Monday evening Darius Slay was featured on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2018 list. The list is created based on surveys of NFL players, and while the list is highly faulty, it does show the level of respect a player has among his peers. Slay came in at 49, which was the first time in Slay’s career that he made the list. This represents a new step in his career in which he has finally caught the attention of his peers and opponents alike.
Unfortunately, Slay is likely the only new Lion to crack the list. So far, as the list has currently named players 100 through 41, Slay is the only Lion to be named. Matthew Stafford is expected to be on the list, but he has been on the list several times before. Even though guys like Glover Quin and Marvin Jones Jr. had phenomenal years in 2017, it was be a pretty big surprise if they made the list at this point.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player is most likely to make their first appearance on the Top 100 Players list in 2019?
My answer: There are a few candidates that make a lot of sense for next year. The aforementioned Marvin Jones could don the list if he puts together another impressive year this upcoming season. If a guy like Kerryon Johnson goes off in his rookie year, he could certainly make the list. But I’m going to go with Golden Tate.
(UPDATE: Tate made the list in 2015. I am a dumb-dumb.)
Despite his current four-year streak of 90 catches per season, Tate has never made the cut for the list. In a way, it’s understandable. Tate isn’t making big plays in the traditional wide receiver sense. He isn’t going downfield and making leaping catches over corners. Those are the kind of plays that earn you spots on SportsCenter’s top 10.
Instead, he’s earned himself the nickname “Yac King,” because of his tremendous ability to make plays after the ball is in his hands. For the most part, the actual catch is the least impressive thing he does on a play, and I think that tends to hurt his national perception.
But what Tate has been doing since becoming a Detroit Lion in 2014 has been nothing short of incredible. He’s made breaking tackles an art, and there aren’t many (if any) receivers in the league that can makes as many plays after the catch than he can. And now with Tate entering his contract year, I expect him to play at the level that has become expected of him, maybe even a little better.
It may still be hard for him to garner the attention of the rest of the league, since his yards per catch and touchdowns statistics remain relatively low compared to his receiver counterparts. However, if he hits 90 catches again, and reaches the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth time in five years, it’s going to be hard for the league to continue to ignore him like this.