The NFL Top 100 is an annual list aired on the NFL Network in which NFL players vote on the top one hundred players in the league. Since its conception in 2011, it has been a widely talked about event that fans around the country look forward to every year.
That is, except for Chicago Bears fans.
The 2018 edition has officially concluded, and no Bears players were voted onto the list. This marks the second year in a row that the list has lacked a representative from the team, as the 2017 edition also lacked a player from the Monsters of the Midway.
The last NFL Top 100 list that featured a Bears player was in 2016, when running back Matt Forte was voted to the No. 90 overall spot. Although he was technically a member of the New York Jets when he was voted onto the list, he had been voted onto the list for his performance as a Bear during the 2015 season.
A lack of Bears players on the NFL Top 100 list is not incredibly surprising, as the team lacked a true star player during the 2017 season. Plus, 5-11 teams don’t typically make headlines very often. Nevertheless, there are two players who at least have a valid case to make the list: running back Jordan Howard and defensive end Akiem Hicks.
The former is especially surprising, considering the fact that Cleveland Browns running back Carlos Hyde made the list over him. Howard had more rushing yards and yards per carry than Hyde, and only one rushing touchdown fewer than Hyde. Although the snub isn’t as outrageous as last year, when Howard finished second in the league in rushing yards, one would figure that two consecutive 1,000-yard performances would be enough for his fellow players to take notice.
Hicks’ snub is more understandable, as interior defensive linemen usually don’t get the respect they deserve. However, there’s no denying that his 2017 outing was better than some of his fellow linemen that made the list. Ndamukong Suh, for example, had four fewer sacks, six fewer total tackles, one fewer quarterback hit, one fewer quarterback pressure and nine more penalties than Hicks last year. Hicks also ended the season with 31 run tackles for two yards or less, which finished second in the league. He also finished the season with more sacks than Fletcher Cox and Jurrell Casey, both of whom having appeared on the list. On film, Hicks was a consistent force in the backfield for a Bears defense that lacked the ability to penetrate as a whole. Needless to say, his case to make it on the list is a strong one.
Also, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was voted into the NFL Top 100, despite only having started five games last year. What’s up with that?
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Bears are in a good position to have someone appear on the list next year. If Howard puts up another 1,000-yard season, then it may be likely that he makes his debut on the list in 2019. Hicks could catch the eyes of voters if he tops seven sacks for the third season in a row. Wide receiver Allen Robinson made an appearance on the list in 2016 as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, so he could make it as a Bear with a strong bounce-back season after his ACL tear last year. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been compared throughout the offseason to Los Angeles Rams signal-caller Jared Goff, who was voted No. 38 on this year’s list. If Trubisky has a sophomore campaign similar to Goff’s, then he could see a meteoric rise. Other players like Kyle Long and Roquan Smith could be dark horses to make the list, as well.
Until then, though, Bears fans are just going to have to wait some more until their team gets the respect they feel they deserve.