I've always had a thing about "lists". Not that I like or dislike them, just don't really care for them. While they're great debate fodder (especially during SLOOOOW times), they prove utterly useless -- like debating whether or not Steelers fans should be proud of Terry Bradshaw admitting to 'roids use for their clear domination 30 years ago (not that we think it's a big deal at this point. What's done is done, no matter the "convincing argument" of what 'roids were used). Listing the greatest players of all-time is a prime example. Could Jim Brown do today what he did then? Can you make a logical argument who's greater, Brown, Emmitt Smith or LaDainian Tomlinson (who's clearly on pace, if he doesn't retire soon like he's leading us to believe, to break many career records)? Tiger Woods or Jack Nicholaus? Just because someone holds a billion records, doesn't always conclude that he's the great player of all-time -- just the most dominate at the time he played. Could Wilt Chamberlain dominate today's era of the NBA. What about Babe Ruth, fat and out of shape and hung over then, playing against pitchers of today that spend years perfecting their craft with 75 years of knowledge, technique passed down with revolutionary ways of scouting, tracking and preparations. It's not meant to demean their accomplishments; rather comparing their careers isn't a debate that truly works.
Even today, a list of the Top 50 players, doesn't substantiate greatness. Would Carson Palmer be a better quarterback than Tom Brady with the Patriots? Or would Brady be a better quarterback than he is with New England if he were with Cincinnati's offense based on the supporting cast? What if Ryan Leaf was drafted by the Colts (dude, he'd still suck!). With that said, Pete Prisco put up his top-50 list with Tom Brady leading the NFL.
In terms of the Bengals, Carson Palmer ranked 8th. "After Brady and Manning he's the third-best quarterback. The Bengals need to run it a little better to take the heat off him." That last sentence defines accuracy.
Chad Johnson ranked 28th. "He isn't nearly as good as he thinks he is. But he's still pretty damn good. He does have a tendency to disappear in big games." Few people in the NFL rival Johnson's numbers for any season. But Prisco is 100% correct; Johnson does disappear in big games (remember the last three win-and-your-in games ending 2006?). Johnson was behind Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson. Though this is where we start wondering Prisco's "guidelines".
Sorry, no more Bengals. That's it. Thinking about it, I suppose T.J. Houshmandzadeh could have made the list. Not for his 112 receptions that tied Wes Welker for the NFL-best; rather his 12 touchdowns that tied two others for fourth best in the NFL. Greg Jennings and Plaxico Burress also had 12, but also missed Prisco's list.
We assume that 13 touchdowns was the cutoff, until we saw Steve Smith's numbers (87 rec., 1,002 yards, 7 TDs). Smith also had the worst first down conversion rates in the league (49.4%) among receivers that caught 50 passes or more. Roy Williams was second-worst (54.1%). We think Prisco is ranking players based on majority of their career -- if not the seasonal average; though he doesn't quantify his list; therefore accelerates the necessity for debate. With that said, Houshmandzadeh didn't become a full-fledged receiver until 2004. Smith and Houshmandzadeh missed one full season. Here's their comparison since 2005 (when both played full seasons).
Other than the yardage, T.J. caught eight more passes and scored an additional touchdown (just in case you struggled in math). One isn't "greater" than the other, but in Prisco's list, Smith is 21st while T.J. didn't make the list. Chad Johnson, during that same stretch who ranked seven places worse; three wide receiver spots lower:
Take Prisco's list for what it is. Personally, and you knew this was coming, I would have been more aware of listing Smith so high while hurting the Bengals receiver's ratings. Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who split time as #1 and #2 receiver, compared to Smiths' average over the past three seasons. Again, not demeaning Smith. Just wondering where T.J. is and why Chad is ranked so low (disappearing in big games is a nice argument, but he's not exclusive to it).
Ultimately, it's impossible to make a list like this because only one thing is certain; no one will fully agree. Definitely Bengals fans.