Sabrina B.

Peyton Manning the NFL’s 50th-best player?

Whether you consider that a compliment to a guy who hasn’t played in nearly 18 months or a slap in the face to the league’s only four-time MVP, it was the lead story of Wednesday night’s installment of NFL Network’s The Top 100 Players of 2012, a 10-part series determined by the votes of active players.

Thirteen quarterbacks made the cut overall with five ranked behind Manning – Tim Tebow(No. 95), Tony Romo(No. 91), Joe Flacco (No. 74), Michael Vick (No. 70) and Philip Rivers(No. 61) — and seven in front of him, though only Matthew Stafford (No. 41), who’s coming off a 5,000-yard passing season, has been revealed to this point. (Presumably, the final six are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisbergerand Aaron Rodgers.)

Some of Manning’s peers didn’t think he should be ranked at all after spending last season on injured reserve. Others were far more effusive in their praise:

  • Packers C Jeff Saturday, Manning’s longtime teammate in Indianapolis: “I’m pretty impressed. To go through a whole year and not touch the field and still be ranked 50, you must be doing something right. Obviously there’s still a lot of guys who have a ton of respect for him.”
  • Steelers FS Ryan Clark: “If we’re talking about the impact that a certain player had on the success or failure of his team, Peyton Manning may need to be No. 1.”
  • Titans S Jordan Babineaux: “I’ve never seen one player in particular have this kind of a impact on a franchise when he don’t play.”
  • 49ers QB Alex Smith: “That team’s (the Indianapolis Colts) a playoff-caliber team — Peyton’s not there anymore, and look what happens.”
  • Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson: “Any time you’re a four-time NFL MVP, you should always be on the list.”
  • RB Thomas Jones: “Even though he didn’t play, I think there’s a lot of guys that will still say he’s the best player in this league. Period. Hands down.”

It is interesting to note that a fullback — Ravens all-pro Vonta Leach, No. 45 — finished ahead of Manning, though Leach is clearly highly regarded after being voted No. 65 in 2011.

Here’s the list of players ranked 41-50:

  • 41. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
  • 42. Jason Peters, LT, Eagles
  • 43. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
  • 44. Jason Babin, DE, Eagles
  • 45. Vonta Leach, FB, Ravens
  • 46. Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos
  • 47. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers
  • 48. Devin Hester, KR/WR, Bears
  • 49. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers
  • 50. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos