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The King 500

Ranking the best players in the NFL from No. 1 to 500

Posted: Tuesday August 28, 2007 3:22PM; Updated: Wednesday August 29, 2007 12:13PM
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No. 500? It's Bucs quarterback Chris Simms.
No. 500? It's Bucs quarterback Chris Simms.
Bob Rosato/SI
The King 500

I thought I might make a list, the best of the best.

The criteria: importance of the position (I had quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and cornerback at the top, but with room for the explosive player), talent level and age -- with a nod to young players on the cusp of a breakout season (I rank opportunistic Jets safety Kerry Rhodes 29th) and to team-oriented guys (selfless Javon Walker 80, selfish Terrell Owens 103). Though part-time players, four impact return men (in order, Devin Hester, Maurice Jones-Drew, Pacman Jones and Wes Welker) were placed among the top 126.

The best special teams player last year (outside of return men and kickers), Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, landed at No. 320. Keeping in mind what Bill Parcells said in his most recent incarnation as an NFL coach -- "It's incredible what a field-position game this has become" -- I made room on the list for six kickers and six punters.

How did I assign value to players and rank them form 1 to 500? Not without losing sleep. For more explanation on how I came up with his list -- complete with my conclusions and the selections that will stoke the biggest arguments -- click here.

Don't agree with the list? Who's too high? Who's too low? Weigh in with your thoughts.

1-100 | 101-200 | 201-300 | 301-500

The Top 500 (1-100)
1. Peyton Manning QB, Colts Will hold every passing record by 2013
2. Tom Brady QB, Patriots New WR toys make for a monster '07
3. LaDainian Tomlinson RB, Chargers Marshall Faulk with more moves
4. Julius Peppers DE, Panthers Great rusher also drops into coverage
5. Jason Taylor DE, Dolphins Only Tomlinson had a better 2006
6. Champ Bailey CB, Broncos Skins rue Bailey-for-Portis deal, big-time
7. Brian Urlacher LB, Bears League's most versatile defensive player
8. Drew Brees QB, Saints Lifted a teamand a regionlast year
9. Carson Palmer QB, Bengals Among NFL's most talented, least conceited
10. Walter Jones T, Seahawks Quick and powerful, a latter-day Munoz
11. Shawne Merriman LB, Chargers Must excel to erase steroid tinge
12. Ed Reed FS, Ravens B+ cover guy, A+ hitter
13. Dwight Freeney DE, Colts Third-most sacks over past five years
14. Kevin Williams DT, Vikings Classic disruptive power-slashing tackle
15. Antonio Gates TE, Chargers A more muscular Kellen Winslow
16. Aaron Kampman DE, Packers Huge '06: 15 1/2 sacks, 89 tackles
17. Jamal Williams DT, Chargers Textbook block-of-granite noseman
18. Marc Bulger QB, Rams Only eight picks in 588 attempts last season
19. Reggie Bush RB-KR, Saints And now he knows the offense ... scary
20. Matt Hasselbeck QB, Seahawks Will lift his game with better blocking
21. Adalius Thomas LB, Patriots Will be an all-around terror for Pats
22. Steve Smith WR, Panthers Still the NFL's most complete receiver
23. Steve Hutchinson G, Vikings Look outhe's gotten comfy on this line
24. Torry Holt WR, Rams NFL's A-Rod: 289 ca tch es since '04
25. Tommie Harris DT, Bears Hamstring injury crippled Bears late in '06
26. Richard Seymour DE, Patriots You name it: 3-4 end, 4-3 end or tackle
27. Adrian Wilson SS, Cardinals Devastating blitzer; 13 sacks in two seasons
28. Troy Polamalu SS, Steelers Donnie Shell with a ponytail
29. Kerry Rhodes SS, Jets Blitzer with Ronnie Lott-like nose for playmaking
30. Steven Jackson RB, Rams Look for another 2,000-plus total yards
31. Antoine Winfield CB, Vikings League's most physical cover corner
32. Aaron Schobel DE, Bills 14 sacks, 26 pressures last year
33. Andre Johnson WR, Texans Best deep threat no one knows
34. Larry Johnson RB, Chiefs Has 752 carries in two years; how much is left
35. Lance Briggs LB, Bears More tackles, sacks than Urlacher in '06
36. Shaun Alexander RB, Seahawks Showing signs of overuse at 30
37. Ty Warren DE, Patriots Deserves some credit for Seymour's greatness
38. Philip Rivers QB, Chargers Spoon-fed early in '06, won games late
39. Jason Peters T, Bills Converted college TE with feet like Astaire
40. Asante Samuel CB, Patriots Had 12 picks in 18 games last season
41. Vince Young QB, Titans May succeed Vick in role of NFL's Jordan
42. Marvin Harrison WR, Colts At 35, slipping a bit and not as physical
43. Tony Gonzalez TE, Chiefs After 10 years: 721 catches, two games missed
44. Casey Hampton DT, Steelers Space eater frees LBs to make plays
45. Nnamdi Asomugha CB, Raiders Breakout '06: 8 INTs, 11 passes defensed
46. Marcus McNeill T, Chargers Had best rookie season for NFL tackle in years
47. Rashean Mathis CB, Jaguars Toughest cover guy Manning faces
48. Chad Johnson WR, Bengals Total receiving yards last four years: 5,430
49. Nate Clements CB, 49ers Not worth $80 mil, but a top cover man
50. Shawn Andrews G, Eagles Best run-blocking year of any guard in '06
51. Shaun Phillips LB, Chargers Fine speed-rush bookend for Merriman
52. John Henderson DT, Jaguars 325 immovable pounds
53. Bart Scott LB, Ravens Ferocity, speed of Ray Lewis, circa 2000
54. Pat Williams DT, Vikings Mike Tomlin saved his career in '06
55. Brian Dawkins FS, Eagles Would be higher if he were younger than 33
56. Terrell Suggs LB, Ravens Will have a 20-sack season soon
57. Willie Anderson T, Bengals Road grader has 112 straight starts
58. Larry Fitzgerald WR, Cardinals Parcells's pick for best WR in NFL
59. Todd Heap TE, Ravens Just 12 fewer catches than Gates in '05-06
60. Leonard Little DE, Rams More '06 sacks and hurries than even J. Taylor
61. Trevor Pryce DE, Ravens Makes Scott and Suggs premier players
62. DeMarcus Ware LB, Cowboys Phillips could make him another Merriman
63. Calvin Johnson WR, Lions Too high on this list Don't bet against him
64. Charles Grant DE, Saints Deservedly got Dwight Freeney money
65. Derrick Burgess DE, Raiders Has 27 sacks over the last two years
66. Orlando Pace T, Rams Strong again after tearing triceps
67. Alan Faneca G, Steelers Will be great in a salary-drive season
68. Reggie Wayne WR, Colts May have bigger impact than Harrison
69. Devin Hester WR-KR, Bears Wowseven TDs in 85 touches last year
70. Keith Bulluck LB, Titans Nerve center of a rebuilding defense
71. Frank Gore RB, 49ers Tiki West with 2,180 total yards in '06
72. Donovan McNabb QB, Eagles Vital season; must prove he's not too brittle
73. Brian Waters G, Chiefs Lone Ranger after Roaf, Shields retirements
74. Terence Newman CB, Cowboys No stats because no one throws his way
75. Charles Tillman CB, Bears Fiesty, physical ... best big corner in football
76. Jason Witten TE, Cowboys Will blossom under coordinator Jason Garrett
77. DeMeco Ryans LB, Texans NFL's second-leading tackler as a rookie
78. Julian Peterson LB, Seahawks Speedy and has great versatility
79. Kris Dielman G, Chargers His re-signing a godsend for San Diego
80. Javon Walker WR, Broncos Speedy life preserver for green Cutler
81. Kamerion Wimbley LB, Browns Poor man's McGinest, and on same team
82. Antonio Pierce LB, Giants Self-made, productive playmaker
83. Kelly Gregg DT, Ravens Greatest overachiever in the league
84. Maurice Jones-Drew RB, Jaguars What a sick '06: 244 touches, 16 TDs
85. Ben Roethlisberger QB, Steelers Too good for a replay of his lousy '06
86. Ray Lewis LB, Ravens 80% of classic Ray is still pretty good
87. Darren Sharper SS, Vikings Mensa-type secondary leaderand he hits
88. Chris McAlister CB, Ravens Must reduce his penalties (16 in '06).
89. Donald Driver WR, Packers One fewer catch than Harrison since '04
90. Roy Williams WR, Lions A physical 6'3" and a deep threat
91. Jay Cutler QB, Broncos Strong arm, but is he accurate enough?
92. Chad Clifton T, Packers Allowed only 15 sacks over seven seasons
93. Osi Umenyiora DE, Giants Scouts worship him, but injuries dog him
94. Hines Ward WR, Steelers Cowher owes his Super Bowl share to this guy
95. Ronde Barber CB, Bucs Cover corner with Tiki's physicality
96. Brian Westbrook RB, Eagles Stellar six yards per touch in '06
97. Joseph Addai RB, Colts First back with 0 starts, 1,000 rushing yards
98. Logan Mankins G, Patriots Better than guards who just got $7 million a year
99. Matt Leinart QB, Cardinals Too good at USC to not become a solid pro
100. Alge Crumpler TE, Falcons Sure to be Harrington's security blanket

1-100 | 101-200 | 201-300 | 301-500