The Runningbacks of the 2018 NFL Draft Class

A little while back I scouted the quarterbacks class and I’m going to do something similar for the runningbacks. This is me highlighting a few of my favorites where I talk about what I think they do well and what I think they need to work on as well as where I would take them in the Draft as well as what current or former NFL players I think their game most resembles. These can run a bit long so without further ado, let’s get into my backs. These are going to be in alphabetical order, so don’t think of these like rankings. I’ll have a whole blog for that in the future.

Saquon Barkley-Penn State

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I say these aren’t rankings, yet I put Barkley first. That’s just a coincidence, settle down. But yeah, Barkley is the best runningback in this Draft class and I’ve seen many people suggest that the Browns should take him #1 overall. Barkley’s good, really good, but I wouldn’t go that far. He was destroying college football for the first half of the year, then started fading down the stretch a bit. But there are a lot of things to love about the junior out of Penn State.

Strengths: Size, Explosiveness, Versatility

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Saquon Barkley is thick in the legs, which he should be when you’re 5’11 and 230 pounds like he is. He doesn’t really have the reputation of a bruiser, but he’s built like one and he can cut on a dime about as efficiently as LeSean McCoy. He’s also fast as Hell. One report has clocked him running as fast as a 4.33 40-yard dash. A guy at that size should not be anywhere near that fast. So here’s a 230-pound back who runs a 4.3 40 and is as elusive as they come. Oh and did I mention he’s a pretty good receiver and return man as well? Because he can do those things, too. Last year Barkley rushed for 1271 yards and had 632 yards receiving as well and even took a kick to the house against Indiana. So with all that, what weaknesses are there?

Weaknesses: Route Running, Hop Step

I mentioned that Barkley was a good receiver. However when he has to run actual routes out of the backfield, not just drifting towards the flat, he tends to get a little lax in his route running. This kind of surprised me because when he’s running with the football, his cuts are so sharp. But when he’s running routes, he tends to kind of bend on his turns instead of planting his foot and turning. Also, when he’s about to be handed the football, he does this little hop. This can be both beneficial and detrimental. On the one hand, it looks like that hop gives him an extra burst of speed. On the other, it’s costing him a split second that allows defenders to close in on him at the start of the handoff. But that’s really all I could come up with for weaknesses, I was really digging to be honest, Barkley’s great.

Draft Thoughts: I think Barkley is worthy of going in the top 5 picks. I’m not so sure I’d take him number 1 just because I think that spot should be reserved for the more crucial positions such as quarterback, left tackle, and edge rusher and in many offenses it doesn’t matter who is at runningback. But when you’re this freaky an athlete with so few flaws, it’s hard not to at least consider it, especially considering this year’s class as so many question marks and Barkley feels like one of the safest picks in the draft. He would be EXTREMELY beneficial to a team like the Giants, who do have other weapons on offense like ODell Beckham Jr and Evan Engram that could have their play elevated by there actually being a threat in the backfield.

Pro Comparison: 

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Ezekiel Elliott. He and Barkley both have similar frames and were damn near perfect draft prospects at the runningback position. I think a lot of the reason that Barkley kind of faded down the stretch was that opposing teams were gearing more resources towards stopping him, which allowed quarterback Trace McSorley to shine through.

Derrius Guice-LSU

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Derrius Guice burst on the scene last year when Leonard Fournette spent much of the season injured and really came into his own. 2017 was expected to be a huge year for Guice but he really didn’t explode the way I hoped. However, he was still the most important piece of the LSU offense and still managed to put together some solid numbers despite a decline in overall performance (his yards per carry dropped over 2 whole yards between 2016 and 17). However I still think he can be an excellent back in this league.

Strengths: Running Style, Speed, Receiving Ability

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When I looked up Guice’s measurables, I was SHOCKED to learn that he plays at just 212 pounds. He plays like he’s so much bigger than that. His running style is so aggressive, too. It’s almost as if he enjoys getting hit and punishes any defender who is brave enough to try and tackle him. He’s also a lot faster than you might expect. He’s just as fast as Barkley, as he was clocked at 4.32 seconds in his 40 yard dash during LSU minicamp. He’s also a decent receiver, as he had 18 catches for 124 yards on the season. Not nearly as good as Barkley but there was better quarterback play at Penn State than there was at LSU.

Weaknesses: Blocking, Running Style

Yes I included Guice’s running style as both a positive and a negative. This is because the manner in which he invites contact at his size is a recipe for injury. The defenders are a Hell of a lot bigger at the next level and if Guice is throwing his body around at them, that could lead to some IR trips if he’s not careful. He also kind of brings his aggressive running style into play when he’s blocking. Instead of absorbing defenders, he tends to go for the knockout block on seemingly every play. When he lands it, he de-cleats the defender. However if the defender puts on a slight move, Guice is lying facedown in the dirt and the rusher is disrupting the pass. He needs to play more disciplined when he’s back in protection.

Draft Thoughts: I wouldn’t mind taking Guice in the first round as long as I was comfortable in my stable of backs behind him. He has all the makings of a feature back but his running style can kind of scare me at times. While I love his aggression, he’s a lot more valuable to me on the field than in the training room.

Pro Comparison: 

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Tevin Coleman. Coleman is a guy who is kind of stuck behind DeVonta Freeman in Atlanta but I feel if he is given the reigns to be the man, he could be a really electrifying back in this league, like Guice. Both have great athleticism and can shine as a receiver when given an opportunity. However both have pretty violent running styles that could result in potential injury. Coleman played on a broken foot at Indiana.

Kerryon Johnson-Auburn

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Kerryon Johnson was an intriguing prospect for much of the year but very few scouts really entertained the thought of him being a potential first rounder until he took over the Iron Bowl in Auburn’s victory over eventual national champion Alabama. Johnson was all over the place and was a part of seemingly every impactful play in that game. Scouts started taking notice and as a result, Johnson’s stock has skyrocketed.

Strengths: Vision, Agility, Patience

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Johnson can hit some holes that I didn’t even know were there. His peripherals are a marvel to behold. He’s also pretty slippery and it’s almost like he’s covered in grease when guys try and tackle him because of the way he kind of slips through people. He also clearly models his running style after Le’Veon Bell because he’s definitely waiting for his blocks to develop before attacking.

Weaknesses: Blocking, Hitting the Hole, General Explosiveness

I wouldn’t say Johnson is a bad blocker, just an inconsistent one. There are some plays where he makes really nice blocks that bought quarterback Jarrett Stidham at least another second or two to throw. There are others where he’s an absolute turnstile. There really wasn’t any in-between. Also, I mentioned his patience as a strength, but at times it appears to be a weakness because I think he’s so caught up in trying to be patient and waiting for his blocks to set up that he forgets he’s got to blast through them. He kind of hits the hole like a dainty butterfly and he lacks that one-step explosion that a lot of teams like to see out of their backs.

Draft Thoughts: Quite frankly, I think Johnson is getting a bit overhyped. He seems like an instinctive player, sure, but he’s the same size as Derrius Guice but seems so much slower despite the generally leaner frame. It’s more his intangibles that I think are the real positive rather than what he really brings to the table physically because watching some film on him, I wasn’t particularly blown away by anything he did. I’d probably wait until the 4th round before I started thinking about taking him.

Pro Comparison: 

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Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon is versatile kind of like Johnson and both have experience running out of some sort of wildcat formation. However neither really blows anybody away with their overall athleticism and in the grand scheme of things, I think they’re just decent backs.

Ronald Jones II-USC

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Ronald Jones II was a guy I hadn’t heard a whole lot about coming into this season, but I watched the Texas-USC game and was blown away by what this kid can bring to the table. I was watching that game looking to see what Sam Darnold can do, I left the game thinking about how great a back Ronald Jones is.

Strengths: Athleticism, Receiving, Blocking, Ability in Space

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Ronald Jones is at his best when he’s in space. He’s shifty and a great athlete and sometimes his cuts are so brutal he leaves defenders on skates. He’s also a good receiver, though I don’t think USC utilized him enough in this fashion. His blocking is an odd type of good. I thought he was decent as a blocker in the backfield, but in formations where USC had him line up out wide then throw a screen to a receiver, I thought he was fantastic. Again, Jones is at his best when he’s got space around him.

Weaknesses: Running Between the Tackles, Power

Jones was very unimpressive to me when he had to run up the middle. It seemed like he isn’t totally looking for the holes when asked to run straight. When he is running stretch plays outside the tackles to the edge, his vision seems to be great, but it’s when he’s forced to run into traffic where he tends to struggle. He’s also not going to knock anyone over with his 200-pound frame, but that’s not really his game anyway so it’s not TOO much of an issue, I just have a preference towards power backs.

Draft Thoughts: Ronald Jones could be downright dynamite when put in an offense that allows him to play to his strengths. I don’t think he fits in with everybody, which I think will hurt his draft stock. However if the right team picks him, look out because when this guy gets the ball in space, good luck. I think a team like the Lions would be perfect for him, as they’ve shown with Theo Riddick that they’re willing to play to each individual’s strengths, which is where I think he could shine. I think he could be worth a late first round pick as long as you have a specific plan set for how you want to use him because he’s not going to plug into just any system.

Pro Comparison: 

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Alvin Kamara. Both guys excel in their own systems and are at their best when in space as well as being talented receivers. Jones is a little bigger than Kamara but they both play similar games.

Bryce Love-Stanford

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Out of all the guys on this list, Bryce Love was the big breakout star. After backing up Christian McCaffrey for the last couple of years, Love was phenomenal upon being thrust into the starting role after McCaffrey was drafted 8th by the Panthers in the 2017 Draft, rushing for over 2000 yards and finishing 2nd in the Heisman voting. A lot of scouts are curious as to how well he will transition to the NFL and are wondering if his breakout season was a fluke.

Strengths: Speed, Shiftiness

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I don’t know if anybody in this draft class changes direction better than Love. Maybe Barkley. But when Love plants that foot in the dirt and cuts the other way, good luck catching him. And he’s fast, too. He’s been clocked at a 4.35 40 but there have been times where he was looked even faster. Once he gets to the second level, you’re done. He’s hard to tackle in open space and you’re going to need some serious athletes if you’re going to keep him in check. In fact, the one game where he was kept in check was the game where he was coming off an ankle injury. And even then he ran for 69 yards (it was the one time all year where he was held under 100).

Weaknesses: Size, Receiving

Out of all the backs I’m scouting in this blog, Love is easily the smallest. He’s 5’10 196 pounds, so he’s not built to handle the bulk of the carries in an NFL offense. And for a guy as quick as he is, I’m surprised to see that he’s not very involved in the passing game. He only had 6 catches for 33 yards on the season, which really works against you when you’re a smaller back. A lot of coaches like using their scat backs as receivers out of the backfield and Love hasn’t shown that he’s capable of doing that.

Draft Thoughts: I like Love a lot, but he has his limitations. He may be the most athletic runningback in this class, rivaling even Barkley, but his lack of size and receiving ability is a big knock against his draft status. I think if he were to add 10 pounds of muscle and work on his routes, he could be a DANGEROUS player in this league. But as things stand right now I think we’re looking at a third rounder.

Pro Comparison: 

at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Dion Lewis. Lewis was drafted in the 6th round by the Eagles a few years back and was used mainly on kick returns before bouncing around the league and finally finding a home in New England, where they were able to use his skillset in a way that allowed him to thrive. This year he added on some muscle and he’s become a complete back, which is a similar path I think Love could find himself going down if he works at it.

Sony Michel-Georgia

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Sony Michel was part of arguably the deadliest runningback duo of all time with Nick Chubb (who I thought about including in this blog, but his injury history scares me so much I wouldn’t touch him until round 5). Michel was particularly dominant during the playoff, as he nearly led Georgia to a national championship single handedly. He scored the walkoff touchdown against Oklahoma and was the only consistently good member of Georgia’s offense in their championship loss to Alabama.

Strengths: Size-Speed Combination, Explosiveness, Shiftiness, Vision

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I was surprised to see that Sony Michel is 215 pounds because he runs like a gazelle. Granted, he only runs a 4.45, but he plays a lot faster than that. He hits the hole so hard that if you don’t square him up, he’s going to blow right by you. And when he’s in the open field you stand no chance. He does a great job of reading blocks as well. There’s a lot of untapped ability with this kid and I think sharing a backfield with Chubb kind of held back what he can really do when given the reigns.

Weaknesses: Power, Blocking, Receiving, Running Style

I put receiving down as a weakness mainly because he was barely utilized as a receiver throughout most of the season. He was used a lot more as a receiver in the Rose Bowl, as he got 4 out of his 9 catches on the season in that game, and I think he did pretty well so I think there’s some untapped potential there. But as it stands, we just don’t know enough about his abilities as a receiver to justify listing it as a strength. Also, he’s not a power runner in any sense of the word. He’s not going to barrel over anybody and he might struggle against NFL-caliber pass rushers. He also runs very upright, which might hinder his speed some and can cause injury if hit a certain way.

Draft Thoughts: I think Sony Michel could creep into the first round depending on how his combine goes. If he can run a sub 4.4 40, then I think he’s automatically in the discussion. He’s very good in space and I think there is so much untapped potential with this kid that I think we could have something really special here.

Pro Comparison: 

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David Johnson. Johnson is a guy that had a lot of raw and untapped potential at Northern Iowa that was unlocked when the Cardinals were able to utilize what he does best and got him involved in the passing game. I think Michel could have similar success if given similar attention.

That’s a wrap on my scouting report on some of my favorite runningbacks in this year’s draft class. Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

 

 

NFL Top 100 Players of 2017

Yesterday was my Top 10 by position, today is my Top 100 overall. I also want to reiterate that my rankings are based on who I thought had the best seasons and guys who missed significant time due to injury will be at a huge disadvantage (apologies to Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt in particular). I’m basing this on general stats and impressions I got watching them play and I may have overrated some guys based on what they’ve done in the past or how I feel about their game (probably Kam Chancellor). So this is going to take a while to write so I’m just going to leave the intro at that. Let’s get to the rankings.

100. Dez Bryant-WR-Dallas Cowboys

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99. Richard Sherman-CB-Seattle Seahawks

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98. Josh Norman-CB-Washington Redskins

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97. Damon Harrison-DL-New York Giants

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96. Taylor Lewan-OT-Tennessee Titans

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95. Ndamukong Suh-DL-Miami Dolphins

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94. Fletcher Cox-DL-Philadelphia Eagles

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93. Jamal Adams-S-New York Jets

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92. Jason Kelce-C-Philadelphia Eagles

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91. Melvin Gordon-RB-Los Angeles Chargers

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90. Cam Newton-QB-Carolina Panthers

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89. Ben Roethlisberger-QB-Pittsburgh Steelers

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88. Terrell Suggs-EDGE-Baltimore Ravens

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87. Tre’Davious White-CB-Buffalo Bills

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86. Jurrell Casey-DL-Tennessee Titans

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85. Justin Houston-EDGE-Kansas City Chiefs

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84. JaDeveon Clowney-EDGE-Houston Texans

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83. TY Hilton-WR-Indianapolis Colts

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82. Golden Tate-WR-Detroit Lions

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81. Dion Lewis-RB-New England Patriots

at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

80. Marshall Yanda-OG-Baltimore Ravens

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79. Gerald McCoy-DL-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

at Lambeau Field on December 3, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

78. David Irving-DL-Dallas Cowboys

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77. Delanie Walker-TE-Tennessee Titans

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76. Brandin Cooks-WR-New England Patriots

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75. Kirk Cousins-QB-Washington Redskins

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74. Tashaun Gipson-S-Jacksonville Jaguars

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73. Leonard Fournette-RB-Jacksonville Jaguars

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72. Andrew Whitworth-OT-Los Angeles Rams

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71. Yannick Ngakoue-EDGE-Jacksonville Jaguars

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70. Travis Frederick-C-Dallas Cowboys

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69. Alejandro Villanueva-OT-Pittsburgh Steelers

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68. Lavonte David-LB-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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67. Jimmy Smith-CB-Baltimore Ravens

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66. Zach Ertz-TE-Philadelphia Eagles

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65. Kawann Short-DL-Carolina Panthers

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64. Telvin Smith-LB-Jacksonville Jaguars

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63. Kevin Byard-S-Tennessee Titans

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62. AJ Green-WR-Cincinnati Bengals

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61. Ezekiel Elliott-RB-Dallas Cowboys

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60. Jordan Howard-RB-Chicago Bears

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59. Matt Ryan-QB-Atlanta Falcons

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58. Ryan Kerrigan-EDGE-Washington Redskins

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57. Deion Jones-LB-Atlanta Falcons

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56. Landon Collins-S-New York Giants

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55. Tyreek Hill-WR-Kansas City Chiefs

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54. Alex Mack-C-Atlanta Falcons

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53. LeSean McCoy-RB-Buffalo Bills

at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

52. Cameron Jordan-EDGE-New Orleans Saints

at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

51. CJ Mosley-LB-Baltimore Ravens

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50. Trent Williams-OT-Washington Redskins

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49. Philip Rivers-QB-Los Angeles Chargers

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48. Adam Thielen-WR-Minnesota Vikings

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47. Malik Jackson-DL-Jacksonville Jaguars

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46. Jalen Ramsey-CB-Jacksonville Jaguars

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45. Drew Brees-QB-New Orleans Saints

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44. DeMario Davis-LB-New York Jets

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43. Everson Griffen-EDGE-Minnesota Vikings

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42. Michael Thomas-WR-New Orleans Saints

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41. Alvin Kamara-RB-New Orleans Saints

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40. Casey Hayward-CB-Los Angeles Chargers

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39. Geno Atkins-DL-Cincinnati Bengals

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38. Kam Chancellor-S-Seattle Seahawks

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37. Brandon Brooks-OG-Philadelphia Eagles

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36. Eric Weddle-S-Baltimore Ravens

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35. Marshon Lattimore-CB-New Orleans Saints

at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

34. Darius Slay-CB-Detroit Lions

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33. Keenan Allen-WR-Los Angeles Chargers

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32. Travis Kelce-TE-Kansas City Chiefs

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31. Jared Goff-QB-Los Angeles Rams

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30. Joey Bosa-EDGE-Los Angeles Chargers

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29. Zack Martin-OG-Dallas Cowboys

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28. Cameron Heyward-DL-Pittsburgh Steelers

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27. Khalil Mack-EDGE-Oakland Raiders

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26. Marcus Peters-CB-Kansas City Chiefs

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25. Chandler Jones-EDGE-Arizona Cardinals

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24. Tyron Smith-OT-Dallas Cowboys

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23. Harrison Smith-S-Minnesota Vikings

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22. Xavier Rhodes-CB-Minnesota Vikings 

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21. Mark Ingram-RB-New Orleans Saints

at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

20. Alex Smith-QB-Kansas City Chiefs

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19. DeMarcus Lawrence-EDGE-Dallas Cowboys

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18. Rob Gronkowski-TE-New England Patriots

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17. Luke Kuechly-LB-Carolina Panthers

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16. AJ Bouye-CB-Jacksonville Jaguars

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15. Earl Thomas-S-Seattle Seahawks

at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

14. Kareem Hunt-RB-Kansas City Chiefs

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13. DeAndre Hopkins-WR-Houston Texans

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12. Patrick Peterson-CB-Arizona Cardinals

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11. Russell Wilson-QB-Seattle Seahawks

at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.

10. Von Miller-EDGE-Denver Broncos

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9. Bobby Wagner-LB-Seattle Seahawks

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8. Le’Veon Bell-RB-Pittsburgh Steelers

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7. Carson Wentz-QB-Philadelphia Eagles

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6. Julio Jones-WR-Atlanta Falcons

at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 7, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

5. Aaron Donald-DL-Los Angeles Rams

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4. Calais Campbell-DL-Jacksonville Jaguars

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3. Antonio Brown-WR-Pittsburgh Steelers

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2. Tom Brady-QB-New England Patriots

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1. Todd Gurley-RB-Los Angeles Rams

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Those are my rankings of the Top 100 players in the NFL for the 2017 season. Tune in tomorrow for my first 2018 NFL Mock Draft. Agree with my rankings? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

 

Top 10 NFL Players By Position for 2017

Yesterday was my NFL Awards for 2017, now we move on to the next segment of my postseason NFL series: Top 10 players by position. Now I’ve got to put a disclaimer on this: this isn’t necessarily who I think is the best at each position, I’m going by who had the best seasons. So guys who missed significant time due to injury will be at a serious disadvantage. For example, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt did not make the lists and will not appear on my Top 100 that I’m posting tomorrow, which follows the same rules. I’m trying to not take past success into consideration, buuuuut I’m only human and certain guys may have gotten some preferential treatment due to what they’ve done in the past. It’s my list, if you think it sucks, make your own. Better yet, leave a comment and tell me how bad my list is. So with that, let’s go position by position to see who the best in the NFL were.

Quarterback

at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

1. Tom Brady-New England Patriots

2. Carson Wentz-Philadelphia Eagles

3. Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks

4. Alex Smith-Kansas City Chiefs

5. Jared Goff-Los Angeles Rams

6. Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints

7. Philip Rivers-Los Angeles Chargers

8. Matt Ryan-Atlanta Falcons

9. Kirk Cousins-Washington Redskins

10. Ben Roethlisberger-Pittsburgh Steelers

If you read my awards blog, you would know that Tom Brady was my runner-up for MVP, an award he has somehow only won twice. Then again, Babe Ruth only won 1 MVP in baseball (granted, he played at a time when the MVP award was the Chalmers Award and the trophy was a car so you were only allowed to win it once. What a strange thing classic baseball was). But Brady, at 40 years old, is still the best quarterback in the game and it doesn’t matter who is on the field or is injured or whatever, Brady’s going to do big things. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff were revelations this season as they seem to be jumpstarting the next wave of superstar quarterbacks in the NFL. Philip Rivers quietly finished second in the NFL in passing yards and was instrumental in helping the Chargers out of a 0-4 hole and nearly became the second team ever to make the playoffs after starting so poorly.

Runningback

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1. Todd Gurley-Los Angeles Rams

2. Le’Veon Bell-Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Kareem Hunt-Kansas City Chiefs

4. Mark Ingram-New Orleans Saints

5. Alvin Kamara-New Orleans Saints

6. LeSean McCoy-Buffalo Bills

7. Jordan Howard-Chicago Bears

8. Ezekiel Elliott-Dallas Cowboys

9. Leonard Fournette-Jacksonville Jaguars

10. Dion Lewis-New England Patriots

Naturally, my league MVP is going to finish at the top of my positional rankings. Todd Gurley had over 2000 yards from scrimmage so naturally, being the most complete back in the NFL today, he’s going to win out. Le’Veon Bell was also terrific, but his yards per carry was below 4.0 for much of the season, which is probably the thing that hurt him the most in my rankings. The fact that I had to say that and he’s still #2 on my list goes to show what I think of the guy. Ezekiel Elliott likely would’ve been much, much higher had he not had to serve the suspension because he actually was pretty quietly his same old self on the field. Dion Lewis makes the list purely for how well he finished the season, as he was torching opposing defenses to the point where it didn’t matter if Brady wasn’t at his best.

Wide Receiver

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1. Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Julio Jones-Atlanta Falcons

3. DeAndre Hopkins-Houston Texans

4. Keenan Allen-Los Angeles Chargers

5. Michael Thomas-New Orleans Saints

6. Adam Thielen-Minnesota Vikings

7. Tyreek Hill-Kansas City Chiefs

8. AJ Green-Cincinnati Bengals

9. Brandin Cooks-New England Patriots

10. Golden Tate-Detroit Lions

After the top 2, this list got pretty tough. Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are clearly the two best receivers in the game. After that things get pretty tight. I went with Hopkins at 3 because he was the league leader in receiving touchdowns. Keenan Allen was nearly my comeback player of the year, perhaps should’ve been because he was terrific. Adam Thielen carried my fantasy team to another third-place finish. Deciding who was 10th was probably the hardest choice, as there were a lot of different guys that could’ve been there and no matter who I chose, somebody deserving would be left out. I went with Golden Tate, though his teammate Marvin Jones could have also been the choice. Tate is one of the more dynamic receivers in the league and is basically a poor man’s Antonio Brown.

Tight End

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1. Rob Gronkowski-New England Patriots

2. Travis Kelce-Kansas City Chiefs

3. Zach Ertz-Philadelphia Eagles

4. Delanie Walker-Tennessee Titans

5. Evan Engram-New York Giants

6. Jack Doyle-Indianapolis Colts

7. Hunter Henry-Los Angeles Chargers

8. Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys

9. Charles Clay-Buffalo Bills

10. Cameron Brate-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gronk could be the greatest tight end of all time when all is said and done, his career has been that tremendous and he’s not even 30 yet. He led all tight ends in receiving yards despite missing a game due to suspension and having no catches in the season finale, hence my conspiracy theory that he finished with exactly 69 catches for the season on purpose. Evan Engram was probably the lone bright spot for the Giants this season, as they appear to have a really talented player at the tight end position. I hate making this comparison because of the things that happened off the field, but Engram kind of reminds me of Aaron Hernandez with his athleticism and ability to play all over the field.

Offensive Tackle

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1. Tyron Smith-Dallas Cowboys

2. Trent Williams-Washington Redskins

3. Alejandro Villanueva-Pittsburgh Steelers

4. Andrew Whitworth-Los Angeles Rams

5. Taylor Lewan-Tennessee Titans

6. Lane Johnson-Philadelphia Eagles

7. Terron Armstead-New Orleans Saints

8. David Bakhtiari-Green Bay Packers

9. Cordy Glenn-Buffalo Bills

10. Jack Conklin-Tennessee Titans

The main thing that put Tyron Smith at the top of this list is what happened to the Cowboys while he was injured. His replacement, Chaz Green, let up 6 sacks against Adrian Clayborn of all people and the Cowboys offense couldn’t even score on a hooker for the couple weeks Smith was out. But once he was back, it was like they were their old selves again even without Ezekiel Elliott. That’s MVP stuff right there out of the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva is not only a really good football player, but he’s a Hell of a man as well, particularly as a veteran of the Armed Forces. Go read up on the guy, you’ll see some pretty cool stuff.

Offensive Guard

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1. Zack Martin-Dallas Cowboys

2. Brandon Brooks-Philadelphia Eagles

3. Marshall Yanda-Baltimore Ravens

4. Kelechi Osemele-Oakland Raiders

5. Joel Bitonio-Cleveland Browns

6. David DeCastro-Pittsburgh Steelers

7. Xavier Su’a Filo-Houston Texans

8. Brandon Scherff-Washington Redskins

9. Kevin Zeitler-Cleveland Browns

10. Shaq Mason-New England Patriots

The Cowboys front office continue to reap the rewards of telling Jerry Jones “no” when Jones wanted to draft Johnny Manziel over Zack Martin. This is what happens when you don’t surround yourself with “yes men.” Martin is about as well-rounded an offensive lineman as you’ll ever find. Despite their poor season, the Browns had some pretty solid pieces on the offensive line in Bitonio and Zeitler. They would’ve had Joe Thomas too if not for injury.

Center

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1. Alex Mack-Atlanta Falcons

2. Travis Frederick-Dallas Cowboys

3. Jason Kelce-Philadelphia Eagles

4. Rodney Hudson-Oakland Raiders

5. Maurkice Pouncey-Pittsburgh Steelers

6. Max Unger-New Orleans Saints

7. Brandon Linder-Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Mitch Morse-Kansas City Chiefs

9. Ryan Kalil-Carolina Panthers

10. Corey Linsley-Green Bay Packers

I don’t know if I respect any player in the NFL more than I do Alex Mack, who played the Super Bowl on a broken leg, and played well I might add. I don’t think people understand just how much of a factor your legs play in blocking, given how large the upper bodies of these offensive linemen are. Jason Kelce, brother of Chiefs tight end Travis, is quietly his brother’s equivalent on the offensive line, as he was arguably the most important part of keeping Carson Wentz, and then Nick Foles, upright.

Defensive Line

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1. Calais Campbell-Jacksonville Jaguars

2. Aaron Donald-Los Angeles Rams

3. Cameron Heyward-Pittsburgh Steelers

4. Geno Atkins-Cincinnati Bengals

5. Malik Jackson-Jacksonville Jaguars

6. Kawann Short-Carolina Panthers

7. David Irving-Dallas Cowboys

8. Gerald McCoy-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9. Jurrell Casey-Tennessee Titans

10. Fletcher Cox-Philadelphia Eagles

This was kind of a tough one because while it’s hard to leave JJ Watt off any list, I really had no choice but to do it. He didn’t play enough. It became tough again putting Campbell over Donald because while I do think Donald is the best at his position, I think Campbell had a better season. Plus Donald held out the first game of the season, losing some ground on surpassing the Jaguars stud. David Irving was quietly among the best pass rushing interior linemen in the NFL. After having previously been best known as being the guy who got his nipple ring ripped out during practice, Irving went on to record 8.5 sacks at a position of constant double teams. Maybe that dumb thing was holding him back, who knows?

Edge Defender

at the Hard Rock Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

1. Von Miller-Denver Broncos

2. DeMarcus Lawrence-Dallas Cowboys

3. Chandler Jones-Arizona Cardinals

4. Khalil Mack-Oakland Raiders

5. Joey Bosa-Los Angeles Chargers

6. Everson Griffen-Minnesota Vikings

7. Cameron Jordan-New Orleans Saints

8. Ryan Kerrigan-Washington Redskins

9. Yannick Ngakoue-Jacksonville Jaguars

10. JaDeveon Clowney-Houston Texans

Von Miller might not have had as many sacks as the guys behind him on the list, but he impacted games the way no other edge defender could. You have to double team him on the edge to really stop him and even then it might not work. When running the ball, you have to run to the opposite side of the field and he’s still fast enough to catch you. Chandler Jones led the NFL in sacks and as a Patriots fan, letting him go for just a second round pick that was used on Cyrus Jones continues to haunt me, especially when we had to go to a 39 year-old James Harrison to get some competence opposite Trey Flowers. JaDeveon Clowney continues to get better with each year as his pass rushing skills are starting to catch up to his dominance against the run.

Linebacker

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1. Bobby Wagner-Seattle Seahawks

2. Luke Kuechly-Carolina Panthers

3. DeMario Davis-New York Jets

4. CJ Mosley-Baltimore Ravens

5. Deion Jones-Atlanta Falcons

6. Telvin Smith-Jacksonville Jaguars

7. LaVonte David-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Vince Williams-Pittsburgh Steelers

9. Joe Schobert-Cleveland Browns

10. Alec Ogletree-Los Angeles Rams

I feel like people don’t give Bobby Wagner enough credit for what he does for this Seahawks defense. Everyone likes to point to the Legion of Boom, but Wagner may be even more critical than the tandem of Earl Thomas-Richard Sherman-Kam Chancellor. Telvin Smith played a similar role with the Jaguars, as their secondary got a lot of the praise, but he was the main cog that made things go. Joe Schobert may be a surprising entry on this list but he actually led all NFL linebackers in run stops.

Cornerback

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1. Patrick Peterson-Arizona Cardinals

2. AJ Bouye-Jacksonville Jaguars

3. Xavier Rhodes-Minnesota Vikings

4. Marcus Peters-Kansas City Chiefs

5. Darius Slay-Detroit Lions

6. Marshon Lattimore-New Orleans Saints

7. Casey Hayward-Los Angeles Chargers

8. Jalen Ramsey-Jacksonville Jaguars

9. Jimmy Smith-Baltimore Ravens

10. Tre’Davious White-Buffalo Bills

This one’s kind of tough because it’s hard to measure a cornerback’s success. On the one hand, you can go with interceptions, but that’s often the result of being in the right place at the right time or could be an indicator that quarterbacks think they can challenge you. Really you have to go with advanced metrics, which I can’t provide without a Pro Football Focus subscription, which I’d be able to get if PEOPLE CONTRIBUTED TO MY FUCKING PATREON! *Exhales* I’m calm, I’m calm. But Patrick Peterson is not only an excellent corner, he’s also dynamite in the return game, which kind of puts him over the top for me. Darius Slay tied for the NFL lead with 8 interceptions this season, which when watching him play seemed to be more of a skill thing than a luck thing. Richard Sherman was left off this list mainly due to the fact he was battling injuries, which hurt his production some before he had to get shut down for the season.

Safety

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1. Earl Thomas-Seattle Seahawks

2. Harrison Smith-Minnesota Vikings

3. Eric Weddle-Baltimore Ravens

4. Kam Chancellor-Seattle Seahawks

5. Landon Collins-New York Giants

6. Kevin Byard-Tennessee Titans

7. Tashaun Gipson-Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Jamal Adams-New York Jets

9. Glover Quin-Detroit Lions

10. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix-Green Bay Packers

It was a hard choice between Earl Thomas and Harrison Smith for top safety in the NFL this season, as both guys were terrific and leaders of top defenses. I went with Thomas simply because he’s been doing it for longer, though they’re basically 1A and 1B. Kevin Byard tied with Slay for the NFL lead with 8 interceptions, which I actually think means more for safeties than it does for corners because playing safety is more about reading the field and deciphering what the quarterback is thinking rather than just straight up covering a guy like a corner. Jamal Adams was one of my favorite prospects from the 2017 NFL Draft and he and fellow rookie Marcus Maye were big parts in the Jets being somewhat relevant in 2017.

Those are my rankings by position for the 2017 NFL season. Check back in tomorrow for my Top 100 players, followed by my first Mock Draft. Let me know what you thought of these rankings in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Pro Bowl Rosters Announced

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I’m going to preface this by saying that I think the Pro Bowl is the most useless All Star Game in professional sports. The risk for injury in a game that is even more meaningless than preseason games is too great, just ask Tyler Eifert. The one benefit the Pro Bowl had was that players got a trip to Hawaii out of that but now that’s not even a thing, as they’ve been playing the game in Florida in some years, which is a state much of the league visits during the regular season anyway. There’s no incentive to play in this game whatsoever. All Star Games are cool in theory and has shown that it can be awesome when done right (I’ve always been a big fan of the MLB All Star game and the NBA All Star game can get exciting to watch since nobody plays any defense and everybody goes for the highlight play). With football, the risk of injury is so great that it’s just not worth it. Plus the quality of football is terrible because these guys have about a week to learn an extremely neutered playbook and the most basic concepts are run. Nothing exciting there. You aren’t even allowed to blitz! That being said, it’ll be the only football game on between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, so I’ll probably catch bits and pieces of it. The NFL has me by the balls.

So let’s take a look at the rosters from each conference. For the AFC:

QB: Tom Brady-New England Patriots, Philip Rivers-Los Angeles Chargers, Ben Roethlisberger-Pittsburgh Steelers

RB: Le’Veon Bell-Pittsburgh Steelers, Kareem Hunt-Kansas City Chiefs, Lesean McCoy-Buffalo Bills

FB: James Develin-New England Patriots

WR: Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers, DeAndre Hopkins-Houston Texans, AJ Green-Cincinnati Bengals, Keenan Allen-Los Angeles Chargers

TE: Travis Kelce-Kansas City Chiefs, Rob Gronkowski-New England Patriots

OT: Alejandro Villanueva-Pittsburgh Steelers, Taylor Lewan-Tennessee Titans, Donald Penn-Oakland Raiders

OG: Kelechi Osemele-Oakland Raiders, David DeCastro-Pittsburgh Steelers, Richie Incognito-Buffalo Bills

C: Maurkice Pouncey-Pittsburgh Steelers, Rodney Hudson-Kansas City Chiefs

DE: Joey Bosa-Los Angeles Chargers, Calais Campbell-Jacksonville Jaguars, Khalil Mack-Oakland Raiders

DT: Geno Atkins-Cincinnati Bengals, Jurrell Casey-Tennessee Titans, Malik Jackson-Jacksonville Jaguars

OLB: Von Miller-Denver Broncos, JaDeveon Clowney-Houston Texans, Terrell Suggs-Baltimore Ravens

ILB: CJ Moseley-Baltimore Ravens, Ryan Shazier-Pittsburgh Steelers

CB: AJ Bouye-Jacksonville Jaguars, Jalen Ramsey-Jacksonville Jaguars, Aqib Talib-Denver Broncos, Casey Hayward-Los Angeles Chargers

S-Eric Weddle-Baltimore Ravens, Reshad Jones-Miami Dolphins, Micah Hyde-Buffalo Bills

K-Chris Boswell-Pittsburgh Steelers

P-Brett Kern-Tennessee Titans

KR-Tyreek Hill-Kansas City Chiefs

ST-Matthew Slater-New England Patriots

Is it me, or did that seem like a LOT of Steelers there. Don’t get me wrong, the Steelers are a Hell of a team and boast some great talent. But they have 8 guys on this year’s roster whereas a team like the Patriots only has 4. For the most part, I think the voters (fans included) did a pretty good job with their selections, as I don’t see a single undeserving player on this list, though there are certainly some omissions that I think are absolutely egregious. This list isn’t final, though, as injuries and players making it to the Super Bowl will drastically alter who will actually play in this game. For example, Ryan Shazier is obviously going to need to be replaced. But as the roster stands right now, here are some players that I think got snubbed, whether that be because a lesser player made it over them or just simply the fact there wasn’t room on the roster:

QB: Alex Smith-Kansas City Chiefs

RB: Melvin Gordon-Los Angeles Chargers, Leonard Fournettte-Jacksonville Jaguars, Alex Collins-Baltimore Ravens

WR: Brandin Cooks-New England Patriots, TY Hilton-Indianapolis Colts, Robby Anderson-New York Jets

OG-Shaq Mason-New England Patriots, Kevin Zeitler-Cleveland Browns, Joel Bitonio-Cleveland Browns

DE: Yannick Ngakoue-Jacksonville Jaguars, Cameron Heyward-Pittsburgh Steelers,

DT: Ndamukong Suh-Miami Dolphins

OLB: Melvin Ingram-Los Angeles Chargers, Cameron Wake-Miami Dolphins, Dante Fowler Jr-Jacksonville Jaguars

ILB: DeMario Davis-New York Jets, Christian Kirksey-Cleveland Browns

CB: Marcus Peters-Kansas City Chiefs, Xavien Howard-Miami Dolphins, Tre’Davious White-Buffalo Bills, Jason McCourty-Cleveland Browns

S: Kevin Byard-Tennessee Titans, Tashaun Gipson-Jacksonville Jaguars

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The most egregious omission is Alex Smith when Philip Rivers made the team. That’s outrageous. While yes, Philip Rivers is having a good season, Smith has been so much better. More touchdowns, fewer interceptions, better quarterback rating, better completion percentage, better yards per attempt, pretty much every major category except passing yards, which Rivers only leads by exactly 100. Yes, Smith kind of slumped in the middle of the season, but the entire body of work is so much more deserving. Hell, Kareem Hunt had a similar slump yet he still made the team. On to the NFC:

QB: Carson Wentz-Philadelphia Eagles, Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks, Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints

RB: Todd Gurley-Los Angeles Rams, Alvin Kamara-New Orleans Saints, Mark Ingram-New Orleans Saints

FB: Kyle Juszczyk-San Francisco 49ers

WR: Julio Jones-Atlanta Falcons, Adam Thielen-Minnesota Vikings, Michael Thomas-New Orleans Saints, Larry Fitzgerald-Arizona Cardinals

TE: Zach Ertz-Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Graham-Seattle Seahawks

OT: Tyron Smith-Dallas Cowboys, Trent Williams-Washington Redskins, Lane Johnson-Philadelphia Eagles

OG: Zack Martin-Dallas Cowboys, Brandon Brooks-Philadelphia Eagles, Brandon Scherff-Washington Redskins

C: Alex Mack-Atlanta Falcons, Travis Frederick-Dallas Cowboys

DE: Everson Griffen-Minnesota Vikings, DeMarcus Lawrence-Dallas Cowboys, Cameron Jordan-New Orleans Saints

DT: Fletcher Cox-Philadelphia Eagles, Aaron Donald-Los Angeles Rams, Gerald McCoy-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OLB: Chandler Jones-Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Kerrigan-Washington Redskins, Anthony Barr-Minnesota Vikings

ILB: Luke Kuechly-Carolina Panthers, Bobby Wagner-Seattle Seahawks

CB: Xavier Rhodes-Minnesota Vikings, Patrick Peterson-Arizona Cardinals, Marshon Lattimore-New Orleans Saints, Darius Slay-Detroit Lions

S: Earl Thomas-Seattle Seahawks, Landon Collins-New York Giants, Malcolm Jenkins-Philadelphia Eagles

K: Greg Zuerlein-Los Angeles Rams

P: Johnny Hekker-Los Angeles Rams

KR: Pharoh Cooper-Los Angeles Rams

ST: Budda Baker-Arizona Cardinals

Fun fact about this team. Amongst the offensive lineman, only Alex Mack doesn’t play in the NFC East. Random, but I thought it was kind of wild. Also, the Rams nearly swept the specialists category, with Budda Baker being the only specialist not wearing horns on his helmet. Like the AFC team, not too many complaints with this one as I feel like everybody on this team is deserving. But of course, some deserving players got snubbed. Here’s a few:

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QB: Jared Goff-Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford-Detroit Lions

RB: Jordan Howard-Chicago Bears, Devonta Freeman-Atlanta Falcons

WR: Marvin Jones-Detroit Lions, Marquise Goodwin-San Francisco 49ers

TE: Evan Engram-New York Giants

OT: Andrew Whitworth-Los Angeles Rams

C: Jason Kelce-Philadelphia Eagles

DE: Julius Peppers-Carolina Panthers, Mario Addison-Carolina Panthers, Brandon Graham-Philadelphia Eagles

DT: Akiem Hicks-Chicago Bears, David Irving-Dallas Cowboys, Anthony Zettel-Detroit Lions, Kawann Short-Carolina Panthers

OLB: Robert Quinn-Los Angeles Rams

ILB: Preston Smith-Washington Redskins

S: Harrison Smith-Minnesota Vikings

Worst omission for me here is Harrison Smith. He’s been arguably the best safety in the NFL this season and has been a key catalyst in this excellent Vikings defense. Another bad miss is Jordan Howard. I mean, what more does a guy have to do to make the team? The problem here, though, is that who would you bump out? Everyone in their position is deserving of the honor, which I mentioned above. I’m sure a lot of these errors will be corrected once players start bowing out, whether through injury, Super Bowl, or personal preference.

Those are my thoughts on the Pro Bowl roster. You can tell it’s been a slow day in sporting news. Are there any other players who didn’t make the Pro Bowl who you thought should have? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.