With preseason football mercifully drawing to a close and all 32 teams making preparations for whittling their respective rosters down to 53 men, the NFL regular season is fast approaching. That means no more prognostications, no more speculation and no more comprehensive lists…
Expect for this one.
On Tuesday, a panel of 70 voters comprised of NFL analysts, reporters and statisticians — “from ESPN and outside of ESPN” — plus former players and NFL front office personnel released their list of the top 100 players in the NFL as of right now. The criteria for the list? Rate these players on a 1-100 scale, with 100 signifying a player who is all-time good and 1 being designated for a player who has no business being in the league.
After all the votes were tallied and all the ratings were tabulated, two Arizona Cardinals made an appearance on the “Worldwide Leader’s” list: cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive end Calais Campbell.
Checking in at No. 49 overall, ESPN says Peterson remains a top 50 player despite having an up and down 2014 campaign.
Reputation might be carrying Peterson a bit after a 2014 season in which he was beaten and penalized way too often. But our panel still sees him as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, a guy who has started 64 straight games since he entered the league and has exceptional physical talent. One panelist summed it up: “He’s the most gifted cornerback in the league, but he’s not the total package yet.”
Add it up: Peterson’s 15 interceptions since 2011 rank tied for second-most in the NFL behind Richard Sherman (24).
Of Campbell, the 78th-best player in the league according to the list, ESPN says that while his numbers year-in and year-out don’t do his play justice, the eight-year NFL vet stands as one of the most consistent defensive linemen in the entire league.
A couple of voters were shocked to learn Campbell had been to just one Pro Bowl. An NFC West evaluator noted, “He’s one of the most consistently good D-linemen in the game, but he suffers on stats.” Campbell has never topped nine sacks in a season, but he has also never had a bad one. “He’s the prototype long defensive lineman,” said a voter of the 6-foot-8 Campbell. “He wins leverage battles with his hands and then kills blockers with speed.”
Add it up: Campbell is one of two players with at least six sacks and 45 tackles in each of the past six seasons (Tamba Hali is the other)
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski ranked 1-5, respectively.
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