The NFL Network kicked off their Top 100 Players of 2016 series last night and announced players ranking #100 through #91 in the countdown. There were no members of the New England Patriots listed, and I'm fine with that for now.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr kicks off the list at #100, which is great for the young up-and-comer, while Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce ends the night at #91. The rest of this tier of player includes some divisional foes.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ranks #92 as he's coming back from an injury plagued 2015 season- players are less fearful of Luck, who had ranked #7 in last year's player vote.
While I'm a little hesitant over the fact no Patriots players were mentioned, I'm going to wait for the next release before panicking.
I think the following players on the Patriots should make the list:
Quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Julian Edelman, edge defender Jabaal Sheard, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Malcolm Butler, safety Devin McCourty, and safety Patrick Chung.
I don't think Sheard, Chung, or McCourty will make the list due to lack of name recognition, and I think Edelman might be off the list because he was hurt last year. But these are the players that I would expect to come in around #81-#100 on the list.
I would also hope that running back Dion Lewis received some votes, but I think his injury will hold him off the list.
NFL Network analysts are revealing their own Top 100 lists alongside the official list, and a few Patriots are included.
Gregg Rosenthal includes Butler in his list at #99, as does former running back Maurice Jones-Drew, with both citing Butler's Pro Bowl season as a nice encore to his Super Bowl heroics. Chris Wesseling has Hightower at #91, and I have the sinking feeling that Hightower is still incredibly underrated in NFL circles.
Schedule on NFL Network (Player Reactions Held 1 Hour Later)
Episode #1 (100-91) Wednesday, May 4 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #2 (90-81) Wednesday, May 11 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #3 (80-71) Wednesday, May 18 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #4 (70-61) Wednesday, May 25 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #5 (60-51) Wednesday, June 1 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #6 (50-41) Wednesday, June 8 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #7 (40-31) Wednesday, June 15 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #8 (30-21) Wednesday, June 22 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #9 (20-11) Wednesday, June 29 at 8:00 PM ET
Finale Preview Tuesday, July 5 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode #10 (10-1) Wednesday, July 6 at 8:00 PM ET & 9:00 PM ET