Every summer, NFL Media releases a list of the top 100 NFL players as voted on by the players, supposedly. And every summer, the results kick up their fair amount of controversy.
This year, we decided to throw our hat in the ring with the first NFLTR Top 100 Players list to see if we could do better. We didn’t poll any players but we did use a rigorous process that factored in basic and advanced stats, awards, career trajectory, injuries and of course the highly scientific gut check.
We’ll be rolling these out over the rest of the summer to pass time until training camp, so be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of our NFLTR Top 100 Players list!
100: Panthers RT Taylor Moton
Moton may have taken just the slightest step back last season after signing a big-money contract in the offseason. He remained one of the league’s top right tackles, however, and was credited with just one sack allowed by PFF.
99: Patriots OLB Matt Judon
Judon bounced back in a big way from an underwhelming 2020 season in his first year with the Patriots and certainly left New England with no regrets over the four-year, $56 million deal they signed him to. Judon is a junkyard dog, tone-setting kind of player. He’s not as prolific in the sack department as some other edge rushers despite setting a career-high with 12.5 this past season. But since 2019, his 79 quarterback hits rank behind only T.J. Watt.
98: Packers OL Elgton Jenkins
Jenkins is a legitimate five-tool lineman for the Packers. But it goes beyond just being able to step in anywhere from tackle to guard to center in a pinch. Jenkins can legitimately excel at any position Green Bay puts him. He made a Pro Bowl in 2020 splitting time between guard and center and was PFF’s No. 11 tackle for the eight games of work he put in on Aaron Rodgers‘ blind side in 2021. The torn ACL that ended his season presents a hurdle but one modern medicine has made increasingly easier to clear.
As an aside, this is more interesting to folks invested on the contract nerd side of things, but Green Bay’s extension negotiations with Jenkins are going to be fascinating. He’s entering the final year of his deal and he’s made a legitimate case that he deserves closer to top tackle money ($19-$23 million a year) than top interior lineman money ($16 million a year). Can the Packers afford that?
97: Chargers C Corey Linsley
Linsley’s been among the best centers in football for years now and his arrival helped stabilize the Chargers’ offensive line in a big way in 2021. He finished fifth in ESPN’s pass block win rate at 96 percent while playing more pass pro snaps than all but one player ahead of him.
96: Browns RB Nick Chubb
Yards per carry can be a bit of a junk stat because it’s reliant on so many factors like the quality of the offensive line. That’s why thee’s usually some swing from one year to the next for most running backs, and why it’s particularly notable when someone like Chubb has averaged 5.0 YPC or more in each of his first four seasons. It’s reflective of how elite of a runner he is, with power, speed and vision. If he wasn’t locked into a time split by a Browns team conscious of not overworking any of their backs, Chubb could put up monster numbers.
95: Chiefs C Creed Humphrey
The 2021 third-rounder has just one year under his belt. But in that year, Humphrey was arguably the best center in the NFL. He was No. 1 in pass block win rate and No. 5 in run block win rate according to ESPN. PFF had him as their top-graded center in a tier of his own, nearly six points ahead of Linsley at No. 2. In some ways, Humphrey was more dominant as a rookie than the eventual OROY winner, Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase.
94: Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs
This might be low for Diggs but the third-year pro is undeniably a boom or bust player at this point in his career. Pro Football Focus credited him with over 1,000 yards allowed in coverage. That matches up with the tape.
The Trevon Diggs pick 6 of Mac Jones. pic.twitter.com/jJnA2CZnGc
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) October 17, 2021
The Mac Jones response, a 75-yard touchdown on the receiver Trevon Diggs was guarding. pic.twitter.com/leQA8TObqh
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) October 17, 2021
However, 11 interceptions in the modern NFL is undeniably impressive. Takeaways are huge and Diggs has some of the best ball skills of any DB in the league, turning into a receiver when the ball is in the air. His 35 pass deflections since entering the league are also tied for third among all players.
93: Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins
Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Hopkins? Last season the veteran was limited to 10 games due to a combination of hamstring and MCL injuries. Even before that, though, his targets per game had dropped from 10 to 6.4. Now as he enters his age 30 season, he’ll have to overcome a six-game suspension for PED use to start the season. Hopkins still has some of the best hands and contested-catch ability of any receiver in football but we’ve seen the age cliff hit quickly for players once they cross the threshold of 30.
92: Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley
A healthy Stanley would belong much higher on this list. We haven’t seen that since the 2020 season, however. A fractured ankle and a rehab marred by complications has sidelined Stanley for the majority of the past two seasons. Baltimore is cautiously optimistic they’ll get their franchise left tackle back, which would be huge for their Super Bowl hopes in 2022.
91: Packers LT David Bakhtiari
Similar to Stanley, Bakhtiari’s outlook is affected by a rehab that didn’t go as smoothly as he or the team would have hoped. Bakhtiari tore his ACL on December 31, 2020, and his recovery ended up on the long side of the typical 9-12 month timeline for the injury. He’s older than Stanley, too, which presents complications, and did not return to the field for Green Bay this spring, although that could have just been out of an abundance of caution. He was a top-three left tackle when healthy, there’s just some doubt as to whether he can get back there.