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!
80: Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin
Godwin unfortunately will be battling back from a torn ACL suffered late last season, but before he went down he was on his way to establishing himself as one of the best receivers in football. He flies under the radar, perhaps because he plays across from another stud, Mike Evans, in Tampa Bay. He’s a stud in his own right, however. He’s a physical, rugged player who thrived as Brady’s volume target underneath last season, and a great blocker for the position. However, he’s not just a dirty work receiver. Per Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Godwin was No. 6 in the league in beating man coverage in 2020.
79: Saints DE Cameron Jordan
It looked like age might be catching up to Jordan last season, as in his age-32 year he had just four sacks through the Saints’ first 12 games. He was still having an impact as a run defender — finishing 2021 with the highest run stop win rate among all edge defenders per ESPN — but a run of 8.5 sacks in New Orleans’ final four games proved the tank isn’t quite empty for Jordan yet. That’s great news for the Saints considering how much they have invested in Jordan, and they restructured his deal yet again this offseason.
78: Chiefs LT Orlando Brown Jr.
Brown lobbied for and was granted a trade out of Baltimore so he could move to left tackle. While the explosion of quality edge rushers has lessened the importance of the left versus right side, there is still more of a financial premium for left tackles, and Brown had personal reasons for playing the left side to honor his late father, former NFL OT Orlando Brown. He went from a run-heavy offense with the Ravens to a pass-first attack with the Chiefs, and while there were some hiccups he held up very well as Patrick Mahomes‘ blindside protector while continuing to dominate as a run blocker (No. 2 in ESPN’s RBWR). Expect Kansas City to reward him with a deal that puts him among the top-paid tackles in football.
77: Chargers OLB Khalil Mack
Los Angeles’ big blockbuster addition this offseason, Mack theoretically gives the Chargers another big-time edge rusher across from Joey Bosa that makes it tough for offenses to scheme protections. However, they got Mack for only a second-round pick in part due to questions about how effective the 31-year-old still is. Mack had six sacks in seven games last season but a foot injury ended his season, one of a slew of injuries he’s labored through recently. The last time he recorded double-digit sacks was his first year with the Bears in 2018. He still represents an upgrade for the Chargers even if his name brand is bigger than his on-field impact right now, though.
76: Jets DT Quinnen Williams
Still only just 24 as he enters his fourth season, Williams is one of the league’s budding young defensive tackles. He has 13 sacks over the past two seasons which is a strong number for an interior pass rusher. He also was No. 4 in ESPN’s pass rush win rate for the position. He’s a good player already and there’s plenty of room to grow into a great one.
75: Saints LB Demario Davis
Davis has aged like a fine wine, which is unusual given the pounding NFL linebackers take. He joined the Saints in 2018 as a 29-year-old which is supposed to be when most players start declining. Davis has instead become one of the best linebackers in the league and certainly the most underrated one. In the past four seasons, he has double-digit TFLs every year and 16 total sacks. He only has one interception and two forced fumbles, but he’s still around the ball with an average of seven pass deflections a season — fourth among all linebackers in that timespan.
74: Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence
It’s been a struggle for Lawrence since signing his big deal, as he’s been hampered by injuries and only has 14.5 sacks in the past three seasons combined. Not exactly what Dallas thought it was getting when it gave him $21 million a year. However, Lawrence has continued to grade out highly per Pro Football Focus, partially from his contributions in run defense and partially because he’s still been generating disruption even if he hasn’t finished off as many sacks. He’s also been double-teamed at a higher rate in recent seasons, which is why Dallas made it a point to keep him this offseason even if it took committing to two more seasons.
73: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
When a back is the heart and soul of an entire offense like Taylor was for the Colts last season, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. He piled up a remarkable 1,811 yards on the ground and his 360 yards through the air helped him top 2,000 yards from scrimmage. He scored 20 of the team’s 49 offensive touchdowns. With size, speed and vision, he’s got everything needed to keep this up for another few years.
— Cody Manning (@CodyTalksNFL) October 12, 2021
72: Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson
Cincinnati signed Hendrickson in free agency last season in a move that was seen as a bit of a gamble. Hendrickson was coming off a career-high 13.5 sack season that more than doubled his previous career total, and some of his underlying pressure rate metrics pointed to it being perhaps unsustainable. Instead, the Bengals won the bet big time as Hendrickson finished the 2021 season with 14 sacks, helping spearhead a Super Bowl defense. There aren’t any questions about him getting lucky this year, especially considering his pass rush win rate was No. 9 among all edge defenders per ESPN.
71: Eagles LT Jordan Mailata
Mailata’s journey to the NFL has been remarkable as a former rugby player who caught the eyes of the NFL via the International Pathway Program. The Eagles used a seventh-round pick on him and have reaped a massive reward, as he’s developed into one of the better offensive tackles in football. The 6-8, 346-pound Mailata uses his size and mobility to great effect. He finished No. 4 in ESPN’s run block win rate and was Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 overall tackle. The scariest thing might be that the 25-year-old is still developing.
Jordan Mailata is a is a bad, bad man pic.twitter.com/hiz7YgBbvM
— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) June 14, 2022