At least the Cleveland Browns have Joe Thomas, and therefore aren’t one of the sad-sack teams that can’t even claim one player on NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” list.
The annual top 100 list is flawed in many ways, but it’s still a decent barometer of which teams have the most blue-chip players. And while we may quibble with the order (seriously, Dak Prescott at 14?), it shouldn’t be that hard to get one player on the top 100.
Three teams suffered the ignominy of having zero players on the NFL Network’s “Top 100 players.” There are no surprises on this list: Chicago Bears, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. Those are three of the four worst teams in the NFL (Thomas doesn’t save you from that list, Cleveland) and when you look at their rosters, you can see why.
The Jets made sure they didn’t have anyone sniff the top 100 by summarily dumping any veteran with a pulse this offseason (read all about it in our 2017 Jets preview, in which they were ranked 32nd). The 49ers were good just a few years ago, and their rapid decline has been shocking. In fairness, a healthy NaVorro Bowman probably would have made the list. Meanwhile, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers must wonder what has happened to the proud tradition of the Bears. Chicago has the most Pro Football Hall of Famers of any NFL team, and yet they don’t have someone among the NFL’s 100 best right now. Running back Jordan Howard probably deserved to be on the list, though.
Five teams had only one player on the list (Nos. 11-100 have been revealed in order, and the NFL announced who the top 10 will be without their order). The Baltimore Ravens, Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams each had just one entry. And the Jaguars cheated a bit, since their only one on the list was offseason free-agent signee Calais Campbell, who played last season with the Arizona Cardinals.
Take a quick guess which team had the most players on the list. No, actually, it wasn’t the champion New England Patriots. The Seattle Seahawks led everyone with eight top-100 players. Here are the teams that had five or more:
1. Seahawks, 8
2. Dallas Cowboys, 7
3. Kansas City Chiefs, 6
4. Tennessee Titans, 6
5. Patriots, 6
6. Green Bay Packers, 5
Pretty interesting to see the Titans, a popular pick to break out in 2017, on that list.
You could argue there’s a chicken-and-egg thing going on with this list, and that players on winning, visible teams were more likely to get votes. It’s probably fair to wonder if someone like Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (No. 41) and Howard would have switched spots if the Bears were in the Super Bowl and the Falcons were 3-13.
However, it’s probably a good reminder that for all the time we spend analyzing the NFL, it simply comes down to having the best players. Chicago, San Francisco and the Jets are well aware of that.
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