The final 10 members of NFL Network’s “Top 100” were revealed on Wednesday night, giving some insight into how various players and several prominent Bears are viewed by their peers.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged as the 2012 No. 1, followed by Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, New England quarterback Tom Brady and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Rankings of this sort inevitably carry an element of voter bias. Like Pro Bowl voting, every one contains a degree of popularity contest, regardless of constituency.
In this case the voters are current NFL players, meaning that within limits, the Top 100 give at least a hint of how they view each other. Some observations: Jay Cutler is still not a top-10 quarterback, per his peers.
Cutler is not in a Top 100 that includes 13 other quarterbacks, one of whom is Tim Tebow, who is not even the starting quarterback on his own team.
Cutler is in good company. Houston’s Matt Schaub, the sixth-ranked passer in 2012, is not on the list. Nor is Matt Ryan, the eighth. The Bears have enough talent to reach and win a Super Bowl.
Elite talent wins championships. Five Bears placed among the Top 100: Julius Peppers (26), Matt Forte (33), Devin Hester (48), Brian Urlacher (51) and Lance Briggs (72). And that includes neither Cutler, Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman or Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, voted No. 61 last year but now gone from the list altogether after an 81-catch season.
Only San Francisco (7), Philadelphia (7) and Green Bay (6) have more than the Bears, with the Giants and Saints also putting five on the list. The Giants, Packers and Saints won Super Bowls.
So did New England (5) and Pittsburgh (6). Talent-wise, the Bears are in the discussion. The Lions, on the other hand, have three, the Vikings two. Matt Forte rates himself an elite back but his peers aren’t convinced.
Players voted six running backs above Forte – Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Arian Foster and Frank Gore. Forte recently mentioned McCoy and Foster as salary peers.
That has not been an easy sell to the Bears to this point and while the Top 100 won’t be a negotiating chit, it does not add to Forte’s case.