The analysts at nfl.com have been working overtime with all their debatable topics. We looked at their 'Urlacher a hall of Famer' debate last week, and this time up we'll dive into their thoughts on Devin Hester being named the 32nd top player by his contemporaries in the NFL Networks Top 100 Player list.
First off, the NFL Network's Top 100 is a list voted on by the NFL players; Is there any one better to vote for such a list? Players know who are tough to defend, players know who they'd rather not face, players know who takes up meeting time during the week to prep for. The NFL Players truly know who the ballers are. If they think Hester ranks that high, that's good enough for me.
Jason La Canfora says of Hester's ranking;
This, to me, is a stretch. If we're basing 2010 production as a major category for inclusion, then I don't see him being nearly this high. Top 100 talent? Sure. Top 100 skill set? Yep.
If "we're basing"? We're not, they are. He goes on to say;
and, with him so heavily invested in the offense now, his prowess on special teams was muted.
Muted? He set his career high in kick return average, he had 3 more punt return touchdowns, was voted to the Pro Bowl as a return man again, and kickers and punters still try their best to keep the ball away from him when ever possible. Muted my ass.
Steve Wyche, Pat Kirwan, and Bucky Brooks, are all fine with Hester's inclusion on the list, although Kirwan though he should have been a bit lower. Here's some highlights from their comments:
He is a game-changer. Teams scheme for him, mostly how to avoid him... Hester is a rare athlete who should be on this list for being the greatest return man in the history of the NFL... Hester absolutely deserves to be this high on the list because he is one of the league's biggest-impact players.
Vic Carucci thinks "voters went overboard" by putting Hester on the list.
Any player who shows up in the top 50, let alone the top 40, should contribute at a consistently high level at a regular position rather than making the bulk of his impact as a specialist.
It is the same argument that is commonly heard in opposition to a specialist being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Deion Sanders, who headlines Canton's Class of 2011, is one of the greatest returners of all time ... but he also is one of the best cornerbacks the game has ever seen.
fyi, that bold was mine... I'll agree that Prime Time is one of the greatest return men of all time, and if it wasn't for his ability as a corner he wouldn't be in Canton. But Devin Hester is The Greatest returner of all time, and even if he remains average as a wide out, he'll still have some Hall Of Fame credentials due to his play making ability and his impact on the game.
Elliot Harrison has the weakest argument of his detractors.
I can't in good faith put Devin Hester in the top 40. He is the best returner the game has ever seen, but if Hester belongs that high, then Raiders punter Shane Lechler should be in the top 70 or so. He affects the game every bit as much as Hester does on special teams.
I'll agree that Lechler can turn field position in the Raiders favor with a punt, but Hester does more than simply flip field position. He brings fear into the equation. Punters are instructed to keep the ball away from Hester by directional punting, high booming punts to limit his opportunities, and just punting the ball out of bounds. Hester impacts the game by scoring TD's in special teams. Factor in his offensive snaps where the defense is aware of his every move and you have a player that brings more to the table than a punter.
Now it's your turn, give us your take on Hester at #32 on their list.