Before last season I attempted to do a list of the top five players at every position, but their performance in ’09 didn’t exactly correlate with my rankings. But being the masochist all journalists are, I figured I’d give it another shot.
The rankings will simply consist of 2009 performance, expected performance in 2010, and my own personal feelings about the individual player’s talent. Also, players will be judged as an individual, and not based on the caliber of team on which they play.
For instance, there very well could be players from teams like the Lions, Chiefs, Rams, and Raiders whereas a team like the Patriots, Jets, Colts, or Saints might not be included. Football is a team sport, but this is all about the player and where they rank in comparison to the others playing their position around the league.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the rankings.
5. Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph (Cincinnati Bengals)
These two guys are so similar in the way they play that it’s tough to pick out just one of them, so I’m taking the easy way out and picking both of them. They give the Cincinnati Bengals the best cornerback duo in the league and allow Mike Zimmer to get a bit creative.
Without these guys, the Bengals’ defense might be exposed as the sub-par unit it is.
4. Asante Samuel (Philadelphia Eagles)
As far as being able to read a quarterback and being able to play off a receiver, there might not be anyone doing it better than Samuel. In fact, I would go so far as to say no one has been better at baiting a quarterback since Dick “Night Train” Lane.
However, Lane tackled — hard — and Samuel doesn’t — at all.
3. Charles Woodson (Green Bay Packers)
How he still does it year after year is beyond me, but the guy is aging like fine wine. He’ll be 34 when the 2010 NFL season gets underway, but he’s still one of the most feared guys on the defensive side of the ball. He certainly benefits from having Al Harris across from him, but this guy is one of the purest playmakers I’ve ever seen on defense.
2. Darelle Revis (New York Jets)
That’s right. Until further notice, Revis is not the best cornerback in the league. He is, however, an absolutely astonishing talent who will one day become the best in the league and, at this rate, one of the best to ever play the position.
Revis will only be 25 next season, so there’s plenty of time for him to take the No. 1 spot.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha (Oakland Raiders)
I think anyone paying close enough attention understands that it’s Revis and Asomugha in the top two spots, but how they’re arranged comes down to a lot of personal preference.
But for me, Asomugha is the hands-down favorite when making a list like this. He has shown that he’s capable of being the interception guy when he came down with eight of them back in 2006, but it’s difficult to rack up those kinds of numbers when quarterbacks refuse to throw the ball his way.
Revis, even for all the hype surrounding him last season, still wasn’t feared to the point offensive coordinators would simply ignore his entire half of the field. With Asomugha, teams have been doing it for the past three seasons. The type of respect opposing teams show him is enough to put him at the top of the rest.