Ranking NFL players is an extremely tough task. We give it our best shot with our annual “Listcasts” on the Pride Of Detroit podcast, but there is just way too many metrics to use and way too much film out there that has gone unwatched.
Our lists are just of the top 10 players at their respective positions and that can be extremely difficult at times. The folks at MMQB took player ranking to a whole new level on Tuesday, listing the top 400 players in the NFL today.
The list was curated by MMQB’s Andy Benoit, who explains the list “was all film-based; very rarely were stats a factor.” Additionally, Benoit clarified on Twitter that the list was more based on where they stand in 2017 rather than their entire body of work.
The Detroit Lions weren’t all that well represented on the list. In fact, no Lions players made the top 98 players. Ezekiel Ansah was the only player to crack the top 100, coming in at 99 overall. Still, 16 Lions made the list. According to Eric Edholm, that tied the Lions with three other teams for the third-most players on the list.
Here’s where MMQB ranked them:
- 382 - DE Armonty Bryant
- 351 - DE Kerry Hyder
- 344 - SS Tavon Wilson
- 343 - LB Tahir Whitehead
- 306 - RB Theo Riddick
- 294 - DT Haloti Ngata
- 288 - WR Marvin Jones Jr.
- 259 - FS Glover Quin
- 253 - WR Golden Tate
- 238 - TE Eric Ebron
- 188 - OT Rick Wagner
- 183 - OT Taylor Decker
- 173 - CB Darius Slay
- 128 - G T.J. Lang
- 117 - QB Matthew Stafford
- 99 - DE Ezekiel Ansah
Let’s dig a little deeper into where the Lions rank on the list.
Where does Matthew Stafford rank among his peers?
Obviously, most Lions will take umbrage with where Stafford is ranked. On NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2017, Stafford landed at No. 31. However, the MMQB list is much less reliant on skill positions than the NFL Network list. Even though Stafford is outside the top 100, he is still the ninth-highest ranked quarterback on the list. Here are the eight quarterbacks ranked above him:
- 104 - Eli Manning
- 88 - Philip Rivers
- 37 - Drew Brees
- 30 - Andrew Luck
- 28 - Matt Ryan
- 15 - Ben Roethlisberger
- 6 - Aaron Rodgers
- 1 - Tom Brady
A solid argument could be made for all eight of those quarterbacks... well, except for Eli Manning at this point in his career. Still, overall I’m not too offended by this aspect of the list (though Andrew Luck seems a little high).
Offensive line optimism?
As for the other Lions on the list, it’s interesting to see three Lions offensive lineman make the top 200. Obviously there are injury concerns with both T.J. Lang and Taylor Decker, but for a team that has struggled mightily with offensive line play over the past two decades, this paints a rosy picture for Detroit’s future.
Considering Travis Swanson is coming off his best year and Graham Glasgow could see major improvements in 2017, it seems like the Lions are finally starting to build the offensive line as a strength.
Darius Slay not among top 20 CBs
Then there’s Darius Slay. On the surface, 173 seems like a fair ranking for Detroit’s No. 1 cornerback. But when you go through MMQB’s list, you’ll see that compared to others at his position, Slay is a lot further down than you’d expect. In fact, Slay is just the 24th ranked cornerback on the list.
I got a little flak for keeping Slay off our list of top 10 cornerbacks of 2017, but this is truly surprising. There are a ton of good cornerbacks in this league, but it’s hard to justify placing players like Bradley Roby and Delvin Breaux above Slay.
Is Eric Ebron a top 10 tight end?
No player is more polarizing among Lions fans than Eric Ebron. Much of the debate is surrounding whether Ebron, whose stats place him just inside the top 10 among tight ends, is really worthy of such a distinction. So at 238 overall, where does Benoit place Ebron among his tight end peers? Just outside the top 10 at 12th overall. I guess the debate will continue.
What are your thoughts on the list? Did MMQB miss anyone?