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NFL Network Top 100 Players: Patrick Willis Ranked No. 23

Fooch's Update: Pretty cool to note that some of the 49ers on Twitter have called BS on Willis being ranked No. 23. Posted some of them after the jump.

The NFL Network continued its countdown of the Top 100 players heading into 2011 with numbers 21-30. Earlier this evening @NFLNetwork tweeted out the latest results and Patrick Willis arrived at number 23 in the rankings. This a subjective list, but it's still nice to see players getting respect from their peers. For comparison's sake, that puts him ahead of the following linebackers:

Jonathan Vilma
Terrell Suggs
Brian Urlacher
Jerod Mayo
Cameron Wake
Lance Briggs
Jon Beason

I'm guessing Ray Lewis will be a top 20 player on this list given his respect around the league. More importantly, unless something is seriously wrong with this player-developed list, Justin Smith will be coming in as a Top 20 player. While these kinds of lists are simple offseason fodder, I think there is some value to a list developed by the players. There are issues with not seeing everybody play, but I'd like to think players have a decent idea of who is good and who is not so good. Maybe players haven't seen certain players, but i'd imagine there's a buzz around certain players.

Justin Smith would seem to be such a player and I would be stunned if he is not recognized accordingly. If he does come in as one of the "Top 20 Players in 2011" it doesn't necessarily mean that he is better than Patrick Willis. Aside from the fact that they play two entirely different positions, Smith is having a very impressive run since joining the 49ers. Willis will probably go down in football history as the "better player" on these kinds of rankings, but right now Justin Smith is playing some seriously amazing football.

Adam Snyder tweet:

@PatrickWillis52 is a top 5 player in the league. I call BS on the #top100NFL playersless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply


Joe Staley tweet:

Saw they had @PatrickWillis52 at 23 on the top 100. That list is bullshit they must have not asked anyone that actually plays.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply


Patrick Willis even implicitly called BS on this one. Not a surprising response but still nice to see it:

number 23 hmmm. Its doesn't matter where I start its where I finish that matters most to me. In time my friends. " I have to Keep grinding"less than a minute ago via UberSocial Favorite Retweet Reply