THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE – CSP’s NFL Top 50 Players (Part 1)

Posted: September 16, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL, The Lineup
Tags: , ,

Every year in CSP (which would be exactly two years now…I’m growing up) I do a top 50 players in the NFL rank. It’s not based on who’s the hottest model at the moment or just who’s most attractive on “Madden”, skill wise. Rather it’s a mixture of both; who makes the biggest impact overall. Who’s the best regardless of situation, team, etc.

This year, I decided to take a step outside of myself. After countless Twitter discussions on “Who’s best” or even just “better than” whoever else, I sent out a call to as many as would answer to figure out what we all are really saying: who are the people’s choice best players in the NFL? So here’s how this goes:

Ten ballots were cast of the top 50 players in the NFL. They are all ranked against each other, with the tie breaker being the highest standing rank on any ballot of that player. Rocket science right? Now that we all know what we’re looking at, here’s how it played out this year…

Suh had an instant impact on QBs around the league, but where does that place him among the NFL's true elite?

(High/Low = Ranking on lists for poll)

50. Jonathan Vilma (High: 39, Low: Unranked): The leader of the Saints defense is one of the most active tackling middle linebackers in the game. He made his second Pro Bowl last season, and hit a career high in sacks as well.

49 (tie). Ryan Clady & Justin Tuck (High: 33, Low:  Unranked): A tie in regard amongst the lists, Clady and Tuck represent opposites on the field, but not in impact. With Clady guarding the gates, the Broncos passing attack still finished in the top 10 in the NFL and Kyle Orton had time to make Brandon Lloyd the most productive receiver in the league. As for Tuck, he reached double digits in sacks for the 3rd time in his five year career and had a pair of three sack games last season on the way to total of 11 for the year.

48. Terrell Suggs (High: 27, Low: Unranked): He once again became the outside rushing terror that he began his career as last year. He racked up 11 sacks for the year after managing only 4.5 in ’09. He added three more in the Ravens’ playoff match up with the Steelers.

47. Asante Samuel (High: 32, Low: Unranked): Why people still throw at Samuel, I don’t know. He’s snatched 20 interceptions in the last 3 years and led the NFL three times. This trend may not be ending anytime soon with Nnamdi Asomugha scaring QBs at him more than ever now.

46. Jason Witten (High: 35, Low: Unranked): Tony Romo’s favorite target did pretty good to say the least in a year without his QB. He brought in 94 catches for the second straight year and went over 1,000 yards for the third time. He also reached 600 career catches quicker than any other tight end in history.

Witten is definitely the only #3 option in the game that is good for 1,000 yards a year.

45. Michael Turner (High 34, Low: Unranked): The Falcons workhorse got back to what he does best: punishing defenses and finding the endzone. He found the endzone 13 times, and the Falcons rode him to their first division title since 2004.

44. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (High: 21, Low: Unranked): The foundation of the Jets formidable offensive line, Ferguson is one of the premier pass protectors in the game. His mixture of length and speed behind Mark Sanchez’s back enabled the QB to reach a career high in yards and touchdowns in his second year.

43. Nick Mangold (High: 26, Low: Unranked): Another testament to how solid the Jets line has been, Mangold stands at its core & is the only center to make this list. He was instrumental in the rebirth of LaDainian Tomlinson, and could work the same magic in Shonn Greene’s assumption of full-time duties this season.

42. Brian Urlacher (High: 36, Low: Unranked): The Bears defense rose back up to the forefront of the league this year and delivered them back to the Playoffs for the first time since 2006. It’s no coincidence that Urlacher also returned from an injury that kept him out of the entire 2009 campaign to lead them as well.

41. Steven Jackson (High: 31, Low: Unranked): SJ39 long carried the heaviest weight in the league, with the burden of the bottom feeding Rams on his shoulders alone. That weight was lessened with the Rams improvement of a year ago, but his results didn’t decrease: he surpassed 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive year, the longest streak in the NFL.

Jackson grinded, smashed and willed his way to yet another 1,000 yard running season.

40. Jahri Evans (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Evans productivity on the inside of the Saint’s offensive line has given Drew Brees every inch of space he needs to make the pinpoint tosses he specializes in. The Saints put the trust in him to watch their most important asset, he has returned on the investment with two Pro Bowl appearances.

39. Greg Jennings (High: 37, Low: Unranked ): Being Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target has its benefits, and it ended with Jennings reeling in two Super Bowl touchdowns, along with a ring for his efforts. Overall, he made it to the promised land 14 times and proved he can “put the team on his back” like few other receivers.

38. Mario Williams (High: 28, Low: Unranked): The lone difference maker in the Texans defense moved to linebacker this season to be able to start his rush even quicker. Considering he has averaged over nine a season already, the league could be getting a new leader this year and a lot more to come.

37. Logan Mankins (High: 32, Low: Unranked): After a lengthy holdout a year ago, Mankins played so well in his nine active games that he still made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. With a new contract in his hands, a full season of Mankins in the New England mix makes them even more dangerous.

36. Vince Wilfork (High: 23, Low:Unranked): He’s the wall in the middle of the Patriots defense that has made them go for so many years, Wilfork has been the best pure nose tackle in football. Now he will move over in their new 4-3 scheme, and now quarterbacks as well as running backs will learn to fear him.

The massive 6'2, 330 pound frame is more often than not where it all starts and stops when running at the Pats.

35. Ndamukong Suh (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Suh wasted no time in becoming one of the most feared presences in the entire league. He returned in the Lions investment in rebuilding the defense around him with 10.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl nod in his first year.

34. Reggie Wayne (High: 18, Low: 50): The player represented on every list, Wayne had a career-best season last year as he shouldered more of the burden of the Colts offense than ever before. His 111 catches were a career high and he passed 1,000 yards for the seventh consecutive year. It was also the 3rd time he had at least 100 receptions in a season.

33. Maurice Jones-Drew (High: 24, Low: 41): Long standing as the Jaguars only true threat, MJD is more than happy to carry that weight. He’s a warrior in the process as well: he ran for over 1,300 yards for the second straight year despite a torn meniscus in his knee the entire season.

MJD has been a one man offensive show for the Jags, and is one of the toughest runners in the game.

32. Charles Woodson (High: 13, Low: 46): He didn’t turn in another Defensive Player of the Year performance last season. But he did turn that same effort into another Pro Bowl season and leading the Packers defense to its best performance, as well as his first Championship year.

31. Ray Lewis (High: 5, Low: Unranked): How Ray Lewis didn’t appear on one list completely is beyond me. Maybe they felt like he is slowing down, but considering he still the most feared middle linebacker in football & reached his fifth straight (and 11th overall) Pro Bowl a year ago, there’s not much fact to back that up. He’ll still be able to force a fumble when he’s 80.

30. DeSean Jackson (High: 15, Low: 32): No player keeps defenses on their toes more than DeSean does. One of the few guys that can score from anywhere, whenever he touches the ball, his “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, 65-yard game winning return proved the Eagles are never out of it when he can get his hands on the ball.

29. Ben Roethlisberger (High: 18, Low: 38): After beginning 2010 with a four game suspension and finishing it in the Super Bowl, Big Ben’s knack for making the big comeback is indisputable. However, despite reaching Super Sunday three times, he remains one of the more underrated players in the game: he has made only one Pro Bowl in his young, but accomplished career.

28. Roddy White (High: 11, Low: 38): Despite entire defenses hanging on him, Matt Ryan’s favorite target led the NFL with 115 catches a year ago and a personal career high in touchdowns with 11. He has led the NFL in receiving yards over the last four years with 5,158.

27. Dwight Freeney (High: 22, Low: Unranked): The Colts defense is far from anything to get excited about, but it’s not Freeney’s fault. The franchise all-time leader in sacks notched his third straight season in double digits a year ago, and will surpass 100 for his career this season.

26. James Harrison (High: 18 , Low: 44): He’s like a missile flying around the field, and there’s very parts he can’t reach on every play. He is arguably the hardest hitter in the entire league; and has a dent in his bank account from fines to prove it. I don’t say he’s dirty like he gets painted to be; he just is such a machine it just looks worse than it was intended to be.

On a Pittsburgh defense full of weapons, none can cause the damage Harrison can.

Check back tomorrow for the rundown from 25 to 1, and keep up with the debate more by following on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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