Top 20 NFL Players of 2011-12Tuesday, May 29, 2012 By Max Sterling and Scott Adamson
Top 20 NFL Players of 2011-12 Based on Value to the Team, Success and Statistics 1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers- The reigning MVP is clearly the best player in the league. Rodgers’ season quarterback rating of 122 was the best single-season passer rating ever by a starting quarterback, and he successfully led the Packers to a near perfect season, 15 wins and only one loss. 2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints- By the end of the season, the great debate was who would win the MVP award, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers won, putting him on top, but Brees is easily the second best quarterback in the league. He set the NFL records for passing yards and completion percentage in a single season, throwing for 5,476 yards and completing 71.2 percent of his passes. 3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions- “Megatron” tore up opposing defenses, dwarfing cornerbacks with his 6 foot 5 inch height and 6 foot 10 inch wingspan. This year’s Madden cover boy had 16 touchdowns and 1.681 receiving yards, an NFL best. 4. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots- Tom Brady’s hair wasn’t the only slick thing about him this past year. Brady also surpassed the previous NFL passing yards record, throwing for 5,235 yards, while throwing only 12 touchdown passes. With him under center, the Patriots went to their fifth Super Bowl in ten years. 5. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants- Eli Manning IS an elite quarterback. The perennial underdog, the youngest Manning is coming off his second Super Bowl win (one more than his brother Peyton) and was the MVP of last year’s. After fixing his interception problem of two years ago, Manning has cleaned up his act and ascended into a higher level of play. 6. Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore Ravens- Hailing from Ball So Hard University, “T-Sizzle” recorded 14.0 sacks, an AFC best, 70 tackles, and a league-best 7 forced fumbles. Last season, Suggs was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year, making him the best defensive player of the 2011-12 season. 7. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions- After many years plagued by injury, Stafford finally lived up to his draft hype. He passed the 5,000 yard passing mark, and led the Detroit Lions, once the 0-16 laughing-stock of professional football, to the playoffs. 8. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens- Ray Rice running for the Ravens from Rutgers, the heart and soul of the Ravens’ offense, finished second in rushing yards and receiving yards by a running back and third in rushing touchdowns. Ray Rice also led all non-quarterbacks in fantasy points. 9. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings- The NFL sack leader and one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the league continued his productivity, recording 22.0 sacks, 64 tackles, an interception and 4 forced fumbles. His statistics over the 2011-12 season speak for themselves. 10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots- “Gronk” set the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 17, and led all tight ends in receiving yards with 1,327 yards. He is the top of a great group of tight ends who are revolutionizing the position. 11. Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco Forty-Niners- A leader of the second best statistical defense in the league, Willis spurred the up-and-coming Forty-Niners to the NFC Championship game. His 74 tackles, league-leading 13 passes defended and 4 forced fumbles make him one of the most complete linebackers in the league. 12. Lesean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles- “Shady” McCoy lit up opposing defenses, scoring 17 rushing touchdowns, a league best and an Eagles record. His electrifying 20 and 40+ yard runs became almost regular, and coupled with only one fumble on the season, make him one of the most exciting young players in the NFL. 13. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers- In his rookie season, Newton set the NFL record for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single-season. He also broke Peyton Manning’s rookie passing yards record, throwing for 4,051 yards, and earned the title Rookie-of-the-Year. 14. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans- Although he battled some injury problems, Arian Foster, once an undrafted free agent, has become a force rushing the ball. Along with Ben Tate, Foster led the Texans to the league-best rushing attack and their first-ever playoff appearance. 15. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars- The league leader in yards and yards per game carried the whole Jaguars offense. His feel for the end zone and ability to move the ball make him one of the most consistent running backs in the league. 16. Demarcus Ware, DE, Dallas Cowboys- Like Jared Allen, Demarcus Ware had another stellar season, with 3 forced fumbles and the second most sacks in the NFL, 19.5. His constant pressure on quarterbacks and bone-jarring hits make him one of the most fearsome linebackers in the league. 17.Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots- Welker’s 122 receptions, the most in the league, tie him for fourth most ever in a single season. At only 5 feet 9 inches, Welker’s fearlessness sets him apart from other receivers in the league. A favorite target of Tom Brady, Welker’s combination of speed, strength and juke-moves make him an excellent after-the-catch receiver. 18. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants- Fourth in the league in sacks, and with a safety and blocked kick as well, Pierre-Paul was a catalyst of the Super Bowl-winning Giants defense. His relentless rushing of the passer and ability to make big plays when it matters most makes Jason Pierre-Paul a rising star in the NFL. 19.Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets- Many receivers last year found themselves trapped on Revis island. Revis remains one of the top defenders in the league, neutralizing opposing receivers and leading a strong Jets defense. 20.Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants- Although not a starter at the beginning of the year, Cruz quickly became one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. His 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns make him one of the best receivers in the league. The 99 yard touchdown he scored against the Jets was the longest offensive play of the year.