NFL Network is doing their annual filler piece of the offseason and ranking Julius Peppers took a tumble down the rankings of the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2013, sliding 28 spots down to #54. Here is the clip of Peppers being introduced in the 2013 rankings.
I’m not surprised that Peppers dropped in the rankings. I predicted as much when I wrote up Lance Briggs’ ranking:
Briggs was joined on the 2012 list by teammates Brian Urlacher (51), Devin Hester (48), Matt Forte (33) and Julius Peppers (26). I wonder which if any of those teammates make the list? Urlacher is no longer with the team while Hester and Forte had down years. I suspect Peppers will get in with a drop in his ranking. I would be shocked if Peanut Tillman didn’t make the list and Brandon Marshall is a shoe-in to make it.
Peppers battled through a painful foot injury for most of the 2013 season but ended up having his most successful season in a Bears uniform with 11.5 sacks and 39 tackles to go along with 2 passes defensed and 4 fumble recoveries. Since he’s arrived in Chicago on a record contract, Peppers has started all 48 games but hasn’t put up monster sack totals, the barometer for defensive ends.
The attention that Peppers gets from opponents on every play doesn’t show up in the stats sheet. If you isolate on him on any given series, you’ll see he’s held on just about every play. When drawing double teams, he creates opportunities for his teammates. That’s why the Bears invested a first round pick in Shea McClellin, to be a pass rusher specialist to take advantage of opportunities created by the double teams on the other side drawn by Peppers.
Other Bears making the list so far are Lance Briggs (83) and Tim Jennings surprisingly checking in at #69. I wonder which other Bears will make the list? I suspect we’ll see Brandon Marshall and would be really surprised if Peanut Tillman doesn’t get the nod this season.