Finally, after watching spot by spot announced on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2012, Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers has earned his spot on it. Seeing several other players make the list only meant that the 49ers' team leader and perennial Pro Bowler would be ranked high on the list. Willis came in at number 10 on the list and while being the tenth best player in the league is an honor, I thought maybe he deserved to go a little higher. (But that is probably just me being a big-time Patrick Willis fan.)
With his colleagues and teammates giving their testimony to his greatness and having watched him play for the 49ers since joining the team in 2007, you just know that he is undeniably the best linebacker in the league. He now sits where Ray Lewis used to and oddly enough, Willis reminds many, including myself, of Lewis when he was younger.
Let's take a look at some of what Willis does best and how it helped him earn a spot on the NFL Top 100's Top Ten:
He is easily one of the most explosive players in the NFL. When he hits a player you can just tell that it hurt that much more just because it was Willis on the other side of that tackle. He also has the ability to get off the line of scrimmage and into the backfield quicker than a lot of players. That first step is always important and Willis is one of the best in the league at getting an explosive start.
Willis rarely misses a tackle. His strength and speed combine to form the ultimate "tackling machine," as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens put it. He makes plays that many people don't expect him to and he makes it look far too easy. Once Patrick Willis has you in his grasp, you'd be lucky to get away - and be even luckier if he doesn't strip the ball.
I don't think there is anyone in the NFL that can cover ground sideline to sideline better than Patrick Willis can. In comparison to his tackling ability and explosiveness, his athleticism may be Willis' best weapon - simply because it affords him the opportunity to make plays that may come unnaturally to other players.
In total, Willis is the 49ers' defensive leader and you would be hard pressed to find a team in this league that wouldn't Willis in the same capacity. His ranking at number 10 is an honor that won't go overlooked, yet it won't be a cause for Willis to stop working hard. Willis will now look towards 2012 with an even greater goal, earning the 49ers their first Super Bowl title since 1994.
Food for thought: Do you agree with Patrick Willis' ranking or do you think he deserves to be a little higher? Is he the best linebacker in the NFL? If not, who is?
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.
You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp
49ers.com. NFL Top 100: No. 10 Patrick Willis. NFL 2012.
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