Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Network Top 100: Three Former Badgers Land in Top 20

As any NFL season approaches, one of the many things fans look forward to is the top 100 player list from the NFL Network. With kickoff on the horizon, three former Wisconsin Badgers find themselves in the top 20 of the NFL Network Top 100 players of 2014.

Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson landed at number 20 on the list. Last season he led the Seahawks to a blow out Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos. Wilson finished last year’s regular season with 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions while compiling a 101.2 rating.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Coming in at number 18 just ahead of Wilson is Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. A first round pick in 2007, Thomas will be the anchor for the Browns offensive for the eighth season in 2014. Thomas has started every single game for Cleveland since he has been drafted and will more than likely finish his career with the Browns. He’s protecting Brian Hoyer for now, but it will only be a matter of time before he’s trying to keep Johnny Manziel off his backside. It’s good to see Thomas get the respect that he undoubtedly deserves.

And finally, the highest former Badger on this list is Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt at number 12. But this pick does not come without controversy as many people (myself included) feel like Watt should have been higher on the list, preferably in the top 10.

With that being said, Watt has had a great three years in the NFL including last year when the Texans were a dreadful 2-14. Watt finished the 2013 season with 80 total tackles including 10.5 sacks. The 2012 Defensive Player of the Year will look to improve on these numbers after Houston drafted Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick to help Watt and the Texans defense. No doubt that Watt deserves to be in the top 10 of this list.

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