When the NFL Top 100 originally premiered six years ago, a lot of people were pretty intrigued by the whole concept. This was supposed to be a ranking of NFL players voted on by the players... what better way to gauge who’s better?
The truth is the list’s existence was a result of the NFL lockout and NFL Network getting creative for content in the meantime. Over the last half decade its quality has devolved and it has become less valuable than high school superlatives.
Typically the list is a hybrid of a popularity contest and the biggest case of prisoner-of-the-moment syndrome you’ve ever seen. Is the list actually voted on by NFL players? No doubt. But the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or J.J. Watt aren’t the voters... it’s the lesser-known quantities.
In terms of Dallas Cowboys on the 2017 iteration of the list... we’ve seen a few:
- #87 Travis Frederick, unranked in 2016.
- #79 Sean Lee, unranked in 2016.
- #60 Dez Bryant, #51 in 2016.
- #58 Zack Martin, unranked in 2016.
- #18 Tyron Smith, #42 in 2016.
- #14 Dak Prescott, unranked in 2016 (obviously).
Monday marked the revealing of the players from 11-20 on the list, announcing Dak Prescott and Tyron Smith’s positions to the world. Of course, this sparked a ton of debate as people think either was ranked too high or too low. Shocker here, but if you make a list not everyone is going to agree with it.
Throughout his clip Tyron Smith was heralded by many of his peers as the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy joked that Tyron Smith isn’t human, calling him a meta-human or demigod (references to The Flash and Stranger Things for those unaware). This is a sentiment that most of us agree with and that the rest of the voters obviously do as well, as Tyron is officially the list’s highest-rated offensive lineman.
Understandably, Dak Prescott’s placement on this list is interesting. As Cowboys fans we’ll of course celebrate the notoriety given to him by his peers, but is Dak really the 14th best player in the NFL?
Russell Wilson (24th), Ben Roethlisberger (22nd), and someone Prescott looks up to a lot in Drew Brees (16th) are some of the more notable quarterbacks to be listed behind Prescott. Wilson might inspire a whole new debate, but it’s fair to say that both Big Ben and Brees are certainly better quarterbacks than Dak Prescott at this moment.
The players who vote on this are big-time victims of recency bias, and that’s what makes the list the joke that it’s become. What is particularly interesting though is the way that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are viewed not just by their peers, but by their division rivals in the Philadelphia Eagles. I present a tweet from December 8th, 2016:
Ezekiel Elliott has yet to be revealed on this year’s list, but he is without question part of next week’s final 10. This places him among what is likely Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, Von Miller, Julio Jones, Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham Jr., Matt Ryan, and Le’Veon Bell.