Our good friends over at GLS (Goal-Line Stand) have spent the offseason compiling their list of the best players by position and the top 100 overall. That’s a tall order, and even though there’s a smaller selection to choose from in the NFL, after compiling the top 100 college prospects for the draft I can personally attest to how difficult compiling this sort of list is. You do all this work and all you get is criticism. The amount of work you’ve just put into researching and ranking goes unnoticed because, “my guy should have been higher.” That being said, let’s criticize this list…
The list currently features two Buccaneers, Josh Freeman at 45 and Donald Penn at 80. Now, as I mentioned earlier it takes a lot of time to compile a list like this, but it also seems like they may not be watching a whole lot of Buccaneers football. Donald Penn was a Pro Bowler, yes, but as much as I love the big man he is not the second best player on the Bucs. Freeman is the best, and you can make cases for Mike Williams (lead all NFL rookies in receiving and TD’s last year) or LeGarrette Blount (1,000+ yards in just 7 starts), but they’re young and I understand their omission.
No, the real oversight (though a very telling one) is the fact that Aqib Talib is not on the list, nor amongst the top 10 corners at his position. The reason for this is obvious, Aqib Talib is known more for his indiscretions away from the field than his stellar play on it. When you hear Talib, the connotation immediately becomes “troublemaker” as opposed to “playmaker.” That’s unfortunate too because Aqib Talib is one of the best corners in football. In fact, according to the NFL Alumni Association, he was hands down the best defensive back in football last season even despite missing the final four games.
That’s right, the NFL Alumni Association, which is made up of former coaches and players, thought that even with just three quarters of a season under his belt Talib was better than any other corner or safety in football. Better than Revis, better than Asomugha, better than any of the corners that GLS has in front of Talib (who is unranked). And that’s not my opinion, that’s how the Alumni Association voted. Though far from empirical, their opinion is a little more valid than most.
But that just goes to show you how the NFL perceives Talib. He’s not the best corner that nobody talks about, that in my opinion is Vontae Davis of the Miami Dolphins, he’s the corner that gets mentioned but rarely for his ability. Aqib Talib is a top 100 NFL talent without a doubt, he’s arguably top 50. But nobody is going to put him up there until they stop getting distracted by his off-the-field issues. Right now the only thing holding Talib back from being a rising star in the league (from having Talib island commercials and universal recognition) is Aqib Talib.