The Newsroom counts down the top 10 players in the NFL with some help from Sydney Uni Lions head coach, Andrew Ogborne.
#10 Drew Brees QB New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees was selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. In 2006, Brees signed a contract and joined the New Orleans Saints, and has been an amazing player. In 2009 Brees carried the Saints all the way to a win in Superbowl 44 against then Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning and Brees even came away with the Superbowl MVP award. Brees threw a touchdown in an NFL record 54 straight games spanning from 2009-2012 and he holds the NFL record for the best completion percentage in a single regular season.
#9 LeSean McCoy RB Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean “Shady” McCoy is the indisputable leader of the most explosive offence in the NFL. In 2011, he had a break out season which ended with him leading the NFL in total touchdowns. In 2013 Shady led the NFL in rushing yards and carried the Philadelphia Eagles to their first playoff appearance since 2010. Shady is well known in the NFL for his ability to elude oncoming tacklers and for his breakaway speed.
#8 Luke Kuechly LB Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly has torn NFL offences to shreds since being selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. In his first year in the league, he won the NFL defensive Rookie of the Year award, eventually winning the NFL defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. Keuchly seems to be a favourite of Coach Ogborne who said, “He is a tackling machine. He’s one of those guys with a great motor and obviously knows the system extremely well and he just gets to the plays… I rate him very high in terms of football IQ even though he seems to be undervalued”.
#7 Richard Sherman CB Seattle Seahawks: Since being drafted in 2011, Sherman has dominated opposing offenses. He consistently shuts down the other team’s best receiver while causing numerous turnovers. In 2013, Sherman led the league in interceptions with 8 and led the Seattle Seahawks to a Superbowl victory. However Coach Ogborne isn’t sold on Sherman just yet. “Sherman is a very fine athlete and cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks… I rate him highly but I would have him as high as a number of other cornerbacks, like Darrelle Revis for example… I wouldn’t have him in my top 10”.
#6 Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft but he sat out his first three years while future Hall of Famer Brett Favre played QB for the Packers. Rodgers took over the starting job in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. In 2010 Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a Superbowl win and followed that up by winning the MVP award in 2011. During Rodger’s 2011 MVP season, he broke the NFL record for the best passer rating in a single NFL season while leading the Packers to a 15-1 regular season record.
#5 JJ Watt DE Houston Texans: Houston Texans fans booed loudly in 2011 when their team selected JJ Watt in the first round of the NFL draft. Now I doubt that any of those fans will ever admit to booing him. JJ Watt first made his mark in the 2011 playoffs when he intercepted one of Andy Dalton’s passes and took it back for a touchdown and made Player of the Game. In 2012, JJ Watt put together one of the best all round seasons by a defensive player in NFL history. He finished the season with 20.5 sacks, 39 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and 16 passes blocked and he also won the NFL defensive player of the year award.
#4 Adrian Peterson RB Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson has been on fire since he arrived in the NFL in 2007. In his rookie year, Peterson broke the record for most rushing yards in a single game. He won the NFL Rookie of the Year award in 2007 and led the NFL in rushing yards in 2008 and 2012. In 2012, just a year after he tore his ACL and MCL, Peterson recorded the second most rushing yards in the single NFL season. Peterson won the MVP award that season and is considered to be one of the best running backs of all time. One of Petersons biggest admirers is Coach Ogborne. “He is a strong, powerful runner and still manages to keep his pace… His fellow players certainly admire his ability… You gotta take your hat off to a guy like Peterson”.
#3 Calvin Johnson WR Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson isn’t just the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, but he is considered as one of the top five receivers of all time. He was selected in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft and has been the only consistent force on a Detroit Lions team that is known for their losing culture. In 2012, Johnson broke the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season while also leading the NFL in receptions for the year. In a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2013, Johnson finished the game with 329 receiving yards which is now the second most receiving yards in a single game.
#2 Peyton Manning QB Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning has been the NFL poster boy since he was selected first overall in the 1998 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. During his long and historic career at Indianapolis, Manning won 4 NFL MVP awards (2003-4, 2008-9) and won a Superbowl in 2007. Since joining the Broncos in 2012, Manning has been outstanding. In 2013, Manning had what is considered by many to be the greatest regular season by an NFL quarterback. He threw a NFL record 55 touchdowns and a NFL record 5,477 passing yards during the regular season. When I mentioned Manning’s name to Coach Ogborne, this is what he said. “He is a fantastic reader of the game and a student of the game and his ability to understand the coverages the defenses are running at him and his ability to get the ball to the right person is fantastic”.
#1 Tom Brady QB New England Patriots: Coach Ogborne and I both agreed, “I’d put Brady at number one”. In his 13-year career, Brady has made it to five Superbowls, winning three, he has made it to eight AFC Championship games, winning five, and he has the NFL record for most career postseason wins with 18. He won the NFL MVP award in 2007 and also again in 2010. Appearing in his first Superbowl in 2001, Brady managed to lead the Patriots to a victory over the favorited St Louis Rams. Just two years later, Brady once again led the Patriots to a Superbowl victory. He won the Superbowl MVP award in both of those games. Tom Brady is the best player in the NFL today, and one day he might be considered the best NFL player of all time. – Lachlan Brunton
Top photo from Keith Allison’s Flickr photostream.