Pro Football Focus is a website I mention often as I'm a big fan of their stuff, and they just released a Top 101 of 2012 listing the best players of the year. I view this as way more notable than the NFL Network's top 100 players because it actually grades each player individually on every play as oppose to just being a popularity contest. Sadly last year's 7-9 Saints only had one player show up on the top 101, coming in at 79. So who was that player?
Drew Brees, of course. It is surprising to see him that low on the list, but I think we can all agree last year was a down year by his standards. The top player was J. J. Watt of the Texans, followed by Adrian Peterson of the Vikings.
A number of NFC South players made the list. They were:
#17 QB Matt Ryan (Falcons)
#20 DT Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers)
#27 WR Vincent Jackson (Buccaneers)
#44 TE Tony Gonzalez (Falcons)
#49 WR Roddy White (Falcons)
#69 DE Charles Johnson (Panthers)
#73 WR Julio Jones (Falcons)
#82 LB Lavonte David (Buccaneers)
#86 DE Greg Hardy (Panthers)
#88 RB Doug Martin (Buccaneers)
So if you're counting, that's four Falcons, four Bucs, two Panthers and just one Saint. 2013 better not end up that way if the Saints want to make the playoffs. This is a major drop off for Brees, who was #3 in the top 101 of 2011, and for the Saints who had just one player on the list after five last year. Other Saints that appeared in 2011 but did not make the list this year were Jimmy Graham (#21 last year), Carl Nicks (#27 last year, now with Bucs and did not make top 101 this year due to injury), Darren Sproles (#49 last year), and Marques Colston (#56 last year).