We've reached the end of our epic 100-player countdown and some of our worst fears were confirmed.
It is no surprise that a player-voted list of The Top 100 Players of 2016 rounds out with the likes of Aaron Rodgers (6), J.J. Watt (3), Odell Beckham (10) and Tom Brady (2). Cam Newton was a well-deserving No. 1, and we expanded on his limitless potential in a separate column featuring Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey, which can be found here.
What does surprise us is that players would fail to recognize the importance -- and skill -- of the offensive line in general.
Of the top 100 players that made the NFL Network special, only seven -- Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, Redskins left tackle Trent Williams, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, Panthers center Ryan Kalil and Bills guard Richie Incognito -- made the list and none cracked the top 20. Compare that to 15 wide receivers and 15 quarterbacks (nearly half of regular NFL starters are among the league's best players?) and it seems like the lean toward a fantasy-first league has become more pronounced.
The other issue? Some of the best offensive linemen weren't even recognized. It's difficult to dispute Joe Thomas atop the list, but Terron Armstead, Zack Martin, Trai Turner, Evan Mathis, Travis Frederick, Joe Berger and Jason Kelce all deserved spots, if not a very loud nod in the honorable mention category. If it weren't for these players, it would be awfully difficult for some of the 15 quarterbacks to throw to these wideouts.
Sorry to break up the festivities with an *Old Man Yells at Cloud* rant, but reporters and analysts always get flak from players for viewing the game through the lens of fantasy football fans and not from the trenches. Because of that, we expected to see more of the players who rule the trenches to begin with.
Elsewhere in the top 10...
» Tom Brady is timeless: What else can we say? After another phenomenally consistent season, Brady climbed up a spot from his No. 3 ranking in 2015, and that's probably fair. Other than Newton, no quarterback was as consistent throughout the season.
» Odell Beckham slides in one spot ahead of Josh Norman. Drama!:It really shouldn't be close -- and we're not sure that Norman was a top-20 player, anyway -- but good for Beckham. In just two seasons, the Giants wideout has become an everyday playmaker. If new head coach Ben McAdoo can find a way to free him up in bracket coverage, we could be looking at a record-setting season in 2016.
» Adrian Peterson gets respect:Peterson fell to 62 last season but jumped back up to five after a league-leading 1,485 yards in 2015. Despite his off-field problems, players have idolized the Vikings running back for the better part of a decade. It's hard to imagine him ever falling off the list completely.
» On Cam Newton: As we noted above, we have a special piece just on Newton and his phenomenal 2015 season. I sat down with Newton's quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to break down what is next for the dynamic MVP -- give it a read.