AFC East: Ronnie Lott
As expected, no AFC East players made the top 10 because all of the big names already had been revealed. Some New England Patriots fans probably would argue about their three-time champion quarterback being listed 21st compared to a certain Indianapolis Colts quarterback being eighth.
Here's the rundown of players from the AFC East (with the fan ranking):
- 11 (17). Ronnie Lott, Jets safety
- 20 (6). Brett Favre, Jets quarterback
- 21 (20). Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback
- 24 (--). John Hannah, Patriots guard
- 25 (7). Dan Marino, Dolphins quarterback
- 31 (33). Bruce Smith, Bills defensive end
- 40 (44). O.J. Simpson, Bills running back
- 49 (--). Mike Haynes, Patriots cornerback
- 61 (31). LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets running back
- 65 (24). Randy Moss, Patriots receiver
- 71 (--). Paul Warfield, Dolphins receiver
- 100 (42). Joe Namath, Jets quarterback
What do you think of the list?
Who is missing? Who is overrated? Who isn't high enough?
Reviewing the list made me think back to a phone call I had with Moss two springs ago. In addition to forecasting better offensive numbers in 2009 than the Patriots posted in their record-breaking 2007 season, Moss proclaimed himself the greatest receiver -- and maybe player -- in NFL history.
"I'm the best wide receiver of all-time, hands down," Moss told me.
"I don't really like to judge people or other athletes. I know what I'm able to do on the field, but the things I'm able to do to dictate how a defense plays the game, I don't think there's no other receiver but myself and Jerry Rice to be able to do that."
Moss later added: "To hell with wide receiver. I think I go down as one of the greatest players to ever play this game."
The NFL Network rated Rice as the greatest player of all-time and Don Hutson ninth. Moss was ranked the third-best receiver on the list.
AFC South potentate Paul Kuharsky and Ryan McCrystal from ESPN Stats & Information worked together on a cool project to determine the 50 best buys in NFL draft history.
Every player in ESPN's draft database was applied to a formula that awarded points for top individual honors and Super Bowls. An MVP award was worth 15 points. Each first-team All-Pro selection was worth five points. Super Bowl victories were good for five points. Super Bowl losses garnered 2.5 points.
Player scores then were adjusted based on where they were drafted.
Here are the best buys with AFC East ties:
3. Brett Favre (84.74 points): If not for legends finishing their careers in green and white, the New York Jets wouldn't be represented among the top 50 best buys. Favre spent his final season with the Jets before retiring -- we think -- and accumulated all of his points with the Green Bay Packers.
8. Tom Brady (71.34 points): The New England Patriots quarterback has a chance to rise up the chart because he's the youngest player on the entire list. The only active player ranked higher is Indianapolis Colts star Peyton Manning.
20. Ronnie Lott (65.54): The legendary defensive back amassed all of his points before he joined the Jets, with whom he played his final two seasons.
22. Bruce Smith (64.49 points): The NFL's all-time sackmaster is rated as the second-best No. 1 overall draft pick behind Manning and one of only five on the entire list. Smith played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills.
42. Zach Thomas (54.50 points): The celebrated Miami Dolphins linebacker is the highest-rated active player with AFC East ties on the list behind Brady. Thomas, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas Tech, made five All-Pro teams.
43. O.J. Simpson (54.40 points): With an MVP and five All-Pro honors, he's more decorated than Zach Thomas, but Simpson was the No. 1 draft pick in 1969. Thomas catches up based on the draft-slot adjustment.
49. Thurman Thomas (53.30 points): Barely one point separates the two greatest running backs in Bills history. Thurman Thomas was named All-Pro only twice, but his four Super Bowl appearances get him on the list.
50. Rodney Harrison (53.24 points): His best individual years were with the San Diego Chargers, but team success with the Patriots and a big draft-slot adjustment gave the fifth-round pick from Western Illinois just enough points to make the top 50.