Patrick Mahomes best NFL player, young stars rise
The two most recent NFL MVPs. Record-breaking contracts and record-setting performances. As we delve into the NFL top 100 for the 2021 season, prepare to be surprised who is within the top five. Also, prepare to disagree with where one future Hall of Fame quarterback is ranked.
Swipe down to see our NFL top 100 picks, or tap here to jump to our top 50.
100. Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Fans looking at the Eagles’ 2021 schedule don’t have a lot to look forward to this season. Fortunately, Fletcher Cox remains capable of dominating as he enters his 30s. Cox, the 310-pound defensive tackle, recorded 43 total pressures (PFF) this past season and should remain a pass-rushing force a little longer.
Related: Philadelphia Eagles 2021 schedule and predictions
99. Marcus Maye, safety, New York Jets
New York Jets safety Marcus Maye (20) celebrates after the Jets defeat the Cleveland Browns, 23-16, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford.
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If the New York Jets aren’t careful with their underwhelming offers to Marcus Maye, they’re going to lose their best player. Maye does it all at safety, shining in pass coverage and making a strong impact against the run. A top free agent in 2022, this may be Maye’s last year with New York.
Related: New York Jets 2021 schedule and predictions
98. Frank Ragnow, center, Detroit Lions
Sep 27, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detroit Lions offensive guard Frank Ragnow (77) against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports
There’s a reason the Detroit Lions made Frank Ragnow the highest-paid center in NFL history. A phenomenal run blocker and pass protector, the 2018 first-round pick deserves every penny of his contract. Detroit is building its foundation in the trenches and Ragnow is integral to the club’s long-term plan.
Related: Detroit Lions 2021 schedule and predictions
97. Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
Jul 29, 2021; Cincinnati, OH, United States; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
We blame the Cincinnati Bengals for Joe Burrow not being higher on our NFL top 100 players list. He shined in 10 games this past season, posting an 89.8 passer rating and 13-5 TD-INT ratio before his offensive line failed him. If the Bengals keep him protected, Burrow is poised for a huge season.
Related: Cincinnati Bengals 2021 schedule and predictions
96. Josh Jacobs, running back, Las Vegas Raiders
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The only other member of this Las Vegas team to crack the top 100 aside from Waller, Jacobs was absolutely sensational as a rookie. The former Alabama star tallied over 1,300 total yards at a clip of 5.0 yards per touch. Due to injuries and lackluster play to the Raiders’ interior offensive line in 2020 — and the fact that their defense was bad and caused them to abandon the running game earlier than they’d have liked — Jacobs saw his yards per carry drop below four in his second season. It’s only a matter of time before he finds more running room.
Related: Las Vegas Raiders 2021 schedule and predictions
95. Bryce Callahan, cornerback, Denver Broncos – Best slot cornerback in NFL
Nov 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan (29) battles for the ball with Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) in the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Slot corners don’t get a lot of love, even in the age of teams using more three-receiver sets. While Bryce Callahan isn’t the most popular member of the Denver Broncos defense, keep his name in mind. As Pro Football Focus notes, quarterbacks had just a 46.9 passer rating when throwing in Callahan’s direction
94. Leonard Williams, defensive tackle, New York Giants
Oct 18, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) celebrates with linebacker Tae Crowder (48) against the Washington Football Team during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
A change of scenery can do wonders for a player. Leonard Williams, the No. 6 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has become a disruptive force since being traded to the New York Giants. The 6-foot-5 defensive tackle racked up 30 stops and 14 sacks this past season. Even if he doesn’t repeat some of those numbers, he can dominate in 2021.
93. Chris Godwin, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) reaches for the ball during the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With so many mouths need to feed in Tampa Bay, it’s no surprise Tom Brady and Chris Godwin didn’t connect as often in 2021. But the Buccaneers know his value, it’s why they’re determined to sign a long-term deal next offseason. Once Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are gone, Godwin’s stats will reflect his talent.
92. Justin Herbert, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
Jul 29, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, United States; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) reacts during training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Herbert broke single-season NFL rookie records last season, everyone knows that. An underrated stat, he posted the highest passer rating (99.4) of all quarterbacks under pressure. Behind a revamped offensive lone, Herbert could take an even bigger step forward this fall.
91. J.J. Watt, edge rusher, Arizona Cardinals
Jul 31, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J. J. Watt looks on during training camp at State Farm Stadium Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals made a huge investment in J.J. Watt, which might cost them Chandler Jones. While we certainly question the decision, given where both rank in our NFL top 100 players list, Watt is still an excellent player and will make a great impression on his new team.
90. Derwin James, defensive back, Los Angeles Chargers
Jun 15, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (33) during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
When healthy, Derwin James Jr. is legitimately one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He played at an All-Pro level as a rookie and if he stays on the field, we could see him reach another stratosphere under the tutelage of defensive guru Brandon Staley.
89. Keenan Allen, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
Jun 15, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen (13) catches the ball during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Keenan Allen thrived with Philip Rivers at quarterback and he’s doing the same with Herbert rocketing footballs his way. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, you can guarantee Allen will deliver another 1,000-yard season this year after falling eight yards shy in a 14–game campaign in 2020.
88. Andrew Whitworth, offensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams
Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) against Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Entering his 16th NFL season, this might be the last ride for Andrew Whitworth. If that’s the case, the Los Angeles Rams are going to rely on him to defy Father Time once more. The 39-year-old left tackle allowed just six pressures and didn’t surrender a sack in 600 snaps last year, per PFF. Quite frankly, that’s on par with Brady’s play.
87. Demario Davis, linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) celebrates the defeating the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Scooped up from the New York Jets after the 2017 season, Demario Davis has been one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL ever since landing in New Orleans. Entering his age-32 season, there’s no reason to suspect his play will decline this year.
86. Brian Burns, edge rusher, Carolina Panthers
Dec 19, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns (53) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Carolina Panthers saw a supremely athletic edge rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft and didn’t waste a moment before selecting him. Brian Burns, the No. 16 pick, is headed for a Pro Bowl selection in 2021. After registering 21 quarterback hits and nine sacks in 15 games last year, those numbers will climb even higher this fall.
85. Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oct 18, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs after defeating the Green Bay Packers in a NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Rookies, especially along the offensive line, aren’t supposed to be this good so quickly. Tristan Wirfs was legitimately one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL last year, Tampa Bay doesn’t win a Super Bowl without him. By this time in 2022, Wirfs might move into the top 50 on our NFL top 100 players list.
84. Harrison Smith, safety, Minnesota Vikings
Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings strong safety Harrison Smith (22) in action during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Will this be the final year Harrison Smith takes the field for the Minnesota Vikings? The best player on Minnesota’s defense since 2015, you can bet head coach Mike Zimmer will do everything in his power to make sure Smith finishes his career in Minnesota.
83. Terron Armstead, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints
Oct 27, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray (28), right, celebrates his touchdown run with offensive tackle Terron Armstead (72) in the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
After surrendering four sacks in 2017, New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead has surrendered that same number across 2,394 pass-block snaps in the past three years (PFF). Let that stat tell you everything you need to know about this 6-foot-5 tackle out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
82. A.J. Brown, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans
Jan 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) reacts after a catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter in a AFC Wild Card playoff game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
It’s fitting that A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are teammates. Brown, who has 2m126 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in his first two seasons, views Jones as a role model. After admiring his game from afar for years, the 24-year-old now gets to work alongside the future Hall of Fame receiver. The future is obviously very bright for No. 11.
81. Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Dallas Cowboys
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Despite a down 2020 season (by his standards), Zeke is still one of the top 100 NFL players heading into the 2021 campaign. The three-time Pro Bowler is averaging 1,668 total yards and 11 touchdowns throughout his five-year career. After battling COVID in 2020, we’re expecting him to be 100% once Week 1 comes calling.
Related: Dallas Cowboys 2021 schedule and predictions
80. Chase Young, edge rusher, Washington Football Team
Jan 9, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) stands on the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t let the stats (12 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks in 15 games) fool you, Chase Young is quickly becoming one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Keep in mind, he posted those numbers when he wasn’t completely healthy and without a full NFL offseason because of COVID-19. With experience under his belt, Young will flash some of that NFL Defensive Player of the Year talent.
Related: Washington Football Team 2021 schedule and predictions
79. Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Chicago Bears
Dec 13, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) goes up for the football in the third quarter against Houston Texans cornerback Keion Crossen (35) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears don’t seem very serious about making Allen Robinson part of their long-term plans. It’s a mistake by the organization because this is the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. Justin Fields will love throwing to A-Rob in 2021. After that, a new quarterback will benefit from a top weapon.
Related: Top NFL free agents of 2022 – Davante Adams set to break the bank
78. John Johnson III, safety, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III runs drills during an NFL football practice at the team’s training facility, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Berea, Ohio.
Recognizing a need at safety, the Cleveland Browns struck quickly to sign John Johnson III. A 2017 third-round pick, the 6-foot-1 defensive back from Northwestern excels in pass coverage and is strong against the run. Looking at the talent on the roster tells you exactly why our Browns’ schedule forecast is so optimistic.
Related: Cleveland Browns 2021 schedule and predictions
77. Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
If we’re being honest, Lavonte David deserved Super Bowl LV MVP honors. He was the most important part of a championship-deciding performance by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. David is also the reason why the Bucs earn the top spot in Sportsnaut’s 2021 NFL defense rankings.
76. James Bradberry, cornerback, New York Giants
Dec 13, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (19) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Giants prioritized James Bradberry as a top free-agent target in 2020, signing him to a $43.5 million contract. In his first season for the G-Men, Bradberry held opposing quarterbacks to a 70.1 passer rating when targeted and blanketed No. 1 wide receivers.
75. Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints
Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk (71) in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints weren’t ever going to risk losing Ryan Ramczyk. He’s now the highest-paid right tackle in NFL history and the 27-year-old earned every penny of it. The last pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, teams certainly regretting passing on a player with just three quarterback hits allowed in the past two years.
74. Adrian Amos, safety, Green Bay Packers
Sep 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers strong safety Adrian Amos (31) takes the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears didn’t value Adrian Amos enough to keep him in the Windy City, so he went to the NFC North rival Packers. Last season, Amos led all safeties in PFF’s coverage grades and was the No. 2-rated player at the position overall. He and Jaire Alexander make a pretty killer combination in Green Bay’s defensive backfield.
73. Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Baltimore Ravens
Oct 4, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) strips the ball from Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (41) in the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Ravens defense blitzes more than any other unit in the NFL. A defensive coordinator is only comfortable doing that when there’s a cornerback like Marlon Humphrey in the secondary. Once a star for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Humphrey (8 forced fumbles in 2020) displays that same playmaking ability heading into his fifth NFL season.
Related: Baltimore Ravens 2021 schedule and predictions
72. Eric Kendricks, linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
Nov 22, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) celebrates after making an interception against the Dalles Cowboys in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Kendricks is easily one of the best cover linebackers in the NFL. A second-round pick in 2015, he earned first-team All-Pro honors two years ago and might have earned that nod again if not for a five-game absence. With Kendricks healthy, the Minnesota Vikings defense will rebound in 2021.
71. Darren Waller, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) reacts against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Darren Waller is the NFL’s story of redemption. Drug addiction nearly ended his pro career as the former sixth-round pick spent several years either suspended or at the bottom of the Ravens’ roster. After getting his life in order, the Raiders signed him in 2018 and the rest is history. There’s no doubt he is one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
70. Justin Simmons, safety, Denver Broncos
Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons (31) celebrates his interception in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
All-Pro talent is found in every round of the NFL Draft. Justin Simmons, the 98th pick in 2016, was named second-team All-Pro in 2019 and earned a Pro Bowl selection this past season. The 6-foot-2 safety out of Boston College has 37 pass deflections and 16 interceptions across his first five seasons. Yeah, there’s a reason he is the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Related: Denver Broncos 2021 schedule and predictions
69. Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings – Best undrafted player
Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
After injuries limited Thielen to just 30 catches for 418 yards during 2019, he bounced back with 74 receptions, 925 yards and ranked third in the NFL with 14 touchdown grabs last season. The Minnesota State product was an undrafted free agent back in 2014. Combined, Thielen tallied north of 200 catches for nearly 2,600 yards in 2017 and 2018, too. Thielen and Justin Jefferson form one of the league’s premier receiving duos for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
68. Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons
Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
There’s a reason the Falcons signed Jarrett to a massive contract extension in July 2019. One of the biggest steals of the 2015 NFL draft, Jarrett has ascended from fifth-round pick to an All-Pro defensive tackle in a few years. With 77 quarterback hits and 51 tackles for loss in 93 games, few interior linemen can match his disruptive abilities.
67. Cameron Jordan, defensive end, New Orleans Saints
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
One of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league, all Jordan has done since New Orleans made him a first-round pick back in 2011 is show a level of consistency few others have reached. He’s put up 7.5 sacks or more in each of the past nine seasons while playing extremely well against the run. At this point, Jordan seems to have Hall of Fame credentials.
66. Aaron Jones, running back, Green Bay Packers
Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
It’s still baffling that Jones is not talked about among the game’s elite backs. All the former mid-round pick from UTEP did last season was record 1,459 total yards and 11 touchdowns, even as quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the midst of his own MVP season. Plus, the team had invested a second-round draft pick in AJ Dillon. None of that fazed Jones. He’s among the most electrifying playmakers who could make or break whether or not the Packers make a third straight conference title game in 2021.
65. Myles Jack, linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
There haven’t been a lot of bright spots for the Jaguars of late. One of the few, Jack becoming one of the NFL’s best linebackers. He is outstanding against the run, excels in coverage and can rush the passer. Under contract through the 2023 season, Jack is the heart of Jacksonville’s defense, which will hopefully get a morale boost from an offense led by No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
Related: Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 schedule and predictions
64. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Tennessee Titans
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tannehill’s career resurgence was one of the best ongoing stories in the NFL. He went from backup quarterback to leading the Titans to the AFC Championship Game in only a few months. He’s now one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks, and he earned the raise by taking Tennessee back to the postseason and winning the AFC South in 2020.
63. Devin White, inside linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
We discussed earlier how Lavonte David doesn’t get his due for Tampa Bay, and part of that may be White’s fault. He’s the much more explosive athlete who’s still polishing up his gap discipline and technical work in pass coverage. Nevertheless, White is a supreme athlete and possibly the most freakishly gifted ‘backer in the entire NFL. He shined during the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV run with multiple big plays, and is a lethal interior blitzer who had a whopping nine sacks during the 2020 regular season.
62. Shaq Barrett, outside linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Yet another former undrafted free agent, Barrett flew under the radar during a five-year stint with Denver. That changed big time after signing a free-agent deal in Tampa Bay ahead of the 2019 season. The Colorado State product responded by racking up 37 quarterback hits while leading the NFL with 19. 5 sacks, and backed that up with a phenomenal performance when it mattered most as part of a championship defense. Barrett earned a lucrative payday this offseason to stay with the Bucs, and deservedly so.
61. Julio Jones, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
It’s hard to imagine that Jones is in his 10th season in the NFL after Atlanta pulled off the blockbuster trade for the Alabama product during the 2011 NFL Draft. Despite some bumps and bruises throughout said career and appearing in only nine games in the latest season, Jones remains among the best receivers in the game when healthy enough to play. As professional and consistent as they come, Jones averaged 104 receptions for 1,565 yards from 2014 through 2019. Now, the Tennessee Titans might have an X-factor to give them legitimate Super Bowl hopes.
60. Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK
Historical. Electric. That’s what we saw from Barkley as he ended up winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018. That season saw the Penn State product gain a league-high 2,028 total yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging nearly six yards per touch. Injuries hampered Barkley to an extent as a sophomore, but he was still able to go for 1,441 yards in 13 games. Sadly, the injury bug bit again in 2020. The hope is Barkley can return to an improved Giants team in 2021 at full strength.
Related: New York Giants 2021 schedule and predictions
59. Budda Baker, safety, Arizona Cardinals
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Thanks to his ability to blur the line between linebacker and safety with his unique physicality and skill set, Baker earns a spot pretty high up on this list. Although he’s predominantly a defensive back, there’s no question the Cardinals can get as creative as they are on defense thanks to Baker’s versatility and a knack for playing in coverage and getting physical versus the run.
58. Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
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Something tells us Jerry Jones and the Cowboys will regret not signing Prescott to a long-term extension sooner. After losing Prescott to that gruesome, season-ending injury, the Cowboys wound up falling short of the playoffs despite the NFC East being won by Washington with a losing 7-9 record. With each passing loss, Prescott’s asking price went up, and Dallas wisely secured him on a multi-year contract this offseason.
57. Za’Darius Smith, outside linebacker, Green Bay Packers
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Packers heard plenty of skepticism when they signed Smith to a $66 million contract a couple offseasons ago.Two years later, the deal looks like a bargain after Smith recorded 60 quarterback hits and 26 sacks while helping Green Bay get to within one win of a Super Bowl berth in consecutive seasons.
56. Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Cleveland Browns
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Conklin turned out to be a home-run free agency signing by new Cleveland GM Andrew Berry, who was the youngest in his post in NFL history but retooled the Browns roster amid yet another regime change within the organization and helped them finally return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Not bad for a first season’s work as the top executive. However, Conklin had to go out and play right tackle at an elite level to justify his acquisition, which is precisely what he did throughout Cleveland’s surprisingly successful 2020 season.
55. D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Metcalf proved to be more than just a workout warrior in his rookie season. He posted some gaudy stats (900 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) for a rookie and it turned out we were just seeing glimpses of his potential. The rising star has proven to be a fantasy football monster after an 83-catch, 1,303-yard, 10-touchdown stat line from 2020. Now that the Seahawks are breaking in a new offensive coordinator, Metcalf could wind up ascending even higher.
54. Calvin Ridley, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
For all the deserved love Julio Jones got in Atlanta, Ridley has proven more adept at getting it done on the most important downs in the scoring zone. In only three seasons as a pro, Ridley’s 26 receiving touchdowns are almost half of Jones’ career total of 60. Whether that’s thanks in part to the attention Jones attracts in the red zone is unclear, but Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sure likes to look Ridley’s way when he needs a score. It’ll be interesting to see how Ridley is utilized in new head coach Arthur Smith’s scheme with Jones gone.
Related: Atlanta Falcons 2021 schedule and predictions
53. Danielle Hunter, defensive end, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
When the Vikings invested a third-round pick in Hunter, they hoped he could develop into a productive pass rusher. He blossomed into an unstoppable force off the edge. Just look at Hunter’s career stats (54.5 sacks in 78 games) and appreciate it. Even after neck surgery cost him the 2020 season, Hunter is on a new contract in Minnesota and should be fresh and primed for another monster year.
Related: NFL mock draft 2022 – Quarterbacks once again dominant
52. Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
It takes a lot for a rookie to jump onto the NFL top 100 players list during the season. However, Jefferson is quickly proving he deserves the recognition. Despite dealing with some middling quarterback play especially early on, he recorded an even 1,400 receiving yards in his first year. We knew the 2020 draft class was loaded at receiver, but Jefferson might prove to be the best.
51. Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Chubb is one of the most difficult players to tackle in the NFL. He rushed for nearly 1,500 yards behind a bad offensive line in 2019, which the Browns addressed in a big way by bringing aboard Jack Conklin, drafting Jedrick Wills and getting incredible play from Wyatt Teller at guard. Injuries didn’t stop Chubb from piling up 1,067 yards rushing (5.6 yards per carry) and 12 scores in just 12 games last season. Don’t be shocked if Chubb helps Baker Mayfield carry Cleveland deep into the playoffs this year.
Next Up: The
NFL Top 50
50. Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, New England Patriots
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One of the very few big-time free-agent successes around the NFL in recent years, Gilmore earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors for the Patriots two seasons ago. It’s a campaign that saw him record league highs in passes defended (20) and interceptions (six). Gilmore also yielded a sub-50 passer rating when targeted, but with so many Pats opting out of the 2020 season, the New England secondary suffered, and Gilmore regressed. Nevertheless, he’s still among the 50 best players in the game.
Related: New England Patriots 2021 schedule and predictions
49. Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints
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More history in the NFC South. Throughout the start of his young career, Thomas recorded 470 receptions for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns in four seasons. He broke the single-season mark for receiving yards last season with 1,725. Thomas is also catching a ridiculous 77.6% of the passes thrown in his direction thus far. However, the Saints are in a bad salary cap situation for the foreseeable future, and the quarterback situation is uncertain. Oh, and Thomas appeared in only seven games in 2020 and made waves within the organization. All of these elements are suddenly leaving Thomas’ future in New Orleans up in the air.
Related: New Orleans Saints 2021 schedule and predictions
Chandler Jones, outside linebacker, Arizona Cardinals
Looking back to ahead of the 2016 season, it seemed to be a fantasy to believe Jones would turn into one of this generation’s top-100 players. He had performed well with New England in 2015, recording 12.5 sacks. Since then, the former first-round pick has been on an upward trajectory. This includes Jones tallying 98 quarterback hits and 60 sacks in four prior seasons with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, his 2020 campaign got cut short to a right biceps injury, and he might not be in Arizona much longer.
47. Garett Bolles, offensive tackle, Denver Broncos
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
This past November, Bolles agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $68 million, proving he’s worth every penny in 2020 with an elite year at the left tackle spot. That deal made him the fourth highest-paid player at his position in the league. No matter who the quarterback is in Denver going forward, the Broncos have found a key piece in the trenches in Bolles, a 2017 first-round pick who’s living up to his potential.
46. Jessie Bates III, safety, Cincinnati Bengals
Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Guess who was PFF’s highest-graded safety last season? Not many would have Bates at the top of the list. Alas, there he was, playing incredible ball for a lost Bengals team whose roster was much worse than previously feared. Just about every area of the team has room to improve in Cincinnati, but the safety position is one exception. That’s largely thanks to Bates, who will soon be up for a massive contract when he hits free agency in 2022 unless the Bengals step in and ink him to a lucrative extension first.
45. Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Only two players in NFL history recorded 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons: Hall of Famer Randy Moss and wide receiver Mike Evans, who developed excellent chemistry with TB12 as a member of the Super Bowl champion Bucs. Evans did Moss one better by eclipsing 1,000 yards once again in 2020, and hauled in a personal-best 13 touchdowns.
44. Cameron Heyward, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers
Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports
One of the unsung heroes of Pittsburgh’s sensational defense, other studs at flashier positions such as T.J. Watt or Minkah Fitzpatrick get more exposure than Heyward. Meanwhile, the 10th-year pro continues to go about his business and trucks along as one of the most consistent players in the entire league. Heyward was a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and 2019. Even at this relatively later phase of his career, the 31-year-old is a critical building block for the Steelers’ D.
43. Corey Linsley, center, Los Angeles Chargers
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
PFF ranked Linsley as 2020’s top-graded center, as he snapped the ball to MVP winner Aaron Rodgers and made sure the superstar signal-caller was checked into all the right protections and blocking schemes upfront. On the first day of NFL free agency for the 2021 season, the Los Angeles Chargers rewarded Linsley with a huge contract.
42. Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
An unheralded second-round pick out of Utah State in 2012, Wagner became one of the best linebackers of the decade. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time All-Pro, Wagner is living the dream and will one day be a Hall of Famer.
41. Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Minkah Fitzpatrick trade might go down as one of the best moves in the Steelers’ recent history. He made the same impact for Pittsburgh’s defense that he did for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Frankly, he is one of the NFL’s best playmakers and is showing no signs of slowing down with a long career ahead of him.
Related: Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 schedule and predictions
Next Up: The NFL Top 40
40. Kyler Murray, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals – NFL breakout player
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The Grand Canyon-sized leap we saw from Lamar Jackson from 2018 to 2019? Something similar happened this past year with Murray, who became a more decisive, devastating ball-carrier and improved as a passer. He fits perfectly into Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins is paying off big time. Murray was on pace to become the first quarterback in NFL history with 4,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards in a season, but got banged up down the stretch. It’s very possible Murray hits those historic numbers in 2021.
Related: Arizona Cardinals 2021 schedule and predictions
39. Zack Martin, guard, Dallas Cowboys
Credit: USA Today
Martin could retire today and probably be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The decision to draft him over Johnny Manziel pays off to this day and he could well be considered one of the best guards ever when he’s finished playing. Before going down with a calf injury last season, Martin further proved his value and versatility by excelling at right tackle for an injury-depleted offensive line.
38. Chris Jones, defensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Mahomes might have won Super Bowl LIV MVP, but the Chiefs don’t complete that fourth-quarter comeback without Jones. He earned every dollar of that $85 million contract and will be essential for this team to become the next NFL dynasty. He responded to his lucrative long-term deal with a 7.5-sack 2020 campaign and graded as PFF’s No. 2 interior defender behind only Aaron Donald.
Related: Kansas City Chiefs 2021 schedule and predictions
37. Dalvin Cook, running back, Minnesota Vikings
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A monster in fantasy football and a dangerous all-purpose threat on the field, Cook is the engine that drives the Vikings’ offense. If Minnesota can upgrade at quarterback from Kirk Cousins someday, perhaps Cook can be even more dangerous in the prime of his career now that his future with the franchise is secure with a long-term contract.
Related: Minnesota Vikings 2021 schedule and predictions
36. Tre’Davious White, cornerback, Buffalo Bills
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It would have been devastating for the Bills if Tre’Davious White opted out of the 2020 NFL season. Fortunately, he decided to play and helped boost Buffalo to the AFC Championship Game. The All-Pro cornerback deserves to see his previous Madden rating (90) go up. As strong as the Bills’ secondary is across the board, White is definitely the best player in their defensive backfield.
35. Tyrann Mathieu, safety, Kansas City Chiefs
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Honey Badger’s story is of consequence. Here’s a dude that was kicked off the LSU football team due to off-field issues. Mathieu then entered the NFL as a major question mark after Arizona made him a third-round pick back in 2013. Since then, he’s morphed into an elite-level cover safety. Mathieu led the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance this past season, earning first-team, All-Pro honors for the third time in his career and second year in a row.
34. Darius Leonard, linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
From second-round pick in 2018 to instant star. Leonard didn’t just win Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, he was also named first-team All-Pro as a rookie. From FCS star to one of the game’s best linebackers, Leonard proves NFL teams can find talent anywhere.
33. Khalil Mack, defensive end, Chicago Bears
Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the then-Oakland Raiders, Mack has not lost a step since the Bears acquired him in a blockbuster trade ahead of the 2018 season. Mack has put up 129 quarterback hits and 70.5 sacks in seven NFL seasons. That sustained success has led to six consecutive Pro Bowl trips.
Related: Chicago Bears 2021 schedule and predictions
32. George Kittle, tight end, San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco made him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history for a reason. George Kittle’s stats are certainly gaudy with 2,430 yards over the prior two seasons and 634 yards receiving in only eight 2020 games, but ruthless pancake blocks like this make him the best overall tight end in football other than Travis Kelce.
Related: San Francisco 49ers 2021 schedule and predictions
31. Lamar Jackson quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a disappointing 2020 season for Jackson to follow his MVP award-winning effort as a second-year stud, but a lot of this falls on the Ravens. The offensive line took a massive step back, no receivers can get open and Greg Roman’s offense is being called out by defensive players. Eventually things will get turned around, but the good news is, in the midst of all that, Jackson managed to earn his first playoff win, which is a huge confidence boost going forward for one of the game’s most incredible talents.
30. Nick Bosa, defensive end, San Francisco 49ers
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Not only did Bosa earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last season, he put up one of the greatest initial seasons in NFL history. The Ohio State product recorded 25 quarterback hits, nine sacks and one crazy interception last season. He also put up an absurd 102 pressures. One. Hundred. Two. The only question: how will he look in 2021 coming off a torn ACL?
29. Joey Bosa, defensive end, Los Angeles Chargers
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Signed to the richest contract for a defender in NFL history at the time he put pen to paper, Bosa has more than lived up to that billing. The former No. 3 overall pick from Ohio State has recorded 109 quarterback hits and 47.5 sacks in five NFL seasons. Bear in mind that he missed four games as a rookie, nine in 2018 and four this past season. Provided he stays healthy in his prime, Bosa has the production and elite skill set to ascend much further up the NFL top 100 list.
Related: Los Angeles Chargers 2021 schedule and predictions
28. Fred Warner, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco found a gem in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Warner is emerging as one of the NFL’s best young defenders with a track record of causing problems for the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
27. Brandon Scherff, guard, Washington Football Team
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
A fixture on Washington’s front ever since being chosen fifth overall in the 2015 draft, Scherff is slated to hit free agency this offseason, and the Football Team would do well to re-sign one of football’s premier interior offensive linemen. Scherff is a four-time Pro Bowler who will be a key building block for whichever offense he’s playing for in 2021 and beyond, and is truly capable of playing anywhere in the trenches if need be. His dependability and versatility warrant a high NFL top 100 bid.
26. Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
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Some fans may think he is one of the most overrated players in the NFL, but that feeling isn’t shared around the league. Ramsey is a shutdown corner and an incredible trash talker, who deserves the record contract he received in the form of five years and $105 million.
Next Up: The NFL Top 25
Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Historic. Any attempt to explain what McCaffrey did in his first three seasons would fall short. In 2019 alone, McCaffrey led the NFL in touches (403), total yards (2,392) and total touchdowns (19). He also averaged north of 100 receptions per season leading into 2020. Then, he dealt with injuries and appeared in just three games. With a hopefully improved quarterback situation next season and superior health, perhaps McCaffrey will get back to the phenomenal form that once had him much higher in the NFL Top 100.
Related: Carolina Panthers 2021 schedule and predictions
24. Jamal Adams, safety, Seattle Seahawks – Best safety
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
A malcontent during his three-year stay with the New York Jets, Adams finally got his wish and was shipped off to the Pacific Northwest. He’ll now act as the face of a secondary previously known as the “Legion of Boom” after earning consecutive Pro Bowl trips in Jersey. One of the best safeties in the NFL, Adams recorded 190 tackles, 21 quarterback hits and 19 tackles for loss in his last two seasons with the Jets, and fought through multiple injuries in his maiden year with Seattle to put up 83 combined tackles (11 TFL) and 9.5 sacks in 12 games.
23. Alvin Kamara, running back, New Orleans Saints
Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Kamara fought through a variety of injuries during the 2019 season, which limited his explosiveness and hurt his production. Now that he’s healthy, Kamara is back to doing jaw-dropping things on the football field. He finsihed with 932 yards rushing and 756 receiving last season, as he continues to rank alongside Christian McCaffrey as the best all-around offensive weapons out of the backfield in all of football.
Related: New Orleans Saints 2021 schedule and predictions
22. DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Credit: Patrick Breen-USA TODAY NETWORK
Here ends the run of wide receivers. Shockingly acquired from the Houston Texans, Hopkins has been a dominant force throughout his career. We’re talking about a young man who is producing at a rate unmatched by anyone in the NFL right now. In his first year with Arizona catching passes from Kyler Murray, the Cardinals’ newest playmaker to take up the mantle from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald put up 115 receptions, 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
21. DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts could have taken their chances on a rookie with the No. 13 overall pick. Instead, they traded it for Buckner. After making him one of the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history, we expected the All-Pro defensive tackle to push this team into the playoffs, and he did just that with an exemplary 2020 in which he 58 combined tackles and 9.5 sacks as PFF’s fifth-ranked interior defender.
Next Up: The
NFL Top 20
Wyatt Teller, guard, Cleveland Browns
Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland dominates with its running game and Teller is pivotal to that success. A fifth-round pick in 2018, turned out to be an absolute steal for the Browns in a seemingly trivial trade carried out by departed GM John Dorsey. Teller absolutely dominates as a run blocker, and now that he’s thriving with a full-fledged starting opportunity, Teller can prove he is the best guard in the NFL in 2021.
19. Xavien Howard, cornerback, Miami Dolphins
Credit: ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post
Is it buying into coach Brian Flores’ system, the presence of Byron Jones, or both that has led to a renaissance for Howard in 2020? The issue is, Howard has flashed this type of brilliance before, only to see his production and player grades fall off a cliff the next year. When he’s locked in, Howard has the tools to be as good as any player at his position. Until he strings together multiple top-shelf seasons, though, it’s hard to push him higher in the NFL top 100 list. No less, he’s here after a mind-boggling 10 interceptions last season.
Related: Miami Dolphins 2021 schedule and predictions
18. Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) is shown Monday, August 24, 2020 during the team’s training camp at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon.
Packers25 19 Hoffman
Meet the NFL’s new shutdown corner. Alexander is proving to be the top cover player in the NFL, shadowing No. 1 wide receivers and routinely taking them off the map. Keep in mind, he’s doing this with a defense that doesn’t have much in the way of cornerback depth. Alexander seemed like almost a certain lock to earn first-team All-Pro honors, but he made the second team in 2020 — despite being PFF’s top-graded corner. Expect that to motivate him to go to another level as he tries to will the Packers to a Lombardi Trophy next season.
17. Trent Williams, offensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco lost left tackle Joe Staley and replaced him with another top pass protector. Even after a year away from football, Williams has shown everyone why his new teammates were so elated to land him, earning PFF’s No. 1 overall grade for offensive tackles.
16. David Bakhtiari, offensive tackle, Green Bay Packers
Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
It’s fitting that a team with a rich history in the NFL thrives at finding offensive linemen late in the draft. Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has become an outstanding pass protector and a pillar on the left side protecting Aaron Rodgers. Now the highest-paid tackle in NFL history, Bakhtiari will be anchoring left tackle in Green Bay for years to come. Unfortunately, he’s recovering from a season-ending knee injury suffered just before the Packers’ playoff run in practices leading up to Week 17.
15. Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Electric. That’s been the name of the game for this two-time All-Pro since the Chiefs made him a fifth-round pick back in 2016. Hill is only continuing to evolve as a receiver. Despite some injury and off-field issues, he remains one of the game’s top playmakers. That’s not going to change moving forward.
14. Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
We doubted Allen coming into the season, as accuracy was an alarming concern. While there is still the occasional erratic play from the 24-year-old gunslinger, his 69.2% completion rate last season was a stunning improvement over his mark in 2019 (58.8%). Plenty of credit goes to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and receiver Stefon Diggs, but Allen’s progress is undeniable, and arguably the biggest Year 3 progress leap an NFL quarterback has ever taken.
Related: Buffalo Bills 2021 schedule and predictions
13. Quenton Nelson, guard, Indianapolis Colts
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It was somewhat of a surprise that Indy exhausted a top-six pick on a guard back in 2018. At the very least, it was a surprise to those who didn’t see Nelson dominate at Notre Dame. He’s a generational talent, and has proven that in three seasons. Still so young, Nelson already seems to be on the trajectory that will land him in Canton as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Related: Indianapolis Colts 2021 schedule and predictions
12. Myles Garrett, defensive end, Cleveland Browns
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Myles Garrett will forever be known for striking Mason Rudolph in the head with his helmet. But, there’s also no denying he is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. We told you he could’ve won Defensive Player of the Year before this last season and with 12 sacks, he is well on his way to achieving that accolade soon enough.
11. Stefon Diggs, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
There were some concerns about how Diggs would fare in Buffalo with Josh Allen, a shared belief that a quarterback with ball placement issues would be a major problem. It turns out, this is the perfect pairing. Diggs wound up leading the NFL with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards receiving in 2020. It’s scary to think what the Bills could accomplish offensively in 2021 with Allen’s improvement and Diggs having an entire offseason to gain more chemistry with his cannon-armed QB.
Next Up: The NFL Top 10
10. Derrick Henry, running back, Tennessee Titans – Best NFL running back
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Henry averaged 126.7 rushing yards per game this past season, cracking the 2,000-yard mark. Keep in mind, he did a majority of that damage against stacked boxes. Imagine what this 6-foot-3 bulldozer is going to do now that NFL defenses have to focus on Julio Jones and A.J. Brown.
Related: Tennessee Titans 2021 schedule and predictions
9. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The allegations against Deshaun Watson are alarming. Despite the uncertainty, NFL teams see a quarterback who played at an MVP-caliber level on one of the worst rosters in football. On pure talent in a better situation, Watson could become a top-5 player.
Related: Houston Texans 2021 schedule and predictions
8. T.J. Watt, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers – Best NFL edge rusher
Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
A look at T.J. Watt’s stats tell you everything about how good this All-Pro edge rusher is. With 98 quarterback hits and 42.5 sacks in his last 47 games, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to reward him with a record-breaking contract. If they don’t, other teams are happy to write a blank check.
7. Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers – Best NFL wide receiver
Credit: William Glasheen via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Davante Adams wants to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL and for good reason. Coming off a 14-game season with 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns, this All-Pro wideout is poised to break some single-season NFL records in 2021.
6. Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The drama between the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson is settled…for now. He’s determined to prove he can still lead a team to a Super Bowl and with the improvements made on offense, we feel safe putting this team in our NFL playoff projections.
Related: Seattle Seahawks 2021 schedule and predictions
Next Up: The NFL Top 5
5. Travis Kelce, tight end, Kansas City Chiefs – Best NFL tight end
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Kelce already holds NFL records for most 1,000-yard seasons by a tight end (five), single-season receiving yards by a tight end (1,416) and most 100-receptions seasons by a tight end (two). In the prime of his career, we can’t wait to see what Kelce does for an encore in 2021.
4. Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Best quarterback of all-time
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A seven-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Super Bowl MVP, that isn’t enough for Tom Brady. Entering his age-44 season, Brady is the biggest reason why his team is atop Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings entering the season.
Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021 schedule and predictions
3. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Rodgers returns to the Green Bay Packers very motivated for the 2021 NFL season. Considering how he played with a little to prove, winning this third NFL MVP award, we’re putting opponents on the Packers’ schedule on notice.
Related: Green Bay Packers 2021 schedule and predictions
2. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams – Best defensive player
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Donald is the reason why, despite key losses, the Los Angeles Rams are high on Sportsnaut’s NFL defense rankings. When you see 93 quarterback hits, 59 tackles for loss and 46.5 sacks across games, then remember how he sets up teammates, there’s no question Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL.
Related: Los Angeles Rams 2021 schedule and predictions
1. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback Kansas City Chiefs – Best player in NFL
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The highest paid player in the NFL is Patrick Mahomes and he is the NFL’s top quarterback. The player who makes no-look throws seem routine will play behind an improved offensive line in 2021 and that may lead to another NFL MVP award.
The 10 Greatest NFL Players of All-Time
Football is the biggest sport in American and also makes our list of 10 most watched sports in the world. The NFL attracts a lot of money through TV rights and sponsorship. All combined this helps to produce some real greats.
Without further ado, here’s our countdown of the 10 greatest NFL Players of all-time.
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10. Reggie White – Defensive End
The Minister of Defence is one of the most decorated players in NFL history. Reggie White terrorized every opponent he faced. He has won many awards including two defensive player of the year awards. He has appeared in 13 Pro Bowls and 12 All-Pro nods. He also earned himself a Super Bowl championship with the Green Bay Packers. White was a was a monster of a man on the field, he showed great strength to shed blockers and he also showed impressive speed to chase down ball carriers.
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9. Deion Sanders – Cornerback
Deion “Primetime” Sanders is 9 on our list of the 10 Greatest NFL Players of All-Time. Sanders was a huge man on and off the field. Whenever he touched the ball he seemed to produce a moment of magic for his team. Sanders is the only man to appear in a Super Bowl and a World Series, to hit a MLB home run and NFL touchdown in the same week. Another impressive stat is he has 2 Super Bowl title’s to his name and he is the one of two players to score a NFL touchdown six different ways.
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8. Dick Butkus – Linebacker
Butkus is consistently ranked among the greatest NFL players of all-time, he was named 9th best in 1999, however we rank him a little higher. As a professional, he was drafted in the first round by both the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears. After several days, his decision was to sign for the Bears. He has 8 Pro Bowl appearances and 2 NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. Butkus is deservedly regarded as one of the greatest and most intimating linebackers in NFL history.
7. Johnny Unitas – Quarterback
John “The Golden Arm” Unitas was a true legend of the game. He spent majority of his career playing for the Baltimore Colts. He was a record setting quarterback and the NFL’s MVP in 1957, 59, 64 and also 64. Unitas was entered into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His legacy lives on and since 1987, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award has been awarded to the top senior quarterback of the current year in college football.
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6. Walter Payton – Running Back
Walter Payton makes the top 5 in the list of the Greatest NFL Players of All-time. He was a true work horse and at 5 foot 10 inches tall and 200 pounds he was not exactly built for speed. His nickname was “Sweetness” and played for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 87. Payton is remembered as a prolific rusher and he held many records for carries, yards from scrimmage and many others. Sadly, Payton died of a rare liver disease in 1999 at the young age of 45. He was always be remember as one of the Greatest NFL Players of All-time.
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5. Lawrence Taylor – Linebacker
Taylor or the original “L. T.” played for the New York Giants from 1981-93. He is considered to be of the greatest players in the history of the NFL. Taylor was many awards in his rookie seasons and has accumulated a very impressive resume over his playing career. He has appeared in 10 Pro Bowl’s and won the Super Bowl an impressive two times. He changed the way defence was played, the way linebackers played and the way pass-rushing was played.
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4. Joe Montana – Quarterback
Montana played for the 49ers from 1979-92 and then the Chiefs from 93-94. He was nicknamed “Joe Cool” and he can lay claim to 4 Super Bowl titles and 3 Super Bowl MVP’s. He was a cool and confident character hence his name. He was noted for his ability to keep calm under pressure and he helped his team’s to 32 fourth-quarter comebacks which is a very impressive tally. He was entered into “Football’s 100 Greatest Players” in 1999 and he ranks 3rd on our Greatest NFL Players of All-time list.
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3. Jim Brown – Full Back
Brown was a true legend of the sport, he was a fullback for the Cleveland Brown’s from 1957 to 69. Brown was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he was in the league and was recognised as the AP NFL Most Value Player three times. He was a true champion, he led the league in rushing yards in eight out of his nine seasons. His number 32 jersey is retired by the Browns and following on from his football career he took to acting and landing many leading roles throughout the 1970’s.
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2. Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver
Jerry Rice played 20 seasons in the NFL and he is our Greatest NFL Player of All-time. He is without a doubt the greatest wide receiver of all-time. He had the best hands and most precise routes the game has ever seen. He amassed 13 Pro Bowl appearances, 10 first team All-Pro honours and not to mention 3 -time Super Bowl champion. He is the all-time leader is all major statistical categories in the NFL. Rice is remembered also as one of the best clutch players in football history and often made game winning catches throughout his career. With 303 games over 20 seasons, he showed what dedication was and what it meant to him. He only missed 17 regular season games and 14 of them in 1997. The 49er’s retired his no.80 jersey in 2010 and he was entered into the hall of fame class of 2010 in his first year of eligibility. He was a true great!
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1. Tom Brady – Quarterback
In 2019 at Super Bowl 53, Tom Brady cemented his place as the uncontested GOAT by winning his 6th Super Bowl at the ripe old age of 41! He is without doubt the all-time list of the greatest NFL players. Brady is a icon and true example of a player that worked hard to achieve his status as a great. Brady has Lombardi trophy a remarkable 6 times during his career, earned himself 4 Super Bowel MVP awards as well as a host of other NFL records.
If 2021 he cemented his status as the greatest of all time by steering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl champions. He won his 7th Super Bowl at 43 years old, in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and making history by being part of the first team to appear in a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
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His journey from 7th round draft pick to legend is no fluke. Brady’s infamous work ethic, dedication to his craft and natural leadership skills have helped him make his mark as much as his physical prowess. The fact that Tampa Bay are returning the same exact championship winning roster this season makes Tom Brady and the Bucs one of the best NFL bets today to repeat as Super Bowl champions at the immortal age of 44.
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Full NFL Top 100 list: Here’s who players voted as the best in the league
Every year the NFL asks players (not all of them) to submit votes ranking the best of the best in their sport.
Because everyone loves rankings and debating why one player is better than another, this list is always a topic of discussion. And because the players themselves voted, it adds an extra layer of intrigue because there’s not a single writer you can direct your anger toward.
Even going beyond the debates, there is some value in making the list. Players who make the Top 100 feel honored, and can feel a sense of accomplishment by improving themselves year-over-year.
SN RANKINGS: QB | RB | WR | TE
But before we get into the full Top 100 list, NFL Films provided a list of the 10 players who just missed the cut.
NFL Top 100 honorable mentions
- 110. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars RB
- 109. Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys DE
- 108. Justin Simmons, Broncos S
- 107. Matthew Judon, Ravens LB
- 106. Kyle Van Noy, Dolphins LB
- 105. Rodney Hudson, Raiders C
- 104. Arik Armstead, 49ers DE
- 103. Kevin Byard, Titans S
- 102. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers C
- 101. Julian Edelman, Patriots WR
These 10 players just missed the cut.
Armstead had a reaction on Twitter to barely missing out.
NFL Top 100 list
Lamar Jackson earned the No. 1 spot on the NFL Top 100 list, as voted on by the players. Following him was fellow quarterback Russell Wilson, Rams pass rusher Aaron Donald, Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and Saints wideout Michael Thomas. The Top 10 players were mostly offensive skill positions with just two defensive players — Donald and Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. While the list was voted on by the players, not every NFL player participated.
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens QB
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB
- Aaron Donald, Rams DE
- Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs QB
- Michael Thomas, Saints WR
- Christian McCaffrey, Panthers RB
- George Kittle, 49ers TE
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans WR
- Stephon Gilmore, Patriots CB
- Derrick Henry, Titans RB
- Julio Jones, Falcons WR
- Drew Brees, Saints QB
- Bobby Wagner, Seahawks LB
- Tom Brady, Bucs QB
- Chandler Jones, Cardinals LB
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB
- Nick Bosa, 49ers DE
- Travis Kelce, Chiefs TE
- Khalil Mack, Bears LB
- Deshaun Watson, Texans QB
- Dalvin Cook, Vikings RB
- Tyreek Hill, Chiefs WR
- Cameron Jordan, Saints DE
- Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB
- T. J. Watt, Steelers LB
- Von Miller, Broncos LB
- Jamal Adams, Seahawks S
- Richard Sherman, 49ers CB
- Quenton Nelson, Colts G
- Mike Evans, Bucs WR
- Saquon Barkley, Giants RB
- Shaquil Barrett, Buccaneers LB
- Aaron Jones, Packers RB
- Joey Bosa, Chargers DE
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers S
- Nick Chubb, Browns RB
- Jalen Ramsey, Rams CB
- Chris Godwin, Buccaneers WR
- Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs S
- Danielle Hunter, Vikings DE
- Jadeveon Clowney, Free Agent LB
- Alvin Kamara, Saints RB
- Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB
- Mark Ingram, Ravens RB
- J.J. Watt, Texans DE
- Dak Prescott, Cowboys QB
- Tre’Davious White, Bills CB
- Za’Darius Smith, Packers LB
- Amari Cooper, Cowboys WR
- Darius Leonard, Colts LB
- Todd Gurley, Falcons RB
- Chris Jones, Chiefs DE
- Marcus Peters, Ravens CB
- Stefon Diggs, Bills WR
- Zack Martin, Cowboys OL
- DeForest Buckner, Colts DT
- Davante Adams, Packers WR
- Kirk Cousins, Vikings QB
- Odell Beckham, Browns WR
- Logan Ryan, Titans CB
- Jarvis Landry, Browns WR
- David Bakhtiari, Packers OL
- Preston Smith, Packers LB
- Harrison Smith, Vikings S
- Tyler Lockett, Seahawks WR
- Laremy Tunsil, Texans OL
- Demario Davis, Saints LB
- Ryan Tannehill, Titans QB
- Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR
- Fred Warner, 49ers LB
- Jurrell Casey, Broncos DE
- Josh Jacobs, Raiders RB
- Fletcher Cox, Eagles DT
- Ronnie Stanley, Ravens OL
- Earl Thomas, Ravens S
- Marshon Lattimore, Saints CB
- Keenan Allen, Chargers WR
- Tyron Smith, Cowboys OL
- Calais Campbell, Ravens DE
- Myles Garrett, Browns DE
- DK Metcalf, Seahawks WR
- Ryan Ramczyk, Saints OL
- Eric Kendricks, Vikings LB
- Cameron Heyward, Steelers DT
- Zach Ertz, Eagles TE
- Marlon Humphrey, Ravens CB
- Josh Allen, Bills QB
- Jaylon Smith, Cowboys LB
- Cooper Kupp, Rams WR
- Kyler Murray, Cardinals QB
- Grady Jarrett, Falcons DT
- Darius Slay, Eagles CB
- Allen Robinson, Bears WR
- Jason Kelce, Eagles C
- Frank Clark, Chiefs DE
- Chris Carson, Seahawks RB
- Budda Baker, Cardinals S
- Brandon Brooks, Eagles G
- Darren Waller, Raiders TE
- Lavonte David, Buccaneers LB
And there you have it.
The players voted Jackson as the No. 1 player in the league, which left many Mahomes fans upset. The list also caused a wide receiver beef between Mike Evans and Keenan Allen as the Chargers wideout felt he was being disrespected.
The Ravens and Saints had the most players represented with seven each. No players from the Bengals, Dolphins, Jaguars, Lions, Jets or Washington Football Team made the list. There were also no special teams players such as kickers, punters, long snappers or return specialists.
It’s also interesting to note that Jadeveon Clowney made the list and still remains a free agent. While it’s unlikely he heads back to the Seahawks, it seems like he’ll find a team soon.
101 best players in the NFL right now | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics
[Editor’s note: PFF is excited to introduce Senior Analyst Sam Monson‘s 101 best players in the NFL right now, highlighting the game’s best players entering the 2016 season.]
Up until now, the PFF Top 101 has always been about looking back at the season that was, evaluating nothing beyond the 21 weeks of football action from the regular and postseason games to tell you who the best-performing players were for that particular year.
This list is going to be something a little different, and will become a new feature at PFF intended to look beyond that narrow band of play, and instead start to quantify who the best players are in the league right now from all of the available data.
The original Top 101 list will still return at the end of the 2016 season to highlight the best players of the year, but it will follow hot on the heels of the conclusion of the NFL season; this new 101 list will instead feature in the summer months, when we can start to put PFF data towards the aim of quantifying who the best players are currently, not just who had the best prior season.
Like the other list, this one does weight all positions equally, so if a run-stuffing nose tackle is that good, he can feature ahead of a Pro Bowl quarterback, even if he can never hope to approach the value of the latter player in today’s NFL.
With those qualifiers in mind, here are the 101 best players in the NFL right now.
1. J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
What is left to say about J.J. Watt? We are past the point of naming him an elite talent, or even a generationally-great player. What we are now talking about is just how far up the list of all-time greats he will land by the time he calls it a career. Watt has the ability to go down as the greatest defensive player the game has ever seen, and only longevity can secure that title at this point. In terms of a run of elite play, he has already been as good as anybody, and certainly better than anybody during the PFF era (since 2007).
As if it needed to be pointed out, Watt is the best and most dominant player in football right now. With 90 total pressures, he led the league in 2015 despite battling through an injured hand and groin, also leading the NFL with a ridiculous 119 pressures the season before. Over that timespan, he also batted down 18 passes and has been a monster in the run game. He has been so good that the Texans have been able to transition him into almost a true edge rusher—at 290 pounds. Aaron Donald came frighteningly close to matching Watt’s levels of play, and actually surpassed him in terms of 2015 season alone, but Watt has been doing this for four straight seasons now, and that proven consistency means he tops this list.
[More from Sam Monson on why J.J. Watt is the best player in football right now here.]
2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
If J.J. Watt is the most dominant force in football, Rob Gronkowski is the most dominant force on offense. He may not be the most valuable player, though I think there’s a decent argument that he has been more valuable than Tom Brady in some seasons, but he is the best. He is so far ahead of his peers at the position that the competition is essentially playing for the second-best spot in the TE rankings on an annual basis. Even the best receiving weapons at the position can only hope to match what Gronk can do, and none of them can come close to his blocking prowess, which would hold up in the smash-mouth football days of decades ago. Gronk is one of the league’s better blocking TEs at a time when that role has become almost a specialist position, allowing the Patriots to be truly diverse on offense and pose matchup problems simply by having an elite, prototype, traditional TE. Gronk is the league’s most unstoppable force on offense, and the second-best player in football.
3. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
It’s ironic that the best receiver in the game is not a 6-foot-3, 220-pound physical freak in the way so many of the top players are. Antonio Brown is 5-foot-10, under 190 pounds, and was a sixth-round draft choice, but he is at the top of the game and virtually uncoverable. Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr. hadn’t allowed a touchdown for 36-straight games before he faced Antonio Brown this past season. Brown beat him for two scores in that game, as well as 12 catches and 137 yards. He is able to take apart some of the best cover men in the game, and would have put up simply mind-bending numbers had his quarterback stayed healthy this season. His projected numbers with a fully-healthy Roethlisberger would be 158 receptions (all-time record), 2,114 receiving yards (all-time record) and 15 touchdowns. He may not be the physical freak that teams are looking for when they draft a receiver, but he is the best receiver in the game right now playing the best football of his career.
4. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
Aaron Donald was the best player of 2015, but he doesn’t have the résumé that the players ahead of him on this list own. There’s nothing to say that Donald can’t achieve that kind of staying power, and his career trajectory is in almost perfect lock-step with J.J. Watt’s over the same time period, but until he does it, it would be premature to leap him above players that have shown elite-level performance over many seasons. It took years to convince people just how good Watt was, and Donald is experiencing the same issue of denial right now. Having come to accept Watt as a generationally-great player, it seems illogical that we would see a second one come along just a couple of years later rather than in, you know, another generation. However, it seems that may be happening with Donald. He was the most disruptive defender in the NFL in 2015, generating 79 total pressures and actually getting pressure at a higher rate than Watt on a per-snap basis, despite playing almost exclusively inside, while Watt played the majority of his snaps on the edge where pressure comes more readily. With only one year of play at this level, keeping Donald at No. 4 is the right move, but if he can repeat that production in 2016, the battle for the No. 1 spot becomes intense.
5. Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
Today’s NFL is a passing landscape, so linebackers are now coverage specialists that also make an impact in the run game, rather than the reverse. Kuechly is the rare player that changes the odds in coverage, and did so on countless occasions in 2015. Take the interception he snagged against Tony Romo by running stride-for-stride with TE Jason Witten downfield before picking off the pass, for example. QBs looking up and seeing their TE singled up with a linebacker vertically is like Christmas for them. The ball is in the air practically as soon as they identify the matchup, but Kuechly was the mismatch there, not Witten. Including the playoffs, QBs targeting Kuechly had a passer rating of just 48.7; targeting other linebackers in the league gave an average passer rating of 102.1. Kuechly is an elite coverage linebacker, but also flows to the football like few others, and is one of the best run defenders at the position, also. But for missing games due to a concussion, he would have had a very strong case for Defensive Player of the Year, despite the season from Aaron Donald.
6. Khalil Mack, OLB, Raiders
As scary and impressive as Aaron Donald’s career has begun, Khalil Mack’s hasn’t been far behind as the Raiders’ primary edge-rusher. During his rookie season, Mack was a monster against the run, and a pretty good pass-rusher, but in his second campaign, he was dominant in all areas. He finished the year with 82 total pressures, two batted passes, and four more defensive stops than any other edge defender. He was by far the highest-graded edge defender at the end of the regular season, and only Von Miller’s insane playoff run pushed him close in PFF ratings by the end of the postseason. Despite having three fewer games to generate positive plays, Mack ended the year with an overall grade of 95.8, ahead of Miller’s 94.0, and was the third-highest-graded defender in the league. Given that his career is just two seasons old, there may still be more to come in 2016 and beyond, but Mack is already unquestionably one of the NFL’s best players.
7. Von Miller, OLB, Broncos
Von Miller’s regular season was, believe it or not, relatively unspectacular, but he showed in the playoffs that, at his best, he is one of the most devastating weapons in the game. In the postseason alone, he notched six sacks and 23 total pressures—and the Broncos’ Super Bowl run was just three games long. If you include Denver’s Week 17 game, a playoff-like must-win encounter against San Diego with seeding on the line, Miller averaged 7.5 total pressures over his final four games; he has averaged 85 in each regular season in which he played a full schedule. Miller has the speed, quickness, and agility that most blockers just can’t hope to contend with, and maybe the most impressive bend around the corner of any pass-rusher in the league. He may be the single biggest reason that the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl 50 champions right now, and that’s why he’s shooting for a blockbuster contract.
[More from Mike Renner on why Denver owns the NFL’s best pass defense here.]
8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
He had a 2015 season to forget, largely, but Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the game. We saw glimpses of magic last season, with ridiculous Hail Mary passes and the trademark darts on the run that few players can hit, but overall he ended up buried in the quicksand of trying to rescue an underachieving offense all by himself. When he has the weapons to help, Rodgers has abilities that few quarterbacks can emulate, firing accurate passes over seemingly any distance from any angle in the pocket or outside of it. Rodgers makes smart decisions and has the lowest interception rate in NFL history, and with Jordy Nelson back in action in 2016, should resume his spot as the best passer in football.
9. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
If Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the game, Julio Jones isn’t far behind him. Jones is more of the prototype athletic-freak receiver that the NFL has been attracted to for years, and he can physically impose himself on defensive backs like few other players in the game. He has the physicality to go up and dominate at the catch point, but also the blazing speed to torch guys who can’t get their hands on him or allow him too much space in his route. In 2015, he tied Brown for the most catches (136), but edged ahead in yardage (1,871), and caught 70.5 percent of all of the passes thrown in his direction.
10. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Le’Veon Bell only carried the ball 113 times last season before being shut down, and yet he ended the year with the fifth-best rushing grade in the NFL if we lower the snap threshold far enough to include him. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry after contact, which is more than C.J. Spiller averaged in total yards per carry. When you add in his work as a receiver, there is no more complete back than Bell, who can play all three downs and be a real threat in every facet of the game in a way other backs on this list can’t be. Right now Bell is the best RB in the game, and we could see something spectacular if he is on the field every game in the 2016 season.
11. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
Joe Thomas has been the benchmark of pass-protecting left tackles since he entered the league, and shows no sign of relinquishing that crown anytime soon, even if there are at least rivals to his throne. Thomas has led the league in pass-protection grade in four of the past five seasons, and has usually had an excellent run-blocking grade to pair with that, despite quarterbacks that haven’t always been a friend to their offensive linemen in terms of hanging onto the ball or dancing around the pocket. Despite nine seasons in the league, Thomas shows no sign of slowing down, and his 2015 season was one of his best. Everybody wants to anoint Tyron Smith as the league’s best tackle because he plays on a better team and offensive line overall, but for the moment, Joe Thomas still has that crown by a whisker.
12. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys
It’s testament to his play that Tyron Smith is essentially neck-and-neck with Joe Thomas at this point in his career. Thomas should be a Hall of Fame player when he hangs up the cleats, and is playing some of the best football of his career nine seasons into it—and Smith is right there with him. If Thomas is a slightly better pass-blocker, Smith is the better run-blocker on a line that could probably pave the way for you or me to gain 1,000 rushing yards behind it. In 2015, Smith was by far the highest-rated run-blocking tackle in the league, and he allowed just 22 total pressures in over 1,000 snaps of action as a pass-blocker. Maybe 2016 is the year he finally overtakes Joe Thomas as the best OT the game has.
13. Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens
Marshal Yanda is the best guard in football and one of the best offensive linemen, period. He now has back-to-back seasons of outstanding play, and strong grades in every season of his career. He has never graded negatively overall in either run-blocking or pass-protection over a season, and this past year surrendered just 17 total pressures over 1,155 snaps. He was the best-graded guard in the league by a reasonable distance, and at this point, is the standard by which all other guards need to measure themselves.
14. Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks
Where once Darrelle Revis reigned, now Richard Sherman is king. Sherman is the best cornerback in the game, but he hasn’t necessarily been able to maintain his best play every season. He has the length and size that has now become the object of desire for every NFL team looking for corners, and at times it seems completely impossible to fit the ball past him. We talk about catch radius for players on offense, but Sherman’s interception or pass-breakup radius on the other side is ridiculous. He is also a strong run defender and can shut down even the game’s best receivers. The only criticism of his game is the occasional lapse that can lead to big plays, but on a down-to-down basis, there is nobody better.
15. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Remember when some idiot said that Tom Brady was a declining force back in 2014? Who was that guy? Oh yeah, right… Anyway, since then, Brady has been playing arguably the best football of his career, and there may be no quarterback with a greater mastery of his offense. Despite a disaster of an offensive line, Brady gets the ball out of his hands faster than almost any other passer (second-fastest average time to throw in 2015, behind only Andy Dalton), and consistently hits the right guy for quick, short gains. All of the top quarterbacks in 2015 were dealing with some issue beyond simply playing football, and Brady may have had the most working against him in terms of poor protection and losing so many of his offensive weapons to injury. Yet he was still playing as well as anybody, and was one of three passers to top 90.0 in overall grade and edge into the elite, blue-chip designation. Declining? Apparently not.
16. Justin Houston, OLB, Chiefs
Despite being injured and missing time in 2015, Justin Houston posted almost as high of a regular season grade as Von Miller managed on more than 200 fewer snaps. Only Miller’s obscene playoff run pushed him ahead on overall grade, but Houston is one of the league’s most dominant edge-rushers. Over the past two seasons, he has either led or been second in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity metric, which measures pressure on a per-rush basis; he’s a very good run defender, as well. Houston now has positive grades in every area of the game PFF measures in four straight seasons.
17. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
There is nobody in the game that attacks the football in the air the way Odell Beckham Jr. does. His pre-game warmup highlight reel is one of the most ludicrous things you will ever see, and he has the ability to pluck the ball out of the air when it is anywhere near him, taking the defensive back out of the picture on plays even when they are in pretty good coverage. His game against Josh Norman and the Carolina Panthers will only be remembered for the way Beckham lost control of himself entirely, though it’s worth noting that he burned Norman deep early in that game—only to drop the ball—and later scored a touchdown on the CB. This is a matchup we will now see twice a year after Norman’s move to Washington. Beckham is one of the league’s best receivers and only entering his third season.
18. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals
Whether you want to call him a safety or a cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu is one of the league’s best defensive backs. He is a true playmaker on defense and has the ability to move around and cause matchup problems for offenses, putting them on the back foot for once in a league that usually forces defenses to react, not the other way around. Last season, he was having a Defensive Player of the Year kind of impact before missing the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs, leaving a big hole that the Cardinals weren’t really able to fill. He is a versatile playmaker, capable of excelling in the run game, in coverage, and generating pressure on the blitz, and regardless of what position he gets labeled as, he’s just a fantastic player.
19. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
People jumped on the Cam Newton MVP bandwagon at midseason some time, but I don’t think he really earned the award until the playoffs. Even in the Super Bowl against a suffocating defense, he played pretty well, but is only ultimately remembered for failing to fall on a fumble and acting petulantly in the press conference afterwards. The bottom line, though, is that Newton is still improving—year after year, and even within his MVP season. We are looking at a freak athlete at the quarterback position that can be a very real addition to the Panthers’ rushing attack in a way no other QB can, but also complete some of the best passes in the league. We have seen play that should put Newton higher on this list, but not for long enough. If he continues to get even better in 2016, though, we will see something truly special.
20. Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks
From being undrafted, to barely attracting offers as a free agent when he left Tampa Bay, Michael Bennett has become one of the league’s most dominant defenders. Against the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, he was regularly destroying their running game almost single-handedly with immediate penetration and power. Bennett has been regularly among the best-graded edge rushers in the league, and can moonlight as an interior rusher for the Seahawks, disrupting plays from outside or inside on the defensive line. Including the playoffs, he notched 91 total pressures in 2015, and is one of the few defenders in the league capable of taking over games in his best form.
21. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
With Roethlisberger playing last season, Antonio Brown averaged 9.7 catches per game, 132 yards, and scored all of his receiving touchdowns. When he was injured, Brown managed just 4.3 catches and 59 yards per game, despite being pretty much uncoverable. Roethlisberger would have been firmly in the MVP conversation in 2015 had he played in every game, and even against the league’s best defense in the playoffs, he was able to put up 339 passing yards and complete 64.9 percent of his passes. His career has been remarkably consistent, and he shows no sign of dipping in form, while the rest of that class of 2004 have begun to struggle. Roethlisberger should be seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, not just a top-10 guy.
22. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
The first thing in DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins’ favor is probably the list of quarterbacks that have been throwing him the ball. The list of Houston passers has been so bad that they handed Brock Osweiler $72 million—based on seven games as a starter—just to get out of QB-purgatory. With that limitation, Hopkins still posted 1,521 yards and 11 scores from 111 receptions. Those are great numbers regardless of who is throwing the ball, but when the list was comprised of well-below-average NFL quarterbacks, it’s all the more impressive. Hopkins just has that gift of being able to get open despite not having the blazing speed to do it by athleticism alone. He emerged as a top-level receiver, and did it with very little help, with the chance of improving in 2016.
23. Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals
Geno Atkins is getting somewhere close to his best again after a knee injury derailed his career. 2012 Geno Atkins recorded the best defensive tackle performance we have seen outside of Aaron Donald for years, but his first year back from that knee injury in 2014 was just a shell of that. In 2015, another year removed from the injury, we started to see that guy again. Atkins is quick and plays with obscene leverage, able to knife through the line or just drive blockers into the backfield by getting under their pads. He trailed only Donald in defensive tackle grading in 2015, and notched 82 total pressures to lead all DTs.
24. Chris Harris Jr., CB, Broncos
Chris Harris Jr. should be the new poster boy for undrafted free agent success in the NFL. Since coming into the league, he has developed into one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, and yet often still doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, or is even seen as the best corner on his own team. He is a three-time PFF All-Pro (the last three consecutive seasons), and despite a couple of ugly outings this past year covering Antonio Brown, still had a fine season, and was instrumental in Denver’s postseason run, despite dealing with a shoulder injury. Harris is undersized and undrafted, but he’s just a high-quality talent.
25. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Russell Wilson is so much more than the game-managing quarterback he often still gets accused of being. He brings a rushing dimension to the offense and the threat of the read option, but it’s usually just there to keep defenses honest, and not something he looks to do unless it’s the smart option. As a passer, he is an accurate and smart quarterback, and his receiving corps is only improving around him. The state of the Seattle offensive line will remain a concern for Wilson going forwards, but his ability to play in the face of that kind of protection only enhances his case as a top quarterback. Over the past two seasons, he has either been first or second in the percentage of snaps on which he faced pressure.
[More from John Breitenbach on why Russell Wilson is a top-five quarterback here.]
26. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins
Ndamukong Suh is a victim of his own financial success. The contract Miami handed him means no matter how well he plays, he is never likely to be anything but “overpaid” and squeezing their salary cap. In reality, though, 2015 marked his best season in the NFL, where the only real black mark on his play was a farcical level of penalties (18, or twice as many as any other interior defender). Suh was excellent against the run and generated 60 total pressures and five batted passes, even if it didn’t translate to sack numbers. Suh, at this level, is in the conversation to be the best defensive lineman in the league not named J.J. Watt, but he will always be looked at in the light of his contract, which is rich even for a player at that level.
27. Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys
Oftentimes in the NFL, offensive linemen can develop an undeserved reputation that lives with them for most of their careers. That is most definitely not the case with Travis Frederick, who is deservedly seen as one of the best centers in the game, if not the best. In 2015, he didn’t allow a single sack and was beaten for just 10 total pressures all season. In 2014, he allowed just one sack, and in all three seasons of his career, has earned excellent run-blocking grades. He may not physically dominate players at the point of attack, but he is excellent at getting into position and leveraging his man away from the point of attack, doing just enough to create a running lane and springing the RB to the second or third level.
[More from Sam Monson on why 2015 was Suh’s best season to date here.]
28. Fletcher Cox, DE, Eagles
Newly-minted Fletcher Cox is one of the best defensive linemen in football, and a guy I think could be even better going forward in a new defensive scheme. While two-gap football was all the rage a decade ago, very few teams ask their linemen to control a blocker and defend the gap to either side of him anymore, but the Eagles asked Cox to do that a lot in previous seasons. Despite those responsibilities affecting how much he could attack and affect play in the backfield, he notched 77 total pressures in 2015 and graded well in both the run and pass game. In a more attack-minded one-gap system in 2016, I think Cox could explode into a superstar wrecking-machine on that D-line.
[More from Matt Claassen on Fletcher Cox’s extension with Philadelphia here.]
29. Harrison Smith, S, Vikings
Safeties have become pretty specialized in recent years. With so many teams trying to run a Seattle-esque system of cover-1/cover-3 looks, teams have split their safeties into rangy, single-high coverage specialists and powerful in-the-box run-stuffers that can man up with backs and TEs. Harrison Smith represents the other way of doing things: a versatile safety that is good at everything, without being a specialist at anything. Smith allows the Minnesota defense to run pretty much any coverage they want, knowing that they will have a safety capable of excelling in his role on the back end. This past season he graded well in every facet of play PFF measures, and he has that tough-to-define ability to be a tone setter for the defense with the plays he makes at times.
30. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
A.J. Green is one of those players that always produces more than I expect him to. He has the occasional struggle on tape in a way you don’t tend to see from Antonio Brown or Julio Jones, but he makes up for that by being incredibly difficult to jam at the line or control physically. It’s no surprise that 2015 was his best season from a grading standpoint, with Andy Dalton also enjoying his best season of play, giving Green a chance with more passes than he had in the past. Green caught 69.9 percent of the passes thrown his way, and had just three drops from 123 targets.
31. Jamie Collins, LB, Patriots
Jamie Collins represents the new breed of athletic linebacker that can do it all for a defense. In each of the past two seasons, he has graded well in every area of play PFF measures, and his grades have been among the best at his position. He can defend the run, blitz, and cover with almost equal effectiveness and ability, and has the athleticism to match up with more than just big tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Collins is the rare linebacker that can execute tough assignments against wide receivers and give the Patriots a little more personnel flexibility when it comes to reacting to offensive packages, allowing them to stay in base defense a little more if they so desire.
32. Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals
At his best, Patrick Peterson is one of the league’s top shutdown corners, or as close as anybody can get to that term in today’s NFL of pass-happy rules. He typically tracks the best receiver an offense has, and this past season when doing that, he allowed just 50 percent of all passes thrown his way to be caught (including playoffs) and was beaten for just three touchdowns, two of which came in the postseason and one of which was a Hail Mary. He didn’t allow more than four catches in a single game all season long, and was beaten for more than 50 yards just once. He also held Antonio Brown to two catches for 26 yards on six targets when they met, albeit when Brown didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball.
33. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks
Earl Thomas is the prototype free safety for the modern-day NFL that everybody else is trying to replicate. He is one of the few single-high free safeties with the range and instincts to still affect plays from that spot in the deep middle of the field and actively squeeze throwing lanes and affect windows. There may be no more important player to the success of that Seattle scheme because of the way he can affect plays that most other free safeties can’t. Thomas is part of the reason that scheme has been less successful when taken elsewhere by former Seattle coaches, because nobody has yet found their version of Earl Thomas that can make the whole thing tick.
34. Anthony Barr, LB, Vikings
Eyebrows were raised when the Vikings selected Anthony Barr in the first round, and even more when they declared that he would be playing linebacker in their 4-3 defense. It was assumed that he would play some kind of Von Miller/Bruce Irvin hybrid role that would see him off the ball on base downs, and then rushing the passer in sub-packages, but he has fully transitioned to a conventional off-the-ball linebacker and done so incredibly smoothly, to the point that he is now one of the best in the game. Barr plays the run well, and is a natural threat on the blitz given his pass-rushing history, but he has also played very well in coverage, showing a natural feel for underneath zones and the ability to close quickly on plays in front of him. If Luke Kuechly is the best off-the-ball linebacker in football, Barr is one of a number of players with a claim to be the next best.
35. Zack Martin, G, Cowboys
Zack Martin may not be the best guard in football, but he’s pretty close. There is no weakness in his game, as he can run-block well and pass-protect with the best, putting him at the sharp end of the PFF guard rankings every year. In 2015, he allowed just one sack to go with the one he surrendered as a rookie, and has averaged just 13.5 total pressures per season, fewer than one per game. His 2015 season was a model of consistency, barring two hiccups in the middle of the year where he struggled to contain Fletcher Cox and Ndamukong Suh—two players ahead of him on this list.
36. Josh Norman, CB, Redskins
Josh Norman became one of the league’s best corners in 2015, and for a good portion of the season, quarterbacks were better off statistically just throwing the ball into the turf every play than they were challenging Norman by throwing it into his coverage. But for the game against Odell Beckham Jr. that became more of a brawl than anything to do with football, he would have been PFF’s highest-graded cover corner. Including the playoffs, Norman allowed a passer rating of just 58.1 when targeted and wasn’t beaten for a pass longer than 36 yards all year.
37. Terron Armstead, OT, Saints
The emergence of Terron Armstead has been one of the more underreported success stories from the Saints over the past year or so. In each season, he has seen his grade improve, and in 2015, was the third-best tackle in the game behind All-Pro players Joe Thomas and Tyron Smith. His run-blocking and pass-protection were both excellent and, despite a pass-happy Saints’ offense, he allowed just 20 total pressures over the year. Armstead is only going into his fourth season in the league, and is still getting better, with a real chance to take another step forward and join Thomas and Smith as the best players at their position.
38. Kawann Short, DT, Panthers
It’s a great time for interior defensive studs, and Carolina has one of the best in Kawann Short, who has become the more dominant of the two defensive tackles that the Panthers drafted in 2013. Short has improved with each season in the league, and actually improved his grade against both the run and pass game in each season, too, marking an impressively consistent developmental curve. 2015 was by far his best season, and he was a major reason the Panthers’ defense was so good, and a big factor in the team reaching the Super Bowl. Short has only been improving, and going into his fourth season, that development may not be finished. He could be even higher on this list in 2017.
39. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals
How do you sum up how consistently excellent Andrew Whitworth is (and has been) for the Cincinnati Bengals? Once again, he was among the best run-blocking tackles in the game, and though he did surrender four sacks in 2015, he gave up just 20 total pressures. Over the past two years, he has given up just 30 in total and averaged less than a pressure per game on the edge against some of the league’s best pass-rushers. Given his age, his time at the top at left tackle may be drawing to a close, but there is a very good chance he could have produce a solid season inside at guard to finish his career, where he would likely be an All-Pro player given the cameos we have seen from him in that spot.
40. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
Carson Palmer is another player whose case rests on one season of obscene play. It’s tough to oversell just how good Palmer was in 2015 before injuring a finger and having the worst playoff performance from a quarterback PFF has ever graded. In that Arizona passing attack, Palmer had the league’s highest average depth of target, and his expected inaccuracy rate given the passes he was attempting should have been the highest in the league. As it turned out, he was the best on intermediate and deep throws, and if I knew I was getting that guy in 2016, he would by vying for a place inside the top-five on this list. The issue is that those performances were so far off his career performance graph that it’s tough to have any idea where his 2016 will fall. Palmer has been good before, but in the eight years before that 2015 performance, he had been pretty good at best. It’s tough to buy into the idea that he is suddenly the best QB in the game, even if he has found an offense that perfectly suits his style.
[More from Mike Renner on Carson Palmer’s role in Arizona’s deep-passing attack here.]
41. Pernell McPhee, OLB, Bears
Pernell McPhee is an interesting story of a player that has transitioned from the interior to a legitimate edge-rusher over his time in the NFL, and his first season in Chicago was a fine one. He notched 67 total pressures and also graded well against the run. As you might expect from a player that spent a lot of time inside, on tape he is visibly too powerful for a lot of blockers tasked with containing him, and he regularly tosses players aside to make stops and disrupt plays. That Bears’ defense is heading in the right direction, and McPhee could prove to be even better going forward if they can surround him with a bit more help.
42. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Drew Brees isn’t quite at the same level he was a few seasons ago, but he is still an excellent quarterback and probably isn’t being given enough recognition for the level of his play given his age. Instead, everybody is focused on his contract and exactly how and when the divorce from New Orleans will happen to liberate their salary cap from his burden. 2015 may have been his worst season in a long time, but he still completed 68.3 percent of his passes, threw for 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns, and had just 11 picks to finish the year with a passer rating of 101.0. When that’s a relative down year for you, things are pretty good.
43. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
Going back and looking at former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg’s freshman season during the pre-draft process was a reminder of just how good Allen Robinson is. There may be nobody better in the game at winning 50/50 jump balls and attacking deep passes at the right point without alerting the defensive back to the ball’s arrival than Robinson, and he was doing the same thing for Blake Bortles in 2015. 37 of Robinson’s 142 targets came on deep (20+ air yards) passes, and he gained 672 yards on those plays. There is a lot to be said for giving your receiver a chance to make the play, but the odds swing dramatically in your favor when the receiver in question is Robinson.
44. Jason Verrett, CB, Chargers
The highest coverage grade in 2015 among corners that played primarily on the outside was from Jason Verrett. He also had an outstanding grade as a rookie, albeit in a season cut short by injury. The numbers and tape suggests that Jason Verrett is on the verge of becoming one of the league’s best cornerbacks if he can stay healthy and on the field. That is the big knock on his play; in two NFL seasons, he has missed time in each, and has been a little lightweight against the run. However, in terms of pure coverage play, there have been few better CBs over the past couple of seasons.
45. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
The biggest endorsement of Jordy Nelson’s play might be looking at what happened to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offense in 2015 when he wasn’t there. Yes, they still made the playoffs and even won a game there, but this was a unit that looked lost. In 2014, Nelson trailed only Antonio Brown in overall grade, and was fifth in receiving grade. He has speed, size, and the ability to hit the right spot and be on the same page with Rodgers in a way few other Packers receivers can. Nelson has the trust of one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and it allows him to get passes thrown his way that aren’t chanced on other targets. In 2014, he caught 67.1 percent of the balls thrown his way, and forced 14 missed tackles after the catch.
46. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
Alshon Jeffery was a difficult player to place in these rankings because it is more on potential and upside than proven, long-term production. He was excellent in 2013, and even better in 2015 when he was on the field, but he played just 516 snaps due to injury. On either side of those injuries, he was an elite receiver who was grading as well as any wideout in the game, but the fact remains that he did it for only around half as long as most other players, so what we are looking at is more of an elite run, rather than an elite season. Jeffery is a big, physically-imposing receiver who has a large catch radius and is difficult to contend with at the catch point; if he can show that level of play consistently going forwards, he could leap up this list.
47. Mike Daniels, DE, Packers
When you watch the Green Bay defense for any length of time, the first player to catch your attention is Mike Daniels. In the way you don’t need to be told who the draft prospect is on a small-school team, he jumps off the tape in the first few plays and separates himself from the rest. Daniels just plays at a different level than the rest of the Green Bay defense at the moment. He grades consistently well against both the run and the pass and is always making a nuisance of himself along the trenches, screwing up blocking assignments and affecting plays even when he isn’t the guy to make the eventual stop. His grades have improved each season of his four-year NFL career, so who knows what 2016 holds.
48. Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints
Some players seem to be hit-and-miss in the NFL, bouncing between excellent seasons and average ones, seemingly unable to string a series of high-quality years together. Cameron Jordan looks like one of those players. Some of it can be explained by shifting schemes in New Orleans, and therefore shifting roles and responsibilities for Jordan, but not all of it. 2015 was Jordan’s best season, at least from a PFF grading standpoint, and while he didn’t match the sack totals of 2013, he was generating pressure faster and more effectively, and was better against the run. If you could guarantee that version of Jordan every season, you would have an elite playmaker along the defensive front, but the looming worry that he might regress back to just above-average keeps him this low in the rankings.
49. Josh Sitton, G, Packers
Josh Sitton is the league’s best pass-blocking guard. He may not be quite the best guard overall, but in a passing league, being the best pass-blocker is a pretty useful trait. His blocking in that area is so good that the Packers elected to kick him out to left tackle when injuries bit deep last season, rather than go further down the tackle depth chart. He wasn’t exactly a rousing success there, but he did a lot better than several starting tackles in the league, let alone guards moonlighting on the edge. At guard, Sitton has allowed just four sacks in three seasons of play, and allowed just 35 total pressures over the same timespan, averaging fewer than one per game. And, as an added bonus, his run-blocking is pretty good, too.
50. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets
Sheldon Richardson brings with him the issue of off-field baggage, but focusing purely on what he has done on the field, you find an excellent player. Like his teammate Muhammad Wilkerson, Richardson was asked to play far more as an edge threat this past season as the Jets tried to get all of their best interior players on the field at the same time. Richardson has shown the ability to disrupt and penetrate as well as anybody in the league, and has done so against both the run and pass. 2014 was his best season, the one year where he excelled in both phases of play. He is somewhat at the mercy of the Jets using him more conventionally, but as an interior disruptive force, there are few better players.
51. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
Dez Bryant may have more potential than any other wide receiver in the game. He certainly has the talent to be right up there with Julio Jones in the pantheon of uncoverable players, but the Cowboy has more low-points than Jones does, and has never been quite as consistent, despite dominant stretches of production. 2014 was his best season yet, and the year that he got closest to consistently realizing that potential. The question now, though, is how close can Bryant get to that 2014 season going forward?
52. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Patriots
Dont’a Hightower doesn’t have a bad season to his name in his four-year NFL career, and over the past two years, he’s been exceptionally productive. Hightower is a very good run defender and consistently defeats blocks as well as makes stops. He has never missed double-digit tackles in a season, and has always graded well against the run, but also covers better than he is given credit for. The Patriots use their inside linebackers on the blitz a lot, and Hightower has proven to have a talent for getting after the quarterback, notching 28 total pressures in 2015. In coverage, he has also allowed only one touchdown over the last two years.
53. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Jets
2015 may not have been Muhammad Wilkerson’s best year, but when you consider what he was asked to do by the Jets, it was the one that most impressed me. With Leonard Williams on board and demanding snaps with his play, the Jets deployed Wilkerson as more of a full-time edge player, asking him to become the primary source of pass-rush on the perimeter rather than move around or apply it up the middle. For most players of his size, this would be hopeless, but Wilkerson notched 79 total pressures, seventh-most in the entire NFL, and was a consistent force for New York all year. There aren’t many players with his versatility and ability to perform along the entire defensive line.
[More on Muhammad Wilkerson’s value to the Jets from Eric Eager here.]
54. Malcolm Jenkins, S, Eagles
There isn’t a better advertisement for the impact a defensive scheme can have on a player than Malcolm Jenkins, who has been a completely different producer in Philadelphia than he ever was in New Orleans. Over the final three seasons of his New Orleans career, Jenkins earned a cumulative PFF grade of -23.8; in two years with Philadelphia, he has posted a cumulative grade of +27.7. Jenkins has shown to be a much better run defender than he ever did for the Saints, cutting down on the number of missed tackles and proving to be a very capable coverage defender all over the field. Sometimes all it takes is being freed from an ill-suited scheme.
55. Devin McCourty, S, Patriots
It’s easy to forget that Devin McCourty was also an excellent cornerback before the Patriots moved him to safety, and probably would be again if he was asked to move back. That kind of versatility is rare in today’s NFL, and is part of why he has been able to perform so well in any defensive scheme in nearly any role on the back end for New England. McCourty has cornerback speed and change of direction skills that allows him to play tough assignments in quarters coverage or lined up deep against out-breaking routes, but he also patrols typical deep zones very well and makes it tough for opposing quarterbacks to fit passes in against him.
56. Malik Jackson, DE, Jaguars
There’s a reason Malik Jackson got big-time money from the Jaguars in free agency, and it wasn’t just because they had cash burning a hole in their pockets. Jackson has been one of the league’s most dominant interior players over the past two seasons, and about the only knock on his game now is that he had a lot of quality players around him in Denver to make that easier. That much is true, but he has now shown he can do it as a rotational player or full-time starter, and had two of his best games of the season in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. We’ll see just how much influence the rest of that Broncos’ defense had when he plays without it in 2016, but I think it’s doing him a disservice to lean too heavily on that point.
57. T.J. Lang, G, Packers
We’ve known that Josh Sitton has been one of the league’s best guards for a while, but his teammate T.J. Lang has quietly joined him in that conversation. Lang has now recorded back-to-back excellent seasons and only allowed 20 total pressures over 18 games in 2015. In fact, he was only responsible for his quarterback hitting the turf with a sack or hit on two occasions this past season, and was an impressive run-blocker to go along with that pass protection. He may not have the fearsome size of some other guards in the league, but Lang has been impressive over the past two years and deserves some more recognition for becoming one of the better guards in football.
58. Derrick Johnson, LB, Chiefs
There have been few more consistent linebackers over the time PFF has been grading games than Derrick Johnson. In multiple schemes, Johnson has been an excellent player against the run and in coverage, and has been one of the best linebackers of his generation. Coming back from a bad injury in 2014 to have the kind of season he did in 2015 shows that, despite his age, he is far from done. Only four players had more defensive stops than Johnson did this past season, and none of those four could match his performance in coverage, where he wasn’t beaten for a single touchdown all year despite being thrown at 63 times.
59. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
Eric Berry’s comeback story of beating cancer and getting back to his best on the field last season was an amazing feat, but it doesn’t define the career of an excellent player beyond the comeback story. Berry is a talented safety who can line up in the box and cover TEs one-on-one in Kansas City’s man-coverage schemes. He is strong against the run and provides the kind of matchup weapon on defense that teams are searching for. Strong safeties in today’s NFL need to be able to cover, as well, just in a different way to those playing deep zones as free safeties, and Berry can do that as well as any of them.
60. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
As a pass-catching TE, there may be no one better than Greg Olsen in the league. In fact, in that area, Olsen is even a pretty close match for Rob Gronkowski. He may not have Gronk’s ability to break tackles after the catch, but he is a sharper route-runner, can match him in spectacular catches, and can be just as productive. The issue is that while Gronk is one of the better blocking TEs in the league, Olsen is not. Last season, the Panther had the worst run-blocking grade in the league at the TE position, and the only player in the same ballpark was his teammate, Ed Dickson, a notoriously poor blocker. Blocking has become less of a requirement for TEs than ever before in today’s NFL, but at a certain point, the poor play is harmful to the team overall.
61. Sean Lee, LB, Cowboys
Few players have had their careers blighted by injury as much as Sean Lee, who is one of the league’s best linebackers when he is on the field, but so rarely stays there for any length of time to prove it. In the past six seasons, Lee has played 2,910 total snaps, or fewer than Luke Kuechly has managed over the last three, despite missing games with a concussion this season. Lee has excellent instincts, the athleticism and smarts to hang in coverage in today’s NFL, and is consistently in the right place at the right time in the run game, grading positively in that area every season of his NFL career. Only injuries keep him this low on the list.
62. Richie Incognito, G, Bills
The reason for his NFL exile prevents this from being any kind of feel-good story, but Richie Incognito’s 2015 season was one of the more impressive comeback tales of recent memory. Out of the league entirely for a year, he returned as an All-Pro caliber player at guard for the Bills. If anything, it shows the impact being 100 percent healthy at the start of the season can have for an NFL lineman, as well as the toll years in the trenches can have. Incognito’s run-blocking was dominant, and his pass-blocking was pretty good. On 2015 form alone, he deserves to be higher on this list. But the question becomes how far will that performance slip now that he doesn’t have a year off before rolling into the season?
63. Trai Turner, G, Panthers
The Panthers’ offensive line was supposed to be the team’s Achilles heel a year ago, but thanks to players like Trai Turner, it was actually a pretty good unit, especially inside. Turner had a decent rookie season, but became dominant in his sophomore campaign, adding powerful run-blocking to pass protection that was already pretty good. He has now allowed just one sack over two years, including the playoff run this past season, and notched five games of perfect pass protection in 2015. Turner didn’t really have a bad game in 2015, and has quickly become one of the league’s best guards. It’s easy to forget the fact that his career is just two seasons old, given how impressive his progression has been.
64. Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers
Injuries have derailed Gerald McCoy’s progress as one of the best and most disruptive defensive tackles in football. He has shown he is capable of being a one-man wrecking crew on the inside for Tampa Bay, which is a good thing, because he was doing it without much help for awhile, but injuries have been an issue. McCoy hasn’t missed that much time in recent seasons, but his play has declined as he battled though injuries, and we haven’t seen his best form for awhile. I’m keeping him this high on the list because of how good we know he can be, but it’s time we need to start seeing it again, because players like Aaron Donald have moved the bar for 3-technique, penetrating defensive tackles, and McCoy needs to respond.
65. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
Emmanuel Sanders is a slick route runner, capable of some spectacular catches, and the kind of player that can have huge production when a decent quarterback is capable of finding him with the football. The only issue is that he isn’t a physically dominant player capable of bailing out a bad quarterback’s inaccurate passes the way some of the best receivers in the game can. Because of this, Sanders is more reliant than some on viable quarterback play and will suffer more quickly than most when he doesn’t get it. If I’ve got that viable QB, there are few receivers I would want on the team before Sanders.
66. Joe Staley, T, 49ers
2012 was a good year for the 49ers and for Joe Staley. That season, the San Francisco had arguably the league’s best roster, and Staley was arguably the best tackle in football. The 49ers have since crumbled around him, and while Staley hasn’t quite hit those 2012 highs since, he is still one of the better tackles around. This past season, he graded well in all areas PFF measures and had good run- and pass-blocking grades for the fourth consecutive season. Staley may never be the best tackle in football again given his advancing age, but he remains a very good OT despite the bad team around him.
67. Olivier Vernon, DE, Giants
Olivier Vernon could end up pretty much anywhere on this list or off it altogether, depending on how much stock you put in an eight-game stretch of play that was as good as anybody in football in 2015. Over the final eight games of the season, he posted 57 total pressures, which is more than most players managed in a season, and was the best-graded edge defender in the league in that span. The only guy who was even close was Khalil Mack, and those two were massively clear of the chasing pack. If you knew you were getting that Vernon going forward, he would be a top-10 player in the league. But that was so far above his career baseline that you almost have to treat it as an anomaly rather than a sign of the player he now is. The amount of stock one puts in that stretch can greatly affect his place on this list.
68. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets
There were few rookie 2015 seasons more impressive than that of Leonard Williams’ campaign. He was particularly impressive against the run, but also showed more as a pass-rusher than some at PFF (me) had been expecting. He wasn’t elite in this area, but 53 total pressures from an interior defender is no small achievement, even over 827 snaps. Williams showed the potential to be another elite defensive linemen for the Jets, and the only question is whether he continues at this pace in year two. If he can, he could quickly vault up this list and become one of the best in the game, because what he has shown already is excellent play from a guy as young as he is.
69. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Ah, Matt Ryan. It’s tough to exactly feel sorry for a millionaire NFL quarterback, but Ryan probably takes more undue abuse than most, simply because he’s never likely to be Tom Brady. It’s like the No. 3 overall pick of the draft either becomes the next Tom Brady, or he’s junk, with nothing in between. Ryan, like most players, occupies the space in between, but he’s a lot closer to Brady than he is a waste of a roster spot. Yes, he will make some poor decisions and has cost his team in places, but he has also had excellent games and been instrumental in big wins that he had no business securing, and consistently grades well when you look at each and every snap. Ryan may never be among the best couple of quarterbacks in the game, but he’s a very, very good player despite his flaws.
70. Kelechi Osemele, G, Raiders
Kelechi Osemele isn’t just a good guard, but a good lineman overall, with the ability to play tackle at a pretty high level, too. He has the ability to be elite at guard, though, and the Raiders adding him in free agency was a big addition. He has ranked in the top-five for run blocking at the position in each of the past two seasons, and though his pass blocking wasn’t as good in 2015, he really only had one bad game in 2015 (on opening day against Denver). Osemele has the power that people love to see from interior linemen, and the size that goes along with it. He still gets beat more often than you want to see from the best players at his position, and that keeps him this far down the list, but his potential is elite.
71. Darius Slay, CB, Lions
Things didn’t go well for the Detroit Lions in 2015, but one bright spot was the play of CB Darius Slay, who enjoyed one of the best cornerback seasons in the NFL, and was legitimately “shutdown” for stretches. There were five games in 2015 where Slay allowed fewer than 10 receiving yards, seven games in which he allowed two or fewer catches, and two games in which he didn’t give up a single catch. About the only negative in his game was that he was beaten for the occasional big play, but on a down-to-down basis, there were few players tougher to beat. Slay’s performances have now improved dramatically each year, and another step forward in 2016 would place him among the elite. This step has typically been the toughest for corners to make over recent years, as backed up by our next player on the list.
72. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons
Desmond Trufant, I think, has the potential to end up much higher on this list, but he took an unexpected step backwards in 2015. He was still good, but that was the year I was expecting greatness from him, and it didn’t happen. Trufant was very good against the run in 2015, but his coverage slipped a little. He allowed 57.1 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, and surrendered two touchdowns while only picking off one pass and breaking up another five. He ended the season with just the 25th-highest PFF coverage rating, whereas the season before he had been sixth and trending upwards. 2016 is a big season for Trufant in determining who he really is as a corner—a player with elite ability, or just another good-not-great cover guy?
73. K.J. Wright, LB, Seahawks
There aren’t many players more overlooked and overrated in the league than K.J. Wright. He may be universally accepted as being pretty good, but you’re not going to find many people that will tell you he’s the best linebacker Seattle has—except here. Bobby Wagner gets all of the press, but Wright has been the better player for some time now, and is one of the league’s best linebackers, period. His best asset is probably his coverage ability, which is more and more important for linebackers in today’s league, and allows him to be on the field as much as possible and still make an impact against any kind of offensive personnel package. Last season, he played 97.5 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and recorded one of the best coverage grades in the league.
74. Eric Weddle, S, Ravens
Eric Weddle has been one of the game’s best safeties for years, and maybe the most complete—able to play deep and in the box with equal competence while in San Diego. He also had to act as traffic cop for a team full of youth and inexperience in the secondary on regular occasions over the past few seasons. 2015 was far from his best year, but in a Baltimore secondary with maybe less responsibility on his shoulders, he could return to the player we saw in previous seasons. Weddle’s experience and versatility allows a defense to do a lot on the back end in terms of coverages, and as long as he doesn’t have to worry about everybody else’s job, too, he should be able to make a big impact for the Ravens.
75. Steve Smith Sr., WR, Ravens
Perhaps it’s because PFF has been grading 2006 games as part of an offseason project, but I think people are forgetting just how good Steve Smith is. Even fast-forwarding nine years, Smith was putting up grades right in line with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones over the first half of the 2015 season before injury struck. We seem to be just assuming that because of his age and the severity of the injury that Smith will be a washed up version of the great receiver upon his return, but I think he is the type of driven player that will still be a force when he is back on the field. Smith has been overcoming the odds for his entire career, and he’ll have one more opportunity to do so.
76. Jurrell Casey, DE, Titans
There are few more disruptive interior forces than Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey, who has now been dominant in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive front. He is a versatile player that can move around and disrupt both the pass and run, and he has an awareness you don’t usually see from most interior defenders who can play with blinkers, only seeing their little island of influence. Casey sees the whole field and will make plays for other defenders when most interior players would never even see that the play was there to be made. He has posted over 50 total pressures in each of the past three seasons, and graded well against the run in each of them, too.
77. Robert Quinn, DE, Rams
The performance we saw from Robert Quinn in the 2013 season may have been the best single-season of edge-rushing PFF has seen since we began grading (2007). He was completely unblockable at times, and able to get around the tackle and hit the quarterback in 1.5 seconds—or about as long as it took him to complete his drop and look up. The problem is that it’s getting longer and longer since that season. In 2014, he was good, but far from as spectacular, and 2015 was much the same story, with the addition of lost time through injury. We know Quinn is capable of obscene greatness, but we have to go back more than two years since we last saw it, and until he returns to that level, I can’t put him much higher on this list.
78. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
With the ball in his hands, Adrian Peterson can do spectacular things. This is a player that will soon start knocking off all-time greats on the all-time rushing list, but more and more his game is being defined by what it lacks. The fumbling problem from his early career came back to haunt him again in 2015, and in a league that is ever more pass-oriented, the Vikings don’t trust him to pass-block or pass-catch, and consequently often don’t even have him on the field in their most crucial game situations. If I had to hand a back the ball three times to get 10 yards, there may be nobody I’d want hand off to than Peterson, but that isn’t today’s NFL, and he is too lacking in other areas to be at the sharp end of this list.
79. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Over the past three years, only Dez Bryant has scored more touchdowns in a single season than Doug Baldwin did in 2015, and yet somehow he is still being criminally underrated by most. Baldwin caught 78.8 percent of the passes sent his way this past season for over 1,000 yards, and those 14 scores came alongside just two dropped passes all season. He can play inside and out, which is an important trait for a receiver in today’s NFL, especially in that Seattle offense. While he may not have the physical gifts of some of the game’s most imposing receivers, he consistently gets open and catches passes—and isn’t that kind of the whole point?
[More from Ben Stockwell on why Doug Baldwin is still an underrated weapon here.]
80. Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins
If you could promise me Cameron Wake would enter the 2016 season as 100 percent of the player we saw before he went down with an Achilles injury, he would be among the first 20 players on this list. However, at his age, and with that severe of an injury, it seems more likely than not that he will experience some kind of drop in production and performance. At his best, he is one of the most athletically destructive pass-rushers in the league, terrorizing blockers that just don’t have the athleticism to match his movements or the recovery ability once he catches them off balance. He has recorded a strong pass-rushing grade every single season of his career, and even a diminished Wake should still be a very good player in 2016.
81. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
Part of the reason the Jets have played hardball with Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason is the number of heave-and-hope passes he threw that Brandon Marshall was able to rescue and turn into something good for the offense. Marshall has always been a tough receiver to live with physically, and in many ways, has always been the biggest cap on his own career, with mental lapses and concentration drops a constant theme. In 2015, he had 11 drops, marking the seventh season in the last nine that he has topped double-digits in that regard. He has also fumbled the ball 15 times over that time span. Marshall is a spectacular receiver, but the flaws in his game keep him out of the conversation for the very best at the position.
82. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
The Miami Dolphins criminally underused Lamar Miller, but hopefully the Houston Texans won’t make the same mistake, having signed him to a healthy contract in free agency. Miller has earned very strong rushing grades in each of the past two seasons, despite never being allowed to carry the kind of load some of the other elite backs get. The Dolphins also rarely allowed him to be much of a factor in the passing game, but he flashed the ability to be a big-playmaker in that area, too. He has runs of at least 85 yards in each of the last two seasons, and a catch-and-run of 54 yards in 2015 to go with them. Miller is an excellent back who should finally get the chance to prove it over a big-time workload.
83. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins
Jarvis Landry isn’t just one of the league’s best slot receivers, but he adds some extremely impressive work on special teams to that resume. Landry returns both kicks and punts for Miami, and was our highest-graded return man in the entire league in 2015, scoring one touchdown as a punt return man and doing more work than his average on kicks would suggest. Landry has excellent hands, impressive route-running, and the ability to make people miss in short areas. He forced 40 missed tackles on offense this past season, which is more than many starting running backs, and the most among wide receivers.
84. Reshad Jones, S, Dolphins
There may be no better run-defending box-safety in football than Reshad Jones. He led the league by a distance in run-defense grade at the safety position in 2015, and he has now earned strong grades in consecutive seasons. He has also proven to have the ability to generate pressure on the blitz, and the only thing keeping him away from the top half of this list is a relative weakness in coverage. This is a passing league, and for all the good he does in terms of blitzing and run defense, his coverage has not been good enough to put him among the very best players in the league.
85. Brandon Marshall, LB, Broncos
The second Brandon Marshall to make the list, the Broncos linebacker doesn’t fall much further than the receiver. He has developed into one of the league’s best inside linebackers, and in this past season, was a major force on the league’s best defense. Marshall can play the run exceptionally well, blitz, and cover, which is exactly what you want from a modern-day linebacker, and at his age, is only getting better.
86. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks
While receiving TEs are all the rage in today’s NFL, you need to be prepared to use them in a certain way to get the best out of them. Under Sean Payton, the Saints have always utilized a big-slot type of weapon, whether it was Graham or Marques Colston, to very good effect. Seattle traded for that player in part because they saw what he could do, but haven’t been able to replicate the same production in a more conventional TE role. Graham’s blocking isn’t just short of his receiving ability, it’s nearly prohibitive in terms of his role on offense. He needs to be absolved of those responsibilities (as if he were a wideout) and leaned on as a specific type of receiving weapon in the passing game. At this point, his ranking has as much to do with whether the team can work out how to get the best out of him as it does his one-dimensional nature as a player.
87. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
I was a huge fan of Amari Cooper coming out of college, because he did the little things so well and was already incredibly polished as a receiver. We saw that transfer to the NFL in 2015, as he caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Only a staggering case of the drops (leading the league with 18) holds him back, but if he can fix that going forwards, he could immediately become one of the league’s best receivers and vault higher up this list. The potential he has in teaming up with Derek Carr should massively excite Raiders fans, because it excites me as an analyst, and I have no horse in the race.
88. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets
I think it’s clear from the tape now that we have seen the best of Darrelle Revis, and the player that takes the field in 2016 will be a declining force. But Revis was coming down from such a pedestal that even that player is still one of the best 101 players in the game, and especially when you consider the tough coverage assignments he still draws as a No. 1 corner that is asked to track receivers. He gets beaten a little more now than he used to given those tough tasks, but the fact that he can limit receivers as much as he still can is still far more than most corners can manage.
89. Calais Campbell, DE, Cardinals
Calais Campbell may not be the most explosive player in the NFL, but in terms of consistent production, there aren’t many better. While his ceiling may be some way short of J.J. Watt or Aaron Donald, he is still a major impact player on defense and capable of screwing up an offense’s plans almost single-handedly. He has four straight seasons of strong grades as both a run-defender and pass-rusher, and seven straight years of excellent pass-rush grades.
90. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
The only real knock on Jonathan Stewart’s career has been an inability to stay healthy, but when he does, he is something pretty special, helping to transform the Panthers’ offense into a far more balanced attack than it would otherwise be. PFF’s elusive rating metric was devised as an attempt to isolate the running back from the blocking, giving him credit for the work he was doing on his own by accounting for yards after contact and broken tackles, and Stewart has always ranked among the top few players in that statistic over his career. This past year, he was third in the league, breaking 56 tackles during the 2015 regular season.
91. Linval Joseph, DT, Vikings
If I could guarantee the player we saw in 2015 was the player we would get in 2016, Linval Joseph may well make the top 10 of this list. He was staggeringly dominant at times, and his destruction job on the Rams in Week 9 may have been the single-best game any interior defender had all year. He was pretty much unblockable in that meeting, and just laid waste to the Rams’ running attack by tossing blockers into the backfield and then diving in on top of them. Joseph has always graded well for us in the recent past, but this season, his second in Minnesota, was a completely different thing. It was such a deviation from his career baseline that I just can’t put faith in it repeating until I see it happen. If and when it does, his ascent up this list will be stratospheric.
[More from Mike Renner on the impact play of Linval Joseph here.]
92. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
Derek Carr may be the next great young quarterback in the NFL. The improvement he showed from his rookie year to his second was remarkable, and as encouraging as anything is how accomplished his supporting cast looks all of a sudden. The Raiders have quickly built arguably the league’s best offensive line around him, and he has multiple weapons to play with in the passing game. His partnership with Amari Cooper could become something special in a hurry. Already Carr has eliminated many of the simple errors that still plague some accomplished passers in the league, and if he takes another step forward in 2016, he will be knocking on the door of the top five QBs in football. He ended the 2015 season as the No. 8 rated QB in the league when looking at passing grades only, ahead of Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Aaron Rodgers.
[More from Sam Monson on why Derek Carr could be the next great NFL QB here.]
93. Vontae Davis, CB, Colts
Before the 2015 season, Vontae Davis had seen his career only moving in one direction. He had improved year on year, culminating in a 2014 season that was among the best we have ever seen for a cornerback since we began grading games in 2007. This past season was something of a letdown by comparison, and while he was still good, he jut wasn’t near that same dominant force. He allowed seven touchdowns this season alone, having not allowed any the year before, and looked like a far more fragile defender than he had in the past. The question for this list is which Vontae Davis are we going to get in 2016 and beyond, and I suspect it’s likely to be closer to the 2015 version than the 2014 one.
94. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
Delanie Walker probably isn’t getting enough credit for how good he was in 2015. Accepting that Rob Gronkowski is the No. 1 TE in the league whenever he’s healthy, the battle is really for the No. 2 overall rank, and Walker earned that title this past season. The Titan topped 1,000 receiving yards and was one of only a few TEs to post strong grades as both a receiver and as a blocker. If this list was just based on his 2015 season, I would have him far higher up (he finished at No. 50 in the 2015 PFF 101), but it was a big leap forward in terms of his previous seasons, and I just can’t have complete faith that he will repeat that level of play going forward. If he does, he will jump up this list in a year’s time.
95. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
The TE position has largely been redefined in today’s NFL, where blocking has become almost optional, and acting as a large slot receiver has taken over as the primary role. Jordan Reed is one of the best of the new breed of “move TEs,” and has the kind of spectacular ball skills to make one-handed grabs and turn insignificant-looking receptions into much bigger plays once he has the ball in his hands. His blocking is far from ideal, but he isn’t alone in that regard; however, the fact that some TEs in the league can still manage to do both limits how high I can rank those that don’t. Reed is a special player as a receiver, but I would like to see more from his blocking to get him higher up this list.
96. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills
Rookie cornerbacks aren’t supposed to hit the ground running in the NFL, but Ronald Darby’s grades were consistently excellent from day one. To put it in perspective, his coverage grade over the season was better than Darrelle Revis managed in his rookie campaign of 2007, as were almost all of Darby’s coverage numbers across the board. He didn’t finish the year quite as well as he began, which is why he is in the 90s on this list, but when he was at his best, he was excellent. If he takes any kind of step forward in his second season, he will be in very rare air. Kansas City CB Marcus Peters may have led the league in interceptions, but he also had far more negative plays to offset those than Darby did, and never came close to matching the Bill’s grade on a play-by-play basis.
97. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
The running back position in today’s NFL is consistently talked about as being devalued, but there is a visible impact any elite runner can still bring to any offense, and we saw that last season when Todd Gurley got on the field. His explosive ability to turn a crease into a big gain gave a completely different dimension to the Rams’ attack, and if they can couple that with a viable passing offense, they may really be in business. So far, all we have really seen from Gurley is his ability with the ball in hand, and in today’s league, you want an elite running back to be a factor in the passing game, as well. 2016 will tell us if he has that in his arsenal, because a rookie season being eased back from a bad knee injury likely doesn’t tell the whole story in that regard. The Rams barely used him in that area in 2015; let’s see if they do this year.
98. Evan Mathis, G, Cardinals
PFF’s affinity for Evan Mathis has been no secret over the years. He is a player that has consistently graded well when he has been on the field, and even this past season when carrying injuries and splitting time in Denver, he was one of the best-graded guards in the league, and the highest-graded run blocker. Pass-blocking has always been the weaker side of his game, though, and 2015 was the first season from him to earn a negative grade, surrendering three sacks and 22 total pressures over 1,010 total snaps (including the playoffs). At his age, it’s possible we have seen his best play, and in a passing league, he needs to pick that part of his game up to appear higher on this list in a year’s time. As a run-blocking guard, though, there is likely still nobody better. Even if he doesn’t bury his man, nobody wins as consistently as he does in that area.
99. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
If this list was about potential and ceiling, Andrew Luck may well be a top-five player, but so far he has yet to consistently hit those heights, and we are dealing with glimpses of what he could be, rather than the game-by-game proof that he is that guy. Much of it is not his fault, as the Colts have hung him out to dry with a series of poorly-performing offensive lines that finally caught up with them in a big way in 2015, but the fact remains that Luck has never been quite as good as his reputation. His best season came in 2014, and even then he was only sixth among QBs in terms PFF overall grade, and eighth when it comes to passing alone. What gets him on the list at all is the spectacular plays he can make, and the consistent teasing of what he could become. Luck makes plays that nobody else in the league—with the possible exception of Aaron Rodgers—can make, and if he can ever iron out the negative and routine misses, he could be the special quarterback he has been billed as for years.
100. Damon Harrison, NT, Giants
A decade ago, Damon Harrison would be celebrated a lot more than he is now. Back when two-gapping was the fashion and run-stuffers on the D-line were the foundation of half of the league’s best defenses, Harrison would be right at home. In today’s NFL, he is a rather one-dimensional player, which keeps him as low as he is on this list, but he is so good at that one-dimension that he needs to be on it. Harrison won PFF’s inaugural Ted Washington Award, given to the league’s best run-defender; in 2015, he posted a run-stop percentage of 18.1, which wasn’t just the best mark we saw among defensive tackles, but was the best single-season mark we have ever seen at the position. It would be nice if he brought a little more in the passing game, but if he did, he would be far higher on this list. His sheer dominance and power against the run gets him to this spot all by itself.
101. Pat McAfee, P, Colts
To quote Rich Eisen, “Punters are people too,” and while my well-meaning but draconian colleagues may never allow one to make the seasonal PFF Top 101 list, there is no doubt that Pat McAfee deserves his place on this list of the 101 best players in the league. He has been either first or second in our punter grading over the last two seasons, which takes into account ball location, hang time, distance and where on the field the punts are taking place, and when you add in the fact that he may also be the league’s best kick-off specialist, it really is a no brainer. Specialists don’t get the opportunity to affect as many plays as almost all other positions, but they can’t be dismissed as inconsequential, and McAfee is an impact player for the Colts in terms of consistently changing the field-position battle and tilting things in favor of his team when he gets the opportunity. He may not put points on the board, but he makes life easier for those who do.
The 5 Best Hispanic NFL Players of All Time
The NFL has a rich, albeit limited history of Hispanic players rising through the ranks to become some of the best to ever play football. This hasn’t stopped these Hispanic athletes from working hard and becoming star NFL players, Hall of Famers, and names we remember fondly to this day.
5. Jim Plunkett
Jim Plunkett of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball in 1981 | Focus on Sport/Getty Images
This NFL player had a tough path to the NFL. His parents, both Mexican-American, were blind, and Jim Plunkett had to work hard to make ends meet for his family.
At Stanford, he developed a tumor on his neck, and while it was benign, his game suffered. Plunkett had an amazing final season, however. He was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. He began his career traveling around the NFL, first with New England, then San Francisco.
Eventually, Plunkett made his way to Oakland, where he rode the bench until quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg. Plunkett led the team to the Super Bowl XVIII, where the Raiders won in part due to his MVP show.
4. Tony Romo
Perhaps the most recognizable Hispanic football player of the modern era, Tony Romo ran the Cowboys’ offense with consistency and competitiveness. Although the wins and losses did not always work in his favor, he was consistently one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Romo threw for 34,183 yards, 248 touchdowns, 2,829 completions, and 117 interceptions throughout his 13-year NFL career. He has never been overly vocal about his Mexican heritage.
3. Ted Hendricks
At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Ted Hendricks was built like an NBA player in an era where men built like that were even rarer. Born in Guatemala, Hendricks boasted a successful football career at the University of Miami’s legendary football program before the Baltimore Colts selected him in the second round of the NFL draft.
From there, he secured his legacy as one of the greatest linebackers ever. Hendricks played in 200 games, caught 26 interceptions, and proved to be an absolute terror on the defensive end. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro player, and a four-time NFL Champion.
2. Anthony Munoz
Anthony Munoz is one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game. He first made his name at USC, where he played for four years. Despite some injuries in college, Munoz was able to impress scouts enough to make it into the NFL draft. He worked hard to make sure that his NFL career was no fluke, and it paid off.
Munoz was an 11-time Pro Bowler, and despite his college injuries, was a healthy presence for most of his career.
1. Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez may be the greatest to ever play at his position. The tight end was bitten by the athletic bug at an early age, and starting with his days at Cal, he quickly rose up the ranks. Gonzalez played 17 years in the NFL and rarely missed a game. The performances he put up on a game-to-game basis at Cal and the NFL still hold up to this day.
Gonzalez was a 14-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro player. He had 1,325 receptions, 15,127 receiving yards, and 111 touchdowns in his career. This year, Gonzalez entered the Hall of Fame. Now retired, Gonzalez can be heard on NFL broadcasts, where he continues to find success.
The 30 best NFL players in their 30s
Football is a game mostly dominated by young players in their 20s, but many of the top players in the league are notable exceptions. Here’s a look at the 30 best NFL players in their 30s heading into the 2020 season.
Steve Mitchell / USA Today Sports Images
Campbell is one of the rare defensive linemen who has aged like a fine wine. He will be 34 before Week 1, and the new Raven has made three consecutive Pro Bowls, including two double-digit sack seasons in Jacksonville.
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images
Cousins is a strong second-tier quarterback in the NFL, and his play has improved since moving from Washington to Minnesota. He had arguably his best season in 2019, making his second Pro Bowl while posting a 26/6 TD/INT ratio and winning a huge playoff game at New Orleans.
Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images
At age 30, David’s play hasn’t dropped off yet. The do-everything linebacker has only one Pro Bowl to his name, but he’s recorded over 100 tackles in all but one of his eight NFL seasons.
Chuck Cook / USA Today Sports Images
It’s no coincidence that the Saints run defense improved markedly after Davis was added in 2018. He’s posted over 100 tackles in consecutive seasons and was an All-Pro at age 30 last year, with 111 tackles, four sacks and 12 passes defensed.
Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images
Dunlap has been one of the more overlooked defensive linemen in the league for much of his 10-year career in Cincy. He has 81.5 career sacks, including nine sacks along with 63 tackles last season.
Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images
Injuries have hindered Green over the last two seasons, but the Bengals are hopeful he can bounce back at age 32 this season. He surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in six of his first seven seasons.
Greg M. Cooper / USA Today Sports Images
Gronk is set to come out of retirement to join the Bucs in 2020. He was arguably football’s best tight end prior to retiring, with four All-Pro designations in nine seasons as a great receiver and elite blocker.
Mike Dinovo / USA Today Sports Images
Hayward has become one of the game’s most consistent cornerbacks since joining the Chargers in 2016. He’s made two Pro Bowls in four years and had a solid 2019 season at age 30.
Jake Roth / USA Today Sports Images
Heyward has been an overpowering defensive lineman for most of his career and has played his best football recently. He’s on a streak of three consecutive Pro Bowls and has been an All-Pro in two of the last three seasons with a combined 29 sacks over that time. Heyward is entering his age 31 season.
Douglas DeFelice / USA Today Sports Images
Ingram made his third Pro Bowl in his first season with Baltimore, rushing for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games for the league’s top rushing offense. He has three 1,000 yard seasons over the last four years as he enters his age 31 season.
Jake Roth / USA Today Sports Images
Ingram has now made three consecutive Pro Bowls as he embarks on his age 31 season. Over eight seasons with the Chargers, Ingram has 49 sacks, including 24.5 sacks over the last three years.
Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports Images
Johnson is one of the league’s most athletic and dominant offensive linemen, with three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. He’s entering his age 30 season.
13 of 30
Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images
Jones, who turned 30 in the offseason, has been an All-Pro in two of the last three seasons and has double-digit sacks in six of the last seven years. He recorded 19 sacks last year.
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images
Jones needs little introduction as one of the most explosive wideouts in the NFL. The 31-year-old has made six consecutive Pro Bowls and finished last season with 99 catches for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns.
Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images
Jordan was one of the Saints’ most popular players, establishing quite a track record in nine seasons. He’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls, finishing last season with a career-high 15.5 sacks at age 30.
Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports Images
Kelce’s brother, Travis, gets most of the attention in this prodigious football family, but Jason could have a better Hall of Fame case at the moment. He’s been an All-Pro in three consecutive seasons and has three Pro Bowls to his name over nine seasons in Philadelphia.
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images
The gregarious Kelce has established himself as one of the elite tight ends in football over seven seasons. He’s made five Pro Bowls and been an All-Pro twice, with four consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.
Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports Images
Miller is one of the first pass rushers NFL fans think of because of his longevity and consistency, with eight Pro Bowls in nine seasons. He’s hoping to rebound from a down age 30 season, when he recorded eight sacks in 15 games.
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images
Peterson is coming off the worst year of his career at age 29, but hopes the transition to his 30s holds a brighter future. He made the Pro Bowl in his first eight seasons as a lockdown cornerback who also contributed as a returner.
Tim Fuller / USA Today Sports Images
Entering his age 37 season, Rodgers is still going strong in Green Bay. His accomplished career includes two MVPs, one Super Bowl and eight Pro Bowls. Rodgers had 4,002 yards passing and 26 touchdowns last year.
Vincent Carchietta / USA Today Sports Images
Big Ben is coming back in 2020 after missing most of 2019 to an elbow injury. He led the league in passing during 2018 and is in his age 38 season.
22 of 30
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Chuck Cook / USA Today Sports Images
Ryan was the 2016 NFL MVP and has been a consistent producer over 12 seasons. He finished last year with 4,466 yards passing and 26 touchdowns at age 34.
Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports Images
Somehow Schwartz has never made a Pro Bowl in his eight NFL seasons, but he still deserves attention as one of the elite offensive linemen in football. The right tackle has never missed a start in his career and was an All-Pro in 2018.
24 of 30
Richard Sherman, CB, 49ers
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images
Sherman reestablished himself as an elite cornerback for the 49ers last year, making his fifth career Pro Bowl. He also appeared in his third Super Bowl.
25 of 30
Harrison Smith, S, Vikings
Derick Hingle / USA Today Sports Images
Smith is one of the anchors of Minnesota’s excellent defense, making his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl in 2019. He had 85 tackles and three interceptions in 15 games at age 30.
Tim Fuller / USA Today Sports Images
Thielen is hoping to rebound in 2019 after he suffered through a nagging hamstring injury last year. He’s made two Pro Bowls in his career and is the clear No. 1 receiver in Minnesota this year after the team traded Stefon Diggs.
Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images
Thomas got back on track in his first season in Baltimore after missing most of 2018 due to a fractured leg. He made his seventh Pro Bowl in 2019.
Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports Images
Wagner has been one of the constants on Seattle’s defense since 2012 and has been an All-Pro in five of the last six seasons. He had a league-leading 159 tackles last year and is entering his age 30 season.
Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images
Injuries have nagged Watt over the last few years, but he remains elite when he’s on the field. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year had four sacks in eight regular-season games last season.
30 of 30
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images
Wilson continues to be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, making his sixth Pro Bowl last year and ending on the short list of Hall of Fame candidates. He’s consistently been a winner, with a career 86-41-1 regular season record and two Super Bowl appearances in eight seasons. He turns 32 in November.
Who are Ohio State football’s top 10 NFL players right now?
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in seven years, the Super Bowl was played without a single former Ohio State football player on either roster.
The Buckeyes’ NFL star presence also dimmed somewhat in 2021, due to injuries and the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, another defensive line star emerged to join the small galaxy OSU has sent to the pros over the past decade.
Buckeye Talk set out to rank the former Buckeyes in the NFL as of the end of the 2020 season. Doug Lesmerises, Stephen Means and I all gave our top 10, along with the consensus vote of our Buckeye Talk text subscribers.
You can hear all of those top 10s on Tuesday’s podcast by subscribing on iTunes or listening to the link below. Here is my personal top 10, giving preference to 2020 performance but also taking into count consistency over the past few years.
1. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers
Once again, injuries were the only thing that could limit the eldest Bosa brother. The NFL’s highest-graded Buckeye per Pro Football Focus, he turned in another first team All-Pro season despite playing only 12 games.
Joey Bosa averages 12 sacks and 28 quarterback per 16 games through his fifth season. He set the standard for the modern Ohio State pass rusher, and he has maintained that excellence. His proteges may soon pass him up, but based on performance and consistency, Bosa deserves the top spot right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) plays in an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)AP
2. Cam Heyward, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
A first-round pick way back in 2011, the career Steeler has transformed himself into an elite interior defensive line talent. Heyward tallied only four sacks in 2020 — his first season below eight since 2016 — but his 19 quarterback hits testified to his continued impact.
Heyward’s Pro Football Focus grade in 2019 (91.5) was better than the Bosas. He has somewhat quietly developed into one of the top five defensive tackles in football. His past two seasons may represent his peak, but that peak deserves recognition.
3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
The former third-round pick challenged for the MVP award in 2019, setting an NFL record for receptions and establishing himself as perhaps the league’s best all-around receiver. Then things got weird in 2020 — an injury, an incident in which he punched a teammate in practice, then another injury that shut down his season.
As a result, Thomas played only seven games. He likely will no longer have Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees throwing passes to him in the future. Yet after 274 receptions and 3,130 yards in the previous two seasons, Thomas arguably still belongs No. 1 on this list.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) in action against the New York Jets during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)AP
4. Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
After leading his team to the Super Bowl as a rookie, the younger Bosa suffered a torn ACL two games into his sophomore season. Without that interruption, he might be the No. 1 name on this list after a Rookie of the Year debut that included nine sacks and 25 quarterback hits.
None of the other players on this list debuted with a PFF score as high as Nick Bosa’s 89.8 in 2019. Depending on the timeline of his recovery, he could be back on an All-Pro trajectory by this fall.
Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young warms up before their game against Cleveland Browns, September 26, 2020, at FirstEnergy Stadium.John Kuntz, cleveland.com
5. Chase Young, DE, Washington Football Team
Young waited all of one game to unleash his collegiate dominance on the NFL, recording two sacks and a forced fumble in his debut. The Defensive Rookie of the Year recorded 7.5 sacks (and 12 quarterback hits) with four fumbles forced in his first 15 games.
It says a lot about Young’s presence that Washington named him a team captain in December as a rookie. He may soon surpass the other legitimate stars above him on the list. The only question is whether this franchise can break through its dysfunction to capitalize on his talents.
Cleveland Browns free safety Andrew Sendejo upends Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on a short gain in the first half, October 4, 2020, at AT&T Stadium.John Kuntz, cleveland.com
6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You have to respect the production, with Elliott winning the rushing title in two of his first three seasons and totaling over 1,800 yards in another season. However, he is also coming off of his worst season, averaging only 4.0 yards per carry.
Elliott has finished in PFF’s overall running backs top 10 once — as a rookie in 2016 — and never higher than 14th in any other season. Those rankings don’t necessarily reflect factors such as the Cowboys losing Dak Prescott in 2020. Can Elliott bounce back, or are his best days behind him after a big early workload?
Detroit Lions offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) looks on before their NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field in Detroit, on Sunday, November 1, 2020. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)Mike Mulholland | MLive.com
7. Taylor Decker, LT, Detroit Lions
The Lions stink, but they are betting their turnaround on the Lions fortifying the left side of the offensive line. Jonah Jackson established himself at left guard as a rookie in 2020, next to Decker, who per PFF’s grades turned in the best season of his five-year career.
Decker lived up to the lucrative contract extension he signed last September. He ranked 12th among all offensive tackles in overall blocking grade (and in the top 10 for pass blocking). According to PFF he allowed two sacks on 1,056 snaps.
Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley (63) blocks for quarterback Aaron Rodgers during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla., in this Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, file photo. Linsley was selected Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, to The Associated Press All-Pro Team.(Associated Press)
8. Corey Linsley, C, Green Bay Packers
Was he the best center in the NFL in 2020? PFF thinks so, as his 89.9 overall blocking grade ranked well ahead of runner-up Frank Ragnow of Detroit (80.3). Linsley allowed only seven pressures on 880 snaps while helping Aaron Rodgers to an MVP season.
Linsley ranks lower than Decker due to the difference between center and left tackle. He is also one of only two players on this list named first team All-Pro in 2020 (Joe Bosa being the other).
Redskins WR Terry McLaurin (17) catches a pass for a touchdown vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. The touchdown put Washington ahead 17-0. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
9. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
Geez, imagine what people would be saying about McLaurin if only he had a quarterback. The biggest positional deficiency among Buckeyes — quarterback — directly influenced McLaurin’s production as Dwayne Haskins stumbled through his sophomore season.
McLaurin still broke through to be one of the 30 or so best receivers in the NFL. He totaled 1,118 yards and four touchdowns on 87 receptions despite missing a game. Haskins has moved on, and if Washington can settle on a quarterback, he may already have a star receiver in place.
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (R) breaks up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham in the second half, November 22, 2020, at FirstEnergy Stadium. John Kuntz, cleveland.com
10. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns
You could argue for other defensive back on this list, such as Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell or Macolm Jenkins. I picked Ward not only because he arguably played at a higher level in 2020 but remains on a more upward trajectory than those older Buckeyes.
Ward still has not played more than 12 games in an NFL season. PFF ranked him as a top-30 cornerback last season, and Cleveland may soon have to pay him as one. Right now he’s a solid DB, but what is his ceiling?
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90,000 best NFL players of all time
Here is a story about the best NFL footballers in the history of the National Football League.
On our list of Best NFL Players, of course, we have receiver Jerry Rice. The athlete is recognized as the best player in the National Football League of all time by the vote among the players themselves, conducted by the NFL Network. In the 1985 draft, San Francisco 49 was selected at number 16. He was named the NFC Rookie of the Year in Offense, and already in 1987 became the MPV of the league by the Association of Newspapers and the Association of Football Writing Journalists.He played for San Francisco until 2000, when he was traded to Oakland.
In 2004, as a result of another exchange, he ended up in Seattle, where he played the last match of his career. He won the Super Bowl three times with San Francisco and became the American Football Conference champion with the Oakland Raiders. 12 times included in the national team of all stars.
James Nathaniel “Jim” Brown
Fullback, played nine seasons in the National Football League with the Cleveland Browns.He was named the greatest professional footballer in history by Sporting News magazine in 2002. Was selected by Cleveland in the 1957 NFL Draft as No. 6. Set a number of records on the ball.
First player in history to hit over 100 touchdowns on the ground. In each of his seasons, Brown played in the Pro Bowl, was named his most valuable player three times, became the NFL champion in 1964, and was repeatedly recognized as the most valuable player of the season by various media.He ended his career very early – at the age of 29, as he could not combine playing football with filming a movie. At the Cleveland Browns, Brown is forever assigned number 32.
Quarterback who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1989 to 2000. In the 1989 Draft, he was selected by Dallas under the first number. In the early 90s, by all accounts, he was the best player in the NFL and helped his team to win the Super Bowl three times, while in one case he was recognized as the MVP of the Super Bowl. Due to a series of injuries, he was forced to retire and retrain as a commentator.
The quarterback who played for the Denver Broncos from 1983 to 1998. The Baltimore Colts was selected as the first number in the 1983 draft, but he was not eager to play for this weak team and managed to get an exchange to Denver, where he spent his entire career. Ranked second in all-time passer rankings, with his passes spanning 51,475 yards.
At the same time, Elway could not achieve victories: after three defeats in the Super Bowl, his Denver finally won twice in 1997 and 1998 – that is, the two final seasons in John’s career.At the same time, Elway was named MVP in the 1998 Super Bowl. He also has nine Pro Bowl appearances and was named Most Valuable Player of the NFL Season in 1987.
NFL quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts (1998-2012) and the Denver Broncos (2012-2015). In the 1998 draft, he was selected by Indianapolis as the first number. Reputedly one of the best passers in NFL history. He is the NFL record holder for a variety of indicators – for example, his passes overcame 71,940 yards.The only player to have won a league MVP five times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013). He took part in the Pro Bowl 14 times, in 2004 he was recognized as its most valuable player. 2007 Super Bowl winner, with Manning named Most Valuable Player. He also won the 2016 Super Bowl before retiring.
A quarterback who has played for the New England Patriots since 2000 to this day. In 2000, he was drafted only in the sixth round under the overall 199th pick, but incredibly revealed himself in the NFL.He has five Super Bowl wins (there are only two of these players, and Brady is the only one who won all titles with one team), and on four occasions he was recognized as MVP. Brady was also named the best player in the NFL twice – in 2007 and 2010. In the playoffs, Brady won 25 games with just 9 losses – the best result in history. He is married to the famous model Gisele Bündchen.
90,000 Perfect 10. Top Ten NFL Stars – Hail Mary – Blogs
The Albion blog continues to focus on American football.
Hopefully, thanks to the previous material, you’ve already chosen the NFL team to drown for in the new season. Now it’s time to get to know the protagonists of the American League. After each season, a special NFL Top 100 rating is compiled. As you might guess, it includes the top 100 players of the past season. The main feature of this ranking is that it is compiled by the NFL players themselves. The league polls the athletes, after which it forms a rating based on their answers.
The attitude towards the NFL Top 100 in the fan community is rather ambiguous. Some consider it a banal popularity contest, in which places are distributed not according to merit, but according to friendship and promotion in the media. Others answer them that who, if not professional footballers, know which of them is the best, because they play against each other on the field every week. Be that as it may, but the top ten of the rating often really includes the main stars of the season. So it is with these ten players that we will get acquainted first of all.
Aaron Rogers (Green Bay Packers QB)
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The first player on this list is already an example of the debate among fans regarding the Top 100 ranking. Rogers is considered an incredibly talented quarterback and often successfully proves it on the field. Aaron holds a number of records that confirm his top class. He has won the Super Bowl, twice the NFL MVP, and has twice been named to the All-Pro All-Pro Team Choice of the Best of the Best.
Rogers missed most of last season with injury. The quarterback played five games, and in the sixth he suffered a collarbone fracture and was eliminated almost until the end of the season. The importance of Aaron to the team is evidenced by the fact that Green Bay had four wins and one defeat prior to his injury. After his injury, the team played 10 games at 3-7 and did not make the playoffs. Rogers returned for one game at the end of the season, but failed to lead his team to victory, and then went to heal the injury.If the quarterback can avoid injury this season, the Packers will have a great chance to return to the relegation game again.
Won Miller (Denver Broncos, linebacker)
One of the best defenders in the NFL, holding a high level throughout his career. Draft No. 2 in 2011, Miller immediately performed brilliantly, winning the title of Rookie Defender of the Season and making his way to the Pro Bowl All-Star Team. Miller also has three All-Pros on his track record, and Vaughn’s pinnacle so far is winning the Super Bowl and being the MVP of the Super Bowl, which is incredibly cool for his position given that in his 52-game history, the players defenders received the MVP title only 10 times, including Miller himself.
Vaughn is Denver’s leader and star, confirming his status as the highest paid defender in NFL history. Under the contract signed in 2016, Miller will earn $ 114.5 million in 6 years.
Drew Breeze (New Orleans Saints QB)
39-year-old Breeze is considered the most underrated player in the NFL and doesn’t get the recognition and respect he really deserves. So this year, his eighth place in the Top 100 list angered many fans who saw him in the top three.
Drew has tremendous talent and is also a crazy workaholic and a model of professionalism. One day, a New Orleans player recalled that he decided to definitely come to the training base before Breeze. He arrived at seven in the morning and when he entered the base he saw that Drew was already sitting in the video analysis room and watching the recordings of the games of their future rival.
There is only one fact that Breeze is cool – in the entire history of the NFL, quarterbacks have finished the season only 9 times, surpassing the 5,000 yards mark with a pass.Five times out of nine, it was Drew Breeze.
Breeze won the Super Bowl once, becoming its MVP, once in the All-Pro team and was named the NFL’s best attacking player of the season twice. Already this year, Breeze will become the all-time record holder in NFL history for passing yards (Breeze now has 70,445 yards, leader Payton Manning has 71,940 yards). And Breeze is also the top good guy in the league who just can’t be hated, no matter which team you support.
Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams, defensive tackle)
NFL Total Educational Program
The best defender of the last season. Donald has been in the NFL for four years and has amassed an impressive collection of personal awards – four Pro Bowl hits, three All-Pros, and 2014 Rookie Defender.
NFL footballers call Donald a player without a single weakness. He is smart, powerful, and determined. In defense, he knows almost everything and is ready to fulfill any task of his coaching staff.Last season, Aaron surrendered as the only defender to score over 25 sacks. The Linemen frankly admit that they hate playing against Donald because he makes them look like clowns.
Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams, runningback)
And this is already the best striker of the last season. Nice composer at Rams, huh?
Gurley has been in the NFL for three years. Along with his teammate, he has already amassed several honorary titles – two Pro Bowl hits, an All-Pro team, and the 2015 Rookie Rookie Award.
In 2017, Gurley became the only NFL player to score over 2,000 yards, with 2,093 yards accounting for 35% of the Rams’ total yards in a season. This is the most dependent on one player in the NFL. In addition to the speed that many runbacks possess, Gurley is noted for his incredible balance and ability to stay on his feet. Todd is very difficult to knock down, because he keeps his balance brilliantly and continues to move forward even after power techniques and grabs.Teammates say that Girl just needs to open the gap for a breakout, and he will do the rest himself.
Well, so that you understand the importance of Todd for the Los Angeles Rams, the club just a couple of weeks ago re-signed with him a contract, according to which Gurley will earn $ 60 million in 4 years, thus becoming one of the highest paid running backs in the league.
Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers, runningback)
Bell showed in the first season that he could become a superstar.Drafted number 48 in 2013, Le’Veon broke the Steelers’ record for the most scoring yards in a season for a rookie in his debut season. And the very next year, he got into the All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl team (in total, Bell has two hits in the All-Pro and three hits in the Pro Bowl).
Bell has a very interesting style of play. When he receives the ball, he does not immediately rush into the gap, but stops and waits for the gap to open. Many players point out that such a manner requires tremendous patience.And the defenders say that even though Bell is standing, it is incredibly difficult to catch him, because as soon as he sees an opportunity for a breakthrough, he rushes with such speed that it remains only to consider the number on his back.
It is quite possible that next season will be Bell’s last in Pittsburgh – the player has one year left on the contract and the parties cannot come to an agreement on a new contract. The player is demanding a significant salary increase (especially after Gurley’s new contract, mentioned above), but the club is in no hurry to satisfy Bell’s financial needs.
Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons, Wide Receiver)
Julio was drafted 6th in 2011. Having demonstrated potential in the first season, Jones got better and better every year. He has made the All-Pro team twice and the Pro Bowl team five times. Over the past years, he has been confidently ranked among the top 3 receivers in the league.
Last season was Jones’ fourth consecutive season with over 1,400 yards. This is a repetition of the league record.Although the year ended unsuccessfully for Jones – he did not catch a pass in the Philadelphia end zone in the last minute in the playoffs and it cost Atlanta to win and get to the conference final.
Jones was greatly appreciated for his modesty, but this summer he unpleasantly surprised everyone by demanding a new contract with an increased salary from his club, although his previous agreement will remain in effect for another three years. Fans felt it was disrespectful to the club, especially considering that uncaught pass in the playoffs and Julio’s previous statements that he would spend his entire career at Atlanta.Jones’ reputation in the fan community remained tarnished.
Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles QB)
Philadelphia really needed Carson. To draft him under the overall number two in 2016, the Eagles gave up five draft picks at once, stretched over three seasons. But the exchange was worth it.
Wentz broke several league and team records in his first season, fully meeting the hopes of bosses and Philadelphia fans. In his second season, he played even better.Even though Wentz was eliminated after 13 games of the season with a cruciate ligament rupture, he finished second in the league in thrown touchdowns at the end of the season. Only injury prevented Carson from becoming the Super Bowl MVP, because no one doubts that he would have led the Eagles to victory even more confidently than his backup Nick Fowles did.
The main qualities of Crown are called fearlessness and composure. He is not afraid to run with the ball himself and does not panic when defenders break through the linemen.To some extent, it was his fearlessness that played a cruel joke with Crown, as he tore the crosses, trying to bring the touchdown on his own.
In the new season, Wentz is expected to play even more brightly and even more impressive achievements, especially considering the fact that Philadelphia have retained their winning roster and will again claim the top places.
Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers, Wide Receiver)
For the past 3-4 years, it is Brown who has been vying with Julio Jones for the title of the NFL’s best receiver.And by the amount of personal merit, Brown wins this fight. Drafted in 2010 in the final round with 195 overall, Antonio played clearly better than expected. Brown has made the Pro Bowl six times and the All-Pro team four times (by the way, the only player to have made the All-Pro team in the last four seasons in a row).
Antonio’s main trick is his crazy ball tricks at the very edge of the field. In some unimaginable way, he manages to leave both feet on the ribbon itself and fix the reception of the ball.Brown is also the only one in the NFL who managed to make what he was dubbed a “helmet catch.” Just look at this. Antonio, like any top receiver, is very difficult to catch, and some NFL defenders jokingly say that Brown seems to be in some kind of video game and is just bouncing off his opponents.
There is also an interesting fact connected with Brown. In the fan community there is a belief about the so-called “Curse of Madden”. It states that any player who lands on the cover of EA’s Madden video game will either fail next season or be seriously injured and not play at all.A week ago, Pittsburgh announced that Brown had left the team’s training camp due to injury. At the same time, neither the nature of the injury, nor the timing of recovery, nor even the part of the body that Antonio injured, were not reported. The club dismissed the requests, saying it was “a minor injury not even worth discussing.” And to be honest, it’s better that it be so. Because without Antonio Brown, the new season will be less bright.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots QB)
Without exaggeration, the most famous American football player in the world.Brady is as defining to American football as Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and Sidney Crosby are for their sports. Tom was drafted in 2000 under the far 199 overall, making Brady officially the most successful draft pick in NFL history.
Brady’s roster of honors is impressive – five Super Bowl wins, four Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL MVPs, 13 Pro Bowl hits and three All-Pros. Already in his second season in the NFL, Brady, unexpectedly becoming New England’s main quarterback due to injury to Drew Bledsoe, who started the season at the start, led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win, becoming the youngest Super Bowl MVP. in NFL history.
Despite all the successes and achievements, the attitude towards Brady from the fans is ambiguous. Someone considers him the greatest quarterback of all time, someone – an overly hyped player who does not disdain to cheat (Brady was involved in the deflated ball scandal in the conference finals against Indianapolis in 2015. A deflated ball is easier to grab and spin when thrown). But whatever the fan attitude, Brady is guaranteed a place in the NFL Hall of Fame and books on American football history.
This concludes my originally planned NFL posting cycle. But since you showed a keen interest in the topic, and two posts even got on the main page, I decided to extend it with two more publications. I will not reveal the topics, but I will make a small spoiler and say that one post will be devoted to teams, and the second – to players. So stay tuned to the blog and thanks for reading.
5 reasons to start watching the NFL
German hockey player first became the best player of the season in the NHL | News from Germany on world events | DW
Edmonton Oilers Canada striker Leon Draisaitl was voted National Hockey League (NHL) Player of the Season on Monday 21 September.The 24-year-old Cologne native is the first-ever German to win this title, along with the Hart Trophey award, and the fourth player in the team’s lifetime.
“It is a great honor,” Dreiseitl told NBCSN. He expressed the hope that getting the title by a German would attract the interest of German children to ice hockey. The season, temporarily suspended in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the best for Dreiseitl. He scored 110 points in 71 matches.
In addition, Dreiseitl was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Season by the NHL Hockey Union.This title, together with the Ted Lindsay Award, also went to a German athlete for the first time.
The Hart Trophey is presented annually to the hockey player who has made the greatest contribution to his team’s success in the National Hockey League regular season. The sports trophy appeared in 1924. The award went to Russian hockey players six times.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
Skibob, aka snow bike
Thousands of people are engaged in this extreme winter sport today.Even the World and European Championships are being held! Skibob professionals – a kind of bicycle on skis instead of wheels – perform virtuoso pirouettes. Lovers can use it simply to get down from the mountains. They say that you can learn this in just a couple of hours.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
Snowkiting is an activity for experienced kite tamers (kites), towing snowboard virtuosos across snowy plains and mountains.In this sport, everything depends on the strength of the wind, which allows you to move at high speed and periodically take off high from the ground. The Wasserkuppe school in central German Gersfeld offers courses for beginners.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
Almost any playground is suitable for the snow option, as well as frozen water bodies (with an ice thickness of at least 40 cm!). The rules of the game are the same, but the balls must be colored.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
The conquest of steep icy slopes – walls of buildings, rocks or, say, frozen waterfalls – has become one of the independent disciplines in mountaineering. But special equipment is needed: ice axes, metal anchors, called ice-fifa.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
In order to conquer the virgin snow of the mountain slopes, skiers instead of a lift climb to the starting point by helicopter.This is the only way to take a look at the pristine snow-covered virgin lands, away from the paved trails and mass descent. But fans of heli-skiing are at great risk: an avalanche can overtake them at any moment.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
The oldest device for walking on snow is popular again today. There is nothing more enjoyable than a leisurely snowshoe walk. Is it a sport? It is difficult to answer unequivocally. But snowshoes are good for hikes and long distances – one of the favorite types of recreation for tourists.
Photo report: Unusual winter sports
Dog sled racing
There are a lot of fans of this sport today. Actually, there are several varieties of sledding sports. The difference is in the number of dogs in a team, in the length of the distance and in whether the “riders” are running on foot, skiing, riding a sleigh or … bicycles.
Photo report: Unusual kinds of winter sports
He did not get into the big sport, but there are many supporters of the “ice” version of tennis.Any outdoor skating rink or a lake that has had time to properly freeze is suitable as a tennis court. But tennis players on ice first need to master not only the racket, but also the art of ice skating.
Photo Story: Unusual Winter Sports
Skjering was first introduced as a sled sport at the 1928 Winter Olympics in Switzerland. The rider stands on skis or snowboard, and he is pulled by a horse, while developing a speed of up to 40-50 km per hour.Staying on your feet is not easy at all.
Author: Inga Wanner
90,000 The best footballers of the USSR in history: Yashin, Streltsov, Monday, Blokhin, Cherenkov – March 17, 2021
We present the rating of the best footballers of the USSR of all time according to Sport24. When compiling our top, we proceeded from the contribution of candidates to the history of Soviet football, as well as from personal preferences.
Of course, like any other similar rating, this one cannot be completely objective.However, you can hardly argue with the fact that every hero of the top is one of the greatest Soviet footballers.
P. S. To avoid controversy among readers, we did not put players in their places.
Legendary striker Viktor Monday spent almost his entire career in the Rostov SKA, but was remembered primarily for his exploits in the USSR national team. He scored the winning goal in the final of the European Championship against Yugoslavia and became the top scorer of the tournament (along with Ivanov, Galich, Erkovic and Ett), and then helped the Soviet team to take silver in Euro 1964, having distinguished himself in the semifinals against Denmark.
The peak of Igor Belanov’s career was 1986. It was then that he helped Dynamo Kiev win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, was named the best footballer in Europe and received the Golden Ball, and also scored the famous hat-trick in the 1/8 finals of the 1986 World Cup against Belgium. Nevertheless, in other years of his career, Belanov was at the top level – together with Dynamo, he won the USSR Championship twice and the USSR Cup three times, and as part of the national team he became the vice-champion of Europe.
Fedor Cherenkov is one of the favorite Spartak footballers among Soviet and Russian fans.First, he was famous for his loyalty to the club: Cherenkov is Spartak’s record holder in terms of the number of matches played (494). And secondly, Fedor charmed the fans with his mind and subtle understanding of football. As part of “Spartak” Cherenkov became the champion of the USSR three times (1979, 1987, 1989), and was also twice recognized as the best footballer of the year in the USSR (1983, 1989). Surely Fedor would have shone in the USSR national team, but Cherenkov’s mental illness, which worsened in the summer, prevented Cherenkov from showing himself in the national team.Because of her, he missed the World and European Championships.
Oleg Blokhin is the main record holder of Soviet football. First, he played the most matches for the USSR national team (114) and scored the most goals (42). Secondly, he participated in 432 games of the USSR championship and scored 211 goals – this is also a record. Blokhin became the top scorer of the season in the USSR five times and once in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, was named the best football player of the year in the USSR three times, and also received the Golden Ball.At the same time, playing for Dynamo Kiev, Blokhin won as many as 19 trophies.
Lev Yashin is the best goalkeeper not only in the history of the USSR, but the whole world. He is still the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d’Or. In addition, the authoritative France Football magazine recognized Yashin as the best goalkeeper in history. Playing for Dynamo and the USSR national team, Lev Ivanovich collected more than 10 trophies, the most valuable of which was, of course, for winning the European Championship in 1960.
Eduard Streltsov is an incredibly talented footballer with a tragic biography. As part of “Torpedo”, he won the championship and the USSR Cup, was recognized as the footballer of the year (1967) and became the best scorer of the USSR (1955), and won the national team at the Olympics (1956). If not for the famous rape case, Streltsov would have won many more awards. But, unfortunately, Eduard Anatolyevich spent his best years in prison, and after returning to football, he played for five seasons and received an Achilles tendon injury, due to which he was forced to end his career.
Valentin Ivanov is a Torpedo legend and one of the best strikers in the USSR. The great forward was included in the list of 33 best football players of the USSR season 12 times, became the top scorer of the World and European Championships, won the Cup and twice the USSR championship with Torpedo, won the Olympics and Euro 1960 with the national team. Valentin Ivanov spent his entire career at Torpedo, and after its completion he returned as a coach and again began to win along with his native club.
The famous captain of the USSR national team and Spartak Igor Netto fell in love with Soviet fans not only for his amazing game and great achievements (Olympic champion, 13 times was included in the list of 33 best footballers of the USSR, won the European Cup, five times the championship USSR and three times the USSR Cup), but also for its character. Net is known for the fact that at the 1962 World Cup in the game against Uruguay, he asked the referee to cancel the ball scored by the USSR through the side net of the goal.
Despite a short career, Albert Shesternev firmly established himself in history as one of the best defenders of the USSR.For 11 years in CSKA, the player was 11 times in the list of 33 best footballers of the season in the USSR, won the championship (1970), and was also recognized as the footballer of the year (1970). As part of the national team, he did not take a single trophy, but he was still known abroad. Foreign coaches and footballers feared the cold-blooded unapproachable defender and even called Shesternev Ivan the Terrible.
Another Torpedo legend with a tragic fate. Midfielder Valery Voronin repeatedly won the USSR championship, became the best footballer of the year in the country, was included in the list of 33 best players of the USSR season, and even received a unique award from the Queen of England – the prize for the most elegant player.However, after a terrible accident, he retired, drank, could not return to his previous level and began to often end up in a psychiatric hospital due to alcohol problems. On May 9, 1984, Valery Voronin was found in the bushes near the Varshavskoe highway with a punctured head, and 10 days later the great football player died.
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10 head coaches in NFL history
The National Football League is one of the most competitive leagues in the sport.
Millions of NFL betting fans around the world watch every Sunday for the best touchdowns, best tackles and crazy stunts.
The ultimate goal of each team at the start of a new season is to win the Super Bowl.
Only the best teams can do this, and only the best coaches in the NFL can lead their team to victory in the most important stage of American football.
Best Coaches in NFL History:
- Bill Belichick.
- Vince Lombardi.
- Bill Walsh.
- Paul Brown.
- Don Shula.
- Chuck Knoll.
- Joe Gibbs.
- George Halas.
- Tom Landry.
- Bill Parcells.
Nearly all of the greatest coaches in NFL history have won the Super Bowl – many have won multiple Super Bowl titles.
Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at our ranking of all-time NFL head coaches. So scroll down to find out about every head coach of NFL legends.
10 – Bill Parcells
Parcells led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories during his tenure – an impressive feat considering this was his first NFL head coach role.
After a short hiatus, Purcells returned to the NFL and in just three years propelled the New England Patriots from one of the worst teams to the Super Bowl.
Nicknamed “Big Tuna”, Parcells also enjoyed success in the New York Jets, but lost in the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.
However, his people management skills were unmatched in the American football era, and his ability to transform players from constant laggards to rivals was his greatest trait.
9 – Tom Landry
Landry is the fourth most NFL head coach ever wins, and that’s enough to make him a spot on our rankings. As far as NFL legends go, Landry is here.
After five years as Defense Coordinator with the New York Giants, Landry was named head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 29 seasons.
Landry has maintained the competitiveness of the Cowboys throughout his tenure, leading his team to record wins for 20 straight years as head coach.
Two-time Super Bowl champion, Landry’s longevity and tenacity at the highest level is enough to give him an edge over many of his peers.
8 – George Halas
Second on the list of NFL winners of all time, Halas is the only head coach to win an NFL title in four different decades – a record that is unlikely to be broken.
Halas won his first NFL title in 1921 and his last league title in 1963, and this bears testimony to his unique ability to adapt to different eras of football.
He left a long legacy in the sport, with Halas being widely recognized as the first head coach in NFL history to study films about opposing teams.
Halas became the first head coach to lead the team to a 13-0 regular season record, but the Chicago Bears lost in the playoffs, dashing their hopes of a perfect campaign.
7 – Joe Gibbs
Gibbs spent his 16-year career as an NFL head coach in Washington, leading the team to four Super Bowl matches, including three wins, between 1982 and 1991.
To this day, Gibbs is the only coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks. The Washington legend ended his career at 154-94 in the regular season.
NFC was competitive at the time, but Gibbs’ Washington side competed in more Super Bowls than any of their rivals in their grand 10-year period.
At the time, Washington had several disputes with teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, but Gibbs was a key reason for his team’s success. With only one or two negative results on his track record, Gibbs’ tenure was phenomenal.
6 – Chuck Knoll
Knoll was a key figure in the Pittsburgh Steelers era in the 1970s, helping to transform the wrestling team into the center of power for the NFL in three years.
After finishing 1-13 in its first major season, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl just two years later, before winning three more Super Bowl titles over the next five seasons.
To this day, the Noll’s Steelers are the only team to have won twice in a row in American football – the Super Bowl. His head coach style was simple but effective – that’s why he worked.
The 1974 NFL Draft Class in Pittsburgh was incredible, and Knoll was instrumental in their pick during that tournament. His past 12 years have been disappointing, but Knoll has left a victorious legacy in the city.
5 – Don Shula
Shula has more regular season wins (328) and total wins (347) than any other head coach in NFL history.In 33 seasons as an NFL coach, he won 31 seasons – a sensational feat.
To this day, his 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to end a season with an excellent record.
When Shula arrived in Miami, the Dolphins won just 15 games in four years. In the first six years of his career, Miami set a 75-19-1 record with three AFC titles and two consecutive Super Bowls.
Shula modernized the NFL with an offensive attitude, primarily passing success.His teams were incredible, and his influence helped the NFL replace baseball as the leading sport in the United States.
4 – Paul Brown
The sixth-ranked NFL head coach, Brown was instrumental in the formation of the Cleveland Browns in 1946. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Cleveland had early success under Brown before joining the NFL in 1950, and they became NFL champions in their first season after breaking a 12-2 record.
Unfortunately, Brown’s business deteriorated in 1962 after he was relieved of his duties. The Browns won their fourth NFL title in 1964, and Brown was named head coach of the newly formed Cincinnati Bengals in 1968.
Brown was a central figure in Cleveland’s early years and was the mentor of 49ers legend Bill Walsh, who coordinated his Cincinnati offensive.
3 – Bill Walsh
Although Walsh failed to win 100 regular season victories, he made a big impact on the sport after inventing West Coast offense during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers.
With Joe Montana at the center, Walsh changed the passing game in the 1980s, and his influence can be seen throughout the NFL in the modern era.
The 1984 Team is one of the finest in NFL history. The 49ers became the first team to win 15 regular season games before beating the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl.
He may have been a little fortunate to rank so high on this list given his lack of lifespan, but in terms of his influence on the sport, Walsh is leading the way.
2 – Vince Lombardi
Winners of the Super Bowl are not in vain awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. One of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Lombardi was a man before his time.
The only head coach to win five titles in a seven-year period, Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to unprecedented success in his nine seasons at Lambo Field.
Preparation was Lombardi’s business – he prepared all the players for the game. A pioneer of the sport, Lombardi was the first NFL coach to recruit African Americans in the first round.
Lombardi ended his career with a regular season win rate of 0.738, while his Green Bay team won 9-1 in the postseason.
1 – Bill Belichick
Belichick is currently the third best coach in the NFL for victories, and we have selected him as the greatest coach in NFL history, assisted by legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Winner of nine conference titles and six Super Bowl titles, Belichick is the most award-winning coach in football.Under his leadership, the New England Patriots have achieved 19 consecutive victories.
With a final win rate of 0.721, Belichick has an excellent record and led the Patriots to eight consecutive appearances for the AFC Championship.
Belichick built the greatest NFL dynasty in New England, and the lack of a perfect 2007 season was the only flaw in his impeccable track record.
90,000 Richest American Football Players.
1) Tom Brady (New England QB)
Total earnings for the year : $ 27.1 million.
The five-time Super Bowl adversary earns up to $ 5 million a year.
2) Sam Bradford (St. Louis QB)
Total earnings for the year : $ 27.8 million
Picked No. 1 in 2010, Bradford managed to
grab the biggest newbie contract. Since 2011 the league
seriously cut the maximum contract possible for the first year.
3) Darrell Revis (New York Jets cornerback)
Total earnings for the year : $ 28.3 million
In 2010, the league’s best cornerback went on strike until he was offered
a very appetizing amount of money in a new contract. Is the face of companies
Nike and Range Rover.
4) Mario Williams (Buffalo De-End)
Total earnings for the year : $ 33.2 million
Prior to this season, Williams was leading
negotiations with several teams, and eventually promoted Buffalo by 100
mln.dollars for a six-year contract.
5) Charles Johnson (Carolina De-End)
Total earnings for the year: $ 34.4 million
The most non-media person on our list, outside the field, Charles makes “only” $ 100,000.
6) Ndamukong Su (Detroit, protection tackle)
Total earnings for the year: $ 36 million.
Su donated $ 2.6 million to his home university in 2010
Nebraska for growing into the footballer of choice within its walls
# 2 in the draft.
7) Larry Fitgerald (Arizona, receiving)
Total earnings for the year : $ 36.8 million
Aside from the sacred caste of quarterbacks, Fitgerald
earns the most in the league off the pitch. He signed
contracts with Nike, EAS, AT&T and the University of Phoenix.
8) Haloti Ngata (“Baltimore”, protection tackle)
Total earnings for the year: $ 37.3 million.
Defense star Ravens signed a five-year contract worth $ 61 million last September.dollars.
9) Peyton Manning (Denver QB)
Total earnings for the year : $ 42.4 million
The living NFL legend took a new page this summer by leaving
Indianapolis and going to Denver. He will receive huge money
only on condition of successful completion of the medical examination every year (the entire
Manning Sr. missed 2011 due to a neck injury).
10) Drew Breeze (New Orleans QB)
Total earnings for the year : 49.4 milliondollars
Breeze transformed his league record passing yards into
record money. 100 million 5-year contract plus $ 37 million
as a bonus – last summer, Breeze’s wife probably looked after
yourself brand new shoes.
90,000 the best NFL players ever
Here’s a story about the best NFL players ever in the history of the National Football League.
On the list of Best NFL players we have, of course, the receiver
Jerry Rice.The athlete is recognized as the best player in the National Football League of all time by the vote among the players themselves, conducted by the NFL Network. In the 1985 draft, San Francisco 49 was selected at number 16. He was named the NFC Rookie of the Year in Offense, and already in 1987 became the MPV of the league by the Association of Newspapers and the Association of Football Writing Journalists. He played for San Francisco until 2000, when he was traded to Oakland.
In 2004, as a result of another exchange, he ended up in Seattle, where he played the last match of his career.He won the Super Bowl three times with San Francisco and became the American Football Conference champion with the Oakland Raiders. 12 times included in the national team of all stars.
James Nathaniel “Jim” Brown
Fullback, played nine seasons in the National Football League with the Cleveland Browns. He was named the greatest professional footballer in history by Sporting News magazine in 2002. Was selected by Cleveland in the 1957 NFL Draft as No. 6. Set a number of records on the ball.
First player in history to hit over 100 touchdowns on the ground. In each of his seasons, Brown played in the Pro Bowl, was named his most valuable player three times, became the NFL champion in 1964, and was repeatedly recognized as the most valuable player of the season by various media. He ended his career very early – at the age of 29, as he could not combine playing football with filming a movie. At the Cleveland Browns, Brown is forever assigned number 32.
Quarterback who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1989 to 2000.In the 1989 Draft, he was selected by Dallas under the number one. In the early 90s, by all accounts, he was the best player in the NFL and helped his team to win the Super Bowl three times, while in one case he was recognized as the MVP of the Super Bowl. Due to a series of injuries, he was forced to retire and retrain as a commentator.
The quarterback who played for the Denver Broncos from 1983 to 1998. The Baltimore Colts was selected as the first number in the 1983 draft, but he was not eager to play for this weak team and managed to get an exchange to Denver, where he spent his entire career.Ranked second in all-time passer rankings, with his passes spanning 51,475 yards.
At the same time, Elway could not achieve victories: after three defeats in the Super Bowl, his Denver finally won twice in 1997 and 1998 – that is, the two final seasons in John’s career. At the same time, Elway was named MVP in the 1998 Super Bowl. He also has nine Pro Bowl appearances and was named Most Valuable Player of the NFL Season in 1987.
NFL quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts (1998-2012) and the Denver Broncos (2012-2015).In the 1998 draft, he was selected by Indianapolis as the first number. Reputedly one of the best passers in NFL history. He is the NFL record holder for a variety of indicators – for example, his passes overcame 71,940 yards. The only player to have won a league MVP five times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013). He took part in the Pro Bowl 14 times, in 2004 he was recognized as its most valuable player. 2007 Super Bowl winner, with Manning named Most Valuable Player. He also won the 2016 Super Bowl before retiring.
A quarterback who has played for the New England Patriots since 2000 to this day. In 2000, he was drafted only in the sixth round under the overall 199th pick, but incredibly revealed himself in the NFL. He has five Super Bowl wins (there are only two of these players, and Brady is the only one who won all titles with one team), and on four occasions he was recognized as MVP. Brady was also named the best player in the NFL twice – in 2007 and 2010. In the playoffs, Brady won 25 games with just 9 losses – the best result in history.He is married to the famous model Gisele Bündchen.
Some twenty or thirty years ago, the US national team was considered an exotic team. The Americans got to the same world championships only due to the weakness of their rivals in the CONCACAF zone.
Today it is a serious team, over and over again solving the problem of getting into the top 16 best teams on the planet.
History of the USA national football team
- Participation in the final stage of the World Championships: 10 times.
- Participation in the final stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup: 14 times.
- Participated in the America’s Cup final stage: 4 times.
- CONCACAF Gold Cup Winner – 5 times.
- Silver medalist – 5 times.
- Bronze medalist – 2 times.
- Bronze medalist of the 1930 World Championship.
In general, the topic of the development of professional football in the United States, or, as it is called there, “soccer”, is quite interesting. After all, historically, Americans prefer hockey, baseball, American football and basketball.
The first attempt was made in 1968 when the North American Football League was formed. There was a real football boom in the country then, because such stars as George Best and. However, the league lasted only until 1984.
Professional football is obliged to revive. The MLS League was created as part of the US’s bid to host the World Cup, but the first championship was only held in 1996.
MLS meets all the attributes of American closed leagues, such as the NHL and the NBA: no practice of relegation of the weakest clubs, division into conferences, drawing of the regular season and playoffs, holding an all-star match.In addition to 17 American teams, three Canadian teams play in the MLS: from Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.
As for the national team, its creation dates back to 1916 – it was then that the US team played its first match, beating the Swedish national team 3: 2 in Stockholm.
USA Team at World Championships
The first pancake did not come out lumpy for the US national team at the world championships – at the very first world championship they defeated the national teams of Paraguay and Belgium with the same score 3: 0, and reached the semifinals, where they suffered a crushing defeat from the Argentina national team 1: 6.
But the next championship turned out to be a failure – in Italy, the US team in the first round of the tournament, held according to the Olympic system, was humiliated by the home team 1: 7.
But the Americans created one of the loudest sensations in the history of football – the US amateur team beat the England national team, which finally condescended to participate in the world championships and came to Brazil with the firm intention of proving what they saw as superiority. And although the other two matches in the group were lost to the national teams of Spain and Chile, this victory remains one of the most significant in the history of the American team.
Then there was a 40-year hiatus when the USA team could not qualify for the World Championships. It was possible to do this only in 1990, but in Italy the Americans suffered three defeats with a total score of 2-8.
By that time, the country had already received the right to host the World Cup, so such a performance by the national team could not but cause concern. Plus, let me remind you that the United States did not yet have a professional football league, and a limited number of football players played abroad (in the application of the US national team for the 1994 World Cup, there were only seven of them).
Then the Americans invited a famous sensation specialist to the national team and performed quite well. Having taken the second place in their group, they lost 0: 1 to the future world champions Brazilians in the 1/8 finals in a stubborn duel.
At the 1998 and 2006 World Championships, the US team was unable to qualify from the group, and they lost five matches out of six, but between these tournaments the team achieved the highest achievement in recent history.
The 2002 World Cup was rich in sensations, and one of them was created by the American team.Already in the first match, they beat one of the favorites of the tournament, the Portuguese national team 3: 2, and during the match they were leading 3: 0. Having played in a draw with the hosts of the tournament, the US team advanced to the 1/8 finals from the second place.
There they were opposed by old acquaintances – the Mexican national team, which is considered the best team in CONCACAF. The Mexicans were the favorites for that meeting, but goals from Brian McBright and Landon Donovan refuted that claim. In the ¼ finals, the Americans played great with the German team – they were completely liberated, because even the defeat in this match did not negate their achievements.But still the Germans were stronger – 1: 0.
And in the last two world championships, the US team successfully solved the problem of qualifying from the group, and in the first stage of the playoffs they lost in extra time with the same score 1: 2 to the national teams of Ghana and Belgium, respectively.
USA Team at CONCACAF Gold Cup
The US national team missed the first three tournaments, and then could not qualify for a long time. The first participation in the finals dates back to 1985, while the US team took second place in the group and did not make it to the next stage.
However, since 1989, the US national team not only became a participant in all the final tournaments (there were 14 of them), but failed to become a medalist only two times, and won the title five times.
True, for the sake of fairness, I note that 13 of these tournaments were held in the United States (twice together with Mexico, one with Canada).
The first victory was won in 1991 (by the way, this was the first tournament with its modern name, before that it was called the “CONCACAF Gold Cup”).Then in the final, after a goalless draw with the Honduran team, the victory was won only in a penalty shootout consisting of 16 strikes, 9 (!!!) of which were not converted.
And the last time the Americans won was in 2013, when Panama was beaten 1-0 in the final.
USA Team at America’s Cup
The tradition of inviting teams from the CONCACAF zone to Copa America dates back to 1993, when the national teams of Mexico and the USA were invited to the tournament.The Americans then could not get out of the group, but Mexico reached the final.
However, at the next tournament, the US team bypassed their famous rivals. Then the Americans sensationally took first place in the group, beating the Chileans 2: 1 and defeating the Argentina national team 3: 0. In the quarterfinals, the US team on penalties passed the Mexican team and only in the semifinals was it stopped by Brazil 1-0.
The US team was next invited to the Copa America 12 years later, in 2007, but then the Americans lost all three matches in the group.But in 2016, the United States became the first non-South American country to host the tournament. The national team supported the status of the hosts of the tournament and reached the semifinals, where they lost to the main favorite – the Argentina national team.
US National Football Team Players
Record holders in the number of matches played
- Kobe Jones – 164 appearances.
- Landon Donovan – 157.
- Jeff Aigus – 134.
- Clint Dempsey – 130.
- Marcelo Balboa – 127.
USA Top Scorers
- Landon Donovan – 57 goals.
- Clint Dempsey – 52.
- Josie Altidore and Eric Vinalda – 34 each.
- Brian McBride – 30.
- Joe-Max Moore – 24.
US National Football Team Squad
The club geography of the representation of the US national team players is extremely diverse – in addition to MLS, there are European and Mexican clubs. The national team leaders are its veterans – Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey.
From the young players can be distinguished Julian Green, who belongs to Bayern Munich, but is on loan for Hamburg.
As for the game of the American national team, one feature should be noted here – indomitability. Like NHL hockey players, American footballers do not recognize any authority and fight to the end at any score, and it is simply impossible not to respect them for this.
Coach of the USA national football team
The coach of the US national team is known to everyone – the charismatic has been successfully working with the team since 2011.During this time, the national team won the CONCACAF Cup, performed well at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America.
By the way, at the last world championship the US team was in the same group with the German team under the leadership of Joachim Loew – Klinsmann’s replacement in this position and his good friend. The teams met in the last round, and both were satisfied with a draw. This circumstance was very much exaggerated before the match, but friends did not give reasons for accusations – Germany won 1: 0.
USA Team Emblem
- The first hat-trick in world championship history was scored by US team player Bertha Patnoud.On July 17, 1970, he sent three goals to the Paraguay national team.
- The US national team is not considered to be the elite of world football, but the Americans have played at least in the semi-finals of all tournaments in which they took part: the World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Olympic Games, America’s Cup, Confederations Cup.
Team USA have already advanced to the final, fifth round of the 2018 World Cup qualifier. Very soon, a two-round tournament will begin here with the participation of six teams, three of which will receive direct tickets to Russia, and the fourth team will go to meet a representative of the AFC.
The Americans have traditionally a strong national team of Mexico, the sensation of the last World Cup, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, who have added strongly in recent years. But in any case, I think one of the first three places will remain with the US team.
It is a well-known myth that American football is developed only in the USA. Of course, no country in the world compares to the cradle of this sport in terms of its popularity, but still there are enough places on the planet where American football is not considered a curiosity.
Canada, Mexico and Japan immediately follow the United States. Brazil, China, South Korea and Australia are added every year.
In Europe, interest in American football is uneven. The leading countries in this matter were and remain Germany and Austria. Clubs from these countries have most often won elite European competitions, the best teams have rich sponsors, and we are talking about real professional football.
There is a second echelon – France, Scandinavia without Norway, Great Britain and Italy.Then there are the Eastern European countries and the Benelux countries.
Today we will name the approximate ten best clubs in Europe. Why indicative?
First, the position of a team in European football is tied to sponsorship and internal stability. There are clubs that smashed everyone at the beginning of the decade, but lost money and players in recent years, or simply split into several teams.
Secondly, the real top ten is the combined German-Austrian championship.That would be true, but rather bland. So, we took the liberty of diluting this company with an international a little.
10. Helsinki Roosters
Almost the oldest team in Finland was founded in 1979, participated in every national championship and only twice did not make it to the playoffs. These are 18-time champions of the country who have won over the past five years.
There are also two European cups. True, the Finns won the Eurobowl back in 1988, but they won the IFAF Champions League in 2014, the year the tournament was founded.In recent years, the Roosters have not been very active in subscribing to the European Cup adventures, and therefore their potential remains largely a commodity for domestic consumption. But it would be great to see them in a match against teams from St. Petersburg.
9. Karlstad Crusaders
But the team from St. Petersburg just recently played against the Crusaders. In 2016, the Griffins, who made their Champions League debut, hosted the Swedish club and lost to them devastatingly. The Crusaders at that time were the current winners of the IFAF Champions League.
Like the Roosters, the Crusaders dominate the domestic arena and have won their last seven championships in Sweden. Curiously, they were three times behind the Royal Crowns in the regular season, but each time they came out the winners in the playoffs thanks to their colossal experience.
The club was founded in 1991, but during the 2000s it was in the shadow of the more famous Swedish club Stockholm Min Machines.
8. Amsterdam Crusaders
Another Crusader on our list, this time from the Netherlands.Founded in 1984, the club has gone through different periods in its history. Their golden age came in the late eighties – early nineties, when they won 6 home titles in 7 years and at the same time reached the Euroball final 5 times, winning it twice.
Now the Crusaders are experiencing another round of revival and show themselves not only in their home country, where they won the last two championships, but also abroad – last year Amsterdam reached the final of the EFAF Cup, where they lost to the German Frankfurt Universe.
7. Dresden Monarchs
The perfect example of a steadily growing team. The Monarchs were founded in East Germany after the collapse of the Soviet Union and have gone all the way from the lowest regional leagues to the elite division of Germany and the strongest European competition.
Dresden regularly make the playoffs of the German championship, and in 2013 they managed to reach the final of the championship for the first time, where they lost in a dramatic match to the Lions with a score of 34-35.Inspired by this result, next year the Monarchs entered the Big Six, where the strongest clubs in Europe gathered. Still, this level was too high for them, and the performance ended at the group stage.
Last year, the Monarchs stopped short of returning to the country’s main bowl. The regress of the Berlin Adler team and the appearance of the Berlin Rebels team played a part in their favor. Dresden reached the semifinals and lost there to Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.
6. “Frankfurt Universe”
A very young team by German standards, Universe was founded only in 2007, but very quickly broke into the local scene.After gaining significant strength in 2015, they won the second southern league without a single defeat and advanced to the southern division of the major league.
It was in the last year that Europe learned the name “Frankfurt Universe”, when the team finished second in the south of the German Football League (12 wins, 2 losses) and simultaneously won the European Football League (the second most important European Cup tournament), beating the Amsterdam Crusaders in the final “.
The only disappointment for Frankfurt was the elimination in the first round of the playoffs in Germany.Universe lost to the more experienced Herrikans.
5. Keel Baltic Herricanes
Deutscher Meister 2010: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes
Golden time for the team from the largest city in northern Germany lasted from 2008 to 2012. Then the “Hurricanes” every year reached the final of the championship, but they were able to win it only once – in 2010. So, in a sense, this is the “Buffalo Bills” of German bottling, which once managed to win the championship cup.
In recent years, Baltic Herricanes have remained a play-off level fighting team in the championship. Last year, they again failed to advance beyond the semifinals, but Kiel are sweetening themselves with victories in the European football league. Until last year’s victory for their fellow countrymen from Frankfurt, it was Baltic Herricanes that had won the EFL Bowl for two years.
4. Vienna Vikings
One of the most legendary clubs in Europe. Five-time winners of the Euroball (four titles from 2004 to 2007 and one more in 2013), five more times this same Euroball lost.In 2014, they were one of the founders of the Big Six, the most famous and coolest European competition in Europe.
For the last two years, the Vikings have lost ground due to the fact that they have lost their main sponsor, Raiffeisen (they were called Raiffeisen Vikings). Just a few weeks ago they managed to come to an agreement with the Dacia company, so we can expect the Vikings to return to all the finals in the very near future.
3. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns
In all respects, the Unicorns are Germany’s second team right now.They became champions in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and have consistently finished in the rank of vice-champions over the past three seasons. It was for Schwäbisch Hall that host Moritz Boehringer, selected by Minnesota in the sixth round of the NFL draft, played.
Unicorns remain a very active team in European competition. In 2012 and 2013 they participated in the European Football League, and for the last two years they have been in the Big Six. Moreover, in 2015 they entered the Eurobowl, but even there they were blocked by the first number of our rating.
2. Tyrol Raiders
Another example of professional organization in European football. “Raiders” were created in 1992 in the image and likeness of their overseas namesakes, they even chose silver-black colors. Someone might say that the Austrian teams have no imagination, but both the Vikings and the Raiders have successfully contacted Minnesota and Oakland and are friends thanks to their common name.
So, throughout the nineties, the Raiders were eager to become the elite of Austrian football and in 2000 they played in the final for the first time, losing to the more experienced Vikings, which were then called Chrysler Vikings.In the future, the team from Tyrol also acquired a sponsor and became known as “Swarko Raiders”. Under this name, they won the Austrian championship four times – in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2015.
The Tyroleans have won the Eurobowl three times, and from time to time they played it with their neighbors from Vienna. In the middle of the last decade, the Austrians set the pace in European football. It goes without saying that the Raiders have been in the Big Six for the past three seasons. Last year they lost to our number one in the final.
1. Braunschweig Lions
Better known as New Yorker Lions in honor of their permanent sponsor. The team from not the largest European city (250 thousand people) has a rich football tradition. This year the Lions celebrate their 30th anniversary. From 1997 to 2008, they played 12 consecutive German finals in a row, winning 8 of them.
Their results are almost flawless. Playing in the European Football League over the past decade, they have twice won the EuroBowl and lost once more in the final.They were the organizers of the Big Six and have played in the finals all three seasons, winning the last two. They have won the strongest European national championship for eight consecutive years. The New Yorker Lions are the strongest American football team in Europe.
What other names are worth knowing:
- Badalona Drax (Spanish champions and members of the Big Six from this year)
- Milan Simen (two-time champions of Italy, silver medalists of the IFAF Champions League and members of the Big Six since this year)
- Istanbul Koç Rams (Turkish Champions)
- Belgrade Vukovi (multiple champions of Serbia, twice silver medalists of the Champions League)
- Kalanda Broncos (the strongest team in Switzerland, Euroball winners in 2012, former members of the Big Six)
- Saint-Ouen-l’Aumont Cougars (reigning two-time French champions)
- Wroclaw Panthers (in three years of existence, they played three times in the final of the Polish Championship, won the last one, and also won the IFAF Champions League in 2016)
- London Warriors (British champions last four seasons)
National Football League (NFL)The National Football League (NFL)) is the professional American football league in the United States. There are currently 32 teams in the NFL.
The NFL regular season begins on the weekend after Labor Day in the United States (first Monday in September). Each team plays 16 matches over 17 game rounds, called weeks. Traditionally, one of the games on Sunday takes place late in the evening, at the same time, but on Monday, another one is played. These matches were named Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football.In the final weeks of the season, the league is moving some games to Thursday and Saturday nights to air on national channels.
(Total 34 photos)
1. Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins faced Devin McCourt of the New England Patriots after catching a pass in the third period in Miami on September 12th. (Hans Deryk / Reuters)
2. New York Jets host Plaxico Barress with the American flag during the pre-match ceremony commemorating the September 11 attacks before the match with the Dallas Cowboys.(Brian Snyder / Reuters)
3. San Francisco 49ers host Ted Jinn Jr. celebrates the team’s point in a match against the Seattle Seahawks in San Francisco. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)
4. Atlanta Falcons defender Croy Biermann (71) intercepts a pass from Chicago Bears midfielder Jay Cutler in the second half in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
5. Rex Grossman (8) of the Washington Redskins assists against the New York Giants in the NFL Opening Game.(Scott Cunningham / Getty Images)
6. Seattle Seahawks midfielder Matt McCoy (52) challenges San Francisco 49ers defender Frank Gore (21) in a match in San Francisco. (Paul Sakuma / Assocaited Press)
7. San Diego Chargers defender Antonio Garay warms up for the Minnesota Vikings match. (Denis Poroy / Associated Press)
8. A modest Seattle Seahawks fan during a match of his favorite team against the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco.(Robert Galbraith / Reuters)
9. Receiver Malcolm Floyd (left) of the San Diego Chargers missed the ball during a defensive attack by Minnesota Vikings’ Cedric Griffin. But the Chargers won the match 24-17. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images)
10. Wontae Davis of the Miami Dolphins during the presentation of the teams before the match with the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)
11. Spectacular performance during a ceremony in memory of the victims of the 9/11 attacks in East Rutherford, New Jersey.(Getty Images)
12. Denver Broncos defender Kevin Vickerson on the field with the American flag before the match with the Oakland Raiders. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
13. Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates victory over the Cleveland Browns in front of dejected (left to right) Ben Watson, Sean Lauvao, Alex Mack and Jason Pinkston in a match in Cleveland. (Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters)
14. Ryan Matthews (left) of the San Diego Chargers scores a point over Tyrell Johnson of the Minnesota Vikings in San Diego.(Donald Miralle / Getty Images)
15. New York Jets forward Nick Falk (2) and Mark Brunell (8) celebrate their point in a 27-24 win against the Dallas Cowboys. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)
16. Antonio Gates (right) of the San Diego Chargers in red, white and blue boots commemorating the September 11 attacks against the Minnesota Vikings. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
17. Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings confers with teammates against the San Diego Chargers.(Donald Miralle / Getty Images)
18. New Orleans Saints fans before the match of their favorite team with the Green Bay Packers. (Jeff Haynes / Reuters)
19. John Ryan (9) of the Seattle Seahawks throws the ball against the San Francisco 49ers. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
20. Rob Gronkowski (right) of the Patriots lost the fight to Eremiah Bell of the Dophins. (Jim Davis / The Boston Globe)
21. Fans congratulate Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Redskins as he leaves the field after a match against the New York Giants in Landover.(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
22. Marshon Lynch (24) of the Seattle Seahawks jumps over San Francisco 49ers defenders Donte Whitner (left) and Maddu Williams in a match in San Francisco. (Robert Galbraith / Reuters)
23. San Diego Chargers midfielder Philip Rivers (17) celebrates victory over the Minnesota Vikings. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Williams (right) received a 4-meter pass to beat Detroit Lions’ Aaron Berry in Tampa.(Pierre DuCharme / Reuters)
25. Michael Roos (center) of the Tennessee Titans tries to outrun Drew Coleman (left) and Terrance Knighton of the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
26. The referees separate the fighting Eric Weddle of the San Diego Chargers and Percy Garvin of the Minnesota Vikings. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)
27. Host Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers struggles to receive the ball against the Minnesota Vikings.(Mike Blake / Reuters)
28. Baltimore Ravens host Anquan Boldin (right) intercepts a touchdown pass in front of Bryant McFadden of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
29. Carolina Panthers host Steve Smith (right) throws a touchdown in front of Richard Marshall of the Arizona Cardinals. (Paul Connors / Associated Press)
30. Midfielder Tom Brady of the New England Patriots celebrates one of his four assists against the Miami Dolphins.(Marc Serota / Getty Images)
31. Sam Shields (37) of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a pass to Devery Henderson of the New Orleans Saints in a match in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)
32. The fight for the ball between Dexter McCluster of the Kansas City Chiefs (22) and Sean Merriman of the Buffalo Bills in a match in Kansas City. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)
33. Host Jacoby Jones (12) awarded a point to the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium.(Bob Levey / Getty Images)
34. Randall Cobb (18) of the Green Bay Packers cheers with the fans for a 98-meter assist against the New Orleans Saints in Green Bay. The Green Bay Packers won 42-34. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)
The editors continue the series of materials on contact sports. The new article – the history of the origin, teams and rules of the most popular game on the other side of the ocean – American football.
The history of the development of American football as an independent sport began with an ordinary game held in the small English town of Rugby.The public attention to the school derby, which took place in early 1823, was attracted by one of the teams, William Abbott Ellis. The young gentleman, contrary to all existing rules, made a historic run to the opponent’s goal with the ball in his hands. This act provided Ellis with worldwide fame and became the first impetus for the development of several sports at once.
The official date of birth of American football is considered to be November 6, 1869. On that day, the teams of two universities – Rutgers and Princeton – without agreeing on what exactly they were going to play, played a significant match according to strange rules, reminiscent of both European soccer and rugby.The next decade, the curve of popularity of the new sport only went up, but the rules for the matches remained very vague.
This was primarily due to the habits and characteristics of the participating teams. The vague rules of football were brought to a common denominator by Walter Camp, thereby securing himself the resounding title of “the father of American football.” The new standards allowed a forward pass, a neutral zone appeared, and the size of the field was also clearly specified.Walter Camp’s innovations somewhat reduced the intensity of the game, but the abundance of tough power techniques, such as grabbing an opponent in the knee area, still left American football as a “deadly sport”. The front page of the 1905 Chicago Tribune was adorned with a gorgeous headline: “18 players killed and 159 seriously injured.” Then President Theodore Roosevelt himself decided to intervene, saying: “Either the players will change the rules, or we will ban football altogether. Cruelty and foul play must be punished.Change the game or abandon it. ”
Public and political influence was the catalyst for the next rule change. High penalties for deliberately rough play made such tactics simply unprofitable for the team. In addition, the new environment has somewhat shifted the emphasis of American football from pure strength to speed. This was also facilitated by the decrease in the number of active players in the team from 15 to 11 people. Around the same time, the first protective uniform appeared – breeches with shields.
The vague rules of football were brought to a common denominator by Walter Camp, thereby securing himself the resounding title of “the father of American football.”
Shape and ball
The level of protective equipment used by American football players is extremely high. Hockey players use about the same protection: helmet, boots, frame, gloves, knee pads and thigh protectors. In addition to these mandatory elements, many football players use additional equipment – protection for the neck, kidneys, ribs and tailbone.The most important element of the protective uniform is a helmet, consisting of an outer shell, a foam pad, a mouthguard and a mask that protects the face and lower jaw from injury.
These standards of protective equipment did not appear immediately: breeches with shields were the first to appear, then football associations recommended that players use a leather helmet. The latter became an obligatory element of the form only in 1939, that is, almost half a century after the emergence of the game itself. Despite such a high level of player protection, American football is still one of the most dangerous and aggressive sports.The famous stand-up comedian Bob Hope once put it this way: “Professional American football is like a nuclear war. There are no winners here, there are only survivors. ”
Along with the form standards, the American football ball also changed. The first teams used a ball of the usual round shape. It was difficult to hold and difficult to throw correctly. The shell was more suitable for playing rugby, but the peculiar rules of American football quickly transformed it too.The ball has decreased in size, lost weight, but acquired more elongated ends and characteristic lacing. The material of the sports equipment has changed: the leather has replaced the composite rubber and cotton. In 1924, the NFL introduced a single, still relevant ball for American football: a circumference from end to end of 72.4 centimeters, a circumference of 34 centimeters and a weight of 397-425 grams. The final transformation ended only two years later: the white color of the ball with a black stripe was replaced by a brown skin color and a white stripe.
Basic elements of protection
Teams and the field
The game is played on a field of standard dimensions – 120 x 53 1/3 yards, or 110 x 49 meters. Despite the more familiar to us meters, it is better to operate in yards, since the entire site is divided into five-yard segments. The cross lines dividing the field mark the distance left to run to the touchdown. At each end of the field, on the border of the field, there are gates in the form of two high rods with a crossbar between them.Goals are scored over the crossbar between the bars. The teams are divided into defensive and attacking teams. The striker is the one who starts the rally while in possession of the ball. The defender, accordingly, does not have the ball and is trying with all her might to fix it. The attacking team includes linemen, quarterbacks, backs and receivers. On the defensive, there are defensive ends, defensive tackles, linebackers, defensive backs, and open safety. The latter is often the last hope to stop the breakthrough, so the safety becomes the fastest player.
In addition, there are so-called special commands. These guys come into play by kicking the ball. Special team players do not train separately, most often the positions are taken by substitutes. Each of them also has its own role: they distinguish between kicker, holder, panther, returning and distant snapper. In general, American football, among other things, is famous for its tradition of division of labor. Literally every player does only his own business and clearly understands the tasks assigned to him.
Both the attacking and defending teams have a strict set of instructions for the start of the game.The former must have seven players on the line of scrimmage, the latter can be grouped in any way, but only without going beyond this line. None of the attackers can move when the ball is being played. Only one player is allowed to move along the line. The ball can be received by two closing the attacking line and everyone in the second echelon.
During the rally, defenders are not allowed to attack the passer who is without the ball. It is forbidden to grab the players by the helmet mask and turn (which is very convenient thanks to the helmet design).Defenders also cannot cross the line of attack during a play.
The main goal of the game is to bring the ball to the opponent’s end zone in various ways. In American football, almost all actions with the ball are allowed: it can be thrown, passed to a partner, and simply carried in your hands. Points are awarded for a successful pass to the scoring (it is also the final) zone, taking the ball there in the hands or a successful goal. With the latter, the projectile must fly through the goal post and over the crossbar.Victory is determined by points. The entire game lasts 60 minutes and is divided into four 15-minute periods – quarters.
At the moment, American football is in the Guinness Book of Records as a team game
with the most complicated rules.
1.2 STRONG SAFETY AND FREE SAFETY
Last defense players. Help cornerbacks to close receivers.
Two players covering the receivers. Their task is to hit or intercept the ball.
Three players behind the defense. They attack the quarterback and the players running with the ball.
8.11 DEFENSE END
Two players standing at the edges. Attempts to stop the passer and the players passing the ball around the edges.
9.10 DEFENSE TACKLE
Two players between the ends. They attack the quotebeck and protect the team from breakouts with the ball in the middle.
Two receiving players. The main task is to get the ball from the quarterback.
13.17 OFFENSE GUARD
Two attacking players on either side of the center.
14.16 OFFENSE TACKLE
Two attacking players on either side of the guard.
The player on the line who drops the ball to the quarterback at the start of each rally.
The player standing on the tackle. Can block and receive the ball, depending on the rally.
Two players behind the attack line.Must pass the ball, block and catch short passes.
The main player of the attack line, is behind the center and receives the ball at the beginning of the rally. Passing and propelling the ball
By the turn of the 20th century, American football was gaining widespread popularity. Sport has got its own heroes and regular spectators. More importantly, American football has finally moved beyond college fields. The need for common control and unionization by the teams became apparent.A vacant niche was occupied by the American Professional Football Association, created in 1920, and soon renamed the National Football League. The NFL’s dictatorship lasted nearly 40 years, until millionaire Lamar Hunt announced the creation of the American Football League.
The next ten years were marked by a fierce struggle for command and influence. The two organizations operated in parallel until 1970, when the NFL absorbed the rival, and now the former NFL clubs play in the National Football Conference (NFC) and the former AFL clubs in the American Football Conference (AFC).The winners of the two tournaments meet in the Super Bowl game, which is the main event of American sports, and the NFL itself has become the country’s most popular sports league.
1985 coincided with the official American Football Final and the inauguration of the President of the United States of America. Strange as it may seem, it was the inauguration that was postponed.
3 known commands
The Team has competed in the Super Bowl eight times, winning six of them.In addition, the team took part in 13 final conferences.
The first team in American football history to win three Super Bowls in a row.
Five-time NFL champion.
The club was founded in 1933 under the original name “Pittsburgh Pirates”. Seven years later, he received a new name – “Pittsburgh Steelworkers”, under which he played sluggishly for the next ten or two years, managing not to take a single title.