Friday, June 30, 2017

Official 2017 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2016 Season) - #80-71

Hello there. Welcome to the r/NFL Top 100 Countdown!

Today we bring you Part III of our series, revealing players 80-71 as voted on by our rankers, as well as the Ranking Predictor (seriously, I need you guys to get me a catchier name for this) for the players ranked 90-81.

Have you missed any of the previous days? CLICK HERE FOR THE RANKINGS HUB!

Did you want to browse the galleries of the previously ranked players? Click here for 100-91, or click here for 90-81!

Now, for the Ranking Predictor for the players ranked 81-90 on Wednesday:

#90 - Rodney Hudson - Center - Oakland Raiders 32.50% 47.50% 20.00%
#89 - Devonta Freeman - RB - Atlanta Falcons 47.50% 32.50% 20.00%
#88 - C.J. Mosley - 3-4 ILB - Baltimore Ravens 25.00% 50.00% 25.00%
#87 - Matthew Stafford - QB - Detroit Lions 67.50% 22.50% 10.00%
#86 - Delanie Walker - TE - Tennessee Titans 22.50% 35.00% 42.50%
#85 - Michael Thomas - WR - New Orleans Saints 70.00% 27.50% 2.50%
#84 - Malcolm Butler - CB - New England Patriots 22.50% 50.00% 27.50%
#83 - Jimmy Graham - TE - Seattle Seahawks 12.50% 40.00% 47.50%
#82 - Jason Peters - Tackle - Philadelphia Eagles 15.00% 42.50% 42.50%
#81 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - CB - New York Giants 15.00% 35.00% 50.00%

Before we start, we have two things we always want to address with you guys:

1- Cracking it out again in the hope that repetition makes it stick, but these rankings are based 100% on the 2016 season, so all players are listed with their 2016 teams. (Second day in a row that no one on the list changed teams!)
2- We get it. Some of you think this list is, as one wonderful person called it on Wednesday, “like dog crap in their yard”. And hey, we’re going to have opinions that differ from yours, and that’s all well and good. But if you want to take the time to heckle the list from the cheap seats, please do one of two things. First, we ask that you attempt to be more creative than calling the list “almost as aids as the [NFFL] list." Because, c'mon, that's weak. Second, be the first person in 3 years to take up our offer to fill out your own Top 100 rankings here at the same form our rankers used.

And now, are you ready for today’s installment? Wiith all that FUN out of the way, here comes Part III of the Top 100 Players (of the 2016 Season). Players ranked #80-71!

#80 - Jordan Hicks - 4-3 MLB - Philadelphia Eagles - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Jordan Hicks’ stats here!

Written by /u/MikeTysonChicken

Who has two thumbs and makes Cowboys fans shit their pants? THIS GUY!

In his second year in the NFL, after playing his first full season as starting linebacker coming off injury, Jordan Hicks is quickly establishing himself as one of the best linebackers in football, coming in at 80 on this Top 100 list. Hicks has been an impact player for the Eagles since he first took the field in 2015. Hicks is also one of the most underrated players in the NFL today – though he may not be on Reddit. Consider the year Hicks had: he played all 16 games with 85 tackles and 27 assists to go along with 5 interceptions. Those 5 interceptions lead all linebackers in the NFL. He is also the first NFL linebacker with 11+ takeaways in his first 24 games since Hall of Famer Jack Ham While this stat may seem cherry-picked I think it demonstrates the immediate impact Hicks has made for the Eagles. Knowing all that, it may be surprising to learn that Hicks didn’t even make the Top 200 of the players list. If Hicks continues with his current trajectory, I have no doubt his reputation will skyrocket quickly, despite the fact it should be higher than it is right now.

In addition to the aforementioned stats, Hicks finished as PFF’s 5th best linebacker and second-best linebacker in coverage this past season. Per PFF, the average NFL linebacker gives up a 104 passer rating when targeted in coverage, Hicks allowed a ridiculous 53.7 this season, good for best in the league. Just to compare how well Hicks did in coverage in 2016, Luke Kuechly allowed a rating of 57.8 in 2015, which was ridiculous itself. In addition to the praise from PFF, Hicks also finished as NFL 1000 number 6 rated Inside Linebacker. His instincts against the run and pass are above average to elite. He’s also a great athlete, with excellent range. Entering his 3rd year, Hicks should be even better than he has been, which is just what the Eagles defense needs.

Personally, I am thrilled Hicks made the list. He’s proven to be among the best players at his position in the league in a short amount of time. While he is still wildly underrated in most spaces, it’s good to know nerds and shitposters alike recognize his game.

#79 - Patrick Peterson - CB - Arizona Cardinals - Previous Rank: 13

Check out Patrick Peterson’s stats here!

Written by /u/Evilan

For most players, being ranked in the 70s is considered one heck of an accomplishment. Unfortunately for Peterson, he’s a consistent member of the top half of the Top 100 and missing that mark is considered a bit of a letdown.

Just like Peterson’s ranking on here, his performance in 2016 saw a downturn in comparison to his 2015 campaign. In almost every statistical category he did not match his performance the year prior. The number of times he was targeted was up, the percentage of catches allowed was up, opposing passer rating was up and his yards per snap were up. However, despite Peterson admittedly letting himself down, his down season was still extremely good and worthy of a top 100 placement.

In almost every category Peterson underperformed in, he could still be found in the top flight of his peers, or in some cases still at the very top. Most impressively Peterson did this while still tracking the opposing team’s wide receiver 1 on half of all his defensive snaps and was still the least targeted cornerback in 2016.

Peterson also continued to showcase the athleticism and ability that made him a top 5 pick all those years ago. The interception he had against the Bills is a perfect example of what Peterson brought to the table in 2016. In the video Peterson has off man coverage with the Bill’s Marquise Goodwin who is running a go route to the outside. In this play Peterson not only beats Goodwin in coverage by reading that the play is designed to go over the top, he is able to become the receiver and completes the route to secure the interception. Doing this showcased not only great hands, but also extreme body control to get two feet down. A similar interception is made against Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans on a deep skinny post route where Peterson once again flips his role from defender to receiver. It’s this combination of a receiver’s skillset and the ability to play as a top tier man cover corner that continues to make Peterson a perennial Top 100 player.

#78 - Whitney Mercilus - 3-4 OLB - Houston Texans - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Whitney Mercilus’ stats here!

Written by /u/Barian_Fostate

On a front seven stacked with apex predators, the sneakiest killer of them all might just be Whitney Mercilus. He's not a man of fame or nearly the fortune he deserves, but week after week Mercilus always seems to be hunting quarterbacks with just as much ruthless efficiency as his more highly-praised teammates. It doesn't matter who is lining up across from him or where he lines up in the front, Whitney has the capability to completely blow up any blocker, any time, from any position.

Mercilus doesn't have the freakish strength of Jadeveon Clowney or the ridiculous bend of J.J. Watt, but ever since Mike Vrabel's arrival in Houston he has continued to develop the one thing that helps him to be just as effective as his more gifted cohorts - technique. Whitney's ability to control a blocker's hands and neutralize their punches has transformed him from a frustrating, inconsistent rusher into a brutally effective sack artist in his own right.

Take a look at this strip sack from week one against the Bears as an example of what Mercilus brings to the table. J.J. Watt had not yet been shutdown for the season during this game (though he was clearly still playing hurt), which means this was one of the Texans' defense precious few plays in 2016 with all three of their best pass rushers on the field. After the snap, Jadeveon Clowney draws a double team inside as he pushes the pocket (as usual), while Watt contains the right edge with a bull rush of his own. With so much attention being given to Watt and Clowney as well as the blitzers from the second level drawing blockers, Mercilus is given a rare one on one opportunity to rush off the blind side edge.

He then makes the most of that opportunity by totally controlling the hands of the left tackle, Charles Leno, before rolling his hips around the corner and finishing for the sack. Ball out. Huge yardage loss. Drive over.

That's the value that Whitney Mercilus brings to the best defense in the league. You can commit to trying to stop Watt and Clowney all you want, but if offensive coordinators make a conscious decision to leave Mercilus in one on one situations on third down, he will make them pay for it. In short, this Houston defense is full of stone cold killers. Some are louder than others of course, but teams are starting to figure out that just because Mercilus is under the radar doesn't mean he won't wreck their game plan all by himself anyway. And just like his name suggests, he'll do it with a smile on his face and no mercy in his heart.

#77 - Cameron Wake - 4-3 DE - Miami Dolphins - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out Cameron Wake’s stats here!

Written by /u/Dropthatbass13

35 years old…

A torn Achilles…

Being sat for Mario Williams for the first 4 weeks of the season…

These things would spell decline and retirement for 99% of players in the NFL, but Cameron Wake isn't a part of that 99%. Coming off a 2015 performance where Wake put up 7 sacks in 6.5 games before tearing his Achilles, he didn't miss a step and put up 11.5 sacks (3 half sacks credited) in 12 games starting.

Wake also posted 66 pressures alongside a career-high 14.1 per-snap pass-rushing productivity (per PFF) which was third in the league behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller. And to top it all off he got his first career interception and second confirmed kill of a jets quarterback

It really is sad that his name wasn't given more looks for comeback player of the year, but hey, maybe he'll tear his ACL at age 40 and still come back exactly the same the next year because that's just what Cameron Wake does.

#76 - Earl Thomas - FS - Seattle Seahawks - Previous Rank: 21

Check out Earl Thomas’ stats here!

Written by /u/Nintendog24

As soon as a crack appeared in Earl’s bone, a gaping hole was formed in the middle of the Seahawks defense. Before Thomas’s injury, Seattle was on pace for their 5th consecutive defensive scoring title and were first in pass defense despite both Bennett (#101 on the list) and Chancellor (yet to appear but assumed to be on the list) missing games. While Thomas does not stand out on the stat sheet or on the average screen, his impact can be felt in every game. Don’t believe me? Ask Gronk or Kelvin Benjamin. Gronk (who is 6’6” 265lbs) stated that it was the hardest hit he has ever taken despite Thomas being only 5’10” 200lbs.

Perhaps the biggest argument for Thomas is what happened to the Seahawks defense in his absence. The next game Seattle traveled to Green Bay where Seattle was torched by Aaron Rodgers to the tune of 38 points. The next week, although the stat sheet shows 3 points, 14 more were missed through a drop and a blown pass. The next week the cardinals, who were held to 6 points in OT the last time the teams faced off, dropped 34. Seattle beat the 49ers by only 2 points the next week and held the Lions to 6 likely due to Stafford’s injured finger before being rocked by the falcons to end the season. I don't know if any unit would plummet so far as Seattle did from the loss of one non-quarterback and to me this puts him in a tier of his own when it comes to safeties.

Overall, I think Thomas was punished far too much for being out for the games he was. I wouldn't hold too much judgment on that until Brady’s and other injured stars rankings are revealed considering Thomas missed only 1 more game than Brady in the regular season. If similar stars drop in similar ways then I would say it's a fair ranking. A healthy Thomas is to me a top 20 player and the best safety this generation.

#75 - A.J. Green - WR - Cincinnati Bengals - Previous Rank: 32

Check out A.J. Green’s stats here!

Written by /u/sanswagata

Adriel Jeremiah Green would have been much much higher on this list if it wasn't for the injury that occurred in our 10th game. AJ Green basically made it on to the top 100 players and only played 9 games and 1 play. This shows how amazing of a year he had, he's one of the only reasons that the Bengals won a few games. In week one he torched Revis catching 12 out of 13 targets for 180 and a touchdown (this was before we knew that Revis lost a step). A few weeks later he obliterated the Dolphins secondary, and for a lot of the game had more yards receiving than the Dolphins did as an offense. He caught 10/12 for 173 and a TD including this beauty. Then a few more weeks down the line he goes back to back beating up on the barren Cleveland secondary catching a hail mary at the end of the half which really overshadowed this play that was almost as good I mean look at how easy that looked. Green is just inhuman. Then he went to Europe to slap Josh Norman around who couldn't cover AJ even if he was holding and interfering. Green also forced a boatload of penalties on Norman who committed 5 penalties against Green alone. In Cleveland he caught all 8 targets for 169 and a TD and in London he caught 9/18 for 121. The season however was tragically cut short against Buffalo, where he pulled his hamstring.

AJ Green not only made this list for us, but he also was selected to another probowl by his peers, but had to decline. When looking at per game stats, this year was shaping up to possibly be AJ's best. He almost averaged 100 yards per game (second only to Julio) lead the league in catches of 40+ yards, which he actually ended up still leading at the end of the season, and was top 2 in receptions/game as well. Hopefully next year we get to see Green fully healthy, so there's not any what-if scenarios.

#74 - Richie Incognito - Guard - Buffalo Bills - Previous Rank: 51

Check out Richie Incognito’s stats here!

Written by /u/mister_jay_peg

Look. I know what you all are waiting for. It’s Richie Incognito, and I’m a guy who likes to crack a few jokes.

But I’m not going to do it. Understand that I want to give you all more than that. Let’s be honest, Richie is one of the best guards in the NFL. Left for dead after the fiasco in Miami, he’s found a home in Buffalo, and in the last two seasons he’s been REALLY good. Yeah, he’s getting up there in years, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of linemen from playing their positions extremely well.

Due to the fact I am a forgetful S.O.B. when it comes to bringing a thumb drive full of videos clips home, you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that Incognito is one of the better interior run blockers in the NFL. Buffalo loves to pull him outside as a lead for Shady McCoy because at the very least any cornerback who dares take him on once he’s turned the corner will be playing the next few snaps in a daze after getting wrecked. He’s just as adept at crossing behind the center and powering through the A and B gaps on inside traps. And he’s fast enough to pull all the way across as the kick out block on a right-side sweep and drop an edge rusher at the point of attack.

He's just as good taking on some of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL, too. You all know Calais Campbell, right? I won’t tell you where, but he’s still to come on the list, and he absolutely deserves the spot he’s ranked at. But have you seen Calais Campbell simply get handled? Well, if you hadn’t before, now you have. Richie has a strong punch (not gonna go there), is great on the attack (seriously, not doing it) and once he gets his hands on his opponent (nuh-uh) he will bully you around the field (damnit, I’m weak).

And to make up for the lack of gifs, you guy’s heard about the Irsay tweet, right?

#73 - Ramon Foster - Guard - Pittsburgh Steelers - Previous Rank: NR

Check out Ramon Foster’s stats here!

Written by /u/DeludedYinzer

Going into the 2016 season, most people probably thought that David DeCastro would have the best season of the 5 offensive lineman on the Steelers. Who would have thought it would be the 30 year old former UDFA making $41,000,000 less than DeCastro(An All-Pro last year)?

Foster never had a really dominant season until this year. His best aspect of his game is during passing plays. It’s rare you ever see Foster out of place or miss an assignment. Foster is one of a few lineman to not allow a sack in 2016. Although Foster isn't a world beater in the run game, he still does a nice job of making holes for Le'Veon to run through. Not as fast or as strong as other lineman, but he uses his technique that he's learned over 9 years

Foster had been on a lot of bad lines early in his career. Even as a rookie, he had to come in and start games. He's built a lot of knowledge these past 9 years, which is part of the reason why this was his best year yet. Now that he has 4 other quality lineman next to him, it makes him look better and it gives him more of a chance to stand out. It also doesn't hurt having a HOF OLine coach.

Even though this may be the first time you've ever heard of Foster, it's important to know just how well he played. Players like Ramon fly under the radar. Playing guard in the NFL is not a sexy position and it's usually not as vital to success as tackle or center is. You almost never see highlight tapes for guards. That's why lists like these are important; To shine a light on the leagues underrated and underappreciated players like Foster.

#72 - Jay Ajayi - RB - Miami Dolphins - Previous Rank: N/R

[Check out Jay Ajayi’s stats here!

Written by /u/mister_jay_peg

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi burst onto the scene in his second NFL season with an impressive season culminating in nearly 1300 rushing yards, 8 scores and three individual games over the 200-yard mark. The 2015 fifth-round pick showed that the knee injury that caused his draft board tumble is firmly in the rearview mirror.

He was the toughest back in the league to take down inside the tackles in 2016, seen here, and he’s destined to break even more in 2017, entering the season as Miami’s clear cut #1 and bell cow back. Recently, he told a reporter from the hometown Miami Herald, "I feel like I'm a workhorse and I get better as the game keeps going and I continue to be a part of the game," and that should scare opposing linebackers next year, because Ajayi doesn’t break tackles by just juking. He breaks them by breaking the will of the tackler.

Obviously, he’s got a lot to prove in 2017 if he wants to be counted among the league’s elite ball carriers, but if his 2016 was any indication, he’ll prove it this season.

#71 - Demarco Murray - RB - Tennessee Titans - Previous Rank: N/R

Check out DeMarco Murray’s stats here!

Written by /u/thamasthedankengine

Demarco Murray had a career resurgence this year in Tennessee after being traded to Tennessee from Philadelphia but the price of swapping fourth round picks and taking a pay cut. He beginning the year with a little entertainment to ending the year third in the NFL in rushing, and first in the AFC. He's become a backbone to the Titans offense. His class that respectability has also been important in the locker room and in interaction with fans.

E(x/r)otic Smashmouth was a old-time football Style with new time football players. DeMarco Murray brought the Titans back to life this year through this ground-and-pound offense. Has Derrick Henry sat behind them last year, and most likely this year, DeMarco Murray has made the Titans relevant again. This big back football was most likely to counteract how small Defenders are getting. It may or may not be sustainable, but it sure is fun to watch right now.

DeMarco Murray was able to power through and get the Titans their first 100-yards-rushing running back in over two years. There were games where DeMarco Murray was all that the Titans had left, after the passing offense became abysmal at times due to a lack of receiving threats in what are DBs?

As many Titans fans are waiting to see Derrick Henry play more of a role in the offense. However, right now is a time for DeMarco Murray to lead the team alongside Marcus Mariota. As DeMarco reaches the scary age of 30 next February, this may be DeMarco last season as the main starter.

(ed. note: How in god's name did you not mention the fact that DeMarco Murray's game against the Jags allowed us to witness the greatness that was /u/_COWBOY_DAN's quest, DeMarco4FartHole?!?!?! NSFW TEXT, BUT IT IS THE BEST READ FROM r/NFL IN YEARS - MJP)

Now that the players are known, it’s time to tell us if you think they’ll be ranked higher, lower or about the same on next year’s list.

Go here and submit your answers!

(Yes, you need to be signed in. But this is only so people don’t vote twice. We will never collect or store your information!)

And that is today’s list! Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Coming Monday - Players Ranked 70-61!

Submitted June 30, 2017 at 11:57AM by NFL_Top100
via reddit

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