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!
90: Raiders LT Kolton Miller
Miller has grown into an outstanding player for the Raiders after a rough first season or so. The pterodactyl-esque, 6-8 veteran was PFF’s No. 5 overall tackle and was No. 6 in ESPN’s pass block win rate. He’ll be tested even more in 2022 given the pass rushers the AFC West has added this offseason.
89: Lions C Frank Ragnow
Had a turf toe injury not ended his season prematurely, Ragnow was on pace to finish as PFF’s No. 2 center. This is after finishing third in 2020 and sixth in 2019. He’s right at the heart of an offensive line that could be a top-10 unit in 2022 and be the engine if Detroit exceeds expectations.
88: Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II
Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to transition from college to the pros, but Surtain made it look about as easy as possible in a stellar rookie season. He finished the year with four picks and 14 pass deflections and allowed a passer rating of just 69.7 — 12th-lowest in the NFL among players with at least 170 snaps in coverage. There’s still room for improvement but Surtain has already set the bar very very high.
On the cutting room floor of the Diggs article were a lot of beautiful clips of elite man coverage.
Patrick Surtain II is a freak, man. Stepped in the door as a top 10 CB in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/JPnXia2UtI
— Diante Lee (7-on-7 despiser) (@DianteLeeFB) January 7, 2022
87: Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb
Lamb took a step forward in his second season and topped 1,100 yards after just barely missing the 1,000-yard plateau as a rookie. He’ll be counted on even more in 2022 as Dallas’ clear No. 1 receiver and could be in line for a huge season. Playing receiver is hard, but Lamb has about as good a grasp of the fundamentals of the position as any young receiver in the league right now.
86: Commanders WR Terry McLaurin
Through his first three seasons, McLaurin has 3,090 receiving yards which is good for No. 23 for all receivers in NFL history through their first three years. Here’s the list of quarterbacks who have been throwing him the ball: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke and Garrett Gilbert. Not many of the 22 players ahead of him have had it worse.
85: Falcons CB AJ Terrell
It went under the radar because the Falcons were such a meh team in 2021, but Terrell might have been the best corner in football last season. He allowed a passer rating of just 47.5, second-lowest among qualifying players per PFF. The scouting service also credited the second-year pro with 29 receptions allowed on 66 targets for a league-low catch percentage of 43.9 percent. He fared well in the world of normal stats too with three picks and 16 pass deflections. Terrell was snubbed for a Pro Bowl nod but if he keeps this level of play up, that shouldn’t happen again.
84: Chargers CB J.C. Jackson
Jackson’s best trait is his ball skills. That’s huge in a league where the interception rate has declined for decades as the game evolves to continue to favor the passing attack. The NFL isn’t designed for defensive backs to get the football, yet Jackson has a staggering 22 interceptions and 47 pass deflections in the past three seasons. The next closest player is Dolphins CB Xavien Howard with 16 picks.
83: Falcons TE Kyle Pitts
Pitts made a real run at Mike Ditka‘s rookie tight end records, ultimately falling 50 yards short of him in receiving yards while playing three additional games. It just goes to show how Ditka’s 56/1,076/12 line over 14 games in 1961 might be one of those records that’s never broken. That shouldn’t take the shine off of Pitts’ 68 receptions and 1,026 yards as a rookie, though. He inexplicably was held to just one receiving touchdown but for a player who looked uncoverable for most of his rookie season, don’t expect that to last.
Daily Kyle Pitts content for Falcons fans pic.twitter.com/8It2NPogn7
— PittsSZN (@SznPltts) June 14, 2022
82: Packers DT Kenny Clark
Despite entering the league in 2016, Clark is still only 26 years old. Although not the flashiest player, he notched back-to-back six-sack seasons in 2018 and 2019 and has graded inside the top 25 at his position by PFF all six seasons of his career. Not well-known outside of Green Bay, Clark is a cult favorite with the Packers fanbase. If Green Bay’s defense ends up being as good as some of the pundits think it could be this season, Clark will get his flowers as one of the best players on that side of the ball.
81: Titans RB Derrick Henry
Do running backs matter? The analytics community has answered this question pretty unequivocally, at least if phrased as “do running backs matter less than other positions.” NFL teams agree too if you compare RB salary scales to other positions. But at the end of the day, football is a physical game. When it’s the fourth quarter or a December game, you can’t say having to tackle a guy like Henry who more closely resembles a war horse than a human being doesn’t matter.