The NFL's top 100 players of 2012 was completed last week with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished at the top. There is plenty to be suspect about the list, which was voted on by players.
In reality, the placement and results of this list is not newsworthy. However, everyone likes a list. They're easy to digest and even easier to rattle off disagreement. So, with that in mind, we wanted to riff on it a little bit. So here goes.
This year's list featured four players who were rookies in the 2011 season. That would be Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (No. 40), Von Miller of the Denver Broncos (No. 52), Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals (No. 55) and A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 77). So which four NFL rookies this year could make the list next year? See my choices after the jump.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
This is the easy choice. Although NFL front offices and the media have largely downplayed the value of running backs, the NFL players do not. Of the top 100, 15 were running backs (and two fullbacks!). Undoubtedly, Richardson will be the focal point of the Browns' offense. That's due partly to Cleveland having a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and the targets at which he'll be throwing. It's due also, perhaps more, to how good Richardson should be immediately. Richardson is suited for a heavy workload and with players like Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty behind him, he'll get plenty of touches.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
Of the nine wide receivers taken in the first two rounds, arguably none is in a better spot than Wright for immediate success. Arguments could be made for any of them, sure, but I'm going with Wright. If you believe early plaudits, no rookie wide receiver has been showered in more praise than Wright. The Baylor product should benefit from whomever ends up being Tennessee's starting quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck loved quick receivers like Wright in Seattle and Jake Locker has the arm to target Wright deep. Add to it Kenny Britt's slow comeback from injury and Wright should be plenty dangerous as a rookie.
Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys
There was arguably no better defensive player in this year's draft than Claiborne. That's something the Cowboys' front office likely believes since they gave up a second-round pick to trade up and draft Claiborne. With Pro Bowler Mike Jenkins wanting out, Claiborne should get every chance to run with the starters. If he does, his ability will quickly become evident. Claiborne is a fluid athlete with shutdown corner size and ball skills. The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr this offseason as well, so Claiborne should get plenty of chances to turn heads by making plays on the ball.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
As much as anything else, the NFL top 100 is a popularity contest. That's how the number of Miami Hurricanes players can reach double digits. Of every rookie this year, none could be more exciting than RG3. It will be nearly impossible to replicate Newton's rookie stats, but Griffin should garner just as many highlights. Griffin will be making plays with his arm and legs and should quickly become one of the most difficult players to stop in the NFL.
Which rookies do you think will have the best chance of making the top 100 next year? Let us know in the comments.