NFL Network’s top 100 list has now been running for a few years, and it consistently draws grumbles around the country from more knowledgeable fans. While the rankings are voted by the players, the process of gathering the votes seems mediocre at best; each player is asked to list their top 15 players in the league. There is no weighing of votes by position, as each player’s vote seems to carry equal value. (For example, it would make more sense if the ranking of receivers was weighted more heavily by the cornerbacks who cover them.) Defensive linemen and offensive linemen would likely have the best idea of who the toughest players were at their opposing positions. And the coaches, who may have the most important opinions of all, are not involved at all!
The NFL at time can be a very complex game that has many moving parts that seem to be constantly changing. We used to have John Madden giving us a very profound “BOOM” when evaluating offensive linemen and Jaws would take over a Monday Night Football broadcast by breaking down the intricacies of quarterback play. We got a taste of the zone read last year and it lead to a lot of conversation on how to stop it. The NFL is always changing and evolving.
Pete Carroll’s defensive philosophy does not have this same evolving belief. The Seahawks playoff run last year opened many eyes to cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman has found a home with fellow CB Brandon Browner and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. They play in what I’m referring to(with props to our EIC Nath) as the ‘Cover 3Hawk.’
Quick overview: Some years ago as part of his regular column, Sports Guy Bill Simmons wrote an NBA trade value column, where he tried to assess the top 50 assets in the league as measured by expected performance going forward (which includes age and projected improvement, peak, and decline where appropriate) and value of current contract (contracts are guaranteed in the NBA, which makes this more important than the NFL). He liked it so much (and he should, it’s a good idea) that he started doing it yearly, and on his ESPN offshoot Grantland, for the last two years, Bill Barnwell has written a similar column for the NFL. The NFL one is a little stickier for a couple of reasons: contracts aren’t necessarily guaranteed, which takes away a big punishment for poor signings: a bad player on a long, expensive contract is a major negative in the NBA, but in the NFL, he can simply be cut. A good player on a cheap contract, meanwhile, will continue to be underpaid until he is nearing the end of his contract and able to renegotiate or negotiate an extension.
Anyway, while I don’t intend to write a full column of “Best NFL Assets” (I think a more accurate term for the NFL than “Trade Value”), I did want to point out a few points in the list where I disagreed, and why I think differently about those players. My first point regards Adrian Peterson, a phenomenal talent whose value to winning games is often overrated.