Donte Whitner calls out NFL Network Top 100

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Former 49ers safety Donte Whitner offered up a criticism of NFL Network's Top 100 rankings. We take a look at the criticism, and consider some other rankings.

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 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. 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
54. Joe Staley 47. NaVorro Bowman
61. Anquan Boldin 51. Vernon Davis 61. Donte Whitner 51. Vernon Davis
69. Joe Staley 65. Aldon Smith
78. Justin Smith 94. Justin Smith 75. Joe Staley
89. Colin Kaepernick 81. Colin Kaepernick
96. Frank Gore

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.

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