The NFL’s top 100 players ranking is back. Every year, the NFL players rank the 100 best in the league, and it always sparks an interesting debate. The NFL experts at ESPN recently shared their thoughts on the top 100 rankings for 2021, and Seth Walder made a bold statement.
“Arizona’s Kyler Murray ahead of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is absurd,” Walder said. “Jackson, who was the league’s MVP two years ago, ranked seventh in QBR in his “down” year last season, while Murray ranked 14th. Jackson’s work on the ground – which factors into QBR on scramble plays — is well documented, but Murray isn’t even the better passer. When we remove sacks and scrambles, Jackson still had the edge in QBR last year, 13th to 19th. And again, those numbers are from 2020; Jackson led the whole league in QBR in 2019.”
For what it’s worth, Murray and Jackson didn’t crack the top 10. But when it was all said and done, four quarterbacks one running back, two wide receivers, one tight end and two defenders made the list of the 10 best players in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. Here’s a look at the list.
1. QB Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes may have lost the Super Bowl earlier this year, but he’s still the best player in the NFL. In 2020, Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns in 15 games and led the Kansas City Chiefs to its second straight Super Bowl. In his three seasons as starter, Mahomes has led Kansas City to either a Super Bowl or AFC Championship game.
2. DE Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald won his third AP Defensive Player of the Year Award this past season after posting 13.5 sacks in 2020. Donald has been so dominant, he was named to the 2010s All-Team. He was voted NFL’s top player in 2018 and is a six-time All-Pro First Team selection.
3. QB Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
The reigning NFL MVP had a memorable 2020 season, throwing for 4,299 yards with 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. His play was a big reason the Packers reached the NFC Championship for the second consecutive year. Rodgers now has won three MVP awards in his career.
4. RB Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry continues to get better each year. In 2020, the Alabama alum rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns 2020, leading him to win the NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year Award. And with an extra regular-season game added, Henry could beak the single-season rushing record in 2021.
5. TE Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes has a number of weapons to throw to, but Travis Kelce is the best. Kelce set the all-time single-season record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards last season. He also had 105 receptions and 11 touchdowns, making him the most dangerous tight end in the league.
6. WR Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams has worked hard over the last few years to make himself the best wide receiver in the NFL. In 2020, the Packers star caught 115 passes for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games. Rodgers has worked with a number of talented receivers, but Adams might be the best of the bunch.
7. QB Tom Brady – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady continues to play at a high level despite being 44 years old. In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns while leading the squad to its first Super Bowl win in 18 years. Brady also won the Super Bowl MVP award for the fifth time in this career.
8. WR DeAndre Hopkins – Arizona Cardinals
One of the most surprising moves last year was when the Houston Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. It turned out to be a great move for Arizona as Hopkins posted 115 receptions with 1,407 yards with six touchdowns. Hopkins now has 10,000 receiving yards in his career, making him the 49th player to reach that mark.
9. OLB T.J. Watt – Pittsburgh Steelers
T.J. Watt has quickly become one of the top edge rushers in the league. In 2020, Watt posted a league-leading 15 sacks in 15 games. Had it not been for the production of Donald, Watt would have won Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career.
10. QB Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen became a legitimate MVP candidate in 2020. He finished the season with 4,544 yards, 37 passing touchdowns and sight rushing touchdowns, which helped the Bills reaching the AFC Championship game. Each season, Allen has improved and could be in the top five of this list next year.