Some thoughts on the Pac-10 top-30 list

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
7:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The attempt to rank the Pac-10's 30 best players certainly generated a lot of debate.

Some were unhappy who was left off.

Some were unhappy where some were ranked.

Some seemed to enjoy the list a lot, even when they were unhappy.

Because I don't want Friday's mailbag to ONLY be about the top-30 list, I thought I'd take on some issues.

  • Folks seemed most disappointed that Oregon safety T.J. Ward, California defensive lineman Cameron Jordan and USC guard Jeff Byers were left off the list. I can understand that.
  • Some Oregon fans were peeved that LeGarrette Blount was ranked No. 14. Too low, the Ducks adherents said. Maybe. Blount was a touchdown machine in 2008, even though he was a backup. But Blount was hurt by his off-season suspension -- yes, I factored in everything. He also had 13 carries for 1 yard against USC and California, the Ducks two Pac-10 defeats. He also needs to improve as a receiver and blocker.
  • Not saying it for sure -- you know, you've got to let things percolate -- but California running back Jahvid Best might have been No. 1 if not for his off-season surgeries -- elbow and foot -- that knocked him out of spring practices. Durability is another factor.
  • Another guy who may have seemed too low was Stanford running back Toby Gerhart at No. 25. Gerhart was hard to rank. He was docked because he may end up bolting to play baseball -- he's not participating in spring practices -- and it seems like the NFL doesn't know what to make of him. That said, I am not unsympathetic to the position that he should have been higher.
  • Lots of Joe McKnight critics. And, yes, his No. 12 ranking was based on potential more than production. But McKnight continues to be a high-level NFL prospect. And if he stays healthy -- a big if -- and gets 150 or more touches, he could become an All-American this year.
  • Watched the debate between fans of USC's Taylor Mays, No. 1 on the list, and Tennessee backers of Eric Berry. Interesting. And sometimes ridiculous. Both are fabulous players and talents. And it's far from determined who will go first in the 2010 NFL draft. Mays' role will be slightly different this year, which should allow him to make more plays and get his hands on the ball more. Of course, you won't hear me say anything bad about Berry. Just a great freaking player.

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