Ranking 106 NFL players is a very difficult exercise and there can -- and will be -- arguments about this list.
That said, these rankings are based on how good the players are today mixed with how valuable they are to their organizations. So let's just say Henry Hynoski is the best one-dimensional blocking fullback who has ever played the game; we're still never going to rank him ahead of a strong starting quarterback, pass-rusher or left tackle.
An interesting group of players to quantify is the young "prospects," as we'll refer to them for this exercise. These are mostly rookies whom we just haven't seen a lot of yet. Players such as Ryan Mallett, Shane Vereen, James Brewer and even Prince Amukamara, to some degree.
Many of these guys will fizzle out and won't make an impact at this level. Most will be far more established and gradable a year from now. And maybe one or two will become Pro Bowl-caliber players. There is a lot of room for error when ranking the "prospects."
As for the top of the list, there have been tweets saying Rob Gronkowski deserved top overall billing. That point of view is understandable -- he is pretty much a tight end without weakness who has a chance to become an all-time great at the position -- but we just couldn't put him over Tom Brady or Eli Manning, two truly elite quarterbacks.
The list is littered with Pro Bowlers. Any of the players in the top 15 or so could make an argument to be higher. But difficult decisions had to be made, and this is what we went with.
Go ahead and critique the list below -- don't hold back.
For players 49-106, click here.
1. QB Tom Brady -- Patriots
He has excellent size, solid arm strength and rare instincts and intelligence. He sees the entire field, makes great pre-snap reads and goes through his progressions well. He is excellent in a no-huddle, hurry-up offense. His athletic ability is average and he is not a great scrambler, but he does have enough pocket awareness to avoid some hits and keep plays alive.
2. QB Eli Manning -- Giants
The word "elite" is thrown around far too much in sports. But Manning, like his older brother, is now firmly in that category. He plays the game with ice water in his veins and has become a true master of his craft.
3.TE Rob Gronkowski -- Patriots
He breaks the mold for tight ends with rare size and power and he is the best in the NFL at yards after catch. Because he is so big, it is easy to dismiss his athleticism, but he has some niftiness versus zones and can get deep on his favorite seam route. He runs really disciplined routes for a big guy and can line up all over the formation -- a nightmare matchup for a defender.
4. DE Jason Pierre-Paul -- Giants
There is no one like JPP in the NFL. They just don't make many human beings with his combination of size, length, power and athletic ability. He is now putting all of those amazing traits together. Just wait until he further learns how to play this game.
5. DT Vince Wilfork -- Patriots
He solidifies the interior of New England's defense with size and power and he is nearly impossible to move out of the hole. He can collapse the pocket versus pass with two-gap techniques and has underrated quickness to attack in the gaps. He uses his hands well and protects his body from blockers with good separation. He easily splits double-teams and has done a nice job in recent weeks with interior twists and games.