(247 SPORTS) – Further proof that Von Miller is better than Khalil Mack.
The NFL revealed Monday that the Denver Broncos’ superstud linebacker was voted by his peers as the ninth player on the Top 100 list for 2018. Mack, his Oakland Raiders counterpart, came in at No. 16.
This is a dip in standing for Miller, who placed No. 2 on the 2017 list, but not too shabby considering the Broncos’ deplorable record (5-11), his lack of game-changing plays (“only” 10 sacks, two forced fumbles) and the quality of players he bested (Aaron Rodgers, Luke Kuechly, Jalen Ramsey and Alvin Kamara — to name a few).
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earned the top spot this year, followed by Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Eagles QB Carson Wentz, Falcons WR Julio Jones and Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. Los Angeles RB Todd Gurley, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Saints QB Drew Brees finished No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (No. 86) and quarterback Case Keenum (No. 51) were the only other Broncos to crack the list.
Despite earning fifth straight first-team All-Pro honors and his sixth career Pro Bowl selection, Miller was disappointed in himself over the way last season unfolded.
“I was supposed to get 30 sacks (laughing),” he said in April. “If I’m not getting 30 sacks—I just want to be great. I want to play in the postseason. When you get a taste of making big-time sacks in the postseason, you want to do it all of the time. Not being able to do that for the last two years, I’ve got to play better. I’ve got to get the guys to play better around me. That’s what a good leader and a good player does. I’ve got to play better and get everybody else to play better around me. If we can do that, we can be right back where we need to be.”
It stands to reason, however, that the Vonster should make his way back up the ranks. A more well-rounded roster with an easier schedule may put Denver in playoff contention, while an improved offense lightens the load on defense. Miller, personally, will benefit from the presence of first-round rookie Bradley Chubb, as opponents no longer will double- and triple-team Miller at the line of scrimmage.
Intangibly, and perhaps by default, Miller is also assuming a true leadership role, on and off the field — a responsibility that’s grown as his stature has.
“Yeah, I think just after a while you—when they first put you in the leadership light it’s like you want to lead a certain way, you want to lead by example and you don’t really want to talk. I think after a while all of that stuff is out the window,” he said earlier this month. “Now it’s time to really go all the way in, and it’s just something that I had to get comfortable with. After following [Former QB] Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware, it takes a little bit of time to get comfortable with it. But I’ve got a firm grasp on it now. We’ve got young guys that’s ready to learn, young guys that are ready to do whatever to help this team. You’ve got guys around that it helps with the leadership process.”