AFC West: NFL Nation Confidential: Most feared

NFLN survey/feared player: Broncos

January, 9, 2014
There are two words that most NFL people are usually highly averse to during a football conversation.

Folks don’t often like the word "surprised," as in, "Were you surprised by [insert whatever was an issue in the previous game here]?"

And folks don’t like the word "feared." So when a selection of the Broncos were asked about the league’s most feared player, virtually all of them -- nine of 10 to be exact -- took it to mean a playmaker who was difficult to deal with down to down, not somebody who intimidated them.

So while Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh got the nod as the league’s most feared player in the NFL Nation Confidential, Suh got just one of the votes from 10 Broncos who responded to the question.

The winners among the Broncos were 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, with an emphasis on his playmaking and the ability to affect games, and Suh’s teammate in Detroit, wide receiver Calvin Johnson. A lot of people agreed with the Broncos leaguewide, given Johnson finished just behind Suh in the survey and Willis was fourth.

Two of the Broncos went with quarterbacks as their most feared players because, as one of the players put it, "They take everything from you," with Peyton Manning getting one vote and Tom Brady getting one vote.
The first in a series of survey questions leading up to the Super Bowl, NFL Nation Confidential, debuts Thursday. Each team's beat reporter for NFL Nation asked a list of questions to 10 players, granting anonymity to each player to encourage frank answers.

The first question: Who is the most feared player in the NFL? The top answer isn’t much of a shocker, with Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh taking home honors with 19 percent of the vote.

Suh, of course, has earned the ire of both players and fans in the NFL for what most consider his unsportsmanlike behavior at times on the field. Although Suh is considered a dirty player for some of the cheap shots he takes, there is no denying he is one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. Suh has earned three Pro Bowl invitations in four NFL seasons.

Providing an answer to whom you consider the most feared player in the league also depends on your perspective. Several San Diego players went with another Detroit player, receiver Calvin Johnson, who came in second in the survey with 18 percent of the vote. Some players view him as most feared because, as Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano likes to say, he’s a game-wrecker.

NFLN survey/feared player: Raiders

January, 9, 2014
The anonymous survey, in which every ESPN NFL Nation reporter asked 10 players on their respective beats, included the following question: Who is the most feared player in the NFL?

The winner, with 19 percent of the vote, was Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who finished just ahead of his teammate, receiver Calvin Johnson.

No Oakland Raiders players finished in the top seven of balloting, in which 48 players received votes.

In speaking to Raiders players, none voted for Suh while two went with Johnson and two others picked Houston Texans defensive end and reigning NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, who finished third in the poll with 7.5 percent of the vote.

The rest of the top seven: San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis (7.2 percent), Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (6.6), Cincinnati Bengals LB James Harrison (5.6) and Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (5.0).

Truly, with the paradigm shift underway in Oakland, it’s hard to envision a Raiders player making this list anytime soon. Lamarr Houston, perhaps? It’s a far cry from the days of Bill Romanowski to the likes of Lyle Alzado to Jack Tatum and Ben Davidson, for example.