If you're still paying attention to football these days -- and the assumption is you are because, well, you're on a football blog -- then you're probably aware of the fun exercise the NFL Network is undertaking in ranking the league's top 100 players.
The countdown started at No. 100 and is down to No. 61 so far with more installments on the way until we reach No. 1. I have the feeling Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will find themselves vying for No. 1, and if they don't something is definitely wrong.
Dolphins players in that elite group?
Cameron Wake hit No. 63 in the released list of top 100.
"They asked me and when I voted, I didn't put myself in there," Wake said.
Wake definitely deserves the recognition. But that which is most exciting about Wake is that while other pass-rushers such as Pittsburgh's LaMarr Woodley will already find themselves rated behind Wake, there is so much further Wake can go.
I see Wake becoming every bit as dominant as Woodley's running mate in Pittsburgh, James Harrison. Harrison isn't as big, isn't as quick or as explosive as Wake. He is much more refined in his technique, he's slightly stronger in the upper body and his work ethic is beyond reproach.
DeMarcus Ware also will be ranked among the league's top 39 players.
So Wake, with one great 14-sack season on his resume, can definitely improve. (I would tell you he'll be a lot better if Koa Misi or another Dolphins rusher offers a counter-balancing rush threat as Woodley does for Harrison.)
Interestingly, Wake rates ahead of Houston defensive end Mario Williams on this list. Williams, you'll recall, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. Think of the bargain the Dolphins got in adding Wake as an free agent out of the Canadian Football League.
Wake isn't the only Dolphins player on this list. Brandon Marshall is the NFL's 61st best player, according to the voting by his peers.
I have no problem with the ranking. Marshall, when he's right, when he's healthy, when he's feeling confident and engaged and enthusiastic, can be elite. Unfortunately, if you pay attention to the video of Marshall on the NFL Network site, most of his highlights come when he's in a Denver uniform.
Now, I recognize Marshall played most of his career in Denver and only one season in Miami. But the point I'm making is I still haven't seen in Miami the WR that Marshall was in Denver. Just look at his running ability in the Broncos uniform. Watch Marshall's ability to cut once he has the ball to make the defense miss. I didn't see that in Miami last year.
I saw Marshall break tackles on sheer strength and power. But I didn't see that kind of quickness. Not even close.
Marshall was working toward getting back that kind of quickness this offseason when he was stabbed by his wife in a domestic violence incident that is still unsettled. And although Marshall is expected to recover from the incident with his wife, he has not yet returned to working out fulltime.
NFL.com senior columnist Vic Carucci writes that Marshall deserves to be higher on the list of the Top 100 if one accounts for talent alone. But talent is not the only thing that decides a player's success in the NFL. So Carucci points out that Marshall is ranked where he is based on the fact other players didn't trust his him off the field.
Carucci goes on to outline the off-field issues Marshall has had and makes the point that if one is not on the field or free of off-field worries, it is tougher to reach one's potential. That, the columnist hypothesizes, is the reason a talent of Marshall's scope is pushed down the list of the top 100.
I would tell you the Dolphins have two more players with significant hope of being in the Top 100 -- ILB Karlos Dansby and LT Jake Long.
Dansby might or might not make it. Long is a certainty.
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