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
Lavonte David, Outside Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(TD: #37, RC: #40, CT: NR, RR: #30, DH: #88, DP: #43, RT: #45) 2015 was a down year for David, so it says something about him that he still makes the top 60 in our list. Even in a down year he was a tackling machine. He comfortably lead the team with 147 total tackles as well amassing 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions and 13 passes defended. On his day David is one of the very best 4-3 linebackers in the game and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him much higher up the list this time next year.
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, New York Jets
(TD: NR, RC: #25, CT: #59, RR: 83, DH: #24, DP: #36, RT: #35) Brandon Marshall isn’t the biggest receiver and he certainly isn’t the fastest, yet Marshall put on a show in 2015. With ten 100 yard games and a touchdown in 12 he was the model of consistency and threat. He didn’t have to face a particularly deadly cornerback all year, but reeling in 109 passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick is no mean feat either.
Jamie Collins, Outside Linebacker, New England Patriots
(TD: #42, RC: #65, CT: NR, RR: #42, DH: #22, DP: #35, RT: #47) Collins is one of the most versatile linebackers in the NFL, and Bill Belichick uses that versatility to it’s fullest. He doesn’t rack up the tackles like David does, instead he blitzes often and spends more time outside the tackles in space than David does. 5.5 sacks along with 5 forced fumbles show his impact, but it’s his work in coverage and his range that separate him from other linebackers in the NFL today.
Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle, Carolina Panthers
(TD: #54, RC: #66, CT: NR, RR: #17, DH: #41, DP: #33, RT: #41) Short’s 2015 came out of nowhere. In 2014 he managed 3.5 sacks, not a bad total for a primarily run defending defensive tackle in a 4-3, but last season he turned into Geno Atkins lite. Some of it was luck-driven. His QB Hit total only rose from 11 to 18, that doesn’t exactly indicate someone has turned into a dynamic pass rusher. Still, leading the team in sacks is a terrific achievement for Short.
Greg Olsen, Tight End, Carolina Panthers
(TD: #31, RC: #31, CT: #31, RR: #45, DH: #54, DP: NR, RT: #36) With Kelvin Benjamin tearing his ACL in the pre-season Olsen became the best receiving threat Carolina possessed, and he ended up posting strong numbers as a result. With a career high in targets, yards and yards per catch Olsen was a reliable weapon that defenses had to honour all season.
Richie Incognito, Guard, Buffalo Bills
(TD: #23, RC: #55, CT: #43, RR: #32, DH: NR, DP: #23, RT: #40) Incognito came into Buffalo with something to prove after missing the whole 2014 season and half the 2013 season in the Miami bullying scandal. Well he was able to do just that playing left guard for the Bills. Incognito has long been known as a nasty run blocker, but he took it to a whole new level in 2015 and started obliterating defenders both on straight ahead blocks and especially on pulls. It was a monstrous display
Thomas Davis, Outside Linebacker, Carolina Panthers
(TD: #28, RC: #34, CT: #39, RR: 50, DH: NR, DP: #18, RT: #46) Thomas Davis earned brownie points for playing in the Super Bowl with a broken arm, but beyond that it was another strong season for the Panthers veteran. Davis played in all 16 games last year as well as the playoffs and showed off his versatility throughout. 5.5 sacks, 4 picks and 105 tackles show just how good he is in all facets of the game.
Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
(TD: #18, RC: NR, CT: #42, RR: #44, DH: #59, DP: #20, RT: #30) Roethlisberger’s performance against Seattle would get him on this list by itself. He threw 55 passes against the “Legion of Boom” for 456 yards as he tried to pull the Steelers to an upset win. Just a few weeks later against Denver he threw for 380 yards and completed 40 passes on the league’s best defense. Sure, Roethlisberger had some help from the likes of Antonio Brown, but that doesn’t diminish his incredible form through the 12 games he played in 2015.
Aqib Talib, Cornerback, Denver Broncos
(TD: NR, RC: #26, CT: #22, RR: #34, DH: #75, DP: #27, RT: #13) Talib had a strong campaign in 2015. He was a key part of Denver’s #1 pass defense, locking up one side of the field and allowing Chris Harris to move around and take out specific receivers on different plays. His low interception total is more reflective of the fact that QB’s just didn’t have time to, or want to, throw on him.
Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
(TD: #84, RC: #67, CT: #83, RR: #94, DH: #44, DP: #83, RT: #67) Talib’s team-mate Demaryius Thomas round’s out the first half of our countdown. It’s not surprising that his yardage total would be down in 2015 over previous years. After all Peyton Manning’s arm strength disappeared and when Brock Osweiler was in they mostly ran the ball. In those circumstances 1,304 yards on 105 catches with 6 touchdowns is pretty impressive work from Thomas.