In the final 20 days before the start of the regular season, we are counting down the top 20 players in the NFC East. For a full explanation, see this post.
No. 12 -- Michael Vick, Eagles QB
What's amazing about lists like this is the impact one season can have on them. There's a reasonable chance, if we'd done this exercise a year ago, that Vick would have ranked at or near its very top. He was coming off a 2010 season in which he was possibly the best all-around player in the entire league, a dual threat the likes of which we've rarely seen in NFL history. The mere fact that he still holds the potential to be that player on any given week is enough to warrant ranking him higher on this list than he is here.
But what 2011 brought for Vick was the resurrection of old concerns about his durability and his own personal determination to hone and refine his game the way the great quarterbacks do. There is no questioning his talent, and there never has been. Even in an off year in which he turned the ball over too much and missed three games due to injury, Vick still ranked in the top half of the league in passer rating and in passing yards per game, and third among quarterbacks in rushing yards. There were flashes, even as he struggled, of the great things he can still do.
And perhaps he will do them again. Perhaps 2012 will see a return to Vick's 2010 form. Perhaps a revitalized wide receiver corps will help pump his numbers back up. Perhaps all the talk about all of the offseason work he's done is legit, and this is the year he takes quarterback more seriously as a craft and elevates his game to an elite level. Perhaps he gets through the season without a major injury. His talent and potential land Vick on this list of best players in the division. The many question marks he carries with him into his 2012 season are what keep him from rising higher on it.
Rankings so far:
13. Tyron Smith, T, Cowboys
14. Brian Orakpo, LB, Redskins
15. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
16. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
17. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
18. Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants
19. Evan Mathis, G, Eagles
20. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants