You like listicles. You also like listicles that either rate the Seattle Seahawks highly or snub them altogether. I like them because they generate traffic and create debate in the comments section.
ESPN has compiled rankings by position (offense and defense only) for the top players in the NFL right now, as opposed to projecting well into the future or living in the past. I mean, at least that was the intent but I have some disagreements. The panel consisted of “more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.”
As for the rankings, here’s the skinny on the formula.
Here’s how it worked: Voters gave their best 10 to 15 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, interviews and research. We had several ties, so we broke them by isolating the two-man matchup with additional voting and follow-up calls. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy — even the honorable mentions.
They started with tight ends and predictably George Kittle was numero uno, followed by Travis Kelce. Next up were the quarterbacks, and Russell Wilson was unsurprisingly #2 behind only Patrick Mahomes. This article is behind a paywall, but I’ll give you a glimpse behind that wall:
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Age: 31 | Highest ranking: 2 | Lowest ranking: 9
Wilson dominated the second-place voting as he leans into his prime years, gaining strength while his peers age. He’s coming off one of his most efficient seasons with a 6.2 touchdown-interception ratio, tops for anyone who also ranked top-10 in passing yardage.
He was the only NFL quarterback to rank top-five in QBR inside the pocket (fifth, 67.9) and outside (fourth, 82.8).
“He can do it all: stand in the pocket, extend plays, kills you on the move, has the magic to him,” one veteran offensive coach said. “Stage gets bigger, he plays better.”
Wilson thrives off unscripted plays so much that some don’t consider him a rhythm-and-timing passer. Former Seahawks receivers are known to have to recalibrate their route running after years of just scrambling to get open in Seattle.
But who really cares when Wilson is tied with Mahomes with 17 touchdowns under duress since 2018, despite having a lesser supporting cast?
“He’s never really had a top-10 receiver, his tight ends are just OK, line isn’t great, and yet he keeps doing it every year,” one NFC exec said.
I really want to know which person had Wilson as only barely a top-ten quarterback in the 2020. That doesn’t make a lick of sense whatsoever. It’s ultimately a minor thing when Wilson is considered the 2nd best QB in the NFL and best in the NFC, but it’s still weird.
Aaron Rodgers is #3 and that just befuddles me and feels a lot more like a reputation ranking — exactly what was supposed to not happen — more than what he really is in 2020. Also a headscratcher is one panelist voting Carson Wentz (#8 overall) as the 2nd best quarterback. I assume his time machine is stuck in 2017.
At running back, Chris Carson gets an “honorable mention” but not a top-ten place. Le’Veon Bell’s monstrous 2019 and literally not playing at all in 2018 was somehow worthy of him getting 10th over Carson and Aaron Jones. Topping the list is Saquon Barkley and not Christian McCaffrey, which is also one I’m not exactly understanding even when reading the quotes. The panelists argue that Saquon playing behind a bad New York Giants offensive line and weak supporting cast should be taken into consideration.
Julio Jones is the #1 ranked wide receiver and you know it’s a deep list when Kenny Golladay and Adam Thielen are honorable mentions, whilst Tyler Lockett is not even worthy of an honorable mention at all. Given A.J. Green’s recent struggles to stay healthy, I’d have thought Lockett would’ve at least had a shout over Green, but perhaps Lockett is the victim of not being on a high-volume passing attack.
Lastly, the offensive tackles feature Tyron Smith and Laremy Tunsil as the 1-2. Duane Brown is an honorable mention but one NFC exec says that while he’s still very good, his “best years [are] behind him.”
There are technically still the interior offensive linemen to be ranked on Sunday but the Seahawks have a rookie right guard, a career backup projected to play center, and I don’t think anyone will rank Mike Iupati as a top-10 interior lineman in 2020.
Check back next week for defense, where Bobby Wagner is inevitably going to be ranked highly as a top linebacker, but I don’t think anyone else in a Seahawks uniform is a lock to earn top-10 status.