2014 NFL Playoffs: The Top 25 Players Who Missed the Postseason

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Who Are the Top 25 Players Who Missed the Postseason?

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Every year in the NFL, 20 teams don't make the playoffs. However, that doesn't mean some of the best players in the world don't play for those teams. Football is one of those sports that relies on having a complete team to be successful. In the NBA, everybody knows that you just need a couple of stars and the rest of the pieces aren't that important to be a top team. While star players are important in the NFL, they alone won't win you a championship.

So, how did I come up with a list of the top 25 players who didn't qualify for postseason contention? The main criteria was statistics. In this type of list, that just really made the most sense as the best players in 2013 made the most plays. Some of decisions came down to a player's name and reputation, but, of course, that's because of consistency. For example, Olivier Vernon of the Miami Dolphins had a season that was statistically similar to several players on this list, but he didn't make it because it's only the first year he's done it. For guys like that who don't have a track record of great success and have only been in the league a year or two, I only put ones on here who truly did perform above and beyond everyone else.

One other criteria I used was simply the amount of value one player had to their team. So, even if someone had better numbers, they may not have made the list because that other player simply brought more to the table. However, that was really only in play for one athlete on this list.

Now, out of the 20 teams that didn't make the playoffs, only 17 teams are represented. Sorry, but sometimes a team just isn't very good and there isn't one guy you can point to and say was truly an elite player and difference-maker this year. Those three teams that didn't make the cut are the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Dolphins.

Now that all of that is out of the way, please enjoy the show. If you disagree with any of my selections or think I missed someone, feel free to contact me with any of my social media handles below.

Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor for Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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25. Reggie Bush

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions found a piece that has clearly been missing ever since Jahvid Best was forced to retire due to concussions in Reggie Bush. He and Joique Bell have revitalized the running game for the Lions, but Bush gave the Lions that other weapon to keep defenses honest. Though he was banged up throughout the year, in 14 games Bush still had 1,006 yards, four rushing touchdowns and a 4.5 yards per carry average to go along with 54 receptions, 506 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game.

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24. Terrell Suggs

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Defensive end Terrell Suggs had another brilliant season for the Baltimore Ravens, who came up just shy of the postseason this year. Suggs put up 80 tackles, 10 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. There's no question he was a major part of that defense once again, and was named to his sixth Pro Bowl.

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23. Paul Posluszny

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Despite a pretty pitiful year for the Jacksonville Jaguars, one man didn't disappoint. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was second in the league only to Vontaze Burfict in tackles with 161. The man with the abnormally large neck (seriously, look up a photo) also had three sacks, one forced fumble and two INTs with one returned for a touchdown.

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22. Justin Tuck

Justin Tuck- Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants had a historically awful start to the season. Their offense was turnover-prone and the defense was just pitiful. They started 0-6, and Justin Tuck only had half a sack during that time. However, the Giants turned it around from there, finishing the year 7-3, and Tuck was one of the major reasons why as he gathered 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception during that time to help turn the defense and team around.

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21. Larry Fitzgerald

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This is the one guy I had on here not because of his stats, but because of what he meant to the team. Let's not fool ourselves here, the Arizona Cardinals don't have much going for them on the offensive side of the ball. However, Larry Fitzgerald is the one player they can always count on, and he was a major contributor to their 10-win season, despite missing the playoffs in a tough NFC Wild Card race. Despite an inconsistent passer in Carson Palmer who was playing behind a porous offensive line, Fitz still had 82 receptions for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year.

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20. Jared Allen

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All-Pro DE Jared Allen had another double-digit sack season for the Minnesota Vikings, making it the seventh-consecutive year he's hit the mark. Allen finished 2013 with 52 tackles, 13 TFL, two forced fumbles and 11.5 sacks. He's now averaging nearly 13 sacks a season in his 10-year career -- talk about dominant.

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19. Alfred Morris

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Running back Alfred Morris didn't quite match what he did during his rookie campaign, but, of course, the Washington Redskins took a huge step back as a whole, finishing the year 3-13. However, Morris still had a very productive season. He finished with 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. In fact, he and Pierre Garcon were the only consistent playmakers on the offensive side of the ball all year. My guess is, though, that Robert Griffin III will get back on track next season when he's fully healthy, and Morris will follow suit.

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18. Muhammad Wilkerson

Muhammad Wilkerson- The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets' defense regained its form from a couple years ago this season. If the offense wasn't so below average, they might've made the playoffs. However, at least defensively, the main cog to the unit was defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. From his 3-4 DE position, which is typically not known as a glamour position with great stats, Wilkerson had an astounding year. He had 64 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and, surprisingly, an interception.

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17. Mario Williams

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Mario Williams is definitely living up to his huge contract that he signed two years ago with the Buffalo Bills. He had 38 tackles and 13 sacks this season and led the Bills' defense to a new level it hasn't seen in quite some time. If they can get the offense rolling Buffalo, this team might be a playoff contender soon.

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16. Karlos Dansby

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Karlos Dansby was cut by the Miami Dolphins and then rejoined the Arizona Cardinals on a team-friendly one-year deal this past offseason. Man, was that steal for the Cards. Dansby dominated in his return to the team to the tune of 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 19 passes defensed (most by a non-defensive back), one forced fumble and four INTs with two returned for TDs. He was clearly the defensive leader for the best non-playoff team in the league this season, which coincidentally, was carried by their great defense.

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15. Joe Thomas

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Joe Thomas continued his marvelous career as left tackle of the Cleveland Browns in 2013. Sure, Thomas gets here partially because of his career credentials and reputation, as most offensive lineman would on a list like this. However, he backs it up. On 751 pass blocking snaps he was on the field for, only twice did he allow his man to beat him for a sack. That's kind of ridiculous. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the fifth best pass-blocking tackle in the NFL, but he also led the league by a wide margin in pass blocking snaps, meaning he's a model of consistency which is all you want from a franchise left tackle.

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14. Kiko Alonso

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Kiko Alonso is another player on this list that may surprise some, but the rookie linebacker (who at least gets my vote as Defensive Rookie of the Year) had an outstanding season for the Buffalo Bills. He and Mario Williams were the reason the defense played so well for the Bills, and one look at his numbers explains why. Alonso had 159 tackles (third in NFL), 11 tackles for a loss, two sacks, five passes defense, four picks and one forced fumble.

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13. DeAndre Levy

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Another player many would not expect to be on this list is Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. However, he's one of the most underrated at his position and had a career year in 2013. He had 119 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, 15 pass breakups and six interceptions (second in NFL and most among non-defensive backs) with one returned to the house. He's becoming as much a fixture of the Detroit defense as Ndamakung Suh -- who hopefully gets a new coach who can teach him some on-field discipline.

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12. J.J. Watt

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Even though the Houston Texans took a literally unbelievable step back in 2013 finishing the year at 2-14 after making the playoffs the last two seasons, that doesn't mean J.J. Watt did. The third-year defensive end from Wisconsin had 80 tackles, 20 TFL (second in NFL), 10.5 sacks, seven passes batted and four forced fumbles. He's clearly still one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the league, and it's a shame no one has been talking about him since his team did so poorly.

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11. Brandon Marshall

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There was actually a very tough decision to make here as far as the Chicago Bears' receiving corps was concerned. Some may argue that Alshon Jeffery should be in this spot instead of Brandon Marshall, but that would be a false assumption. Sure, Jeffery blossomed in 2013 and certainly garnered much of the spotlight as the season progressed, but Marshall was the reason for much of Jeffery's success. Not only do teams game plan and roll coverages more toward No. 15, but he was also the mentor and motivator to Jeffery working on his game over the summer and getting into the best shape of his life, making Marshall even more valuable to the Bears' offensive success. Of course, Marshall also had a great season, and still a better one than Jeffery at that: 100 catches, 1,294 yards and 12 touchdowns.

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10. Alterraun Verner

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This may be the biggest shocker of them all on this list of the top 25 players to not make the postseason, and I almost put Joe Haden here, who many would probably agree should be. However, Alterraun Verner was better -- much better, actually. The Tennessee Titans No. 1 cornerback only allowed quarterbacks throwing in his direction to have a 55.8 passer rating, the fourth best mark in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. The man he was primarily covering was targeted 79 times this season. Of those, only 39 were completed for 579 yards and a mere two touchdowns. He also had 57 tackles, five interceptions -- one returned for a TD -- and a league-leading 23 passes broken up.

Comparatively, Haden allowed a 74.9 passer rating, 55 receptions on 99 targets and six touchdowns while only having four picks. Still an excellent season, but it's clear Verner had a better one.

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9. Dez Bryant

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Dez Bryant may still act like a nine-year-old boy when something happens that he doesn't like, but there's no question he is a man of a wide receiver. Bryant had 93 catches for 1,233 yards and 13 scores on the campaign. He had three games with two TDs and scored in each of the last five games when the Dallas Cowboys were trying to make the playoffs. He's simply a beast on the field, and if their defense gets some help, maybe we'll actually get to see him in the postseason next year.

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8. Ben Roethlisberger

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The Pittsburgh Steelers, much like the New York Giants, had a horrible start to the season. Beginning 0-4, many thought this team was simply washed up and done. And despite having just a horrible offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger still had a spectacular season. He was ninth in the league with a 92.1 passer rating while throwing for 4,261 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Because of his leadership and production, the Steelers bounced back to go 8-4 over the final 12 games and somehow nearly make the playoffs.

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7. Adrian Peterson

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Adrian Peterson, obviously, makes this list as one of the few elite players in the NFL who didn't lead their team to the postseason. Unfortunately for him, the Minnesota Vikings just aren't very good, but he still had a great campaign. AD finished 2013 with 1,266 yards (fifth in NFL), 10 touchdowns and a 4.5 yards per carry average in just 14 contests. Expect the Vikings to draft a new QB this April, and perhaps then their offense can become more balanced and allow Peterson to put up absolutely ridiculous numbers once again.

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6. Tony Romo

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Love him or hate him, Tony Romo was one of the best players in 2013. He was a top 10 quarterback and was consistently the reason the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to win nearly every week. It's up for debate whether or not it was his fault they lost some of their close games this year and missed the playoffs once again, but with numbers like 3,844 yards, 31 TDs, 10 INTs and a 96.8 passer rating (eighth in the NFL), it's hard to not put him on this list.

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5. Lavonte David

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Lavonte David is one of my favorite young players in the league, and was inexplicably snubbed from the Pro Bowl this year, because he truly did have a fantastic 2013 season. He's a do-it-all type of playmaker from the outside linebacker position as he made 144 tackles, six sacks, 10 passes defensed, five interceptions and a forced fumble. How he didn't make it, I don't know.

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4. Josh Gordon

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This kid is simply unbelievable. Despite playing with three different quarterbacks and being suspended the first two games in 2013, Josh Gordon proved that he's one of the best young receivers in the game by dominating and leading the league in receiving yards. He finished the year with 87 catches for 1,646 yards -- good for 18.9 yards per reception -- and nine touchdowns. He was voted to his first Pro Bowl as well.

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3. Robert Quinn

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St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had an amazing sophomore season. He led the league in tackles for a loss with 23 and was second in sacks with 19. And he was consistent, completing one sack in 11 of the 16 games he played, and had a trio of three-sack games.

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2. Calvin Johnson

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Was there any question that Calvin Johnson aka Megatron would make this list? Johnson had another strong year, as the freakish athlete posted 84 catches, 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns, and in only 14 games. Detroit may have shot themselves in the foot when they had a chance at taking the NFC North, but none of that was the fault of this man.

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1. Matt Forte

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I know how this looks if you've read anything else I've written. I'm a Chicago Bears fan so I put Matt Forte at the top -- not so fast.

Since being drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Forte has been one of the most consistent and best all-around backs in the league, and he had his best season in 2013. Starting and staying healthy in all 16 games for the first time since 2010, Forte racked up 1,339 yards, nine touchdowns and a 4.6 yards per carry average on the ground while grabbing 74 catches for 594 yards and three more scores through the air. He was fourth in the league in all-purpose yards and he set career highs in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards.

Because of his extremely impressive season, he was the best player in 2013 who didn't make it to the playoffs.


End of the 2014 Regular Season NFL Mock Draft