The Runner Sports

Tom Brady Takes The Top 100 Trophy

NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2017 came to an end Monday evening as players #10-1 were revealed. At this point, every player is a proven star so the only question concerns their final order. Interestingly, this offensive-dominated list actually includes two of the best pass rushers in the league.

Let’s start the recap with the 2016 NFL MVP.

#10 – Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan had quite the leap this season, jumping from off the Top 100 all the way to the top 10. Of course, this move is slightly expected considering that Ryan won the 2016 MVP after leading Atlanta to its first Super Bowl appearance since the late 90s. Ryan has always been a pinpoint passer and solid leader, but he took those attributes to another level as the Falcons’ offense became nearly unstoppable. Despite the loss, the meltdown against New England shouldn’t sit on Ryan’s shoulders. In fact, he made some downright spectacular throws against a very good secondary. 2016 was a career year for Ryan, but will he continue the trend next season with a new offensive coordinator?

#9 – Le’Veon Bell, RB Pittsburgh Steelers

Injuries and suspensions aside, Le’Veon Bell has proven to be a very good running back. Pittsburgh’s offense runs better when he is on the field (playoff game against Miami), and completely struggles when he is missing (loss to the Patriots). No runner has quite captured Bell’s ability to patiently sit behind his offensive line before exploding for big yards. And pairing that running talent with his receiving ability makes Bell very good.

#8 – Odell Beckham Jr., WR New York Giants

Odell Beckham Jr. may be a divisive figure for his sideline demeanor, but there is no denying his talent. The LSU receiver routinely makes impossible catches look easy, especially with only one hand. Even in another of Eli Manning’s down years, Beckham still went over 1,000 receiving yards once again and totaled 10 touchdowns.

#7 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys

The highest-ranked rookie in “Top 100” history, Zeke Elliott completely justified his draft position by leading the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. The former Ohio State back also paired with Dak Prescott to lead Dallas to a division crown and a playoff appearance. Given his combination of hands, speed, and power, Elliott should be a top-five running back for years to come. Besides, how can you top his celebration involving the charity bucket?

#6 – Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay Packers

Matt Ryan may have the yards while Tom Brady has the rings, but no quarterback makes as many jaw-dropping throws as Aaron Rodgers. He has quite the penchant for escaping pressure and making accurate tosses 50-60 yards down the field. Even in a down year, the Packers’ star quarterback and two-time MVP led his team from 4-6 to six straight wins and a playoff appearance. Once he entered the big show, Rodgers bested the Cowboys in the Divisional Round with a wild throw on the sideline to tight end Jared Cook. Behind Rodgers, the Packers have ruled the NFC North five of the last six seasons, and the team doesn’t seem to be slowing down. 

#5 – Khalil Mack, DE Oakland Raiders

Back in 2014, Khalil Mack was more of an afterthought behind big names like Jadeveon Clowney, Blake Bortles, and Johnny Manziel, but he has been a proven star from day one. Mack has topped 70 combined tackles all three seasons of his career and has already hit 30 sacks. He has also routinely embarrassed top quarterbacks with big plays, including an interception return for a touchdown against Cam Newton. The 2017 defensive player of the year is so good that he has helped turn around the negative opinions of GM Reggie McKenzie.

#4 – Antonio Brown, WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Seemingly many years ago, the Steelers kicked Mike Wallace to the curb and angered thousands of fans around the world. Fast forward to 2017, and the decision has proven fruitful. Antonio Brown, who earned Wallace’s contract, has easily topped 100 receptions the past four seasons and reached a career high with 136 in 2015. Brown is flashy and runs perfect routes, as evidenced by his ever increasing touchdown totals and more than 8,000 career receiving yards since 2010. Now he just needs reliable sidekicks that can stay on the field…

#3 – Julio Jones, WR Atlanta Falcons

Want to know Julio Jones’ dominance? Watch each playoff game from last season. The dynamic receiver totaled 334 receiving yards against Seattle, Green Bay, and New England while catching three touchdown passes. Jones made each secondary look a step slower as he made ridiculous catches in coverage. Granted, the game against Green Bay –in which Jones caught 9 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns– wasn’t exactly a fair fight given the Packers secondary, but his best reception by far was the sideline grab during the Super Bowl. Utter brilliance under pressure. 

#2 – Von Miller, DE Denver Broncos

Simply put, Von Miller is the main reason why Peyton Manning won a second championship. If Miller hadn’t forced crucial turnovers throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl L, the Broncos’ struggling offense wouldn’t have been in position to score late in games. He is an absolute terror coming off the edge and seems to have no issues at all with the best pass protectors in the NFL. More importantly, Miller stays on one side of the field, so offensive linemen always know where he is coming from. It just doesn’t matter what they throw in his direction. Miller is one of the absolute best. 

#1 – Tom Brady, QB New England Patriots

Tom Brady sitting atop the Top 100 comes as little shock considering that the Patriots quarterback won his fifth Super Bowl and nearly won the 2016 MVP. Oh, and he also managed this feat after missing four games to start the season. Brady led the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history and capped another dominant season with 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions. Say what you will about Tom Brady, but the man can play football.

Sadly, the Top 100 is over, but it does bring about some good news. NFL football is even closer. 75 days.

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John Newby

A Minnesota Vikings fan from Oregon who writes about the Houston Texans and discusses nerdy topics.
Quite fond of my wife, video games, and Blue Heelers.
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