CBS Sportsline writer Pete Prisco ranked the top 50 players in the NFL heading into this season today. When rankings are done by position, then it's fairly easy to be justifiable in your reasoning. However, when you lump all of the positions together, you're going to get ripped to shreds. No matter how you go about it, it's too tough to decide whether a stud running back is a little more important than that game-changing cornerback.
Only two Browns players cracked Prisco's top 50:
34. Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland Browns: Edwards was second to Moss with 16 receiving touchdowns in his third season in the league. He averaged 16.1 per catch and will only get better as he hits his prime.
The following receivers were ranked ahead of Edwards: Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Chad Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald. All of those players are extremely talented. However, ranking six players ahead of Edwards (excluding Moss) sounds a bit funny -- especially after Prisco's comment specifically stated that Edwards was second in the league in receiving touchdowns to go along with an impressive 16.1 yards per catch average.
44. Kellen Winslow, TE, Cleveland Browns: He has emerged as one of the rising stars for a rising team. His ability to stretch the defense is vital to the Cleveland offense.
Antonio Gates was the only tight end ranked ahead of Winslow. That sounds reasonable, as veterans like Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap are getting up there in age (although of Winslow's health issues persist, he'll quickly "age" too).
I understand Derek Anderson being left off the list; he still has a lot to prove this season before officially joining "the big boys". The rating for Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer at No. 8 is a tad high though. While I do agree that Palmer initially had the potential to be the league's third best quarterback, he hasn't been at the top of his game the past two seasons.
One name stuck out as being ranked WAY too high: Texans defensive end Mario Williams. Priso ranks him at No. 6! By that rating, he's already the most dominating defensive lineman in the entire NFL. I don't believe Prisco's rankings are projections either -- I'm taking them as where they stand now. If Williams' performance last season earned him the six spot, then where in the world is Joe Thomas on the list?
Bills offensive tackle Jason Peters was ranked No. 27. If you recall, Peters was named to the Pro Bowl for the AFC last season, but was replaced by Thomas due to "injury issues". Even if Thomas didn't crack the top 50, he should have at least cracked Prisco's "Just Missed" list.
One valid point that could be made is that Anderson and Thomas didn't make the list because they need to prove themselves capable for two years, rather than one.
The counter point?
No. 15 Adrian Peterson
No. 43 Patrick Willis
Two rookies made the list: and Thomas excelled at the most sought-after position in football.