Commentary

All 106 Super Bowl XLIV players ranked

Peyton Manning is a no-brainer at No. 1, but who rounds out the top 10?

Originally Published: January 29, 2010
By Scouts Inc. | ESPN.com

Colts QB Peyton Manning recently claimed his fourth MVP award, so it stands to reason that he would top our rankings of the Super Bowl XLIV participants. But what about the other 105 players who are expected to suit up Feb. 7 in Miami? Who follows Manning? And who's No. 106?

For each player in our rankings, we took into consideration his current performance and his play throughout the season. A player's special-teams contribution also influenced our decision.

For players 46-106, click here.

BEST PLAYER ON THE PLANET

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Scott A. Miller/US PresswirePeyton Manning (ranked No. 1) has five TD passes this postseason.

1. QB Peyton Manning -- Colts

He is the best quarterback in the NFL. An elite player with excellent physical tools. No quarterback works harder than he in terms of preparation, and that is why he is the most feared passer in the game.

ELITE PLAYERS

2. QB Drew Brees -- Saints

In just about every game Brees plays in, he would be the No. 1 player on the field. Finding negatives on this stud quarterback is incredibly difficult. If he wins Sunday, even fewer NFL players should be ranked ahead of him. It is already an incredibly short list.

3. WR Reggie Wayne -- Colts

He is an elite receiver. He does not have elite speed but is an excellent route-runner. He shows the ability to separate at all levels. He has excellent hands and is a big-time playmaker.

4. DE Dwight Freeney -- Colts

When healthy, he is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. He shows excellent first-step quickness and speed off the snap. He shows a burst to finish. The Saints will have to give Jermon Bushrod help on Freeney.

5. TE Dallas Clark -- Colts

He is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. He shows excellent versatility, in that the Colts can align him all over the field. He will often be Manning's first look versus the Saints' blitz pressure.

6. DE Robert Mathis -- Colts

Like Freeney, Mathis is an excellent pass-rusher. He is explosive off the snap and shows very good closing speed. The Saints will try to run at him because if he has a weakness, it is defending runs directly at him.

7. S Darren Sharper -- Saints

Not only did Sharper come to New Orleans and nearly win defensive player of the year, but maybe just as important, he also provided an invaluable veteran presence to a team that had been unable to get to the next level. He might just end up in the Hall of Fame someday.

BLUE CHIP

8. CB Jabari Greer -- Saints

The Saints' acquisition of Greer went rather under the radar, but he has been simply superb since arriving in New Orleans. He isn't that far away from the elite cornerbacks in this league, and if he puts together another season like the one he had this year, Greer will deservedly be in that conversation.

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
AP Photo/David J. PhillipThe athletic Marques Colston (No. 9) is Drew Brees' most trusted playmaker.

9. WR Marques Colston -- Saints

The Saints have a ton of weapons for Brees, but Colston remains the top dog. He has very sticky hands to go along with great size, strength and body control. This is the receiver whom Brees trusts most -- which is saying something.

10. G Jahri Evans -- Saints

Evans might now be the best guard in the league. Some of you probably have never heard of this guy. Well, it is about time you learned this name. He's big-time.

11. DE Will Smith -- Saints

Just a step below the top 4-3 defensive ends in the league, Smith is still a fine player in his own right. However, like much of the Saints' defensive front, he was a liability against the run this season.

12. LB Jonathan Vilma -- Saints

Vilma is an energetic Mike 'backer who needs to be protected in the run game -- New Orleans has not been good at that. He is strong in coverage, though, and provides excellent leadership. Vilma is a playmaker.

13. G Carl Nicks -- Saints

Nicks and Evans make up the best guard tandem in the league. Although he is a small step below his linemate, Nicks is a massive road-grader who smothers his opponent. The Colts' smallish defensive front had better be aware of whom they are dealing with.

14. S Antoine Bethea -- Colts

With the loss of Bob Sanders, Bethea has taken on a leadership role in the offense. He is the guy who gets everyone lined up. He is solid versus the run. Good range in coverage, playing man or zone.

15. LB Gary Brackett -- Colts

He is one of the most underrated linebackers in the game. He does not have great measurables but plays more physically than his size and faster than his 40 time. He is very good at running the middle of the field in the Colts' Cover 2 defense.

16. WR Robert Meachem -- Saints

After starting his career very slowly, Meachem lived up to his first-round draft status this season and simply exploded during the second half of the season. He is a physical specimen with a rare blend of size and speed. It is still all in front of this young man.

17. C Jeff Saturday -- Colts

He is a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar player. He is extremely smart and does a nice job handling Manning's checks at the line of scrimmage. He is just an average athlete, but has good short-area quickness in the Colts' zone-blocking scheme.

CORE PLAYERS

18. S Melvin Bullitt -- Colts

He is the player who had to fill the shoes of Sanders. He is a very good run-support safety. He is a solid hitter and will make a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage. Not as polished in coverage, and the Saints will try to find him in the deep half.

19. OT Jonathan Stinchcomb -- Saints

Because of the lack of tackle talent in the NFC this year, Stinchcomb was elected to the Pro Bowl. Although he isn't quite worthy of that honor, he is very solid in every aspect and is one of the better right tackles in the game today.

20. RB Pierre Thomas -- Saints

Thomas is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He is somewhere between Reggie Bush and Mike Bell, and that versatility serves him very well. At his best when he doesn't have to carry the ball 20-plus times, and he rarely has to do so with this group of backs in New Orleans. Thomas did average a tremendous 5.4 yards per carry this season.

21. RB Reggie Bush -- Saints

Somewhat of an enigma, Bush also is in the ideal situation for his dynamic skill set. Few players in the league are able to cause such problems with defensive personnel as Bush, since he is just as dangerous as a wide receiver as a running back. Oh yeah, he might just be the best punt returner in the league as well.

22. WR Pierre Garcon -- Colts

This second-year receiver has been a huge factor in the postseason. Sees a lot of single coverage opposite Reggie Wayne. Unlike this wide receiver unit over the years, he brings big-time speed to the group.

23. RB Joseph Addai -- Colts

He fits very well in this scheme. He is a one-cut runner who shows very good vision. He shows some burst to and through the hole but is not a home-run hitter.

24. TE Jeremy Shockey -- Saints

Shockey no longer can handle a leading role, but in this offense, he has value as a physical over-the-middle supporting actor. He is injured too much and isn't the player he once was, but Shockey can still do damage.

25. LB Clint Session -- Colts

He fits the mold of what the Colts like at outside linebacker. He has very good speed and range to make plays in space. He is not physical in line, however, and can struggle to get off blocks. The Saints will try to run at him.

[+] EnlargeAustin Collie
Jim Brown/US PresswireAustin Collie (No. 26) has emerged into a dependable target for Peyton Manning.

26. WR Austin Collie -- Colts

Rookie receiver who aligns in the slot in the Colts' three-receiver sets. He is extremely quick and is a very good route-runner. He is not big but shows toughness to make plays in traffic.

27. CB Kelvin Hayden -- Colts

He is a perfect fit in their system. Does a nice job of rerouting receivers at the line of scrimmage. Plays the ball well in front of him. He is not as effective in man coverage if he has to flip his hips and run.

28. G Ryan Lilja -- Colts

He is an undersized guard who is a good fit in the Colts' scheme. He is quick getting to the second level and can adjust in a short area. He is not a physical guy when he has a defender on his nose.

29. OT Ryan Diem -- Colts

Longtime starter at the right tackle. He is a limited athlete for the position. He does have good strength when he locks on in a short area. He gets by on toughness and smarts

30. C Jonathan Goodwin -- Saints

Goodwin is a wide-bodied, dependable pivot man who is fortunate to be flanked by a superb set of guards. But this guy is no slouch in his own right and does a nice job in both pass protection and the run game. He deserves more credit.

31. S Roman Harper -- Saints

Harper complements Sharper well and is a good fit in this defense. He is best near the line of scrimmage and is quite effective in run support and as a blitzer. His coverage skills are just OK, and he is at his best moving toward the line of scrimmage.

32. CB Tracy Porter -- Saints

Porter made a huge play against the Vikings. He is very fast and is progressing very well as a cover man. While you have to like his upside, he offers little against the run.

33. DT Sedrick Ellis -- Saints

Ellis has a lot of ability and has shown flashes while plugging up the middle and as an interior pass-rusher. But Ellis hasn't played as well against the run as many tend to think and simply must become a more consistent overall player to fulfill his vast potential.

34. OT Charlie Johnson -- Colts

The starting left tackle, he is a good overall athlete for the position. Shows quickness in his pass set. Can get lazy with his technique at times, so look for the Saints to dial up some blitzes to his side.

35. PK Matt Stover -- Colts

He is a veteran kicker who was 9-of-11 in the regular season. He is still very accurate up to 40 yards, but keep this in mind: He had no 50-yard makes this season.

36. LB Philip Wheeler -- Colts

He is an undersized linebacker with very good speed and range. He shows the quickness to beat blockers to the point of contact. His instincts in coverage have improved this season.

37. LB Scott Fujita -- Saints

Fujita is built like an edge-rusher with good overall length, but that isn't his game. He is a solid contributor who could start for about half the teams in the league but lacks special qualities.

38. LB Scott Shanle -- Saints

Shanle is similar to Fujita. He really struggled this season and could have a hard time securing a starting job in 2010.

39. DE Bobby McCray -- Saints

A decent pass-rusher, but not good enough off the edge to be considered a true pass-rush specialist. McCray is effective as a third defensive end who can come in and contribute. But he isn't starting material.

40. WR Lance Moore -- Saints

Undersized and not physically imposing, Moore caught just 14 passes this season as he consistently dealt with injuries. But last year, he caught 79 passes, including 10 touchdowns. When Moore is right, Brees can lean on him do to the dirty work. He moves the chains.

41. LB Freddy Keiaho -- Colts

He is a former starter who does play some in the Colts' sub packages and on special teams. He does not run very well and is a bit of a liability in coverage.

42. RB Donald Brown -- Colts

The rookie was a solid addition for the Colts. He runs with more pop than starter Addai. He runs with very good pad level and makes yards after contact.

43. P Pat McAfee -- Colts

He is an excellent pooch punter. He had 21 punts land inside the 20-yard line with only six touchbacks. He does a nice job of directional punting, which we might see to negate the Saints' Reggie Bush.

44. CB Jerraud Powers -- Colts

He is a short but plays bigger than his size. He is a very good tackler, which is key in the Cover 2. His route awareness will continue to improve with reps.

45. WR Devery Henderson -- Saints

Henderson has been very up and down throughout his career. He is among the league's fastest players. Once just a bomb threat, he has begun to mature into a more complete player.

For players 46-106, click here.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.