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Bengals' Bernard 88th in player rankings

CINCINNATI -- Earlier this summer, many of the people behind ESPN's NFL coverage sat down and ranked the best current players in the league.

It was all for ESPN.com's #NFLRank series, which debuted Monday with player rankings 100-91. Offensive players and defensive players were separated, meaning the rankings cover the top 100 players on offense and the top 100 on defense. On Tuesday, the countdown reached players 90-81.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth made it on Monday's reveal, landing at No. 92 among offensive players. Running back Giovani Bernard was part of Tuesday's rankings, coming in at No. 88.

While Whitworth's ranking was a little surprising considering he was named the No. 9 player on Pro Football Focus' top 101 players list earlier this year, Bernard's fell right in line for a second-year player who still is gaining league notoriety. He didn't have the most rushing yards, nor did he have the most total yards among backs, but he was one of the more valuable pieces on his team. He also was one of the better skill position rookies in the NFL.

Only Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell had more total yards among league rookies in 2013.

To his credit, Bernard collected 1,209 yards and had eight touchdowns last season. He was also among the most dynamic players last season, routinely rattling off highlight-worthy runs. His field-crossing, zigzagging 35-yard touchdown run at Miami has been upheld as the best in a series of similar head-turning runs. He seems poised to have even more in Year 2.

These rankings are based on votes from 90 of our NFL experts. Yes, that group includes yours truly, along with the other 32 team reporters who make up NFL Nation. Here is the full list of voters.

You can read the full 100-91 breakdown here.

Bernard's No. 88 ranking comes after he was unranked last summer. His rise shows that he is gaining notoriety now that he has played a full season. That rise also came with him earning a 6.62 average vote, tying him with Broncos guard Luis Vasquez and Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Vasquez and Vollmer ranked 87th and 86th, respectively, because they had more ballots with higher numbers than Bernard.

Here's the blurb on Bernard from the #NFLRank rankings:

The Bengals averaged 5.8 yards per play with Giovani Bernard on the field last season and 4.9 yards per play with him off the field.
-- ESPN Stats & Information