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NFL Network's Top 100 Players: Tony Gonzalez Sitting Pretty At No. 46

As the countdown continues into the top 50 players, we find ourselves dealing with some serious superstar players. Tony G finds himself in some pretty great company, ranked among the likes of Wes Welker, Robert Mathis, Brian Urlacher, and fellow Falcon Matt Ryan. As far as tight ends are concerned, he is ranked well ahead of only two others on the list so far: Vernon Davis and Dallas Clark.

Couresty of, we get to hear some pretty high praise for our Hall-of-Fame tight end coming from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. The man was a simply a matchup nightmare throughout his career, but was also a shining example of turning in consistently great play year in and year out.

Still, although I deeply love Tony Gonzalez, you have to consider: should he really be ranked that high? Did his recent numbers really justify him being ranked several spots above Clark and Davis?

Before I'm burned at the stake, here are some numbers from 2010 for thought:

2010:  70 rec, 656 yds receiving, 6 TDs, 9.4 yds/rec

That is his lowest single season reception and yards total since 1998. It is also the lowest yards-per-catch average of his career. Compare that to 49ers TE Vernon Davis:

2010:  56 rec, 914 yds receiving, 7 TDs, 16.3 yds/rec

Factor in that the guy throwing to Davis for most of the year was Alex Smith and you really can't justify ranking Davis 42 spots lower than Gonzalez. But alas, this is probably simply a case of Gonzo's fantastic career numbers and reputation outweighing a sub-par season (for him, anyways).

Regardless of his ranking, however, Gonzalez has had an absolutely fantastic career in the NFL. Often times we as fans (myself  included) can be hard on guys who have set the bar so high for themselves. Even though he may be getting up in age, he can still be an impact tight end in 2011. Clearly, this is one Atlanta Falcon whose performance has not been overlooked.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.