Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork were the third and fourth New England Patriots players to be named to the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2011” list as players ranked 31-40 overall were announced on Sunday night.
Mankins was ranked 39th overall and Wilfork came in at number 35 as four of the five Patriots players set to be named to the Top 100 list have now been revealed. Wes Welker was ranked 50th overall last week and Jerod Mayo was ranked number 62 three weeks ago.
The list was compiled by a player-only vote and represents the opinions of the players who suit up for the 32 NFL teams each Sunday.
Mankins was the first of the two players to be presented on Sunday as Bill Belichick spoke on Mankins behalf.
“There are tough players and then there are the ‘super-tough’ guys, and I’d say Mankins can go in that category,” Belichick said. “Both physically and mentally, he’s as tough as they come.
Analysts questioned Belichick and the Patriots for taking Mankins with the final pick of the first round in the 2005 NFL Draft as the tackle out of Fresno State was considered a major reach at that slot.
But Mankins transitioned seamlessly to the guard position and has become one of the best offensive guards in the NFL. He has been protecting Tom Brady and opening holes for New England’s running backs for years and has gained respect throughout the league.
“I think guard’s really a tough position to play – it’s a very challenging position,” said Belichick. “But Logan has the skill set and the mentality and the toughness to do it on a play after play, down after down, week after week basis.”
Wilfork was presented shortly after by his former University of Miami teammate and current New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
“It’s just an honor to be in the top 100, especially with what I do, at nose tackle,” Wilfork said about his ranking. “I think a lot of people see me move around a lot, and a lot of media [say] ‘nose tackle, nose tackle’ and I correct them. I’m a defensive lineman.”
The 9.5 sacks and 265 tackles in his seven-year career don’t tell the story with Wilfork as his value can’t be measured in numbers. His large 6-foot-2, 325 pound frame has been clogging up the middle since he entered the league in 2004 and the Pats defense would not be the same without him.
“He was with me in college for three years, I played against him twice a year when I was with the Jets, and the best thing about him is that as big as he’s gotten, it looks sloppy, but when you watch him on film it’s not,” Vilma said about Wilfork. “He’s very explosive, very athletic.”
One New England Patriots players – who of course will be Brady– is set to be named somewhere in the top 30 and the names of players ranked 21-30 will be released on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. on NFL Network.