The NFL Network has revealed its annual list of the Top 100 Players in the NFL, as voted on by the players, and only two Cincinnati Bengals made the list.
A.J. Green (17) and Geno Atkins (68) are the Bengals’ top two players, though, Vontaze Burfict has also made a name for himself as one of the best guys on the team as well as one of the best in the NFL.
In just 11 games played in 2016, Burfict put up 101 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 passes defended and 2 interceptions. He missed three games due to suspension for repeated violations of the NFL safety rules and another two due to a concussion.
Burfict didn’t make the Top 100 list this year, which is a decision influenced by his reputation around the league as being a “dirty” player. Not too many NFL players not on the Bengals’ roster are willing to go out of their way to say kind words about Burfict or give him the recognition he deserves as one of the game’s best linebackers.
But, Burfict did come in as one of the players who “just missed” the top 100. Though, his ranking as the 141st best player in the league is hardly fitting as it’s not “just missing” the top 100 and he is FAR, FAR better than the 141st ranked player in the NFL.
“He does a good job, man, I really respect his game,” Vinny Rey said of his teammate.
But, what did some players outside of the organization have to say about Burfict? And who were the players willing to speak positively about the Bengals linebacker?
"When you're in between those white lines and he's playing the linebacker position, he's one of the best in the league,” Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “He plays with that tenacity and the anger that you want every linebacker to play with. He's the real deal.”
+1 for an AFC North rival speaking out about Burfict’s ability.
"The defense feeds off his energy the way that he plays. Physicality is obviously what he's going for," Giants running back Rashad Jennings said.
The Bengals vs Giants Week 10 game last season may have influenced Jennings’ thoughts on Burfict as the Bengals linebacker had a great game at MetLife Stadium.
Making plays in coverage, against the run and as a pass rusher, this was Vontaze Burfict's best game of the year. pic.twitter.com/V9WMP17ho5— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 21, 2017
P.J. Dawson also spoke about Burfict as an "instinctual baller" who can "make plays whenever he wants to". But again, that’s a teammate commenting on Burfict.
The NFL was able to find all of two players willing to speak on the record about Burfict...or at least that’s what they were willing to show us in the highlight video.