The NFL annually has a list of their top 100 players, based on player votes. Pro Football Focus makes a top 101 players list, based on their grades of how a player performed in the preceding season. On Tuesday, ESPN joined in on the player rankings fun by posting their own top 100 players list, asking more than 70 different NFL analysts, reports, statisticians, and former players and front-office personnel to rank players on a scale of 1-100. Those votes were then everaged to produce the ESPN Top 100 Players.
The top of the list should not be overly surprising, with the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt claiming the spot with an average score of 98.87. Just behind him is the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who scored a 98.34.
It does not take long to find the first Miami Dolphins player on the list, with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's 94.56 earning him the fourth position on the list (behind the New England Patriots' Tom Brady). Suh's ranking is explained by ESPN's staff, writing, "Thirteen voters gave Suh a perfect 100-point mark. Only Rodgers and Watt received more. Suh's impact isn't just measured in sacks and tackles for loss; it's measured in health -- he has never missed a game due to injury and has played over 900 snaps in every season except 2011 (two-game suspension) -- and in how everybody around him looks better because of the blockers he occupies. "He's a monster of a man, and he can move large men wherever he wants," said an NFC evaluator. Suh can also move about $1.2 million per game into his bank account on his new deal. Add it up: Suh leads all defensive tackles with 36 sacks since 2010 (his rookie season)."
Since arriving in Miami, with the largest contract ever given to a defensive player, Suh has been exactly what the Dolphins thought they were getting. He has been a mentor to younger defensive tackles, he has worked with the offensive linemen to develop them, and he has been a menace during preseason games. Suh's presence has already been felt by the other defensive linemen, with Cameron Wake, Earl Mitchell, and Olivier Vernon all getting into the backfield easier as offensive lines double team Suh.
That is, of course, dangerous for offenses because, Suh is not the only All-Pro, Pro-Bowl lineman they are facing. Wake has dominated without Suh next to him, and will likely only get better this year. In ESPN's rankings, Wake landed in the 51st position with an 84.54 score. ESPN writes, "Crazy thought: Wake was picked up by the Giants in 2005, but they released him during camp. Think about that 2007 Giants team with Wake as an added pass-rusher: Umenyiora, Tuck, Strahan ... Wake? 'He still has explosive get-off and cornering quickness,' said one voter. He's also one of the NFL's truly consistent pass-rushers, and this after knocking out 39 sacks in two years in Canada before he got the call to Miami.Add it up: Wake is one of two players to have at least 8.5 sacks in each of the last five seasons (Charles Johnson is the other)."
Suh and Wake, lined up next to each other on the Miami defensive line, should be able to decimate opposing offensive lines, almost at will. Add in Mitchell and Vernon, and Miami's defensive line should be a scary proposition for any opponent. With what should happen this year, Suh and Wake should both see those ESPN rankings get better next year.