Ever wonder how you could compare the dominance of a linebacker like Clay Matthews to the explosiveness of a running back like LeSean McCoy? Well, the NFL Network just did it for you! The top 10 players of the 2016 season were revealed on Wednesday evening, the capstone of the NFL Network’s Top 100 players of 2016. These players were selected by fellow NFL players’ votes. This list will be useful for those trying to predict who will help their team dominate next season so they know how to bet in advance. Let’s begin….
10. Odell Beckham Jr. Do I hear QG Model of the week anyone? Anyway, up 22 spots from 32 on last year’s list, Beckham really hit his stride in his sophomore season in the NFL. While playing in 15 games (missed 1 game due to the now infamous Josh Norman debacle) he put up 96 receptions, 1450 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the ranked the third best receiver, following Julio Jones at 8 and Antonio Brown at 4. While still very young and brash, Beckham has a bright future ahead of him if he can control that temper.
9. Rob Gronkowski Who doesn’t love some Gronk?! The 4-time All-Pro tight end moved up 1 spot from last year to land the number 9 slot. Known as the best blocking tight end in the league, he also is arguably the best receiving tight end in the game, and be put up 72 receptions, 1176 yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games. While Gronk has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, as long as he has Tom Brady throwing him the ball, he is sure to put on some solid numbers.
8. Julio Jones The first-time All-Pro receiver was named 8 on this year’s list, up 5 from 13 last year. We would say this is deserved, as Julio had a ludicrous 136 receptions for 1871 yards and 8 touchdowns in 16 games. The former first-round pick is truly a force to be reckoned with.
7. Luke Kuechly Kuechly jumped up 7 spots on the list from last year and is basically considered to be the best linebacker in the game today. Strong against the run and one of the best LBs in the game on pass coverage, Luke helped lead a Carolina defense into Superbowl 50. Not to mention he did all this with a torn labrum! While only entering his 5th season in the NFL, many already consider him a potential hall of famer. We can see why.
6. Aaron Rodgers The Superbowl 45 MVP and former league MVP did not have a great season last year, at least by his own standards. Rodgers dropped from rank 2 to rank 6, largely due to a season where he didn’t have much help. A bad offensive line and losing his #1 receiver Jordy Nelson certainly hurt his 2015 campaign. Still, Rodgers discount-double checked his way to 31 touchdowns and close to 4000 yards passing. At times, he certainly hurled the entire Packers team onto his shoulders and carried them to victory.
5. Adrian Peterson You can call him AP or AD, perhaps even purple Jesus because Peterson’s game is undeniably great. The 31 year old moved up 57 spots from last season, when he was ranked the 62nd best player in the NFL and only played 1 game that season! He played in all 16 games last year, lead all running backs with 1,485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, and contributed as a receiver with 30 receptions for 222 yards. Say what you want about his off-the-field behavior, one day we will see the 5-time All-Pro running back #28 in Canton.
4. Antonio Brown Up 4 spots from 2015, the highest ranked wide receiver deserved his top 5 spot. I believe Antonio Brown should have been the #1 ranked player this year and I will tell you why: He put up 136 receptions, for 1834 yards and 10 touchdowns, but without his starting QB, Ben Roethlisberger for 4 of those games. He had Michael Vick and Landry Jones throwing the ball to him for 4 games and he still put up those numbers! Incredible. Assuming he bounces back from the nasty concussion he took from Vontaze Burfict in the playoffs, there is no reason he should not be even more dominant next season with a hopefully fully healthy, slimmer Big Ben.
3. J.J. Watt Last year’s #1 ranked NFL player is a machine. He has never missed a game in his 5-year career and has won NFL defensive player of the year 3 of the last 4 years. He had 17.5 sacks last year playing with a sports hernia the entire time. While he can be a bit controversial with his “no fun league” mentality, and his excessive wood chopping in the middle of nowhere, there isn’t another defensive end we would rather have on our defense.
2. Tom Brady There isn’t a whole lot that can be said of Tom Brady that hasn’t already been said. Champion. Deflater. Model. Cheater. MVP. GOAT? Perhaps. Brady moved up one spot on the list from last year, throwing for 4770 yards, 36 throwing touchdowns and 3 rushing touchdowns. He led his often injured offense to an AFC Championship before their patchwork offensive line couldn’t handle Von Miller. At this point the question has to be how much he has left in the tank? He seems to have found a fountain of youth up in Boston somewhere. But Brady haters need not worry, for Peyton Manning’s swift decline could be a possibility soon for Tom.
1. Cam Newton Cam! The reigning NFL MVP. He led his Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50, only to have victory grasped away by the Denver Broncos. Ranked 73 last year, this year’s best player looks to build on a 15-1 2015 NFL campaign. To be honest, he led a pretty lackluster offensive unit to greatness, after losing his #1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin for the entire season. His best target was an aging tight end, but Cam made it work, throwing for 3837 yards and 35 touchdowns, and running for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is easily on pace to be the all-time QB rushing leader.
Well, that does it for the NFL Network’s Top ten of 2016….how many more weeks until the season again?
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