The NFL Network is currently unveiling the Top 100 NFL players as voted on by the men who play in the National Football League. (Or as we call it, the second-best top-100 list available.) It's an annual tradition of showcasing exactly what the people who play in the league don't understand when it comes to talent. To wit: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's appearance at No. 61 overall on Thursday.
That is a low, low spot for a top-10 quarterback, and Roethlisberger's former offensive coordinator and current Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thinks it's "absolutely ridiculous."
“That just shows you how much the players know. That's absolutely ridiculous," Arians said on the NFL Network's reaction show. "This is an elite player, has been for a long time; had a great year last year in a new system. That baffles me."
Most people agree with Arians. Pete Prisco had Ben as his No. 29 overall player in the NFL on his annual top 100 players list; that's a far, far more appropriate spot than 61. I had Roethlisberger at No. 7 on my quarterbacks list and that's as low as I'd go with him -- he was a sleeper candidate for MVP halfway through 2012.
But on the NFL Network list, Roethlisberger isn't even a top-10 quarterback. Per NFL Network PR, he's the 12th quarterback on this list, meaning at least one young quarterback who Arians also knows well -- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck -- will be ahead of Big Ben on the list.
And that "surprises" Arians.
“That surprises me. Andrew is going to be a fantastic quarterback, had an unbelievable year as a rookie; obviously broke all of the records," Arians said. "They are two tremendous athletes; neither one gets the credit for their athleticism. ... Andrew belongs on the list but he's not at that stage yet. He has to put a couple of rings on his finger and a bunch more wins."
The criteria for determining these rankings is always an issue. If we're talking just 2012, you could make an argument that Luck is better than Roethlisberger just based on games played and games won and a playoff appearance.
But it sure seems like everyone takes this to mean that the players in the league believe Luck is a better quarterback than Roethlisberger, which clearly isn't the case.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal had a great write-up on why Roethlisberger's such an underrated quarterback following his appearance at 61. I'd tend to agree with most of his points and even tweeted that Roethlisberger was "criminally underrated," which led to some questions about puns being intended and whatnot. (They weren't.)
Which is probably why Arians was asked about Roethlisberger's off-field issues affecting his status when it came to voting -- the former offensive coordinator didn't believe that factored in.
“No, because they're not voting on that; they're voting on what's happening between the white lines and this is a great elite player who every Sunday shows up and carries a football team," Arians said. "He is the Pittsburgh Steelers."
That was evident when the Steelers struggled without Roethlisberger; when Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich were under center they clearly weren't the same team (mercifully they added Landry Jones in the draft this year to give the position a little more youth). When Roethlisberger played, the Steelers looked like a squad that could get hot at the right time and make a playoff run.
A full season from Roethlisberger in 2013 should remind the rest of the NFL just how good he is.