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A look at AFC East top 25 player omissions

By Tim Graham

My AFC East top 25 list will conclude Friday morning, and since we can guess who No. 1 will be (hint: It doesn't rhyme with Shim Shebow), I thought it would be a good time to address all the various grievances volleyed my way over perceived snubs.

As I've said all along, there are a horde of great players in the AFC East. Several very good players, even reigning Pro Bowlers, didn't make the list. I'll try to explain a few decisions, and then you can vote on who you thought the most glaring omission was.

First, I need to mention two players who would've made my top 25 if their status wasn't so cloudy: right guard Brian Waters and defensive end Andre Carter, standouts for the New England Patriots last season.

Waters is coming off his sixth Pro Bowl in eight seasons, but nobody has made a definitive statement about his future. He might retire, a possibility bolstered by his decision not to report to camp this week. But it's possible he and coach Bill Belichick have an understanding. Waters is 35. He could be saving himself for the regular season with Belichick's blessing.

Carter, a Pro Bowler with 10 sacks last season, remains a free agent. Therefore, I couldn't include him on my list. He might end up with a team outside the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins nose tackle Paul Soliai, a franchise-tag player and Pro Bowler last season, was on the cusp of making my list. But I simply didn't have enough room.

Same with New York Jets linebacker David Harris. He has gained a reputation as one of the NFL's most underrated players. He had another fine statistical season with five sacks and four interceptions -- bonus production from an inside linebacker -- but I value other positions more.

My list featured Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis at No. 2, nose tackle Sione Pouha at No. 14 and cornerback Antonio Cromartie at No. 24. Inside linebackers are easier to find than great defensive linemen and corners. They had priority. Bart Scott didn't make my list either. Patriots star Jerod Mayo, at No. 19, was the only inside linebacker to appear.

Although there wasn't a loud protest, I did hear from a few Buffalo Bills fans who thought newcomer Mark Anderson should make the cut. Anderson tied Carter for the Patriots' sack lead last season, but Anderson has started only six games over the past four seasons. Let's remember Tully Banta-Cain had 10 sacks for the Patriots two seasons ago.

Bills guard Andy Levitre almost made the cut. He has proven himself to be a versatile and highly reliable offensive lineman, but those 25 spots filled up quickly.

Strangely enough, I haven't fielded a single complaint about Tim Tebow not appearing in the top 25.

Based on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012 list, Tebow is the AFC East's ninth-best player. Feel free to call me a contrarian.

Now is your time to vote on the player you think most deserved to make the top 25. Because my clientele mostly is comprised of Bills fans, I broke the poll into two categories: Bills and non-Bills. Any Bills player in a poll with other AFC East players would've distorted the results.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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