Congratulations if you bet that NFL Network’s Top 100 Series would end before the lockout did.
The Top 10 players as voted by the players were revealed on Sunday night over the span of two hours, with another hour devoted to discussion. You could watch all that or view the top ten players below, with our unsolicited comments under each one:
10. Julius Peppers, defensive end, Chicago Bears.
9. Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints.
This is a sign that fellow players still don’t quite view Brees in the same echelon as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. We’re surprised Brees wasn’t higher, although he didn’t have his best year in 2010.
8. Darrelle Revis, cornerback, New York Jets.
He’s the highest cornerback on the list. We don’t think there’s much of a gap between him and Nnamdi Asomugha, but Revis belongs in the top ten.
7. Andre Johnson, wide receiver, Houston Texans.
A.J. has set himself apart as the very best at his position. Hard to argue with this one.
6. Troy Polamalu, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers.
He’s coming off an uneven season despite winning the defensive player of the year award. (Yes, there was a long stretch of good, not great play. Even Polamalu would admit it wasn’t his best year.) At his best, no defensive player impacts the game more.
5. Ed Reed, safety, Baltimore Ravens.
Reed ranking this high was a clear sign players considered more than 2010 numbers. Reed missed the first six games of the year; there’s just no way he was more valuable than someone like Revis last season. We suspect his Miami buddies stuffed the ballot box.
Speaking of which . . .
4. Ray Lewis, middle linebacker, Baltimore Ravens.
He can make a case for the greatest linebacker of all-time. His incredible renaissance the last few years puts his career at another level.
With that said, he might be the fourth best defender on his team at this point behind Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Reed. Instead, he was ranked as the best defender in the league. It’s a joke he’s 37 spots ahead of someone like Ben Roethlisberger.
3. Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson quietly had a MVP-caliber season in 2010; his teammates just didn’t help him. We’re not sure any running back should be this far ahead of top-five quarterbacks, but Peterson is the gold standard.
2. Peyton Manning, quarterback, Colts.
On one hand, he is the Colts offense. On the other hand, he threw for fewer yards-per-pass last year than he did since his rookie season. Manning didn’t have much help in 2010, but he doesn’t belong No.1 coming off a somewhat down year.
1. Tom Brady, quarterback, Patriots.
Based on 2010, there’s no doubt Brady deserves the top spot over Manning. He led the league in touchdowns, touchdown rate, interception rate, adjusted yards-per-attempt, and quarterback rating. That all came with a young, ever-evolving group around him.
It’s safe to say he’s recovered from that torn ACL.