For three consecutive years, the NFL Network has released a list of the top 100 players in the entire league. Ranking the league’s top players is always a fun activity this time of year. It inspires debate and it’s always interesting to see how some of the league’s best stack up amongst their peers.
But the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013 may have just lost all credibility.
To be fair to the NFL Network, the list is comprised of player surveys, not the opinion of the network’s analysts. So NFL players are on the hook for the embarrassingly low ranking of one of the league’s top defenders.
It was revealed last night that Dolphins’ defensive end Cameron Wake finished 89th in votes by his peers. 89th! The same Cameron Wake who finished 4th in the league in sacks last year with 15.0. The same Cameron Wake who was named to the NFL’s All-Pro team. And the same Cameron Wake who has consistently graded out in the top 10 against the run at his position according to Pro Football Focus.
If that weren’t puzzling enough, taking a glance at the players who rank ahead of Wake is head scratching to put it mildly. Jacoby Jones? Benard Pollard? Free-agent Charles Woodson?
Jacoby Jones started three games last season for the Ravens and managed just 406 receiving yards and one touchdown. Jones ranked 88th- one spot ahead of Wake.
Benard Pollard is a solid safety, but doesn’t even flirt with the impact one of the league’s top pass rushers has on the game. Pollard finished 87th.
Charles Woodson, who was slotted 85th, has been one of the top defensive backs in the league for over a decade. But this is the Top 100 players of 2013. And Woodson is 36 years old and unemployed. You think Cameron Wake would still be a free agent if he was let go by the Dolphins this offseason? Not a chance.
But these rankings are not the end-all, be-all, obviously. The league’s opinion of Wake ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Let Wake continue to fly under the radar as one of the league’s top pass rushers and in my humble opinion a top ten defensive player in the entire league. No harm done.
I’m just excited to see what Wake is capable of if he gets some much needed assistance rushing the passer from first-round pick Dion Jordan. A scary thought for opposing quarterbacks.
And ultimately if the Dolphins win in 2013, lack of respect like this won’t continue. It’s not Wake’s fault the Dolphins have been mediocre, but he’ll get much more respect league-wide if he’s on a winning team this season.
Oh, and in case anyone needed a reminder of how good this guy is: