It’s media player-ranking season around the NFL and not everyone’s happy. Nothing gets players, pundits and fans more riled up than listing someone ahead of someone else for their on-field work, because they’re wrong and we’re right.
Sporting News has gotten in on the position-by-position fun, already releasing our quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end rankings going into the 2020 season. So with the NFL’s annual Top 100 Players being rolled out again this week, it’s only natural for us to compare, contrast and question.
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Given the league’s list based on players voting for their peers, there always are glaring differences from armchair analysts and scouting services. With No. 100 through No. 71 revealed and No. 70 through No. 1 yet to come, here are the biggest early reactions to the rankings, starting with one pissed-off wide receiver:
Keenan Allen isn’t so keen on No. 77
Wide receivers are an outspoken sort and every good one thinks he’s indeed the best one. They are very hard to rank vs. each other, let alone vs. a pool of players across other positions.
The Chargers’ Keenan Allen was not happy to be the fourth of many receivers to be revealed, ahead of only the Bears’ Allen Robinson (No. 93), the Rams’ Cooper Kupp (No. 89) and the Seahawks’ DK Metcalf (No. 81). Although Allen isn’t the biggest field-stretcher or scorer, he expected his three-year average of 101 catches, 1,263 yards and 6 TDs to put him with wideouts perceived to be better.
It was interesting that Allen singled out the Buccaneers’ duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (not Goodwin) and Chiefs’ speedster Tyreek Hill among the receivers he feels to be inferior.
Evans gets more attention for his big plays and averaging more than 17 yards per catch the past two seasons. Hill represents the premier home run-hitting receiver in Allen’s own division, the AFC West, in which Allen recently declared he was the best.
Godwin, however, is a comparable technician to Allen with his routes and hands. He missed two games last season in his breakout, but still posted 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine TDs. Allen is right that he needs more credit, despite the lack of long-ball success and scoring. But big plays and TDs are a big part of the game. That’s why he’s a solid No. 15 among wideouts in Sporting News’ list, with Godwin No. 3, Hill No. 6 and Evans No. 7. Allen can counter to say he’s more like SN’s — and likely the NFL’s — No. 1, the Saints’ Michael Thomas, than all of them.
Allen does have plenty of substance, but there’s a lot more than style that goes with the games of Evans, Godwin and Hill to make them worthy of being ranked above him.
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Allen Robinson really was the dissed Allen wide receiver
Keenan Allen was ranked 16 spots ahead of Allen Robinson. In SN’s wide receiver list, Robinson was No. 12, three spots ahead of Allen.
Robinson is coming off a remarkable season with the Bears, where he got little complementary help outside of Anthony Miller and produced despite major regression from Mitchell Trubisky. Robinson was better all-round as an outside receiver facing top coverage every week vs. Kupp, who dominated in the slot for the Rams, and Metcalf, who thrived as the No. 2 opposite Tyler Lockett for Russell Wilson.
Back in 2015, Robinson looked ready to become the NFL’s best wideout, posting an 80-catch, 1,400-yard, 14-TD season for the Jaguars. He did that despite catching passes from Blake Bortles, making the QB look a lot better than he really was.
Between a torn ACL and free agency, it’s been a long road back for Robinson to get to that level. His age 26 season in 2019 was right there: 98 catches, 1,147 yards and seven TDs. Robinson’s numbers were very comparable to Allen’s, so if any Allen has a beef, Robinson has a bigger one.
All in all, with Robinson and Allen ranked so “low,” it once again shows that the NFL has never been deeper and more talented at wide receiver, the game’s glossiest and most debated position.
Josh Allen, really, at No. 87, over Carson Wentz?
The more concerning Allen of them all on the “NFL Top 100” is the Bills’ third-year quarterback. Had it been the Jaguars’ edge pass rusher of the same name, one would have been OK with that.
But we’re not sure how Josh Allen the quarterback is ranked above Carson Wentz. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, five Eagles made the list (Zach Ertz, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay), but all five have already been revealed and none of them is Wentz.
When Allen was at Wyoming, the big-armed athletic passer drew comparisons to Wentz. But Wentz, an MVP candidate during the Eagles’ Super Bowl 52 run, played a full season at a much higher overall level in 2019. Allen is getting too much attention for his prolific running (510 yards, nine TDs) than criticism for his erratic, inaccurate passing.
The Cardinals’ Kyler Murray was the first QB revealed on the list at No. 90, three spots lower. That was a bit of a stretch, too. Murray was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. With similar passing and rushing numbers from 2019 and with some upside to improve with respective new wide receivers Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins, it makes sense that Allen and Murray are close together in rankings.
In Sporting News’ forward-looking QB rankings for 2020, Allen (No. 18) was just ahead of Murray (No. 19). But there’s no way, with only 70 spots left, that all 17 QBs better than both at the moment, make the list, too. That includes Wentz, whom SN ranked No. 9 at quarterback.
One would hope that Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott are all locks to make it from quarterback on the NFL Top 100. Tom Brady also probably gets there because of his GOATness, despite a shaky final Patriots season. But Allen isn’t yet deserving to crack the list, even well behind all of them.
Allen Robinson certainly shouldn’t be behind Josh Allen, and Keenan Allen should be a lot more upset that he’s only 10 spots ahead, too.