Ranking football players is an imperfect science; one position is far too different from the next. To counter that, the criteria for The MMQB 400: Does Player A do his job better or worse than Player B does his job? If it was too close to call, then the Player with the more significant job got the nod.
A player’s raw talent, cultivated skill set, and role within his team’s system were taken strongest into consideration. It was all film-based; very rarely were stats a factor. Ninety nine times out of 100, the film shows what the stats tell anyway. The beauty is the film shows it with context.
Special-teamers and rookies were not included. (Special teamers change jobs so much from year to year, plus there are significantly fewer special teams snaps each game than offensive and defensive snaps. And rookies cannot be evaluated on jobs they have not started yet.)
You’re going to take umbrage with parts of this list—that’s the nature of it. I’d like to hear your opinions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and explain where I’m wrong and why. If there are any good football discussions to be had from those emails, we’ll have those discussions in a special Friday mailbag, or The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast.