The NFL has approximately 2,500 players in the league, ranging from solid starters to rotational players to those who are simply fighting for their professional lives. Then there are those who are in a class of their own–the select group of superstars that dominate the game of football.

We all know the big names. The Tom Brady’s, the Adrian Peterson’s, the Darrelle Revis’. But how do they stack up against each other?

Well after countless hours of film study, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. decided to construct a list of the Top 200 players. It’s definitely an intriguing ranking, and you’ll see some bold placement.

I looked through this list and for the most part, it looked good. But as always, these type of lists are debatable. With that being said, here’s my commentary and evaluation of the Top 25.

1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Brady was the choice made by his fellow NFL players in NFL Network’s Top 100 players ranking as well, and deserving so. He’s coming one of the best seasons of his career which, if you look at his body of work, is saying a lot.

2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

It’s really a tossup between Brady and Manning, both of whom should be sure-fire 1st ballot Hall of Fame inductees. But since he’s thrown 34 interceptions in the past two seasons, he takes runner up. Nevertheless, just watch him conduct the offense and you’ll quickly see why he’s a 4-time MVP.

3. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

I guess you could say this is the first real shocker considering he was ranked 8th by his peers. However, just put on some game tape and you’ll see that he’s established himself as the best defender in the league. Think about it this way, as he shuts down opposing receivers on a weekly basis, he’s the only player in the NFL who’s proven to be invincible.

4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

The running back position is diminishing, but Adrian Peterson is still running strong. His aggressive style has made him into the premier rusher in the league, and now that his fumbling issues are fixed, he’s virtually flawless.

5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

I understand that Rodgers was the Super Bowl MVP and has had three consecutive seasons with at least 28 touchdown passes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be ecstatic if he were my starting quarterback. But I still don’t think that’s enough to validate him as one of the Top 5 players in the league.

6. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL and he does a great job leading the Saints offense. If this list were based on overall impact, then I’d say this is just about right. However, if you base it off of overall skill level, then I think this is yet another example of a quarterback being overrated.

7. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans

Andre Johnson is truly the complete package. Not only is he a tremendous athlete and possess refined receiving skills, but he also carries himself with high character which I respect to the utmost degree especially when you have divas like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.

8. Ben Roethlisberger,

Really? This is taking things too far. Especially after the pathetic performance he had against the Jets in the AFC Conference Championship Game and then later throwing two costly interceptions in their Super Bowl loss to the Packers, there’s no way that Big Ben should be this high.

9. Joe Thomas, OT,

While having quality play under center is crucial for success in the NFL, providing your quarterback with adequate pass protection is equally important. Joe Thomas, the former No. 3 overall pick, has proven that he’s the best offensive lineman in the league.

10.Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Was he overpaid with a 8-year, $120 million contract? I think so. Is he still one of the premier playmakers in the NFL? Absolutely. Even with the disaster the Cardinals had at quarterback, Fitzgerald was still able to haul in 90 receptions for 1,137 yards last year.

11. Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco 49ers

ESPN got this one right for sure. Patrick Willis is one of the most feared defenders in the league and is also a leader for the 49ers defense. He’s remarkably instinctive, and has been productive ever since he came into the league.

By the way, I’d just like to point out that the Oakland Raiders passed up on three of the top eleven players in the NFL when they selected JaMarcus Russell with the top pick in the 2007 Draft. That is the definition of a bust.

12. Phillip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

Phillip Rivers honestly doesn’t receive enough credit for his performance on the field. Sure, he’s been unable to lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl but he’s still one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL I’m a huge fan, and I’m glad to see him rated this high.

13. James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

While registering nasty illegal hits is what he’s infamous for, don’t let that overshadow his brilliant linebacker play. Not only does he get after the quarterback, but he’s stout in stuffing the run and uses his leverage and strength to the best of his ability.

14. Haloti Ngata, DL, Baltimore Ravens

Haloti Ngata may not be a household name that racks up big numbers on the stat sheet, but he’s an indispensable cog to the Ravens defense. He possesses unbelievable athleticism for a man who’s 6’4″ 330 lbs., and demands multiple blockers which opens up lanes for his teammates to make plays.

15. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

When I hear term edge rusher, I think of nobody else but DeMarcus Ware. With 80 sacks in his six-year career, Ware has made a name for himself as a force to reckon with. He’s the prototypical outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and opposing quarterbacks cower in fear when they see him coming after them.

16. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB,

What I really like about this placement is that he’s 13 slots below Darrelle Revis. Sure, he’s the only other true shutdown corner in the league, but he doesn’t make enough game-changing plays to garner a spot higher than this.

17. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

I remember when everyone questioned the Titans decision to take Johnson in the 1st round. Looking back, it may have been one of the smartest moves in franchise history. He’s a speed demon and every time he touches the ball, there’s a chance he can take it all the way.

18. Troy Polamalu, SS, Pittsburgh Steelers

I’m sorry; but how is Ben Roethlisberger the highest rated Steelers player and ahead of the Defending Defensive Player of the Year? It just doesn’t make sense. Polamalu is one of the most fundamentally sound football players to ever play the game and has been dominant for years. I’d love to have someone from ESPN please explain me this decision.

19. Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers

The Packers transitioned from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under Dom Capers and an integral reason why it’s been so successful is because of Clay Matthews’ ability to get after the quarterback. He was the last of the three USC linebackers to be drafted in that 2009 class, but he’s proven to be the most talented.

20. Jake Long, OT, Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins may not have a quarterback, but they sure have the protection as Jake Long is one of the best blind side blockers in the league. In addition, he’s a mauler in the running game which has helped them implement their Wildcat offense.

21. Ed Reed, FS, Baltimore Ravens

Ed Reed is one of the most dangerous players in the NFL. As their analysis stated he has rare instincts, is a ball hawk, and can change the game with his threat to score once he gets his hands on the ball. So why is he ranked this low?

22. Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants

The Giants predicated their cinderella-esque Super Bowl upset over the New England Patriots on their pass rush, and Justin Tuck played a key role in that.

My only question is why is Justin Tuck No. 22 while Osi Umenyiora, who had an NFL record 10 forced fumbles, 120 spots lower?

23. Nick Mangold, C

The center isn’t exactly the glamor position of the NFL, but Nick Mangold sets the standard for all interior lineman. His understand of the game is incredible and he’s lightning quick off the snap, which makes him worthy of this spot.

24. Julius Peppers

Peppers signed a blockbuster contract with the Chicago Bears last offseason during free agency and did not disappoint. Even though he had six of his sacks in a span of four games (which means two in the other twelve), he was a monumental reason the Bears were 13-3 last season.

25. Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Justin Smith is a relentless defender and one of the few who can make a seamless transition from a 4-3 defensive end to a five-technique in a 3-4. However, I find it tough to believe that he’s on the same level as Julius Peppers.

So as you can see, a decent job overall, but there were definitely some picks I disagreed with esepcially when it came to overvaluing the quarterbacks and undervaluing the safeties. But what do you think? Please voice your opinion on who you think should have been higher, or who should’ve been lower.


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