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 VikingsĀ 

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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.

My Second Concussion

This is the next installment of my personal sports stories. For the time I accidentally struck a kid out, click here. For the time I got my first concussion, click here. This week’s story is from my senior year of high school football and actually ended up signaling the end of my football career, mainly because of when the concussion occurred, not so much some life-altering decision I made. Because let’s face it, unless I lost a limb, an injury wouldn’t have kept me from playing football.

There’s a little bit of a prequel to this story, if you will. For my senior season, we were breaking in a new head coach. The last one had gotten a coaching job for a D3 college football team and the situation he’d be in was too good to pass up for his family. The new guy the high school replaced him with was installing a completely different offense and one that was about as throwback as humanly possible. We didn’t line up with any wide receivers. It was like a super wishbone, basically. Well that was a problem for me. I was full-time varsity football at this point, but i wasn’t fast at all, so that ruled out my playing running back for the team and I was kind of stuck at tight end, which we often ran two of at a time, sometimes three. I was 5’9 165 pounds, so I wasn’t exactly Rob Gronkowski on the line.

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However I did make one play against Worcester Academy that gave me hope that I could make it as an undersized tight end. Here is the play in question. I apologize for having to embed it as such, but Hudl doesn’t really offer the same video embedding abilities that Youtube does. But if you do click the link, you will see the smallest guy on the offensive line, one who has no business being on that line, dive at a future D1 player’s knees and taking him out to set up a 9-yard run. I kept doing that for the rest of the game, because let’s face it, there was no way in Hell I was going to block this guy one-on-one. He had at least 100 pounds on me and could probably bench press two of me. He wizened up to the fact that I was going to be diving at his legs every time and started burying my face in the dirt every play after that. But the fact that it worked once meant that it could work again, so any time I was in at tight end, I would dive at the defensive end’s knees.

Which brings me to my second concussion, for which this blog is about (takes me about 400 words to get to it, but whatever, I tell stories my way). We were playing Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of John F. Kennedy, with two games remaining in the regular season. We got blown out 59-0 as Choate’s head coach ran up the score on us at the end. But like my game at Taft a couple of years prior, I got knocked around quite a bit. This isn’t the play in question, but it damn well could have been. Watch number 75 in white in this video. I’m the kid he de-cleats at the end of the first play. The second play is me making an open-field tackle on the tight end, how did that get in there? I don’t have the play in question where my concussion occurred, but it basically looked exactly like the first video, where I dove at the kid’s knees. I was on the line playing tight end and we lined up in basically an identical formation and the defense had pretty much an identical front. Now if you watch that video and replace Worcester Academy with Choate, then you will notice I dive at #55’s legs and take him out. Well there was a slightly different line call for Choate. Instead of going straight up on me, they stunt inside, so it ended up being the outside linebacker, or #42’s role in the Worcester highlight, that came in on me. Well since I was diving at that angle, the outside backer’s knee ear-holed me and my head went ringing. Since it was such a clutter where I was, nobody saw that I got hit in the head by a kid’s knee and I didn’t lie on the ground, so nobody checked on me. I got up immediately but was subbed out for another tight end anyway. I played through the rest of the game and actually got a carry on a jet sweep late in the game, but a lineman came in unblocked and wrecked me for a two-yard loss. I got knocked around quite a bit in my football career.

I actually had no idea I had a concussion until the next day, which if you will remember from my last concussion story, was on a Sunday. I was getting my ass kicked in pre-calc and I was trying my damndest to do homework. This may have been because I was bad at pre-calc, but I could not process what I was reading. This was stuff we had been going over for a couple months now but it’s almost like the information I was reading never entered my brain. The next day, after talking with some friends at lunch about my concerns I may be concussed, one buddy noted that I had just forgotten something he literally had just said not even ten seconds prior. I checked myself in after that. Unfortunately, since I had checked myself in on Monday rather than Sunday, that would put me a day behind my concussion protocol routine, and therefore I would end up missing two games instead of the typical one by a single day. And as I mentioned before, we only had two games remaining in the regular season. So that concussion and my lack of realizing I had it ended up costing me my football career.

On a lighter note, I was kind of a rebel in the infirmary while I was being treated for the concussion. The rule for concussion recovery is you are supposed to lie in the hospital room all day, no sleeping, in pitch darkness and silence. Well, as you can probably guess, that was boring and I can only entertain myself with my thoughts for so long. I had snuck my phone in with me and streamed episodes of Arrested Development, keeping the volume low so as not to get caught by the nurses. I wasn’t very slick about it and I got caught watching the show on my phone and the nurses reprimanded me for it, but they didn’t take my phone. So naturally, I kept watching, but was a lot more careful this time not to get caught. Perhaps I have brain damage as a result, I don’t know, I can’t remember that far back.

And so ends another tale from my athletic career. I’m going to try and keep these up as much as I can on a weekly basis, but again, concussions add up and I haven’t played organized sports in three or four years. Let me know what you thought of the story in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

 

The Martellus Bennett situation is a little…odd

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Martellus Bennet’s falling out in Green Bay has a lot of people scratching their heads (photo credit: Madison.com)

It was reported earlier last week that the Green Bay Packers had waived prize free agent tight end Martellus Bennett, which seemed to come out of nowhere at the time. Bennett had signed a 3-year $21 million deal with the Packers shortly after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, where he was an integral part of their success, especially after the team lost Rob Gronkowski for the season midway through the year. He hadn’t been having the same success this season as in years past, as prior to being waived by Green Bay he only had 21 catches for 195 yards in 7 games played, failing to score a single touchdown. Bennett also announced over an Instagram story that he was probably going to retire at the conclusion of this season. When Bennett was waived, the Packers cited “failure to disclose” as their reasoning because it turns out that Bennett’s rotator cuff required surgery. Shortly after, Bennett explained on another Instagram story that he had been having issues with his shoulder for a while, which came to a head in the Packers’ October 8th win over the Dallas Cowboys (which was actually his highest yardage output all season at 53 yards). Bennett claimed that Packers team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie was pressuring him to play through the shoulder injury, something Bennett was wary of doing. He then said the Packers tried to “fuck (him) over” and tried to get out of his contract by waiving him because of the injury. He was then claimed by the Patriots and played in Sunday night’s game against the Denver Broncos, not even a week after his release. So what gives?

Bennett has never struck me as the type of guy who would fake an injury to get off a team. Quite the opposite. He’s a very moral dude who writes children’s books and is a big advocate for players using their platforms as professional athletes to do some good in the world. He’s been one of Colin Kaepernick’s most outspoken supporters and, from what I hear from teammates, is a pretty stand-up guy. But you have to admit, this does sound strange. As a Patriots fan, I am very excited to have Martysaurus Rex (that’s his Twitter handle, not a nickname I’m trying to invent) back on the team. He’s a world class tight end who was an integral part of the team’s championship run last season. Ignore his stats on the Packers, tight ends have never done great under Mike McCarthy, just look at the uber-talented JerMichael Finley, who was about as gifted a tight end as I have ever seen (short of Gronk) but never seemed to put it all together. Or Bubba Franks, who was a pro bowler before McCarthy and Rodgers got there and fizzled hard after their arrival. He can still contribute, and he had 3 catches for 38 yards in the Patriots 41-16 win over the Broncos.

But I still find it odd that this guy is playing for the Patriots right now after it was speculated that his season (and possibly career) was likely done. Hell, Dr. McKenzie, whom Bennett said was pressuring him to play through the injury, has a reputation for being overly cautious about letting players return from injury, often to the point of resentment from the players. Everyone in the Packers’ organization came to the defense of Dr. McKenzie after Bennett’s Instagram story, such as Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Rodgers has had several injuries in his career and is currently nursing a broken collarbone and Jordy Nelson missed an entire season to a torn ACL a couple of years ago and both of these guys deny that Dr. McKenzie ever tried rushing them back. A lot of conspiracy theorists believe that Bennett and Patriots coach Bill Belichick colluded to get him back to Foxboro and if you didn’t know Bennett’s character, this would seem very possible, if not entirely probable. I’m not going to sit here and say I know Marty, all I really know about his character is through following him on social media and from what I hear from people who do know him. But if this is the case, some repercussions will be coming New England’s way.

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Bennett was back contributing for the Patriots mere days after it was thought his career might be over (photo credit: USA Today)

The penalty for tampering, which is what this situation is, typically comes at the price of a mid-round draft pick and/or a fine. When the Jets were found guilty of tampering to sign Darrelle Revis away from the Patriots after the 2014 season, their punishment was a $100,000 fine. When the Chiefs were found guilty of tampering to sign Jeremy Maclin away from the Eagles in the 2016 offseason, their punishment was the loss of a third round pick in 2016 and a sixth rounder in 2017. Fines were also handed out to the Chiefs ($250,000), head coach Andy Reid ($75,000) and GM John Dorsey ($25,000). Not very consistent in their punishments, but that’s Roger Goodell’s NFL for you. The league has said they are not investigating the Bennett situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other owners try and force their hand. So if they do change their minds and find the Patriots guilty of tampering with Bennett, then I have to imagine the penalty will be on the severe side like it was with Kansas City, given the Patriots’ history of issues with the league (whether they were warranted or not).

So what do I think happened? I would find it surprising if Bennett actively forced his way out of Green Bay because that’s just not the type of person he is. However I do admit that there may be some elements of this story that haven’t been made public because this whole thing sounds rather suspect. It would be a real slimy move on Bennett’s part if he did fake an injury in order to get himself out of Green Bay to play for a Super Bowl contender in the Patriots, which the Packers no longer are after losing Rodgers for the season. Quite frankly, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this saga.