The good news: more than one or two New Orleans Saints have made it onto NFL Network’s silly Top 100 Players of 2017 list. The Top 100 Players ranking is suspect because it’s allegedly voted on by the players themselves. Many players claim to not have seen the ballots, and those who share theirs publicly often just list their friends and teammates. J.J. Watt called it a joke after being listed in a season he barely played due to injury. Make of that what you will.
That said, it is an entertaining program to help get us through the slog of an NFL offseason. Whether any home cooking is going on with the rankings remains to be seen, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s very well-produced as a solid weekly product. And this year some Saints actually made the list.
The highest-ranked Saints player is Michael Thomas, who clocks in at 81. That’s too low - Thomas set a new NFL all-time record for the most receptions in his first two years as a pro, despite missing a game in 2016 to injury. 15 different wide receivers saw 120 or more targets last year, and the only one to manage a better catch rate than Thomas (69.8-percent) was Golden Tate (76.7-percent), who averaged a full yard less per catch than Thomas.
Thomas started to get his due credit this year between a Pro Bowl nomination and this listing, but hopefully he’ll gain more national attention after continuing to stunt on defensive backs in year three. He’s certainly training for it with some James Harrison-esque workouts:
As for Marshon Lattimore, he becomes the latest reigning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) to make the list since the award was revamped into the NFL Honors event back in 2012. He’s also been snubbed with the fourth-lowest ranking of that group, arriving at 82:
- 2017 DROY: Marshon Lattimore. NFL Top 100 rank: 82
- 2016 DROY: Joey Bosa. NFL Top 100 rank: 100
- 2015 DROY: Marcus Peters. NFL Top 100 rank: 65
- 2014 DROY: Aaron Donald. NFL Top 100 rank: 92
- 2013 DROY: Sheldon Richardson. NFL Top 100 rank: 94
- 2012 DROY: Luke Kuechly. NFL Top 100 rank: 79
- 2011 DROY: Von Miller. NFL Top 100 rank: 52
I guess it’s nice that Lattimore was included at all - in some years the Saints have only been represented by Drew Brees alone - but this still feels like a disservice. Lattimore was the runaway leader in postseason awards for a reason, and he’s in the discussion with Peters and Jalen Ramsey as the NFL’s best young cornerbacks. Lattimore should be a monster in year two, especially if Thomas lets him join in on the next 3 AM workout session.
Future episodes of the Top 100 Players of 2017 will be broadcast on NFL Network on Monday evenings at 8:00 PM Central/9:00 PM Eastern, but you can come here to CSC to lampoon the rankings the following Tuesday mornings.