The NFL’s Best of the Best: Part One
Training camp is still just over two weeks away, but damnit I’m a football obsessive and it’s close enough. It’s like sneaking out for a “phone call” to unleash a nasty fart during a date. I need this. So, what I’ve decided to do is give my own opinion on who the ten best players in the league are since the NFL has been doing their own countdown.
Now before I get into this I’d like to clarify a few things. This has nothing to do with career achievement or what necessarily happened in the last season. This is my top players based on who I think are the best players in terms of ability, influence on the game, and proven to not be a Lou Bega-esque one-year wonder.
So let’s get into my first half:
10. AJ Green
Green, most of the players you’ll see on this list, is a freak athlete. At 6’4″ 207 pounds he has the size and speed to dominate the game by stretching the field and owning the air for jump balls. However, what truly makes Green stand out above the other receivers is his hands. Green is phenomenal at locating the ball and routinely make circus catches appear effortless. Unsurprisingly, he’s now notched 29 touchdowns in three career seasons. The man is not good. He’s unreal.
9. Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham is the epitome of what the ideal modern-day tight end should be. He’s 6’6″, has the speed to out run most linebackers, and has a strong body that is capable of dominating in traffic. Unless the Chinese government has secretly bred a love child of Reggie White and Dion Sanders, there’s really no way to shut him down. Graham simply dominates the game. If New Orleans continues to botch the contract situation with him, Graham will be one of those rare free agent mega deals that pans out. He’s a can’t miss player.
8. Luke Kuechly
Power, speed, toughness, vision, effort. Kuechly is the complete package in the middle for the Carolina Panthers. In his two years in the league, Kuechly has 320 combined tackles, six interceptions, and 15 passes defensed on his way to the 2012 Rookie of the Year, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 First Team All-Pro selections. He can do anything the position calls for whether it be busting up a stretch play or holding his own in coverage. In an age where the league has trended towards passing, Kuechly will encourage quarterbacks to keep the status quo.
7. Richard Sherman
I’ll have to admit some bias on this selection because I’ve already publicly stated that I love Richard Sherman. His attitude, the ability to press, the willingness to tackle—he’s the ideal cornerback in the same way the Graham is the ideal tight end. The NFL is a passing league and as such it’s becoming increasingly important to have a player that can shut down the NFL’s best pass catchers. All you need to do to prove my point is remember the four hours of static that you watched called Super Bowl 48. Point Sherman.
6. Calvin Johnson
Megatron is the sixth best player in the league. It’s seems wrong, I know, but it’s by no means a slight to the likely Hall of Fame Lion. Calvin Johnson is the Bob the Builder of wide receivers. He has all the tools to get the job done. Jump ball? Check. Blazing speed? Check. Ability to work the middle of the field? Check.
When compared to receivers around the league, Johnson is simply in a class of his own. It couldn’t have been made any more evident than during his 2012 campaign in which he notched 122 catches for 1,964 yards in a single season—though four pro Bowl selections and three First-Team All Pro selections don’t hurt either.
So this is my first half of my top five. Check back in a few days for the second half of my rankings! In the meantime, feel free to tell me how much you hate my picks. I get off on that kind of stuff.