Luck, Mathis Ranked on NFL Network's Top 100 List

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Colts QB Andrew Luck and OLB Robert Mathis were ranked on NFL Network's list of the Top 100 Players of 2014 - though Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson explains why neither was really the correct ranking.

I don't put much stock into the NFL Network's Top 100 list that is released every year.  You shouldn't put much stock into the NFL Network's Top 100 list that is released every year.  But, given the fact that it has gotten people talking and the fact that it's the offseason so there's not as much to talk about (other than suspensions...), we'll go ahead and talk about the list a bit here.  Again, I don't think the list is entirely accurate and I think there are lots of problems with it, but each year the NFL Network ranks the best 100 players of the previous year, so they've been unveiling the Top 100 players of 2014 recently (based on the 2013 season).  While the top ten have yet to be announced, I think it's very safe to say that no more Colts will appear on the list.

That leaves two Colts on the list: quarterback Andrew Luck at number 30 and outside linebacker Robert Mathis at number 19.  I had problems with each of the rankings, though for different reasons.  First, let's talk about Luck.

Last year in the list, Andrew Luck was ranked 23rd.  This year, he's ranked 30.  Right off the bat, that's suggesting to people that, even though he's still top-30, he actually took a step back in 2013.  There's nothing further from the truth.  Sure, Luck threw for 552 less yards in 2013 than he did in 2012, but that's the only category in which you could say he was statistically worse.  His completion percentage rose 6.13%, from 54.07% to 60.2%.  His interception total went from 18 his rookie year to 9 last year, and his interception percentage dropped from a very healthy 2.87% his rookie season to an incredible 1.58% last year.  His passer rating rose more than 10 points, he rushed for over 100 yards more and for nearly 2 yards more per carry.  He obviously was impressive enough that ESPN's Mike Sando, after talking with 26 "league insiders," ranked him in the "tier one" category and the fifth best quarterback in the league, behind just Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees.  I don't have as much of a problem with the number 30 ranking as I do with the suggestion that Luck actually got worse last year, because that's absolutely false.  Luck took huge strides forward, and while there are still a lot of strides to be taken, there's no doubt that Luck was very improved last year despite a great rookie season.  Furthermore, and this was a problem last year too, is all the quarterbacks ranked ahead of Luck.  So far, there have been three unveiled: Aaron Rodgers (11th), Russell Wilson (20th), and Cam Newton (24th).  Furthermore, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees have yet to appear on the list, and excluding them from the list altogether would ruin any credibility this list does have, so it's safe to say the NFL Network thinks Luck is the seventh best quarterback in the league behind Wilson and Newton.  I'm not going to argue where Luck actually stands in terms of quarterbacks, but he's better than both Wilson and Newton, despite the fact that they're both very good quarterbacks.

Believe it or not, however, I actually didn't have near as much of a problem with Luck's ranking as I did with Mathis's, despite the fact that Mathis was ranked 11 spots higher.  I will definitively say that if this list is ranked off of 2013, then Robert Mathis should be much higher than 19 - much higher.  He led the league in sacks with 19.5.  He led the league in forced fumbles with 8.  Some people were using the percentage of his team's sacks as a way to support the Rams's Robert Quinn (13th), though Quinn accounted for 35.85% of his team's sacks, good for the second highest total in the league by a wide margin.  By an even wider margin, however, Mathis came in first by accounting for 46.43% of his team's sacks.  In addition to the pass rush, he recorded 59 tackles and a pass deflection.  I've heard that only one defensive player will be in the top ten (would likely be Richard Sherman), but already revealed ahead of Mathis was J.J. Watt (12th), Robert Quinn (13th),  Luke Kuechly (15th), and Earl Thomas (17th).  So what NFL Network is saying is that Mathis, who led the league with 19.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles as well as accounted for nearly half his team's sacks, is at least the sixth best defensive player of 2014?  Ok, whatever.

I don't put a lot of stock into the list, and both of the Colts on the list help to show why.  I understand that there's no perfect system, but the NFL Network's list gets it wrong too much.  Furthermore, how is it determined?  They say it's voted on by the players, but is it really?  There are many people who question who actually votes on the list, and furthermore, I'm not sure if it's based purely on regular season or postseason as well (which would influence whether T.Y. Hilton should have been included on the list).  Either way, I guess this list is something to talk about, and in the offseason, I guess that's needed.

While I don't like the list, I will say that the videos presenting the players are typically well done, and you can view both the video for Luck and the video for Mathis on the Top 100 site.

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