|Turner's a top 100 player? Really? (US Presswire)|
Pete Prisco has his Top 100 NFL players list out now and that means it's time to kick back with a warm cup of Haterade and pick apart some of his choices.
It's worth noting that a) I love Pete regardless of how often he's wrong and b) his list is still better than the bizarre television special that the actual players roll out.
Anyway, in the interest of making sure that you, dear reader, know that everyone isn't on board with all of his choices, here are 10 questions I have for Pete about his Top 100. Leave yours in the comments.
1. Why is Michael Turner on this list?
I ask because Turner's final season stats might look OK, but take away Turner's Week 17 172-yard romp against the Buccaneers and his season was just "meh." 1,168 yards, 4.11 yards per carry and nine touchdowns? Turner is a back on the decline, and he's playing in an offense that is trying to become more explosive. Given his 297-carry average over the past four years, it's especially difficult to imagine him remaining effective through next year.
|NFL Top 100 Players|
2. Why'd you cave to Maurice Jones-Drew?
Last year, Pete and MoJo got into a tussle (via satellite) on the NFL Network regarding Jones-Drew's ranking and the result was hysterical. Pete had MJD at 30 and that was probably fair. Jones-Drew did lead the league in rushing but now he's 19? One spot ahead of Philip Rivers? That doesn't make sense to me, given that Rivers and an average running back help the Jaguars compete in that division last year. MJD and Blaine Gabbert don't. Er, didn't.
3. How is Matt Ryan ranked above Matthew Stafford?
Ryan had a very nice season (61.3 completion percentage, 4,177 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs), but Stafford had a monster year (63.5 completion percentage, 5,038 yards, 41 TDs, 16 INTs). Ryan should actually improve in 2012 with the addition of Dirk Koetter, and Stafford has Calvin Johnson (Pete's No. 4 player overall) but it's not like Ryan was/is working with no weapons, what with Roddy White (No. 61) and Julio Jones (just missed) on the Falcons roster. Stafford will end up with better numbers again next year too.
4. Are the Colts getting credit for 2007?
Because, you see, 2007 was the last time Indy was ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed per game. Yet both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis made the top 100 list, checking in at 34 and 62, respectively. Both are great talents, for sure, but both are coming off of bad years and about to transition to a 3-4 defense despite playing in a Tampa-2 defense their entire time in the NFL. If I'm taking 3-4 outside linebackers, I'll go Cameron Wake (although he's switching) and Aldon Smith, but of whom are ranked lower than Freeney and Mathis.
5. But ... I thought it was a passing league now?
One of Pete's favorite things to say about the NFL is that it's a passing league now. I agree 100 percent, and there are very few running backs I'd take over an elite quarterback. That's why it's so confusing that 11 quarterbacks made the top 100 list while TEN (!) running backs made the list! The aforementioned Turner inclusion is baffling, but how is Chris Johnson on this list? Frank Gore is more important than Tony Romo? OK then.
6. Did Cam Newton get flipped?
That's the only likely answer, since the first rookie in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season is ranked 83rd on Pete's list. The highest-rated second-year player on the list is Tyron Smith ... at 38. So perhaps that explains the mistake. And that's not to knock Smith, because he's a beast, but he'll have his hands full moving to left tackle next year with a lack of help on the interior from the Cowboys. And Newton does need to cut down on his picks, but he's coming off the greatest rookie season in NFL history and 83 is too low.
7. So age before beauty huh?
Newton wasn't the only young guy who got hosed in Prisco's list: Champ Bailey's above Joe Haden and Lardarius Webb here and while there's totally logic behind rewarding Bailey for another strong year in Denver, Haden and Webb are emerging into some of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.
8. No bold rookie calls?
Maybe I'm harping too much on youth here, but you're telling me there won't be a single rookie from this class that ends up on the Top 100 list heading into 2013 simply based on a strong performance next year? Because I bet there will be a couple. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III could make it, certainly, but here's the best bet for a guy Pete has to include next year: Trent Richardson. He'll become a game-changing, top-10 running back. It won't solve the Browns problems but it will be exciting to watch and plenty of teams will wish they had him on their roster.
9. Just three tight ends?
It's odd, because for all the "evolution of the tight end" talk, it's not like there were that many seasons that make your eyes pop. Certainly Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, who who cancelled each other out in the record-breaking business. But if Jason Witten is the 43rd best player in the NFL going forward, then you've got find a way to get Vernon Davis and Aaron Hernandez (who will have better seasons with Dallas de-emphasizing Witten's role for protection purposes) next year.
10. Did you overlook Darren Sproles?
Literally I mean, since Sproles is pretty short and you could miss him. But he also went out and broke the single-season yards-from-scrimmage record and became the first person ever to rush for 600 yards, put up 600 receiving yards and 1,000 kick return yards in the same season. For all that Graham did to change New Orleans offensive attack, it's hard to imagine if they'd have been as dominant as they were without Sproles. I don't think they would've been -- he came in to replace Reggie Bush and did far more than that.
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