Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Jun 2008

Prisco's Top 50 Players

Pete Prisco is out with his annual list of the 50 best players in the NFL. We've already discussed the top two players ad nauseam, so let's see if we can keep these comments interesting and focus on the players ranked 3-50.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 27 Jun 2008

49 comments, Last at 08 Jul 2008, 4:59pm by pound4pound


by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 7:15am


is overrated.


Its nice to see Prisco go out of his way to be unconventional and pick a lot of non-skill guys... but I definitely would have to question a ton of his selections.

by fyo (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 7:54am

Carson Palmer? Third best quarterback? Really?

I don't know... that's uhmm... a surprising pick...

3 years of starting. 3 years of decreasing conventional stats. 11th best DVOA, 7th best DVOA and VOA.

In the past 2 years, Drew Brees has had both better conventional stats and footballoutsiders' stats.

So even if you feel the need to pull in previous performance, which is the only way Palmer even gets close to #3, I don't see why anyone would possibly choose him over Brees.

by Craig (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 8:56am

So Chad Johnson runs his mouth a lot; is that the only reason he's listed as the 6th best receiver? I can't think of any other. He's ranked 2nd, 5th, and 6th the last three years in DPAR. 1, 1, 2, 1, 0 - that's the number of times each of the guys ahead of him in Prisco's rankings have finished ahead of him in DPAR over the last three years.

by fcDallas (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 8:56am

I stopped reading at Bob Sanders.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 9:10am

The sad thing is that despite this year's list being a huge improvement on previous efforts it is still drivel.

by Tom Selleck (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 9:57am

I don't have too many issues with the list, but only two offensive tackles out of the top 50 players is rather questionable.

by Or (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:06am

Walter Jones is still the best Offensive lineman in football?
Romo, Kerney, Witten aren't top 50 players; Winslow, Hester, and Fred Taylor are?

by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:18am

Wes Welker over Julius Peppers? Really? Kellen Winslow over Tony Romo? Shawn Andrews over Donovan McNabb? Devin Hester and Fred Taylor are better than any QB in the NFC East? Seriously?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:21am

"Wes Welker over Julius Peppers? "

With the way the two of them played last year, I'd say Welker WAS the better player last year. Body of work, Peppers obviously. Just last year? Welker.

by Andy (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:32am

Prisco put Mario Williams at #6 just so he could show everyone how smart he is.

by dingobreath (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:35am

Antonio Cromartie - 11 picks, starts 1/2 the season, and he just misses the list. Next year it will be Bailey who?

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:37am

The problem with this kind of list is that certain positions are obviously more valuable than others. So there should theoretically be more QBs on the list. Although I wouldn't say a guy like Romo is one of the 50 best players in the league, his position makes him more valuable and he should probably be on the list.

That being said, Witten is missing, Owens is too high, there aren't enough O-Lineman (and Walter Jones is too high), and there are too many WRs.

by Dice (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:42am

Chump is still getting a free pass, I see. I'd consider Asomugha the better corner, and I'm not certain that Chump is still top 50. And how does Jason Witten not make the list for Kellen Winslow instead? I hate the Cowboys, but Witten is the best TE in the game right now.

by Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 11:13am

I might have accepted Westbrook behind Tomlinson, but Westbrook behind Peterson? At 20?! Last year's league leader in yards from scrimmage is only the 3rd best RB and 20th best player in the NFL? No, no, no.

by Rusty G (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 11:35am

Sims over Tatupu is cute.
Winslow, Jr. over Witten made me giggle just a little bit inside.

But I almost thought I saw Charles Woodson on the list before Brian Westbrook, and Mario Williams before Demarcus Ware.

I'm pretty sure I woke up in Bizarro World, but to be sure, I'm going to cut back on that spicy mustard.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 11:36am

I'm not convinced that any RB is a top 20 player. There are just too many QBs, pass rushers and WRs (plus the odd left tackle or corner) who are more valuable.

by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 1:25pm

Honestly, this list isn't bad. But Champ Bailey isn't that good anymore, and Woodson definitely isn't better than Cromartie. Cromartie and Asomugha should be the top 2 corners (not necessarily in that order).

I think Joe Thomas is probably better than Walter Jones, although I recognize that he's only had one year. But so has Peterson! If Peterson misses 3-5 games every year due to injury, Prisco will look pretty stupid.

Bob Sanders is also too high. Health is a skill.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 2:39pm

Pete Prisco isn't even worth opening the list for.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 2:46pm

7 Bob Sanders and 6 Mario Williams are horrible selections. The super bowl champs don't have a top 40 player, and Osi O. is ranked 2 dozen players worse than Super Mario who people were calling a bust before last year.

I would love to see an NFL fantasy draft where somebody picked Bob Sanders 7th.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:31pm

I'm a little cautious about giving too much love to Joe Thomas considering last offseason's love affair with Marcus McNeill and his sophomore season performance.

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:31pm

People really think Cromartie might be the best CB in football? I'm a Charger fan and very happy to have a potential game-changing superstar at cornerback, but come on, he hasn't even been a starter for a full season yet. Cromartie had some great games but it's a little early to be calling him the best in the league.

by bubqr (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:35pm

Where is the love for HiZ ?

by PaulH (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 5:26pm

People really think Cromartie might be the best CB in football? I’m a Charger fan and very happy to have a potential game-changing superstar at cornerback, but come on, he hasn’t even been a starter for a full season yet. Cromartie had some great games but it’s a little early to be calling him the best in the league.

Well, I figure if people can declare some guys franchise players before they even put on an NFL jersey, or have teams pass out massive contracts to kids who have never started (see Michael Turner), I figure you can declare Cromartie as the best corner in the league without having a full season as a starter under his belt.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 5:28pm

I'm all for giving props to the linemen, but only 5 QBs in the Top 50? Really???

by Richard (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 5:55pm

What an abortion of a list.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 6:06pm

Re 24:

These are the 50 best players, not the 50 most valuable.

by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 6:23pm

Certainly it would appear that Champ "just isnt that good anymore" judging from last season... But as has been laid out on this site, the way he was utilized in the Bates system was nearly criminal (what was it, 39% of his plays he was covering the other team's #1 WR? It was some obscenely low number anyway.) and the overall crappiness of the run defense that forced him to keep an eye on the LOS on every play contributed to his "decline" as well. I guess I am giving him a free pass for last year, but given the absolute wreck that the Broncos' defense was, I don't think that's totally unreasonable. That said, I am counting on significant bounce-back from him this year, and if it doesn't come, there might be some re-evaluating I need to do.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 7:38pm


I don't really understand that distinction. How do you compare players from different positions, other than by measuring their contribution to their team, i.e. their value?

by Joe (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 8:05pm

Nope, not falling for it. I won't read Prisco even if it's June and I'm starved for football.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 8:27pm

Re 28:

Good question, that is why these lists are stupid.

by Rory (not verified) :: Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:17pm

I love Mario Williams, but the sixth best player in football? The 2nd best defensive player in the league? Come on.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 4:50am

in Jones' defense, he was often referred to as the best player at any position during his prime, so he has a lot of room to drop, and some of the blocking issues last year fall on injuries and other issues.

on the other hand i would not be at all surprised or shocked to see multiple tackles ranked ahead of him at this point in his career, and he probably is rated too high. i wasn't of the mind that trufant qualified as a top 50 player either, for that matter

by Nate Dogg (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 1:51pm

RE #29

You and me both.

by Danny (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 5:41pm

Doofus was my anti-spam word. I think that is fitting, all I could think of is that this guy is a doofus.

by Matt Saracen - QB1 - Dillon Panthers (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 6:41pm

How about some constructive critism people?? Instead of bagging the list outright, say what you would have done instead. Don't like Super Mario as the 2nd best Defensive player - then who is??

And Chris - you don't want to open the list in #18, then 5 minutes later you've given in and opened it - LOL.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 7:40pm

good chance J RUssell makes top 10 list this time next year

Thomas Howard should have made list. Mario Williams being 2Nd best defensive player is food. Probably most of list is good, makes sesne, will be a list to watch all year to see how good writer's list really is

top ten for me would be Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Plamer, Stve Huthcinson,Tomlinson,Davcuase Ware, Bobs Sanders, Westbrook, Brees, Steve Smith. Chargers should have kept Dr Brees. Stupid team. That is why they dont make Super bowl and why Schottenheimer was fired.

by Dice (not verified) :: Sat, 06/28/2008 - 7:47pm

While normally I tend to agree with much of Raiderjoe's awesome posting, if only for his balls in posting it, the Chargers were maybe wrong in hindsight only. I'd have released/traded Brees as well, given the should injury he took in his final game as a Charger(a game Rivers should have been playing anyway, to determine which one to go with). But Rivers has not been terrible, if not the QB that Brees is; he does have a superior team around him, but Rivers got his team to the playoffs two years running as well.

by dmb (not verified) :: Sun, 06/29/2008 - 3:09pm

18/19: I find it amusing that you say that because of its author, the list isn't worth opening at its face value ... and then in the very next comment, you're criticizing the list, indicating that you read it. And fantasy drafts are a spectacularly poor way of measuring a player's ability. Would an in-his-prime Anthony Munoz ever have been selected in the top 10 of a fantasy draft? Of course not, since (as far as I know) fantasy drafts don't include offensive lineman. But was he one of the top 10 players in the league? Almost certainly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Prisco's list is any good; I'm just saying that there are better ways of criticizing it.

28: I don't think the distinction is all that difficult to make. To me, "best" means "which player is most successful at executing his responsibilities?" while value means "which player contributes most to the team's success?" The answer to both questions is often the same player, but it doesn't have to be. For example, if a kicker goes 30/30 on field goals and leads the league in average kickoff distance, you could make an argument that he's the best player on the team -- that is, the player who does his job most successfully. But if that same team has a Pro Bowl quarterback, then the kicker's handful of makes over average isn't going to contribute more to the team's success than the quarterback -- making the kicker the "best" player, but not the most valuable, for that season.

by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Sun, 06/29/2008 - 3:34pm

Honestly, I don't know why this list is getting so much criticism. Obviously, any top-50 list is going to be subjective, but almost every player ranking is defensible.

As for Bob Sanders, I would personally rank him even higher than #7.

by JefTank (not verified) :: Mon, 06/30/2008 - 6:36am

43. Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco 49ers: It didn't take him long to establish himself as a top middle linebacker. He is fast, active and packs a punch. In a year or so, he might be the best insider linebacker in the game.

Nope, he will be the best ILB, overtaking Urlacher and Lewis within 2 years, if not next year.

by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 06/30/2008 - 10:48am

35,38- It is june and I fell for the bail... hook...line...sinker and yes the article was a stinker. Old Pete is always good for a few laughs.

by MCS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/30/2008 - 12:28pm

Don't know if you guys saw this...Pro-Football Reference added boxscores. Link in my name

by Sunil (not verified) :: Tue, 07/01/2008 - 10:27am

Can I have some of what Pete is having?

by Jersey (not verified) :: Tue, 07/01/2008 - 11:58am

Osi Umenyiora shouldn't even be a top 50 player...2005 was really his only outstanding year. 2006 was average and remember, in 2007 just about half (6 out of 13) of his sacks came against Winston Justice in one game. Replace Justice with an average tackle and give Osi 1 sack instead of 6 and he finishes the year with 8 sacks.

Anyone voting Trent Cole for top 50 player?

by Bronconut (not verified) :: Wed, 07/02/2008 - 3:29pm

"Mario Williams being 2Nd best defensive player is food."

Every time Raiderjoe posts, I think it can't possibly get any better.

And then it does.

by sam (not verified) :: Sat, 07/05/2008 - 6:57pm

Tatupu is better than Willis and in my opinion the best inside linebacker in the game.

by Tally (not verified) :: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 1:04am

It's incredible which names Raiderjoe will misspell. He gets "Schottenheimer" right but misses on "Davcuase," "Plamer," "Bobs," "Dr[ew]" and "Stve." "Stve"!!

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 1:10pm

44, So should we go back and take away sacks from every defensive end? Is Trent Cole better than Osi?

by pound4pound (not verified) :: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 4:59pm

Overall, I actually thought Prisco did a decent job (ghost-writer?). There were a few that I don't agree with but thought were close enough (I'd flip Mario and DeMarcus). The ones I had a real problem with:

Westbrook - Not top 15? How?

A Gates - Guy's broken 1000 yards once. People mistake his fantasy value for his actual value - he's not a top-30 player.

Seymour / Wilfork - Seymour's listed too high, Wilfork is way too low.

Trufant - Is there anyone who would take him over T Newman?