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#NFLTop100: How Accurate Is the Top 10?

A month after the NFL Top 100 was released, Zach gives his thoughts on how accurate he believes the Top 10 to be. What do you think?

By: Zach Metkler, GZ Sports Report Writer

The annual NFL Top 100 gives fans the chance to see what players have to say about each other and give their opinions about who they feel are the best players in the league. If you are like me, you sit and wait with baited breath to see where your favorite teams players will rank amongst the best in the league. Each year, fans (including myself) get disgruntled when their favorite player gets snubbed or underrated on the rankings. Now that the dust has settled on another NFL Top 100 over the past month, how accurate are this year’s rankings?

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Recap:

  1. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
  2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
  3. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
  4. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  6. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
  7. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Carolina Panthers
  8. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
  10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

Most of the names that make up the Top 10 this year should be a surprise to no one. Amongst this list are 4 former NFL MVP’s, 2 former NFL Defensive Players of the Year, 3 former NFL Offensive Players of the Year, and 2 Super Bowl MVP’s. The Top 10 have also combined for 6 Super Bowl victories, 46 Pro Bowl appearances, and 25 First-Team All-Pro honors. There is no doubt that these players are the elite of the elite in the NFL.

-Cam Newton is coming off a season in which he dominated every facet of the game and led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance while being crowned the MVP.

-Tom Brady did Tom Brady things all season. There is no explanation.

-J.J. Watt has been one of the most dominate defensive players in the NFL since entering the league. Last season was much of the same, although he was much quieter this year about what he did on the field. While it wasn’t a “down” year for Watt, he didn’t make waves like he usually does.

-Antonio Brown finally separated himself as not only the best receiver in football, but as one of the best player in the NFL regardless of position. With the Steelers last year, he did nothing but continue to set franchise and NFL records. He is building quite the resume for himself.

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Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

-Adrian Peterson continues to defy his age and be the nucleus of the Minnesota Vikings. While running backs decline quickly, it seems like there is no stopping AP. He likely has a few quality years left in the tank as long as he can stay healthy.

-Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL. Period. While many will argue that Tom Brady or Cam Newton deserve that distinction, Rodgers shows time and time again why he is the pinnacle of what a quarterback should be: elite awareness, elite accuracy, elite mechanics, elite technique. The list goes on. While Brady might be one of the greatest of all time, Rodgers is one of the greatest of the past decade.

-No linebacker has been as consistent and dominant over recent years as Luke Kuechly. Since entering the league in 2012, Kuechly has tallied 591 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. Kuechly is arguably the heart and soul of the Panthers defense and is is one of the smartest defensive players in the NFL.

-Julio Jones is the definition of a physical specimen. At 6’3″, 220 lbs. and running a 4.39 40, Jones has been one of the most physically imposing receivers in the NFL. Last season, Jones led the league last year with 1,871 receiving yards and tied Antonio Brown for the league lead in receptions with 136. Tall? Check. Athletic? Check. Can catch any pass? Check. Do it all receiver? Check. There is nothing Jones can’t do.

-Rob Gronkowski continues to redefine the tight end position. As Tom Brady’s favorite target, Gronk often looks like an oversized receiver on the field. Very few players mean as much to a team’s passing game as Gronk does to the Patriots.

-Odell Beckham Jr. has made a living off of highlight reel catches. His ability to make plays in the open field is the best in the league of any player not named Antonio Brown and he is the key cog in the Giants offense.

Top 10 Snubs:

Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams: According to Pro Football Focus, Donald was the NFL’s top-graded defensive tackle during his rookie season in 2014 and in 2015, he was the NFL’s top-graded PLAYER, maxing out their rating scale with a 99.9. Last season, Donald had an 69 tackles and 11 sacks on the year and was consistently one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league. Many (including myself) felt that Donald should have cracked the top 10. In 2 seasons, Donald has 2 Pro Bowl selections and was a 1st-Team All-Pro in 2015. The sky is the limit for the NFL’s new premier defensive lineman (sorry, J.J. Watt) and he will surely be a top 10 player in the coming seasons for years to come.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Photo by Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack, OLB, Oakland Raiders: In 2015, Mack accomplished something that has never been done in NFL history: he became the first player to be selected as a 1st-Team All-Pro at both outside linebacker AND defensive end. Mack was 2nd in sacks to only J.J. Watt with 15 and is the face of the Oakland Raiders current youth movement. Mack is a force to be reckoned with and was consistently in the opposing team’s backfield week in and week out, rarely getting beat in 1-on-1 contests. Just like his 2014 NFL Draft counterpart Aaron Donald, it is only a matter of time until Mack cracks the top 10 in the NFL Top 100.

Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos: Recently, Miller has had his reputation clouded due to the situation surrounding his contract situation that likely will soon make him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Before this news was taking place, Miller was terrorizing quarterbacks in the NFL leading up to a Super Bowl MVP winning performance in Super Bowl 50. Miller has been regarded as one of the fiercest pass-rushers in the NFL since entering the league in 2011 and that was no different in 2015 after he totaled 11 sacks during the regular season and additional 5 during the playoffs (which was the most by a player in the playoffs last season). Miller has been in the top 10 in years past and look for him to be back there again in the near future.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: When you think of the best receivers in the NFL, typically the 3 in the top 10 come into mind (Brown, Jones, Beckham). But those 3 receivers are in high powered offenses with established quarterbacks. What Hopkins was able to accomplish last season while having 4 different quarterbacks throughout the year is nothing short of remarkable: 111 receptions (3rd in the NFL), 1,521 receiving yards (3rd in the NFL), and 11 touchdowns (T-7th in the NFL). While Brown and Jones were dominating teams week in and week out and Beckham was performing highlight reel catches, Hopkins quietly dominated secondaries and almost singlehandedly carried the Texans offense to their first AFC South division championship since 2012. With the signing of Brock Osweiler this offseason, the Texans hope to have a competent quarterback to throw the ball to Hopkins as he continues his ascent into the NFL elite.

My Top 10:

  1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
  2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
  3. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
  5. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
  6. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  7. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
  8. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Carolina Panthers
  9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
  10. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

I know what most of you are thinking: how could I put Tom Brady at the top of this list?! The hated Patriots’ Tom Brady!!! Well hear me out: while Cam Newton was undoubtedly the NFL MVP last season (and deservedly so) and Aaron Rodgers is arguably the top quarterback in the NFL, no player on this list has impressed more with less than the hated Brady. At 38-years old, Brady only continues to get better. Last season, when the team was crumbling around him due to injury, Brady continued to make stars out of no names on offense and came within 2 points of yet another Super Bowl. Over his career, Brady has been able to elevate the play of those around him and deserved the #1 spot for his play in 2015.

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Photo by Tom Rothenberg/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

As I mentioned previously, Aaron Rodgers is the top quarterback in football currently and should have been ranked as such for this year’s rankings. However, the biggest snub to the top 10 is Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald established himself as one of the top defensive playmakers in 2015 and although he had a solid ranking at #14, he graded out as the top player in the NFL and #14 doesn’t do that justice. Unfortunately, players often get top rankings due to name strength but in the case of Donald, he truly deserved to be in the top 10.

But for now, onto the 2016 season.

For future updates, follow me on Twitter at @GZSports_ZM and follow GZ Sports Report at @GZSportsReport or on Twitter at @GZSportsRepo

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