Yesterday I started my rundown of who’s the best the NFL has to offer currently. There was a mixture of Hall of Famers, controversial wide receivers and former Pro Bowlers that are on the mend. Who could be next? The NFL is the most diverse and open of all professional sports leagues, as anybody can win any year (ignore that part Rams, Buccaneers and Browns fans). There is talent on every team and most will be represented as this countdown continues, including the Packers and Colts, who are double represented in this range. Who’s up next? Let’s get into it and why.

40. Vince Wilfork-Nose Tackle-New England Patriots: (2009-43 tackles, 21 solo)

The massive, yet still quick tackle continued to plug the middle of the New England defense last year. In his first season after not being paired with the versatile Richard Seymour, Wilfork rose to the occasion and eased the transition for the Pats, making the Pro Bowl for the second time.

39. Reggie Wayne-Wide Receiver-Indianapolis Colts: (2009-100 receptions, 1264 yards, 10 TD)

Another year, another 1,000 yards for Wayne, which made 2009 his sixth consecutive year reaching the mark. He mixed in 100 catches, his second time reaching the mark. Wayne is one of the best route runners in the NFL. He has continued to be Peyton Manning’s top downfield target, since inheriting the role from the great Marvin Harrison two years ago.

The tandem of Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne accounted for 200 receptions & 20 TDs in 09.

38. Ray Rice-Running Back-Baltimore Ravens: (2009-1,339 Rush Yards, 7 TD, 709 receiving yards)

His second season was big breakout for Rice, who became the Ravens starter in 2009. He made his first Pro Bowl and end the Pittsburgh Steelers’ streak of not allowing 100 yards rushing at 32 games. He also eclipsed 2,000 yards of total offense by adding 709 receiving yards as well, second on the Ravens.

37. Champ Bailey-Cornerback-Denver Broncos: (2009-74 tackles, 63 solo, 3 interceptions)

Champ had been the premier corner in the NFL for many years, but has began to lose a step or two. With that said, he still is amongst the elite of any player at any position. He made his ninth Pro Bowl last year and was a key part in turning around the Broncos defense, which had fallen off horribly the last few years.

36. Joey Porter-Linebacker-Arizona Cardinals: (2009-41 tackles, 34 solo, 9 sacks)

With a mouth that has almost as many highlight comments as he has sacks, Porter makes an impact everywhere around the game. He had 8.5 less sacks than he did in 2008 last year, but considering he had 17.5 that season, last year’s 9 are not that bad. Ended his tenure in Miami on rough terms, and suspension, and signed with the Arizona Cardinals for 2010, where his impact.

35. Dallas Clark-Tight End-Indianapolis Colts: (2009-100 receptions, 1,106 yards, 10 TD)

Clark made the jump from above average to amazing in 2009, where he put up Pro Bowl wide receiver numbers at the tight end spot. He became the second player at the position to ever have 100 catches in one season. Became an equally dangerous threat across the field as teammate Reggie Wayne, but at a more premium position.

34. Aaron Rodgers-Quarterback-Green Bay Packers: (2009-4,434 yards, 30 TD, 64.7% completions)

Continued his assent towards the upper echelon of quarterback with another stellar season. He threw for his second total of over 4,000 yards and became the first player in NFL history to the total during his first two seasons as a starter. Also led all quarterbacks in rushing scores with five.

No quarterback in history has taken to the position as well as Rodgers has so quickly.

33. Calvin Johnson-Wide Receiver-Detroit Lions: (2009-67 receptions, 984 yards, 5 TD)

Johnson has perhaps the best combination of size and speed in the league today. Despite winning two games in as many years, he has managed lead the NFL in touchdowns in 2008 and only missed a second consecutive 1,000 yard season due to missing two and half games in 2009. Detroit is showing lots of promise and look for Johnson, only 24, to be responsible for much of it.

32. Charles Woodson-Green Bay Packers: (2009-74 tackles, 66 solo, 9 interceptions)

Woodson’s career renaissance in Green Bay continued in 2009, as he has had more interceptions in four years in Green Bay than he had in eight seasons with Oakland. He had a share of the League lead with nine in ’09 and was awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award and became the only defensive player to win Player of the Month three times in one season.

Woodson has found the endzone 8 times for the defense since joining the Pack, a team record.

31. Jay Ratliff-Dallas Cowboys: (2009-40 tackles, 29 solo, 6 sacks)

One of the premier interior pass rushers in the game, he is a punishing presence that is equal trouble to ball carriers and quarterbacks alike. Made it to the Pro Bowl for the 2nd time in three years of starting. He’s active around the ball and led the NFL in fumble recovered with four in 2009.


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