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Espn recently took on the hard task of naming their top ten defensive players in the NFL. Now I’m sure they came up with this list after months of research, watching film and talking to other players in the league; I’m sure that’s what they did.
I think any list of the best players in any sport needs to be done with the votes of other players in order to be a credible list. With that being said, I’m not going to sit here and bash the list makers, the reporters or the sports writers who came up with the list; which unlike any black list, you as a player would love to be on.
I respect the voters and I would have loved to know the criteria used to determine who belongs and who doesn’t… but any list would be subject to ridicule and debate no matter what, so we must dig in ourselves and evaluate these players on the list.
The list is for the best overall defensive players in the NFL; not just focusing on any particular position…at the same time though, if you value linebackers, then they would automatically receive more votes in terms of impact over corners for example.
I have some problems with the list that I will talk about in depth later on.
However, I want to start by saying that I have no problem with the guy who holds the number one spot on that list, as I’m sure many fans in the league wouldn’t object either.
Troy Polamalu is arguably the best player in the NFL and the reigning defensive player of the year so it only makes sense that he tops the list. Troy is a versatile, relentless playmaker who flies all over the field risking life and limbs for Pittsburgh and their fans, so he is there until he is dethroned next season.
The list continues with Demarcus Ware whose stats and toughness speak for themselves. Followed by Darelle Revis who occupies Revis Island, which has been home to many unsuspecting visitors. To me it’s somewhat hard to determine who among the two best corners belong higher on this list, Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha… yes, it took a while to spell that name correctly; but 7 is a good spot considering the injury issues he faced.
Patrick Willis and the man with the golden long hair Clay Mathews round out the top 5. Great top 5 for some but I think Clay Matthews being this high speaks to a larger problem with the way the league is. In a 3-4 scheme, Matthews rushes the passer almost relentlessly but not while being blocked by elite linemen; he faces tight ends and backs out the backfield and his effectiveness is more so a product of scheme and a lot of athleticism. I believe a player like Mario Williams belongs higher on the list than Clay Matthews because he is a true D End with consistent numbers in this league; still at a very young age by the way.
Although I’m not a big James Harrison fan, his trophy several years ago can’t be overlooked…so as much as I despise in between players like Harrison and Mathews, his numbers and impact is undeniable.
Julius Peppers is a freak athletically and I’m not sure where he belongs on this list. Aside from replacing him with a player like Charles Woodson, maybe we should leave him where he is for right now. The rest of the list being Ed Reed and teammate Haloti Ngata; two great players one being a future hall of fame inductee, so no problems on that end.
I do feel however that although Ray Lewis is nearing the end of his career and using his spare time to give us his opinions on crime and crime prevention, he as much as anybody belongs on the list of best defensive players; after all, Ray Lewis is the epitome of great.