Pat Kirwan's Top 100: Top-ranked Tom Brady thrives despite obstacles
When you scan my list of the top 100 players in the NFL, you will see, among other things:
--Tom Brady is far from washed up, and I still consider him one of the elite players in the league.
-- I still think the young quarterbacks have to wait their turn to be anointed the next great things and be in my top 30.
When I initially put this list together, I had Peterson ranked No. 8, just a few spots ahead of Sherman, who is 11th. That was based on my evaluation.
But to be sure, I ran that thinking by several NFL general managers, coaches, offensive coordinators, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones and a handful of other offensive players.
While they all said Sherman was a great player, not one of them thought he was better than Peterson.
That shocked me.
I am sure it will shock Sherman.
Here's what two general managers had to say about Sherman:
GM No. 1: "Overhyped. Not the ideal athlete that you look for at the cornerback position, but fits what they do well. He has very good ball skills and recognition skills, but benefits greatly from their front and the safety help over the top."
GM No. 2: "See how he does when he doesn't have a push. In that defense, they don't ask him to play a lot of man. He's more of a one-dimensional player. He's very good at what they ask them to do. Sherman's big and long, so that helps. He's good, but Peterson is better."
"GM No. 2: "He is big, tough and lines up all over the place. He can play the press-man you want and he takes the other team's best receiver. He can go into the slot. He can go to the left side, the right side. It doesn't matter. That's the difference. I don't think you could put Sherman in their scheme and he'd do the same things."
I appreciate both corners, which is why they are among my 11 best players in the NFL for 2014.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning tops the list after his record-setting season. My top 10 includes four quarterbacks, the guys I consider the truly elite passers. They are Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
I put Brady at No. 5, which totally dispels the idea that he is slipping, as some have stated.
"Those questioning him have lost their evaluating skills," one general manager said. "He's still one of the best -- if not the best."
So dive into the list, compare it to Pat Kirwan's list here on our site and others around the league, and get as angry as you want to get. That's the idea. It's my opinion, based on input from scouts and players and personnel men.
I like my list -- a lot.
Below almost every player, you will see a comment from a general manager, personnel man or coordinator about that player. I got comments for most of the 100 players, but those that I didn't, I included a stat or an interesting fact about each.
To differentiate between the general managers, I call them NFL GM No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4.
NFL GM No. 3 on Manning: "He makes everyone around him better. He can compete with anybody. He's a coach on the field. One of the greatest of all time."
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Yes, he got hurt last season and missed some time, but there is no doubt he's arguably one of the two best players in the league. If picking one player, including the age factor, he tops on this list.
Offensive coordinator on Rodgers: "Has a great feel for where his guys are. He is hard to sack. Makes great plays as a scrambler."
NFL GM No. 1 on Watt: "Very explosive athlete that uses his good length to his advantage in both phases. Used very well from that four position, which makes him too athletic for offensive guards and too strong for most offensive tackles."
Rams general manager Les Snead on Robert Quinn: "The ceiling for him is Canton, especially in an age where you are throwing the ball more."
NFL GM No. 4 on Brady: "The best football player-quarterback in this league. Still has what it takes to take a team to numerous Super Bowls. "
AFC personnel director on Johnson: "He remains the best in the league, and there is nobody who can go up and get the ball the way he does."
NFL GM No. 4 on Brees: "He's still a top-notch quarterback who has the ability throw the ball and ad-lib to make plays at all levels -- short, intermediate and deep -- as well as anybody in the league. One of the top passers in the game."
Offensive coordinator on Peterson: "Peterson lines up on the top receiver all over the place. That gives him an edge over (Richard) Sherman. They're both really good."
9. LeSean McCoy, RB, Phildelphia Eagles: He is the prototype for the modern game, a guy who can run in space and catch the football with big-play speed. There's a reason he led the NFL in rushing.
NFL GM No. 3 on McCoy: "He has excellent vision and a great burst. Can score from anywhere on the field. He's also good in the passing game. Tailor made for that offense."
Offensive coordinator on Thomas: "Has the best range in the league. Big hitter and ball skills to cover a lot of ground."
11. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks: He doesn't always play man-to-man, but he excels in what they ask him to do. He is a playmaker. Just ask him. But that's why I love his style.
NFC GM No. 4 on McCoy: "He's a complete game-changer. He has size, speed, quickness and agility. He disrupts the NFC South on a game-by-game basis."
NFC personnel man on Charles: "He makes their offense go. He is perfect for what they want to do. He is a far better between-the-tackles runner than people think. He's great in the passing game."
14. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: He was taken away in the playoff loss to the Seahawks, but he had a special season.
NFL GM No. 4 on Graham: "One of the best tight ends in the league. He's the type of tight end that everyone worries about. He is so good at creating after the catch. He's tough, focused and is as competitive as any guy in the league."
15. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: He had 41 catches and was averaging 116 yards per game when he got hurt in the fifth week last season. That was best in the league. He is coming off a foot injury, but all indications are he will be fine for camp.
NFL GM No. 3 on Jones: "I would take Julio over all the other guys except Calvin Johnson if he's healthy. Look what he did before he got hurt last year. He's a monster."
NFC personnel director on Jones: "Physical specimen that can do what he wants when he's on the field. The problem is keeping him on the field."
NFL GM No. 3 on Thomas: "Mr. Steady. He's a very good pass protector and strong in the run game. There is nobody better than him."
NFL personnel man on Bowman: "It's a shame he got hurt, because he was the best linebacker in the league last season. He can play the run and he's good against the pass. They need him back in the worst way."
NFL GM No. 3 on Kuechly: "Playmaker. He has rare instincts. He's really good. I think his instincts are great. He gets the most out of his athletic ability."
NFL GM No. 1 on Peterson: "Man among boys. He's a rare combination of size, speed and explosiveness. Better overall back when compared to Marshawn Lynch, and really doesn't have a glaring weakness."
20. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: He put up huge numbers with so-so quarterback play. It's a shame he's facing a suspension.
Gordon stat: His 18.9 per-catch average was a full yard better than Calvin Johnson's 17.8 per- catch average last season.
21. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions: Say what you want about the supposed "cheap stuff," but he had a heck of a season in 2013. What does he do in a contract year?
NFL GM No. 2 on Suh: "He is an explosive player with rare quickness for his size. Needs to become more dominating on a consistent basis, but [he] can really rush the passer on the interior."
22. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I love the way he plays, and it's a shame he didn't get a Pro Bowl invite. He can cover, blitz and play the run. What's not to like?
NFL general manager No. 4 on David: "Has great range and plays fast. He's a playmaking linebacker, a run-and-hit guy who makes tackles all over the field."
AFC personnel man on Atkins: "He is an explosive athlete who is very disruptive. When he is healthy, one of the top defensive tackles in the game."
24. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: He is coming off an injury-shortened season, but when healthy, he's even higher up this list.
NFC personnel director on Gronkowski: "Coverage mismatch for linebackers and safeties. He can do what he wants when he's on the field. The problem is keeping him on the field."
AFC personnel man on Gronkowski: "Top talent whose style doesn't indicate a long career. Tremendous player when he plays, but you have to think the injuries will take their toll moving forward."
25. Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers: If he can stay clear of problems, he will be even higher on this list. His pass-rush ability is as good as anybody.
NFC personnel director on Smith: "Extremely talented pass rusher that has game-wrecking ability. Will always question where his focus is."
26. Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos: He is another coming off a major knee injury and, like Smith, had some off-field issues that clouded his 2013 season.
NFC GM No. 4 on Miller: "He has a ton of athletic ability and has the speed to turn the corner. His ceiling is untapped. He just needs to get his head on right in order to reach his potential. When he does, he has Hall of Fame potential."
27. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: He has some drops last season, but he remains one of the league's best receivers.
Green stat: He had 61 of his 98 catches on the road last season, which is odd. Also, 12 of his 18 plays of 20 yards or more came on the road.
28. Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots: He was battling back from a knee injury last season and was miscast in Tampa Bay's defense. He should be much better for the Pats in 2014.
AFC personnel man on Revis: "He is still playing at a high level and should be better this year than last. Football is important to him, and that matters."
Mathis stat: In addition to his league-best 19 1/2 sacks, he also had eight forced fumbles to lead all pass rushers.
30. Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers: He was bothered by injuries last season, so his numbers were down, but when he's healthy he's still an elite player. He just needs more help on the other side.
NFC personnel director on Matthews: "Very active pass rusher that uses his hands well. He's a good speed and speed-to-power rusher that is surprisingly more stout against the run than given credit for."
NFL GM No. 3 on Matthews: "Excellent football player. He's the prototype for that position. He can rush. He can set the edge. Highly competitive."
AFC personnel man on Wilkerson: "A young, ascending stud who can be as good as he wants to be. Size and athletic ability make him a special talent."
32. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers: He's still a top-quality linebacker, but he's now second-best inside on the 49ers defense -- if Bowman is healthy.
NFC personnel director on Willis: "Athletic and instinctive LB that is at his best when he is covered up and can roam. Better run defender than coverage player. He has been outplayed by NaVorro Bowman the last two seasons."
33. Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns: The value of young corners who can cover like Haden is so high right now. He has a chance to be even higher on this list next season as he matures.
NFL GM No. 4 on Haden: "He's a nice athlete who runs well and has good ball skills. He has a good understanding of the game, which allows him to thrive against the big-time receivers."
NFC GM No. 4 on Weddle: "He has the ability to play strong and free safety. He has very good ball skills that allow him to be a legitimate playmaker in the league."
NFL GM No. 1 on Marshall: "Has made big strides as a player and seems much more mature on the surface. Has all the tools -- size, length and above-average speed for a big man. Does a nice job in traffic and understands how to use his size advantage on the perimeter."
AFC personnel man on Roethlisberger: "He is still capable of being one of the best in spurts, but not what he was. A top-10 quarterback, but he's taken a lot of hits and would benefit from a better offensive line and running game."
37. Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers: He is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, but his off-field issues cloud his contract future moving forward. He plays the run well and can rush the passer.
Offensive coordinator on Hardy: "Relentless pass rusher who plays with a great motor. Versatile because they can play him inside or outside. Plays with an edge."
NFL GM No. 2 on Peters: "He's as talented an athlete as there is in the NFL."
39. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints: This is a young, emerging star on the Saints defense. He had his breakout season in 2013, showing off some pass-rush ability from his down spot.
NFL GM No. 2 on Jordan: "He's a perfect fit in Rob Ryan's defense. A very good two-way player."
Offensive coordinator on Thomas: "He is so big and strong and fast, which makes it tough to press him. I was really impressed with how he competed in the Super Bowl."
NFL GM No. 1 on Wake: "Explosive athlete, great first step and get-off. Plays with a good motor and has excellent speed to chase from the backside."
NFL GM No. 3 on Houston: "He's a very good pass rusher. He's a good fit in their 3-4 scheme. He gets good pressure in various ways, speed to power. Good quickness. He's strong and can set the edge."
43. Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals: He is a player that many people overlook because he doesn't put up huge sack numbers. But he is so important to the success of the Arizona defense.
NFL GM No. 2 on Campbell: "He's still a force to block each week with his size, length and athletic ability."
NFL GM No. 2 on Smith: "Has all the physical tools to be a dominant player for a long time."
45. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: He didn't have a monster season in 2013 by his standards, but he still commands a ton of attention from a defense.
NFL GM No. 3 on Fitzgerald: "I think he's slowing down a little bit. He's still a big-time threat, but does he scare deep like he used to?"
NFL GM No. 2 on Williams: "Has some inconsistencies to his game, but physical tools are all there."
47. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: How some lists keep him off the top 100 is a huge mystery. He is a big-pay receiver who will be even better in 2014.
NFL GM No. 2 on Bryant: "Physical freak with the size, speed and talent to be a top-5 receiver for a long time."
48. Evan Mathis, G, Philadelphia Eagles: He fits what the Eagles do on offense perfectly and he really has impressed the past two seasons. He is athletic and tough.
Mathis stat: Mathis is considered one of the better guards in the league, which is amazing when you consider the Eagles are his fourth team.
49. Joe Staley, T, San Francisco 49ers: If Robert Quinn says he's the best he faces, that's high praise. Staley is a solid pro all the way around -- even if he thinks I question his ability at times.
NFL personnel director on Staley: "Athletic guy with very good awareness, bend and range in both phases of the game. Probably sinks his hips better than any tackle in football."
50. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears: He is big and strong and does a great job of using his body to make big plays. Last season was his breakout season. What's next?
NFC personnel director on Jeffery: "Rare ball skills. What he lacks in speed and quickness, he makes up for with his wide-catch radius and his ability to separate vertically."
51. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers: His ability to get deep in the passing game is a big part of the San Francisco offense. He is a tough matchup for any defense. He had 13 touchdown catches on a run-heavy team. That says a lot.
Davis stat: His 16.3 per-catch average was more than two yards better than Jimmy Graham's 14.1 average.
NFL GM No. 1 on Clady: "One of the top five left tackles in the game. He's an excellent combination of size and quickness for the position. Plays with great length and has good enough feet to match up vs. speed."
53. Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals: He led the NFL in tackles last season and emerged as a Pro Bowl player. He plays with an attitude.
AFC personnel man on Burfict: "Physical and explosive, he will lose focus and discipline still. But he's ascending and very talented. The biggest challenge he faces is himself."
54. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs: He didn't have much help from the guys playing next to him last season, but he remains a top-level safety. He can run and hit and does a nice job when near the line of scrimmage.
NFC personnel director on Berry: "A balanced safety that gives you a wild card due to his coverage skills. He can cover some receivers in the slot, which allows Kansas City to be creative with their looks. He's an ideal safety to have when playing the Vernon Davises and Jimmy Grahams of the world."
55. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons insist Ryan played his best football last season without Jones and other starters. He doesn't get the due he deserves.
AFC personnel director on Ryan: "Smart. Great intangibles. Average talent. Arm causes him problems outdoors in January. Great at home, average on the road. Think lack of Tony Gonzalez hurts him."
NFL GM No. 2 on Ryan: "Great competitor with the physical tools, but has taken a lot of hits the past few years."
56. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers: He carried the Chargers to the playoffs last season. He remains one of the game's best competitors.
AFC personnel man on Rivers: "Had a great year for [Coach Mike] McCoy. Still streaky but he scares you. This is a guy you hate playing against!"
57. Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks: I don't think he's a star pass rusher, but his effort and drive are what makes him a big part of the Seattle defense.
NFL GM No. 1 on Bennett: "Talented rusher who can be disruptive from multiple alignments. Can play inside in nickel and will beat you with quickness on the edges. Versatility may be his biggest strength."
58. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Yes, I would take him first among all the young quarterbacks, and so would you if you were honest with yourself.
NFL GM No. 1 on Luck: "By far the best young quarterback in the league. Can beat you with his arm or feet and has a great understanding of the game. Should replace Brady and Manning as the next elite quarterback in the near future."
59. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: He had a terrific bounce-back season in 2013 and doesn't have a lot to work with on offense. He carried that team last season.
Offensive coordinator on Newton: "Much improved as a pocket passer under Mike Shula. Impossible to sack. Great scrambler."
60. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys: Why is he on this list? He deserves to be. Rip him all you want, but Dallas is a 4-12 team without him.
NFC personnel director on Romo: "Has all of the physical tools, but I question his decision- making. Shows flashes of brilliance only to follow that up with bad decisions. Also at 34 years old, he's had two back surgeries in a year."
NFL GM No. 2 on Romo: "He still has unique improvisational skills, but at his age with two back surgeries, how will he rebound?"
NFC personnel director on Wilson: "Athletic game manager that does what the team asks him to do. Good decision maker that is wise beyond his years. Takes care of the ball and plays well within the confines of their offense."
AFC personnel director on Wilson: "Can beat you in a lot of ways and doesn't beat himself. Don't think he can carry a team, but he's got a great defense and a strong running game to prop him up."
62. Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots: He is a rangy former corner who fits playing free safety the way the game is played now. He is also a willing tackler.
McCourty stat: He has 15 picks in four seasons, while brother Jason, a starting corner for the Titans, has eight in five.
AFC personnel man on Brown: "A good player who is a really nice No. 2. Alone, he doesn't scare you that much, but he fits the scheme in Pittsburgh very well."
64. Marshawn Lynch, RB Seattle Seahawks: His numbers were down last season, which could be a sign that he's starting to slow down.
Lynch stat: His 12 rushing touchdowns tied Jamaal Charles for the league lead in 2013.
65. Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets: Wilkerson is a force, and Richardson was right behind him last season. He has a chance to be truly special opposite Wilkerson.
Richardson fact: He was named the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, despite having just 3 1/2 sacks, which tells you how well he did other things.
66. Duane Brown, T, Houston Texans: His play slipped last season, but he is still a top-tier tackle. He needs to rebound this season -- and I think he will.
NFL GM No. 1 on Brown: "Lacks elite length for a left tackle, but has great bend, athleticism and quickness. Could play more physical and will struggle with power from time to time."
67. Michael Johnson, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: His sack numbers were down last season, but he still created a lot of pressure and impacted the passer for the Bengals.
AFC personnel director on Johnson: "Great athlete with average motor. He got paid, and I think he disappoints this year. Not a guy you hate playing against."
68. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: He somehow always gets overlooked for Pro Bowl spots, yet puts up big numbers for a good passing offense.
NFL GM No. 2 on Nelson: "Maybe the most-underrated wide receiver in the NFL. Has all the tools."
Casey stat: He had 10 1/2 sacks last season to tie J.J. Watt for second behind Jason Hatcher among all inside players.
70. Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns: He is a smart, athletic center who can pass protect and get out to the second level in the run game.
NFL GM No. 3 on Mack: "He's very athletic. He's good at the second and third levels. He's good in pass protection. Has a high football IQ. Durable."
71. Jairus Byrd, S, New Orleans Saints: This rangy safety cashes in big time with the Saints after another impressive season with the Bills. He isn't Earl Thomas, but he's the next best thing.
NFL GM No. 2 on Byrd: "Lacks ideal size and speed and has durability concerns. But one of the few true ball hawks in the NFL."
72. Tamba Hali, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs: He had 11 sacks, the same as teammate Justin Houston, but Houston did a better job against the run.
Hali stat: He's had double-digit sacks in three of the last four seasons, including 11 in 2013.
73. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks: The big-hitting safety plays a perfect role in the Seattle defense, which allows him to play up near the line of scrimmage.
NFL GM No. 3 on Chancellor: "He's another one who is a team fit. He's tough and competitive. He's good in the box, good on the tight end. He doesn't have the best range. He's smart. He might be a problem at times in coverage."
Dareus stat: He's played in all 48 games since being the third player taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, including 46 starts.
75. Josh Sitton, G, Green Bay Packers: He moved from the right side to the left side last season and didn't have any drop-off in his play at all.
Sitton fact: He moved from right guard to left guard last season and had his best season.
76. T.J. Ward, S. Denver Broncos: He is a big hitter who can also cover the tight end. He will bring a much-needed toughness to the Denver back end.
Ward stat: He was credited with 112 tackles last season, which was the most for any strong safety in the league.
77. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In 2013, he had more catches than he did in his first season with Tampa Bay (78 to 73), despite some so-so quarterback play.
Jackson stat: His career per-catch average is 17.4. In his two seasons with Tampa Bay, it's 17.5 per catch -- so he isn't slowing down that much.
78. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins: He led the NFL with 113 catches in 2013, even though the Redskins' passing game struggled.
Garcon stat: In his first season in the league in 2008, Garcon had four catches for the Indianapolis Colts. He's had 341 in the five years since.
79. Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City Chiefs: He is a power player inside who can also push the pocket. But his run defense is what sets him apart.
Poe Fact: He played 1,004 snaps last season, which is a lot for a nose tackle.
80. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Denver Broncos: He is far from finished. Just watch what he does in Denver this year. The talk of his demise is exaggerated.
Ware stat: In 2013, Ware had six sacks as injuries plagued him. It was the first time since 2005 that he didn't have double-digit sack numbers.
81. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: He caught 109 passes last season with little help from his quarterbacks. His average was down to 12.9, but he can still get the job done, even if he doesn't run like he used to back in his glory days.
NFL GM No. 1 on Johnson: "His skills have started to decline, but still a good athlete with excellent body control as a route-runner. Can still be a 1,000-yard receiver, but QB concerns must be addressed."
82. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: There are some who think he's slowing down, and he might be, but he is still one of the best in the league.
Witten stat: His 73 catches in 2013 were his lowest total since 2006 and his 851 receiving yards was also the lowest since then.
83. Brandon Mebane, DT, Seattle Seahawks: He's the most-underrated player in the entire league. He doesn't get sacks, but he is vital to their defense.
NFL GM No. 4 on Mebane: "Big, thick, stout interior defensive lineman who has the ability to thrive at the point."
84. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos: He has battled some injuries, but when he's healthy he's a top-level man corner. He is big and strong, which helps.
Talib fact: He's entering his eighth season in the league, but he's still only 28 years old. He has a lot of good football left in his body.
85. Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers: He does some amazing things, which is why he's on the list, but I think he's way too raw as a passer. He needs to see the field better.
NFL GM No. 1 on Kaepernick: "Better athlete than pure passer. Puts major stress on a defense because of his feet and ability to improvise out of the pocket. Struggles to throw with touch consistently."
86. Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins: Coming back from an injury-shortened season in 2012, Orakpo had 10 sacks, which is why the Redskins placed the franchise tag on him this spring.
Orakpo stat: Seven of his 10 sacks last season came in the final eight games, showing he was fully recovered from the torn pectoral muscle he suffered in 2012.
AFC personnel director on Yanda: "The players around him hurt him some last season. He's still a tough-guy mauler who can be among the best."
88. DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins: His big-play ability is second to none. Look at his 16.2 per-catch average.
Jackson stat: Since 2008, no player has more catches of 40 yards or more than Jackson, who has 35.
89. Louis Vasquez, G, Denver Broncos: He was one of the best free-agent signings in 2013. He had his best season at right guard for the Broncos.
Vasquez fact: He didn't allow a single sack in 2013.
90. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens: He isn't what he was early in his career, but he can still anchor in against the run and get some push in the passing game.
NFC personnel director on Ngata: "He can still be a force in the middle, but his age is starting to be a factor. But for short spurts, he can still dominate."
91. Larry Warford, G, Detroit Lions: He was impressive as a rookie and has a chance to be a dominant player for a long time.
NFC personnel director on Warford: "Strong man that doesn't bend all that well, but is athletic and plays light on his feet in space. Very similar to Atlanta's Justin Blalock. Will be a starter for years to come."
92. Derrick Johnson, LB, Kansas City Chiefs: He's a quality inside linebacker who is key to their run game behind Dontari Poe. His play has dropped off some the past few seasons, but he's still a big part of their defense.
Johnson fact: He had 11 interceptions in the past seven seasons, including two in 2013.
93. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons: His rookie season was somewhat overlooked because the Falcons struggled. But he showed the potential to be a real shutdown corner.
Trufant fact: He had two other brothers play in the NFL, Marcus and Isaiah -- also corners.
94. Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers: His play fell off some but he remains a power player on a good defense.
Smith fact: He was the fourth player picked in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, one spot ahead of LaDainian Tomlinson.
95. Terrance Knighton, DT, Denver Broncos: In the second half of the season, he was as good as any Broncos defender. He is a power run player.
Knighton fact: The man known as "Pot Roast" wore jersey No. 94 in Denver last season, but he will wear No. 98 this year after giving No. 94 to DeMarcus Ware.
96. Brent Grimes, CB, Miami Dolphins: Coming off an Achilles tendon injury, he bounced back to play at a Pro Bowl level in 2013. He is a small, feisty corner who won't back down.
Grimes fact: He was playing on a one-year deal last season with the Dolphins. Now he's re-signed to a four-year, $32-million deal.
97. Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns: He emerged as a Pro Bowl player last season, catching 80 balls with seven touchdown catches. If only he had a real quarterback throwing to him.
Cameron fact: He went to BYU to play basketball before going to USC, where he was first a receiver and then a tight end.
98. Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts: He was a Pro Bowl talent early last season, but got dinged and tailed off late, playing in only nine games.
Davis fact: The Colts traded a second-round pick to get Davis from Miami in 2012 and they signed him to a four-year deal for $39 million this spring.
99. Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers: He bounced back from a down season to play well in 2013. How much more does he have left?
Polamalu stat: He has just five total interceptions the past three seasons, showing how he's become much more of a linebacker-like player.
100. Andrew Whitworth, T, Cincinnati Bengals: He is as steady as they come at left tackle. And he really impressed when he moved inside to guard.
NFC personnel director on Whitworth: "He doesn't back down from anybody. He's tough and huge. Showed a lot moving to guard last season."
Just missed: Cliff Avril, DE, Seattle Seahawks; Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants; Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo Bills; Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers; DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys; Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore Ravens; Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys; Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles; Jonathan Cyprien, S, Jacksonville Jaguars; Jason Hatcher, DT, Washington Redskins; Damon Harrison, NT, New York Jets; Nate Solder, T, New England Patriots; Alterraun Verner, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Keenan Lewis, CB, New Orleans Saints; Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings and Chris Harris, CB, Denver Broncos.