PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass in the first half in front of Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The NFL Network is counting down the 100 best NFL players heading into the 2012 season. And the Cincinnati Bengals finally made their debut Wednesday night after wide receiver A.J. Green was selected as the league's No. 77 player. Green is the third receiver named to the list, behind New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (No. 90) and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (No. 80).
What's interesting is that Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas ranked No. 82, which should suggest that Andrew Whitworth's name will be appearing relatively soon -- yes, we believe that Whitworth is better than Thomas.
Now if we're guessing on remaining players that will make the list, I think Geno Atkins and Whitworth are near certainties. Not sure about Andy Dalton, though it wouldn't be surprising, especially since Joe Flacco made the list at No. 74. But since Green is the only rookie (at least from a brief scan) from last season, perhaps players entering their second-year had to have a near-outstanding rookie season to make the list. Dalton made the Pro Bowl.
Johnathan Joseph (No. 73), Nnamdi Asomugha (No. 79) and Cortland Finnegan (No. 93) have already been listed, meaning we doubt that Leon Hall has a shot. Reggie Nelson would seem favorable, but also just as unlikely after a dreadful career saved just last year. But if this list highlights players heading into the 2012 season without acknowledgement on their entire careers, then perhaps he has a shot.
Which Bengals players do you see joining Green on the NFL Network's top 100 NFL players for 2012?