- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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He might be the reigning NFL MVP, but according to ESPN's #NFLRank project, Adrian Peterson isn't even the best -- or second-best -- player in his own division.
The project, which ranked the top 100 offensive and defensive players in the league, concluded today with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers atop the offensive rankings, followed by Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Peterson was No. 3 on the list -- behind two record-breaking players in the NFC North -- but how do you Vikings fans feel about it? In the words of Minnesota's own Coen brothers, vis-à-vis one of the most enduring characters they created, I'm guessing this aggression will not stand, man.
Here's what ESPN Stats & Information had to say about Peterson:
"In 2012, Peterson had 1,019 rush yards after contact, which would have made him the NFL's 16th-leading rusher. In the past four seasons, Peterson has 2,918 rush yards after contact, the most of any NFL player."
My take: Even though Peterson had a MVP-worthy season in 2012, I didn't expect a panel of experts to rank him as the top player in the league. The game right now is the province of quarterbacks, and it's tough to find one better than Rodgers, who won the MVP a year before Peterson did and led the league in several statistical categories last season. I could quibble a little more with the selection of Johnson over Peterson, considering how much the Lions' offense is tailored to him putting up garish numbers. Peterson is the focal point of the Vikings' offense, yes, but it's not as easy for an entire defense to gear up for Johnson the way opponents try to prepare for Peterson. Still, we're picking nits here between three tremendous players, and there's no question Peterson is among the very top tier of the game's elite. Where he fits in that tier might be a matter of personal preference.