The full list of the top 100 players of the 2016 season – as selected by the players – was released Monday night on the NFL Network, and the NFL community is still buzzing. While much of the discussion has centered on the placement of the league MVP (Matt Ryan ranked No. 10) and the No. 1 player on the list (Tom Brady), there’s also room for debate on the players who were excluded from the list altogether.
Here are 10 players who arguably should have been included among last season’s top 100 performers.
Jordan Howard, Bears
The Chicago Bears running back must be used to being overshadowed by fellow rookie rusher Ezekiel Elliott by now, but it’s ludicrous that he was left off the top 100 list altogether. The fifth-round draft pick stunned the league and finished second in rushing with 1,313 yards on the ground, adding six touchdowns. All the other backs in the top nine in rushing made the list.
Howard had more rushing yards in one season than even Bears legend Gale Sayers. That stat alone, and the fact he was a Pro Bowler, should have earned him enough votes from his peers.
Darius Slay, Lions
Slay has emerged as a top cornerback in the league, one deserving of recognition as a top-100 player. His stats aren’t flashy – he had one sack and two picks in 2016 – and that likely led to his Pro Bowl snub, but players should have selected him for a list where slots aren’t limited by position.
K.J. Wright, Seahawks
Not every deserving Seahawk was going to make the cut. Seattle led all squads with eight entries, and though a ninth likely would have been too much, Wright was as deserving as any of his teammates after his 2016 season.
The linebacker was second on the team in tackling and 13th in the league with 126 takedowns. Though he was named a replacement for the Pro Bowl, he was also selected as a starter.
A.J. Bouye, Jaguars
After a breakout season with the Houston Texans, Bouye was perhaps the most coveted free agent this offseason, netting a five-year, $67.5-million deal from the Jaguars.
Bouye had 16 pass breakups and was ranked the third-best cornerback in the league by Pro Football Focus. He’s among the top 100 list’s biggest snubs.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
Like Wright, Graham’s top-100 hopes fell victim to a star-studded Seahawk team. The tight end was no slouch in 2016, however.
He ranked third among tight ends in receiving yards and fell just short of the 1,000-yard mark. He did so while catching just 65 passes; the two players at his position with more yards hauled in 85 and 80 grabs to get there. Graham also averaged 14.2 yards per catch and caught six touchdowns as he returned to his previous dominant form.
Michael Thomas, Saints
Another rookie that balled out last season, Thomas caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns as the wide receiver vaulted to the top of the Saints’ depth chart and eventually rendered Brandin Cooks expendable.
In his first year in the pros, he finished ninth in receiving yards, topping such stars as Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Larry Fitzgerald.
Eric Weddle, Ravens
Weddle didn’t miss a beat in his first season in Baltimore. He registered 13 pass defenses and four picks and was selected to the AFC’s Pro Bowl team.
Even at the advanced age of 32, Weddle remains one of the league’s top 100 players.
Jason Peters, Eagles
Peters is still one of the most consistent and dominant tackles in the NFL, and he upheld his reputation last season, playing in all 16 games and getting ranked the eighth-best tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus.
He was called for a career-high 10 false starts in 2016, but also only allowed two sacks on the year.
Brent Grimes, Buccaneers
Grimes almost single-handedly closed a number of ball games for the Bucs in 2016. He notched a stunning 24 passes defensed and added four picks, a touchdown, and a forced fumble in his first season in Tampa Bay.
Undersized at 5-foot-10, Grimes makes up for it with his superior leaping ability and athletic frame. He was PFF’s fourth-best cornerback last season, behind Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, and Bouye.
Golden Tate, Lions
The Lions were supposed to fall off without Calvin Johnson. Instead, Tate stepped up with a 91-catch, 1,077-yard, four-touchdown season. He finished in the top 15 in the league in receiving yards and helped guide Detroit back to the playoffs.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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