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ESPN 100: Four Patriots Make the List; Brady, Gronkowski Top 5

The Patriots are the only team with two players inside the ESPN Top 100 NFL players, but a few others couldn't make the cut.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Network runs an annual "Top 100" list that is voted on by the players in the league. It doesn't mean much since it's heavily slanted towards offensive players, but it shows the amount of respect each player receivers. In this year's edition, three Patriots made the list: 91st Julian Edelman; 10th Rob Gronkowski; 3rd Tom Brady.

That was it. A handful of other players received the stiff arm and didn't make the cut.

Well, ESPN went and created their own "Top 100" with the help of 70 different NFL writers, reporters, and front office persons. Their results were fairly different. While ESPN and the NFL Network shared the same top three of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and then Tom Brady, the rest was fairly different.

New England had four players in the top 100, including two in the top five.

3. Tom Brady, QB2 (Aaron Rodgers 2nd)

Quote: "There's no reason to call No. 3 a career achievement award. This is more of an endless prime."

5. Rob Gronkowski, TE1 (Gronk Smash.)

Quote: "If healthy, 'he's going to move into the 'best ever' discussion at his position,' said one voter."

56. Devin McCourty, S4 (Earl Thomas 15th; Kam Chancellor 36th; Eric Weddle 52nd)

Quote: "A couple of voters pointed out how comical it is that McCourty has just one Pro Bowl on his résumé."

97. Jamie Collins, LB7 (Luke Kuechly 13th; Bobby Wagner 32nd; Lavonte David 43rd; C.J. Mosley 68th; NaVorro Bowman 81st; DeAndre Levy 89th)

Quote: "Collins was the only NFL player with 100 tackles, four forced fumbles and multiple sacks (four) last season."

Clearly there are a few players that could have made the cut. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower should have taken the fourth linebacker ranking, between David and Mosley, while offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer is going to finish his career as one of the most under-appreciated tackles of the past decade.

And then Edelman could possibly make the list (DeSean Jackson was 63rd), but the grading scale is skewed towards the elite wide receivers, so unless you're in that Dez Bryant/Julio Jones/Calvin Johnson tier, you're not going to make the cut. That's just the result of the system.

What are your thoughts? How did the Patriots make out on the list? Anyone egregiously ignored? Anyone over-hyped?