With the NFL’s top 100 well under way, we here at Real Sport thought we would give you our own version; The RS 100. Every writer here had the chance to vote for the 100 best players from the 2015 season. This ranking was done regardless of position value or salary cap cost. It was simply based on who had the best 2015 season. As a result you won’t see quality players like Jordy Nelson anywhere on our ranking as he didn’t play a single snap in the 2015 season. Voting panel: Toby Durant, Remy Cabache, Cameron Tennyson, Rebecca Rennie, Daniel Hernandez, David Pruett, Ryan Tolster
Derek Carr, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
(TD: NR, RC: #95, CT: #65, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: #95, RT: NR) We start with Oakland’s second year quarterback Derek Carr, who took an enormous set forward in 2015. He completion percentage lept up to 61.1% as he threw for 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. A big reason for his statistical improvement is the effort made by Oaklands front office to help him out. They signed Michael Crabtree as a free agent and drafted the terrific Amari Cooper in the first round. As a result Carr had a lot more ease finding targets and completing passes.
Lamar Miller, Running Back, Houston Texans
(TD: #97, RC: NR, CT: NR, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: #68, RT: #86) Lamar Miller has long been an underrated, and underused, running back. However in 2015 he put together a strong campaign that showcased his talents. Despite starting all 16 games for the Dolphins they only handed him the ball 194 times, but no matter. Even with a creeky offensive line in front of him Miller averaged 4.5 yards per carry. He also pulled in 57 catches over the season for an impressive 8.4 yards a go. His yardage total of 1,269 (across both runs and catches) was very strong and he scored 10 touchdowns to just the 1 fumble. It’s no wonder Houston went after him so strongly in the off-season.
David DeCastro, Guard, Pittsburgh Steelers
(TD: #85, RC: #38, CT: #80, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: NR, RT: NR) Our first linemen on the list. It has taken David DeCastro a while to really get going in the NFL after he entered the draft as a highly touted prospect back in 2012. A broken leg as a rookie didn’t help matters but in 2014 he really hit his stride, and that level of improvement continued into 2015 when he made his first All-Pro team. DeCastro spent most of 2015 ripping open lanes in opposing defenses for LeVeon Bell and DeAngelo Williams and we fully expect him to do so again in 2016.
Kelechi Osemele, Guard/Tackle, Oakland Raiders
(TD: #51, RC: NR, CT: NR, RR: #43, DH: NR, DP: #78, RT: NR) Another linemen checks in at #97. Kelechi Osemele received an enormous 5-year, $58.5 million free agent contract this off-season after yet another fantastic campaign with the Baltimore Ravens. Osemele is an incredibly well balanced and brutally strong blocker. His feet are good enough to play tackle and his power is more than plentiful to dominate at guard. Oakland have a player who will help their already strong offensive line.
DeMarcus Ware, Defensive End, Denver Broncos
(TD: NR, RC: #50, CT: #36, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: #51, RT: NR) The veteran pass rusher as lost a step or two since his heyday, but he is still a very good piece of already strong defense. While as a pass rusher he is overshadowed by Von Miller and put up the second-lowest sack total of his career while only managing to play 11 games, his positional sense as an edge defender remains very strong.
Travis Kelce, Tight End, Kansas City Chiefs
(TD: #99, RC: #98, CT: #72, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: #97, RT: NR) Kelce exploded into the 2015 season with a 106 yard, 2 touchdown day in week one against Houston. From then on defenses were fully aware of his danger as a receiver and began throwing assets at covering him. That kind of impact can not be ignored, regardless of what many will see as a disappointing season total in the passing game. He was also an impactful blocker in the running game for Kansas.
Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
(TD: NR, RC: #81, CT: NR, RR: #92, DH: #91, DP: #84, RT: NR) Stewart missed out on his second career 1,000 yard season by a hair. But that’s ok. He became the bellcow back for Carolina, responsible more for the hard yards than the explosive ones. He missed 3 games in 2015, and posted a disappointing 4.1 yards per carry, but his consistency and reliability for Carolina was key to their success.
Brandon Marshall, Inside Linebacker, Denver Broncos
(TD: #78, RC: #97, CT: #69, RR: NR, DH: NR, DP: NR, RT: #87) Marshall played a full season for the first time in his career in 2015 and he made the most of it. His range and strength against the run was terrific but he also flashed good awareness and agility in coverage. Marshall lead the Broncos in solo tackles while also picking up 1.5 sacks, an interception and 2 forced fumbles as he became a truly all-round linebacker.
Devin McCourty, Safety, New England Patriots
(TD: #98, RC: NR, CT: #93, RR: #66, DH: NR, DP: NR, RT: #70) While he missed a pair of games in the regular season, McCourty’s 2015 season was simply terrific. His range as a deep safety is among the best in the league, since Bill Belichick doesn’t let him off the leash as often as other free safeties McCourty’s best work is rarely seen. He is a superb protector of the deep pass for New England. His instincts are often correct, allowing him to get a jump on even the fastest receivers.
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
(TD: NR, RC: #87, CT: #89, RR: NR, DH: #82, DP: #62, RT: NR) Maclin put in a solid season in his first year with Kansas, pulling in 87 catches for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is the first legitimate outside threat the Chiefs have had since the days of Dwayne Bowe in 2011, and his big free agent deal paid off as the Chiefs passing game was much improved in 2015.