Grantland’s Bill Barnwell did a good job breaking down why players tend to fall into the same traps that other people do when ranking the best in the NFL, as evidenced by the recent NFL Top 100 Players special.
In the same article linked above, Barnwell has started his own ranking of the best 100 players in the NFL, and has four current Broncos, and one former Bronco in 2014, ranked in the start of his list, including three who were not in the player rankings: Louis Vasquez (81), Chris Harris (62) and Aqib Talib (61).
What he has to say about the Broncos’ cornerbacks is pretty telling about why players can’t always be counted on to effectively evaluate their peers.
I’m not sure how neither of Denver’s Pro Bowl–caliber cornerbacks made it onto the players’ collective ballot, given that this is the best 1-2 combination in the league. The only other corner combo to knock away 15 passes each last year was Cleveland’s duo of Haden and Buster Skrine. The Broncos also ranked among the top five in DVOA against both no. 1 and no. 2 receivers, a group in which they were joined only by the Bengals. While Talib got a mammoth deal from the Broncos in free agency last year, Harris took a deal that had other teams grumbling from the day it was signed.
His ranking of DeMarcus Ware (87) was the same as the players’ vote, and he ranked former Broncos TE Julius Thomas much lower (Barnwell’s ranking is 92, players ranked him 45).
One is free to debate where any player should be ranked on a list, but Barnwell’s criteria seems a bit more on the right track, than player perceptions that tend to be similar to the common fan or media pundit.