (11). It was the third time in his career he’d led the league in total rushing yards, and the fourth time he’s led in rushing yards per game. He also made his seventh Pro Bowl (he’s been selected during every season in which he’s played at least 14 games) and fourth All-Pro first team.
Brown tied with Jones for the league lead with 136 catches and finished only 37 yards behind him. Brown had 10 touchdowns to Jones’ eight, though, and he racked up his numbers while catching passes from Mike Vick and Landry Jones for part of the year, rather than Ben Roethlisberger. Over the last three seasons in which he has cemented himself as the best wide receiver in football, Brown has 68 more catches and 678 more receiving yards than the next closest player.
The consensus best defensive player on the planet for a while now, Watt has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in the last four seasons. He might just be the best defensive player since Lawrence Taylor. There’s not much more to it than that.
Brady probably had the best season of any quarterback through the air in 2015. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns (36), and he also led all passers with a minuscule 1.1 percent interception rate. He is still the quickest draw in the league and his ability to spray the ball around to targets like Gronk, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, and more helped the Patriots hum along to yet another AFC East title and AFC Championship Game berth. They fell to the Broncos there, thanks largely to the Patriots’ offensive line’s inability to keep Brady upright in the face of Denver’s rush.