The kickoff of the NFL regular season was just about two months away. Typically conceived as the dry spot of the offseason, and for good reason with the NFL Draft already 2+ months in the books and free agency way behind us. With not much going on, we decided here at Breaking Football to put together a list of our Top 100 Players for the 2017 season. Yes, based on what they do at NFL Network. However, we wanted to get it right.
Instead of just one writer presenting their list, we instead combined the ballots of 7 different writers and in-turn compiled a consensus ranking of Breaking Football’s Top 100 Players for 2017. The writers who submitted ballots were: Chris Gragnani (@GragnaniReport), Dimitriy Leksanov (@dimitriy_l21), Matt Cardona (@matttcardona), Mike Fanelli (@MikeSports22), Richard Gerber (@RichardGerber3), Tony Jaramillo (@tonyjaramillo_7) and myself.
Every writer had a different method which went into their individual ballots. For the most part, we tried to weigh projection mostly, because well, this is a list for this season, right? However, overall talent and past production of course played a role.
What we will do is release our consensus ballot in segments of 10 players, just like they do it at NFL Network. Writers will be assigned to cover each player and provide a short paragraph of insight on each player’s success in 2017, and mention other variables such as: strengths, production, role and their personal ranking, among other factors. We hope you enjoy our list and find it to be a breath of fresh air.
Let us know who we had ranked too high/too low in the comments below! Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter.
41: Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Coming off a career year and his second straight Pro Bowl selection, the Raiders gave Derek Carr a five year, $125M contract with $40M guaranteed. The new contract makes Carr the highest paid annual QB in the league. Last season Carr turned the Raiders into Super Bowl after so many years of being a laughingstock. With a 12-3 record as the team’s starting QB last season, Carr had the Raiders contending for a first round playoff bye before suffering a broken fibula in week 15. Last season Carr posted career-bests with 3,937 passing yards, a 62.1 QBR and only six interceptions. In three seasons, Carr 12 fourth quarter comebacks, including seven last season. The Raiders were 7th in the league in scoring last season with 26 points per game. Hopefully the addition of Marshawn Lynch in the offseason will make the team more balanced this season. With Carr leading the duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the Raiders can score with anyone in the league.
42: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
The man known as “Shady” and “Cut on a Dime”, McCoy is still playing at a high level despite entering his ninth year in the league at 29 years old. Last season, McCoy was the focal point of the Bills’ top ranked rushing attack. The Bills led the league with 164 rushing yards per game, 84.5 of those yards came from McCoy which ranked 4th in the league. During his eight year career McCoy has battled injuries and missed some time but has still managed to play at least 12 games every season. The Bills will need another big year out of McCoy if they hope to end an NFL high, 17 year playoff drought. However, with 1,898 carries and 382 catches so far in his career, McCoy could be entering his last season as a dominant running back.
43: Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Health has always been the biggest concern for Jordan Reed. In four seasons Reed has never played more than 14 games in a season. Coming off a great 2015 season where he posted career-highs with 87 catches on 114 targets for 952 yards and 11 TDs, Reed’s production slipped in 2016. While battling injuries during the second half of the season, Reed managed to play only 12 games and finished with 66 catches on 89 targets for 686 yards and 6 TDs; but was still a Pro Bowl selection. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leaving in free agency, more of the Redskins’ passing game will rest on Reed’s shoulders. Even though Reed is currently on the PUP list with a toe injury to begin Training Camp, the team is hopeful he can play all 16 games this season and help lead the Redskins to the playoffs.
44: Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen continues to carve out a good career in the NFL after being criminally underutilized in Chicago earlier in his career. Pro Football Focus graded Olsen as the 2nd best TE in the NFL last year after catching 80 passes and 3 TDs this past season. His 1,073 receiving yards was the 2nd highest mark of his 10 year career, and also 2nd most among all TEs last year. The production led him to his 3rd Pro Bowl as well as 2nd Team All Pro honors by the Associated Press and PFF. His peers may have felt his play slipped a bit by voting him #67 on NFL Network’s annual top 100, but here at Breaking Football we feel he is not only one of the game’s best tight ends, but still one of its best overall players.
45: Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
Josh Norman is coming off a second solid season as a featured number one corner, posting a career high in tackles (52), which ranked him fourth overall on the Redskins’ defense and second among non-linebackers, only Breeland, (60) had more. Norman was also tied for the team lead in interceptions with three coming down from is 2015 total of four. Norman was seemingly around the ball on every play for Washington and was the glue that held that group together on numerous occasions, while his big plays weren’t as flashy as the year prior, a lot of them were covered up by how horrible the Redskins defense was. When in action, Norman was the best player on the defense hands down, holding Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant to zero catches on four targets in consecutive weeks, and made many touchdown saving plays for a historically bad defense. With an improved cast around him, I expect quarterbacks will not be able to consistently ignore him and find easy yards elsewhere this upcoming season which should allow him to return to his All-Pro form. At age 30, Norman is still in his prime and should continue to produce at a level that made him the highest paid corner at the time of his signing, and should have plenty of opportunities to set new career-highs. Norman will be a dangerous piece for an improved Redskins defense and in a division that has 3 top ten receivers, the spotlight will be on Norman and he will be fun to watch.
46: Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Travis Frederick enters his fifth season as the pivot for the heralded offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys. A former Wisconsin Badger, Frederick has been the guy since Day 1 as he has started all 64 games in his career, while garnering three Pro Bowl nods and a recent First Team All-Pro selection in 2016. Frederick’s success in the NFL may be a surprise to some as he was not a “gifted” athlete by any means. At the 2013 NFL Combine, Frederick recorded a 5.58 second 40-yard dash. That was good for second slowest among all offensive linemen. He followed this up with a very underwhelming 21 reps on the bench press. Against all the unfortunate workout results, Frederick was still a first round selection and finds himself as the centerpiece for arguably the best offensive line in the entire NFL. *Insert “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…” cliche here*.
47: Joey Bosa, DL, Los Angeles Chargers
With only one year under his belt, Joey Bosa chimes in at #47 on our top 100. This is extremely impressive considering his offseason was cut short due to extensive negotiations. Gus Bradley, the newly hired defensive coordinator is ecstatic to have the services of this high energy, young star. This season he will have increased opportunities to succeed by seeing more snaps at defensive end in even fronts. Sub packages will place him in the middle, very similar to how Michael Bennett is used in Seattle. It is a reasonable expectation to assume that Bosa will surpass his 10.5 sack total from his rookie campaign. With 60% of that sack total coming in the last six weeks of the season, it is an understatement to say that he became more comfortable as the season progressed. Corey Liuget and Melvin Ingram will greatly free up this talented pass rusher formerly from THE Ohio State University.
48: Janoris Jenkins, CB, New York Giants
Janoris Jenkins and the New York Giants made big headlines last offseason when they agreed on a 5 year, $62.5 million contract. The Giants may be laughing all the way to the bank after Jenkins evolved into a shutdown corner this past season. In 15 games he combined to collect 49 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 sack and 18 passes defended. In week 15 he covered Dallas’ Dez Bryant 25 times, and allowed just one catch for 10 yards against the Pro Bowl WR. Jenkins also made his presence known on special teams as he garnered Special Teams Player of the Week back in week 2. He allowed a passer rating of 54.8 which ranked 3rd in the league among all #1 corners. Jenkins also finished the season receiving AP and Pro Football Focus 2nd Team All Pro. Jenkins comes in at 48 on our top 100 and should continue to live up to his contract for the Giants.
49: Kelechi Osemele, G, Oakland Raiders
Kelechi Osemele signed a massive five-year, $60M contract with the Raiders this offseason and immediately the team reaped the benefits. Osemele started 15 games for the Raiders in 2016. Osemele earned his first career Pro Bowl nod and also added a First-Team All Pro to his resume. If that wasn’t enough, Osemele surrendered ZERO sacks and graded out as Pro Football Focus’s 5th ranked guard for the 2016 season. Osemele always had the potential to be great, he was just held back by nagging injuries. The 2016 season saw Osemele at full strength and he put on a show. He brings back memories of guys like Larry Allen or Gene Upshaw; just mauling defenders in the trenches with no mercy. Osemele can be argued the best guard in the league and is undoubtedly the most vital component of the Raiders’ dominant offensive line. In 2017, he will be tasked with helping Marshawn Lynch return to form after a year away from football. Smart money is, Beast Mode will have giant lanes to run through behind Mr. 70.
50: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Green Bay Packers
Aside from having arguably the best name of any player in the league, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has established himself as one of the game’s premier safeties and perhaps the only reliable piece in Green Bay’s secondary which had more holes than Wisconsin’s finest Swiss cheese. After an underwhelming rookie season, Clinton-Dix made strides during his sophomore campaign, but saw a huge breakout this past year in his third season. The former Alabama Crimson Tide standout, Clinton-Dix picked off five passes in 2016 while defending seven. Entering this upcoming season, Clinton-Dix is expected to further establish himself as a staple in Green Bay’s defense as they look to make another run at the Super Bowl. Look for his coverage instincts, range and ball skills to be on full display.