2024 NFLTR Top 100 Players: 100-91

Every summer since 2011, the NFL has released a list of the top 100 players, compiled at least in part by votes from current players, to help fill the break in the calendar between the end of offseason work and the start of training camp. It’s an interesting topic, which is why plenty of other outlets have followed suit with top 100 lists. 

Kirk Cousins

This is our take. This is the third edition of the NFLTR Top 100 Players, compiled rigorously using both traditional and advanced statistics, awards, positional value, career trajectory and a dash of intuition. Some lists don’t give enough credit to positions like offensive line, others rely too heavily on past name recognition. Our list won’t be perfect but our goal is to give credit where credit is due. 

We’ll be rolling these out over the next couple of weeks to pass the time until training camp, so keep an eye out for the rest of the 2024 NFLTR Top 100!

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100: Falcons QB Kirk Cousins

By last October, there weren’t many athletes who had had a better 12-month stretch than Cousins. The veteran was one of the trendiest athletes in America thanks to Minnesota’s playoff run in 2022 that was chronicled in Netflix’s Quarterback documentary. Cousins came off exceptionally well in the show and furthered his rise even more with an incendiary start to the 2023 season — before a torn Achilles cut short his season.

Prorating Cousins’ eight games over a full season would equal over 4,900 passing yards and 36 touchdowns, both of which would have been career highs. His completion percentage of 69.5, interception rate of 1.6 percent and QBR of 63.2 weren’t career bests but they were near the top, as was his PFF grade of 86.1.

Anecdotally, it felt like Cousins was playing as well as he ever had and starting to refute some of the career narratives that had calcified about him, like his record in primetime games. He was lights out in a primetime win against the 49ers the week before his injury, which came in a 14-point win against the division-rival Packers. 

The torn Achilles has injected some uncertainty into Cousins’ long-term outlook. While it’s not as damaging an injury for a pocket quarterback as it would be for other positions, it’s still notable because it was to Cousins’ plant foot. As the documentary showed, Cousins is meticulous about his body and the Achilles injury will throw some hurdles in his path, both physical and mental. The injury didn’t stop the Falcons from giving him $100 million guaranteed in free agency, but it along with Cousins’ age (36 in August) led to Atlanta selecting QB Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick, putting a conspicuous countdown clock on Cousins’ tenure. 

Still, there are a lot of tools in place for Cousins to succeed with the Falcons, including a similar system under OC Zac Robinson to what he’s run the past two years in Minnesota and talented skill position players. The veteran quarterback has continued to get better with age and he’s a big reason there are high hopes around the Falcons in 2024. 

99: Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick

Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick and the Steelers, 2023 was a step back for the veteran safety. He battled injuries to his knee and hamstring throughout the year that limited him to just 10 games, plus a broken hand he just played through. When he was on the field, Fitzpatrick was not nearly as productive as he was in 2022 when he tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions and was selected as a first-team AP All-Pro. He had no interceptions in 2023 and knocked down just three passes compared to 11 the year before. 

Pittsburgh changed how they deployed Fitzpatrick in 2023, which partially explains the drop in production. In the three years before that, Fitzpatrick would spend about 70-80 percent of his snaps aligned as a deep safety. In 2023, perhaps due to the rampant injuries that plagued the Steelers’ back seven, Fitzpatrick spent 50 percent of his snaps around the line of scrimmage, either in the box or as a slot corner. 

Pro Football Focus graded Fitzpatrick well against the run and he set career-highs in missed tackle percentage and stops. The Steelers were the No. 6 scoring defense and made the playoffs, so both sides did what they had to do. But the goal in 2024 has to be to get Fitzpatrick back in a position where he can be more impactful, while Fitzpatrick needs to continue to stay healthy to prove he remains one of the top safeties in football. 

98: Dolphins S Jevon Holland

Holland has looked like he belonged since his rookie year in Miami and he seemed to take the leap that many thought he was capable of in 2023. PFF gave him a 90.4 grade which was No. 3 at the position and just a hair off the No. 1 spot. He earned high marks in particular for his ability in coverage as a deep safety in former DC Vic Fangio‘s system. He only picked off one pass, but it was a big one. 

Holland wasn’t used as much as a blitzer where he was effective in his first two seasons but he still graded well against the run and forced three fumbles. He’s a true do-everything safety, and at 24 years old and heading into a contract year, he’s poised for another big leap. Holland hasn’t made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team yet but it seems like only a matter of time. 

97: Falcons S Jessie Bates

Bates arrived in Atlanta this past offseason as a free agent with a reputation as a ballhawk, with 14 interceptions in five seasons with the Bengals. He cemented his rep with six picks and 11 pass deflections in Year 1 with the Falcons, earning his second career second-team All-Pro selection and first career Pro Bowl award. 

It wasn’t just a great year in coverage, though. Bates set career-highs in tackles, including 89 solo takedowns and three tackles for loss, plus added three forced fumbles. PFF credited him with 29 stops which was by far a new career high, and his missed tackle percentage of 8.2 percent also set a new bar for Bates’ career. 

96: Dolphins OLB Bradley Chubb

The Dolphins bet big on Chubb at the trade deadline in 2022, sending the Broncos a first-round pick for the pass rusher and immediately signing Chubb to a five-year, $110 million deal that made him one of the highest-paid pass rushers in football. In the eight games he played in 2022, Chubb had just 2.5 sacks — though his underlying metrics remained strong. 

There weren’t any questions about the return on investment from Chubb in 2023, as the veteran notched double-digit sacks for the first time since his rookie year. In addition to 11 sacks, Chubb had 11 tackles for loss and tied for the NFL lead with six forced fumbles. He was a complete player, too. There were just three players who placed inside the top 10 in ESPN’s pass rush win rate and run stop win rate — Myles Garrett, Will Anderson and Chubb. 

Unfortunately Chubb tore his right ACL in the second-to-last game of the season, his second career torn ACL after damaging the ligament in his left knee in 2019. The timing means there’s some uncertainty about how effective Chubb will be in 2024 but he was too good last year to leave off the list. 

95: 49ers DT Javon Hargrave

Hargrave switched sides in the Eagles/49ers rivalry last offseason, going from the East Coast to the West Coast. While he didn’t repeat his 11-sack season from 2022, he remained a productive interior pass rusher, notching seven sacks and earning his second career Pro Bowl invitation. PFF credited him with 64 total pressures, eighth in the NFL among defensive tackles, and his 14 percent pass rush win rate ranked ninth on ESPN’s leaderboard. It’s the fourth straight year Hargrave has finished inside the top ten at his position in pass rush win rate and he’ll look to make it five in 2024. 

94: Dolphins LT Terron Armstead

When healthy, Armstead remains one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in football. Per PFF, Armstead surrendered just six hurries and one sack last year with a pass block efficiency of 98.9 percent. That was the best mark in the entire NFL. In true pass sets, which is after PFF strips away screens, play action passes and plays with less than four rushers or a time to throw under two seconds, Armstead had a 96.8 efficiency rating which tied for fourth-best among all tackles.

There are two catches. Armstead is rarely fully healthy and has never played a full season in his career. He was limited to 10 games in 2023 and was on the injury report in 13 out of 17 games with various ailments including his knee, back, quad and ankle. And while his efficiency stats are outstanding, Armstead is aided by playing in an offense that’s incredibly friendly to offensive linemen. He had just 97 true pass sets which is far and away lower than nearly every other starting tackle. 

Still, Armstead’s skill is apparent when he’s on the field and he’s a vital part of the Dolphins’ offense for at least one more year. 

93: Colts LT Bernhard Raimann

A third-round pick in 2022, Raimann grew up in Austria and discovered American football while doing an exchange student program in Michigan. After fulfilling Austria’s compulsive military service requirements, Raimann played college football at Central Michigan where he caught the eye of the NFL. Raimann was seen as a fascinating upside project given his outstanding athleticism and newness to the game of football. 

While Raimann isn’t well known outside of Indianapolis yet, he’s well on his way to living up to that potential. He had a breakout season in 2023 starting 15 games at left tackle for a Colts team that came within a whisker of making the playoffs. PFF graded him as their No. 7 tackle last year and he was the ninth tackle in ESPN’s run block win rate leaderboard at 78 percent.

There’s still work for Raimann ahead. PFF credited him with four sacks allowed and 34 total pressures while his true pass set efficiency of 98.4 percent ranked 28th in the league out of 86 qualifying tackles. But given Raimann’s rapid ascendency, Colts fans should feel great about his chances of developing from a good player into an even better one. 

92: Raiders LT Kolton Miller

While Miller has never made a Pro Bowl, he has quietly developed into one of the league’s better left tackles. At 6-8 and 325 pounds, he possesses rare size and athleticism, but Miller was a raw player when the Raiders took him in the first round in 2018 and there were considerable growing pains. Those could still be impacting his perception, because Miller has been outstanding the past few seasons. His pass blocking efficiency has been over 97 percent for the past four seasons, per PFF, and his 97.3 efficiency rating on true pass sets was second-best in the entire NFL. 

Miller gets guff for his run blocking, and it’s certainly not as much of a strength for him as his pass blocking is. His height works against him more in the run game when trying to establish leverage. But don’t mistake that for Miller being a bad run blocker, he has his share of highlights in that facet of the game too. 

91: 49ers QB Brock Purdy

Purdy tends to be a controversial player given the contrast between his humble origins as the last pick of the 2022 draft and the gaudy statistical and team success the 49ers have achieved with him under center. Plenty of oxygen has been burned debating how much credit Purdy deserves for his success versus offensive mastermind and 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan, who has a long history of getting quality production out of average to below-average quarterbacks. 

At this point, however, Purdy has been too successful to just dismiss as another Shanahan-generated mirage. San Francisco has reached back-to-back NFC title games with Purdy under center and reached the Super Bowl last season. As a seventh-round rookie, he replaced Jimmy Garoppolo late in the 2022 season and never looked overwhelmed, tossing 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions in a six-game winning streak to close the season. Last year as the full-time starter, Purdy threw 31 touchdowns, ran for two more and had 11 interceptions. 

Purdy led the NFL in touchdown percentage, yards per attempt, QBR, adjusted/net yards per attempt, EPA per play and completion percentage over expected. While some of these statistics are more entangled with the overall 49ers’ offensive ecosystem with Shanahan and other elite talent, Purdy is still putting up far better numbers than just about any other Shanahan quarterback besides Matt Ryan. He’s earned considerable trust from Shanahan — a feat in and of itself — with his command of the offense, willingness to be aggressive downfield, ability to adlib when the play breaks down and his overall poise. 

Figuring out where Purdy stands in the overall hierarchy of quarterbacks in the NFL will take some more time but he’s been too good too quickly to just dismiss. 

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