It's the final countdown. Part of the annual preparatory countdown that began just days after the draft and will conclude just days after the Fourth of July, a marathon of both elation for some and irritation for others, is nearing an end. NFL Network's countdown of its top 100 players of 2016 is nearly over.
There is a conspiracy theory that has it that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was motivated to end his holdout after being disrespected at No. 62 last year – just three spots ahead of journeyman Justin Forsett.
A.P. doesn’t have to worry about that this year. He’s the only running back left on the list. The only question is how low will he go or how long will he wait?
The problem with doing a backwards countdown is that is doesn’t take the CSI forensics team to solve the riddle of who’s left.
For those still reading, along with Peterson, there are three quarterbacks on the list (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton), three wide receivers (Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Bryant and Julio Jones), two defensive players (J.J. Watt and Luke Kuechly) and a tight end (Rob Gronkowski).
The question is how will the players be divvied up when the anticlimactic final countdown begins next Wednesday? Keeping in mind that this is the same league that gets two networks to carry the release of the order of games being played live and with plenty of hoopla. They don’t care that we know who the top 10 are. They figure they get a lot of eyes on the product regardless of the knowledge of who will be on the list. Like the schedule release, they will tune in to see how the already-known shakes out.
For those looking to set the odds, there are some things to know in advance.
Five of the players – Watt, Rodgers, Brady, Brown and Gronk – all finished in the top 10 before. The first three finished 1-3, Brown finished eighth and Gronkowski finished 10th. Of the other five players from last year’s top 10, three of them retired – Peyton Manning (5), Calvin Johnson (6) and Marshawn Lynch (9th). NFL players respect veterans and, despite all three of those players not viewed as being at the top of their profession heading into 2015, they got ranked that high strictly out of respect. That should bode well for Peterson.
When it comes to the 2016 list, the five players that weren’t in the final countdown last year – Peterson, ODB, Jones, Kuechly and Newton – A.P. is the oldest of that group, which may well tip his placement on the list – especially coming off the diss of 2015 – and may get him as high as No. 5, but probably not farther.
The quarterbacks are all likely in the top six. Since 2012, three QBs have been in the top six every year, including three in the top five last year. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Rodgers, Newton and Brady in the top five, along with Watt to complete 80 percent of the top five.
Wide receivers are getting a lot of respect, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see all three come off in the first four or five picks. They deserve to be where they are, but don’t rule the day at the end of the day.
Nobody has won the top spot twice, but four in the top 10 this year have won it before – Peterson, Watt, Rodgers and Brady. Will history continue with nobody landing the second title? If so, it looks good for Newton.
But, if a guesstimate is needed, one ballot would read 1. Watt; 2. Rodgers; 3. Brady; 4. Newton; 5. Peterson; 6. Beckham; 7. Brown; 8. Gronkowski; 9. Kuechly; 10. Jones.
For those of you tuning in for the anticlimax next week, see how your list stacks up.
- The press box at U.S. Bank Stadium is going to have a definite flavor of Minnesota icon Sid Hartman. He was a media member covering the professional sports in the Twins Cities before any of the current pro sports franchises were in existence. In fact, he was working for the main newspaper in Minneapolis while, at the same time, being the de facto general manager of an NBA basketball team and the Lakers were in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. At age 96, he’s able to see his legacy extended beyond a statue outside Target Center on the other end of downtown. An honor earned and deserved for a Minnesota sports icon.
- Cris Carter will be part of one of the elite celebrity golf tournament next month when he takes part in the American Century Championship July 22-24 in Lake Tahoe. It will be Carter’s debut in a tournament that brings in some celebrity heavy hitters, including John Elway, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Charles Barkley, Roger Clemens, Justin Timberlake and Ray Romano, among others.