This is now a couple days old, but in case you missed it, former 49ers safety Donte Whitner had some fairly pointed comments about the NFL Network Top 100 list. NFL Network claims the rankings are based on voting by the players, but more and more we hear players suggest they have no idea who is actually voting on this. Here are a few of his tweets earlier this week:
The people @nflnetwork votes on that!— DonteHitner (@DonteWhitner) July 4, 2014
Only thing players vote on is the pro bowl. Go ask the players that are on twitter if they voted and at me with their answers please.— DonteHitner (@DonteWhitner) July 4, 2014
The San Francisco 49ers had eight players on the Top 100, ranging from No. 27 to No. 81. People will complain about the rankings, but really that's what the these kinds of rankings are all about. It's about generating a discussion when things are otherwise quiet. I get Whitner's complaint about who is actually voting on these rankings, but in reality, that doesn't matter. This is a perfect example of any publicity is good publicity.
Other folks have been rolling out their own Top 100 rankings. Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco put something together last week for CBS Sports. Pro Football Focus had their Top 101 earlier this year. You can compare their inclusion of 49ers below:
|Pat Kirwan||Pete Prisco||PFF||NFLN|
|17. Aldon Smith||17. NaVorro Bowman||24. Patrick Willis||27. Patrick Willis|
|35. NaVorro Bowman||25. Aldon Smith||31. NaVorro Bowman||33. Aldon Smith|
|43. Patrick Willis||32. Patrick Willis||47. Anquan Boldin||46. Frank Gore|
|46. Vernon Davis||49. Joe Staley||54. Joe Staley||47. NaVorro Bowman|
|61. Anquan Boldin||51. Vernon Davis||61. Donte Whitner||51. Vernon Davis|
|69. Joe Staley||85. Colin Kaepernick||65. Aldon Smith||69. Justin Smith|
|78. Justin Smith||94. Justin Smith||75. Joe Staley|
|89. Colin Kaepernick||81. Colin Kaepernick|
|96. Frank Gore|
|t-100. Ahmad Brooks|
There is some consistency in the players that are included, but the rankings are sort of all over the place. Patrick Willis gets the most consistent "respect", but I'm sure plenty will critique some of them anyway. I do think that with NaVorro Bowman's absence for the start of the coming season, we'll see Patrick Willis's performance influence higher rankings next year.
For now though, take what you want from the rankings. They're a fun tool for purposes of discussion, but they hold little to no real value beyond that. And there's nothing wrong with that. Various rankings are a fun exercise in considering how something stacks up in the bigger picture. It's no different than weekly power rankings. They hold no value in a world where we've got a running playoff system, but they can be fun to consider when figuring out who the best and worst teams are in the league.