Editors note: Pete Prisco's entire 2009 Top 50 will be released Friday.
When putting together my list of the top-50 NFL players, it's usually quarterback heavy and youngster heavy.
This year is no different.
Without revealing the top 25 -- hey, we're trying something new here with a two-day unveiling to keep the suspense going -- I offer a look at the bottom 25 and some players who just missed.
|Only injuries have knocked Carson Palmer down the list. (Getty Images)|
If you'll notice, the bottom 25 includes three quarterbacks and several players who are on the verge of being truly special.
The former group includes Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb. The latter includes Jahri Evans, Darrelle Revis and Cortland Finnegan, all players who are now in their primes.
We will reveal the top 25 later. I will give you a hint: The top two guys are both quarterbacks and there are a lot of players in their primes near the top.
26. Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Coming off shoulder problems, he's back throwing again, which is why he's this high. When he's healthy, he might be even higher. Bashers take note: Brady stays in the second spot coming off his injury, so Palmer stays this high.
27. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: He has been the Colts' go-to guy the past two seasons and with Marvin Harrison gone, there isn't a doubt. He's undervalued by most.
28. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers: He's a tackling machine. In two years, he's established himself as one of the league's best defensive players.
29. Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals: At his age, he remains a big-time passer. His ability to stand in against the rush is as good as any. It's a treat watching him carve up defenses, but it's even better talking to him.
30. Adrian Wilson, S, Cardinals: He showed his value to the nation last year during the Cardinals' Super run. He's a violent tackler and excels in the blitz game. He is Mr. Cardinal.
31. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Even at 33 he continues to put up huge numbers. Now that he's in an offense with a good quarterback, those numbers will be even better. He has three Pro Bowl type years left.
33. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: He's a great threat in the middle of the field and has improved as a blocker. Tony Romo loves him and with T.O. gone he might be even more of a factor.
34. Darnell Dockett, DT, Cardinals: He is quick and relentless and was a big reason the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl. His contract issue is clouding things heading into this season, but he'll play.
35. Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers: He bounced back from a sub-par 2007 season to have a good 2008 season. He has improved in pass coverage greatly from his early days.
36. Kris Jenkins, DT, Jets: He rejuvenated his career after being traded to the Jets. He's a large man who anchors in against the run.
|Clinton Portis has six 1,000-yard NFL rushing seasons at age 27. (Getty Images)|
38. Bob Sanders, S, Colts: The only thing that has held him back has been the injuries. If he can stay healthy, he can be as good as any at this position.
39. Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos: When he's on the field, he puts up huge numbers. The off-the-field stuff is a concern.
40. Jahri Evans, G, Saints: Most don't pay enough attention to this athletic, strong guard. He should be in Pro Bowls. Scouts rave about him.
41. Chris Snee, G, Giants: He's much more than the son-in-law of coach Tom Coughlin. He's a mauler in the run game.
42. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: He wasn't the same last season as injuries bothered him. If he's healthy, he's higher on this list.
43. Vince Wilfork, NT, Patriots: Over the past two seasons, he has developed into a top nose tackle. He is entering a contract year, so look for a big one.
44. DeMeco Ryans, LB, Texans: He's an every-down linebacker who keys the Houston defense. As the team gets more exposure, so will he.
45. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: He had a huge season in 2008, rushing for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 5.5 average shows his big-play ability.
46. Cortland Finnegan, CB, Titans: He's a short corner, but he plays big. He doesn't back down. He's a good cover player and a good tackler.
47. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets: In his second season in 2008, he emerged as a premier cover player. He'll be a Pro Bowl player for a long time.
48. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: He answered a lot of questions last season as to whether he could be a feature back. Now he has to show he can do it again.
49. Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: He bounced back from his benching to have a big season in 2008 and a very good postseason. With a lot of weapons on board now, plus a big line, I think he will be even better in 2009.
Just missed: Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens; Joe Thomas, T, Browns; LaMarr Woodley, OLB, Steelers; Greg Jennings, WR, Packers; Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles; Jordan Gross, T, Panthers; Steven Jackson, RB, Rams; Richard Seymour, DE, Patriots; Jon Beason, LB, Panthers; Jerod Mayo, LB, Patriots; Asante Samuel, CB, Eagles; Jake Long, T, Dolphins; Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions; Joey Porter, OLB, Dolphins; Roddy White, WR, Falcons; Davin Joseph, G, Bucs; Shaun Rogers, DT, Browns; Wes Welker, WR, Patriots; Charles Woodson, CB, Packers; D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Browns; Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys; Terrell Owens, WR, Bills; Jay Cutler, QB, Bears; Andre Gurode, C, Cowboys.