In honor of CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco, and his rather ignorant and senseless ranking of the top 50 players in the NFL presently, we at Stampede Blue offer our take on the top 50 players in football. Please note: unlike Pete, our opinion is actually informed. Pete seems to think Anquan Boldin is a better player than Hines Ward. A person who thinks such a thing should be immediately dismissed as a fool. You see, we don't care what position the player plays. If he is a true difference maker, he's a top 50 player. I use that term "difference maker" a great deal because, in my not-so-humble opinion, there are several "good" players. Some are "great." There aren't many that are difference makers. These players possess the ability to change the course of a game at any moment, no matter the circumstances. They can turn the tide of a game in one play, and then take over that game from then on out. They are truly unique players.
I group these players in sections, such as 1-10, 11-20, and so on because ranking players from 1 to 50 is sort of silly. Prisco believes Peyton Manning is the number one over all player, and I agree with him (hey, even a total fool can get at least one thing right). However, someone can make a strong argument that Tom Brady should be number one, or the reining MVP Shaun Alexander. So, I rank them in sections alphabetically:
Shaun Alexander: He's the reining MVP. He's carried the Seattle Seahawks to more wins and more glory than ever before. He possesses a rare combination of size, strength, and quickness. He can take the rock to the house, and grind out tough yardage between tackles.
Champ Bailey: He's the best cover corner in the league, and unlike Deion Sanders in his prime, Champ Bailey can actually tackle something. He's come up big in huge games for both Denver and when he was with the Redskins. He is the kind of guy that can take a great wide receiver completely out of the game.
Tom Brady: He has 3 rings. Some would say "nuff said," but with Brady there is more. Any yutz on a great team can win. Look at Terry Bradshaw. The man is a complete clown. If he played today, he couldn't carry Brady or Peyton Manning's jock. Yet, with a dynasty like the Steelers in the 1970s, he won 4 rings. With Brady, you have the complete package: great arm, very strong pocket presence, good decision-making, tough, and reliable. The Patriots were a shell of their former selves last year, yet Brady managed to eek out 10 wins. Terry Bradshaw in his prime would win maybe two games with New England's squad last season, and then find some way to blame it on Peyton Manning.
Derrick Brooks: The man is a beast. As a weak-side linebacker in the Cover 2 scheme, Brooks is the gold standard. He tackles and covers better than most other linebackers, and he is considered "old" by NFL standards. He can change the course of a game with a tackle or an INT on any play. Despite the massive turnover of players in Tampa Bay, their defense has still ranked in the top ten in the league. A big reason for this is Derrick Brooks.
Dwight Freeney: Freeney is the most destructive force on defense in the NFL. NFL teams game plan more for Freeney than any other defensive player. To plan for him, a player for the scout team will often line up two yards past the line of scrimmage in the backfield in order to simulate Freeney's speed. He's also very good against the run, despite what pundits say. Dwight Freeney has the potential to sack the QB, or tackle the running back in the backfield for a loss, on every play.
Marvin Harrison: At age 33, he is still the best wide receiver in football. I'm sure some would argue for Moss or even T.O. Some would be wrong to do so. When corners and safeties talk about the best, they do not mention Owens or Moss. The say it's Marvin Harrison. For the last seven years in a row, he has caught ten or more TDs in a season. That is simply amazing. Oh, and he can block too. Just ask Champ Bailey.
Peyton Manning: He is quite simply the best quarterback in football. Sure, some will say Brady or even Ben Roethlisberger. The simple fact of the matter is teams do not game plan for Big Ben or Brady the way they game plan for Manning. The entire scheme for New England's defense is built solely on stopping Manning. San Diego schemed their 3-4 to face Manning late last year. Pittsburgh copied that scheme in the playoffs. Manning is a rare combination of size, arm strength, smarts, good decision-making, and toughness. He can claw back in games to win, or blow teams away with a 6 TD performance. He can do it all.
Carson Palmer: Palmer is the engine that makes Cincinnati go. He made gigantic strides in 2005, and established himself as one of the best deep throwers in football. Palmer modeled his game, and the Bengal offense, off Manning and the Colts' no-huddle attack. Like Manning and Brady, he's tough, reliable, and makes good decisions. Hopefully, his knee heals 100%, because this guy is a truly special talent.
Richard Seymour: He can play DT or DE in almost any defensive scheme. That showcases just how big, strong, and fast Seymour is. Using his speed or size, he can dominate the line of scrimmage. New England uses him as a DE in their scheme, but they can switch him around to maximize their depth. Like Freeney, teams game plan big time for this guy. He's a stud.
LaDainian Tomlinson: There are very few backs in NFL history with Tomlinson's abilities. He can lead the team in rushes. He can lead the team in catches. He can lead in TDs and yards. Heck, he can even throw the ball well! He was 3-4 last year for 3 TDs and no picks! He can do everything, and can dominate when the ball is in his hands no matter the down and distance.
Players 11-20 soon to come.
Update [2007-3-5 20:26:49 by BigBlueShoe]: