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The "Screw Pete Prisco's" NFL Top 50: Players 11-20

Again, this is in alphabetical order for players in the 11-20 bracket:

Antonio Gates: A 6'4'', 260 TE that can jump to the moon? Yep, that's a pretty potent weapon. Gates has caught 25 TDs in just three years of play. That's insane for a wide receiver, let alone a TE! And in that 3 year period, Gates has only fumbled the ball one time. That's 194 touches, and only one fumble. That is indeed outstanding. Gates is also a solid blocker, and he is deadly along the goal line.

Torry Holt: You don't see much written about Holt these days, and it's a shame. He is the most complete wide receiver in football. He might not run like Harrison, or block as well as Ward, but Holt can do it all and do it very, very well. In Mike Martz's old Rams offense, timing and precision were everything. Holt runs outstanding routes, and can pick the ball out of the air. He shields his body well after contact, and runs very well after the catch. Holt, Ward, and Harrison represent the best the NFL offers at the wide receiver position.

Edgerrin James: If Tomlinson has the most skill in the NFL, then Edgerrin James is certainly the most reliable. No matter the play, no matter how it is blocked, Edgerrin James will give you 4.5 yards on the carry. James uses his smarts and his quickness to elude tacklers and make them slide off him like water off a duck. Defenders will tell you they can never seem to get a clean hit on James. James is also the best running back in football at picking up the blitz. Time and time again, you will see James stand up a blitzing linebacker. And often, that linebacker was not James's assignment.

Walter Jones: If you need a first down off tackle, if your very life depended on it, then run behind a Walter Jones block. If he need a rusher shut out, if you want your QB's jersey clean throughout the game, count on Walter Jones. Jones is a complete left tackle with the ability to dominate with his strength and his quickness. His technique is sound, and he has eclipsed Jonathan Ogden as the best LT in football. But regardless of where Jones plays on the line, he's a dominate force.

Donavon McNabb: They questioned his accuracy early in his career, and, unlike Atlanta's Michael Vick, McNabb improved on it. Despite his strong arm and excellent running ability, McNabb has molded himself into an outstanding "West Coast" pocket QB. If you are going to be successful in the NFL, you must be able to throw from the pocket with accuracy. Consider the fact that for only a season-and-a-half of his career, McNabb has had only one high quality WR to throw to (Terrell Owens, and we all know how that turned out). While QBs like Manning have WRs like Marvin Harrison to throw to, McNabb has thrown to receivers named James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell, and Todd Pinkston. Exactly. You've never heard of them. That's how good McNabb is.

Julius Peppers: Fast and tough, Peppers can bag your QB in a heartbeat, or sniff out your run play faster than the QB can yell "Hike!" In four seasons, Peppers has 40.5 sacks (second only to Freeney), and has gotten double digit sacks in 3 of those 4 seasons. And more impressive than his 197 tackles is the fact that in 60 games played, he has only missed 4 starts, and those were during his rookie year.

Troy Polamalu: He has the toughness of a rhino, and the speed of a cheetah. Polamalu is the heart and soul of Pittsburgh's champion defense. He can play down in the box like a fifth linebacker, and he can cover with the best of them. His athletic ability allows him to leap up for INTs and bat balls away. He is extremley difficult for a QB to look off. Right now, he is the best safety in pro football.

Ed Reed: You have to hope that Reed's injury bug last season was a fluke, because when healthy he is a force of nature. Reed is so fast he can play any position in the secondary and play it well. Safety is his natural position, and from there he has developed excellent cover skills. Reed is also good down in the box, and in many ways has supplanted Ray Lewis as the heart and soul of Baltimore's defense.

Michael Strahan: Some pundits said this man was done. Those same people probably thought Michael Vick would be the best QB in the league by now. Strahan, at age 34, has lost a few steps in his quickness. However, he's compensated by losing weight and maximizing his myriad of pass rushing moves. He can bull you over, spin around you, or just plain blow by you as you as he makes his way to the QB. Strahan has always been stout against the run, and has acted as the heart and soul of the NY Giants as a team. Other than Lawrence Taylor, no other defensive player has had this kind of impact on the NY Giants. He has had double digit sacks in 7 of the last 9 years. Last year, at age 33, he had 12 along with 82 tackles.  

Hines Ward: He's the best blocking wide receiver in football. Heck, he can block better than most running backs and fullbacks in the NFL! Ward is a big reason why Pittsburgh's ground game is so dominant. Oh, and did I mention he can catch as well? Ward might be the best wide receiver in Pittsburgh Steelers history. 3 of the last 4 years, Ward has caught 10 or more TDs in a offense that emphasizes the run. He's gone through 4 different QBs in his 8 years in the league, and hasn't seemed to miss a beat.

Players 21-30 coming soon. For those of you expecting Owens in the top 20, sorry. He isn't a top 20 player. I do have him in my top 50, but character does factor into my evaluation. And you can't tell me with a straight face that players like Harrison, Holt, and Ward are inferior to Owens. If you try to do so, then you don't know what you're talking about.