NFL Top 100 Players of 2022

The talent level in the NFL is at an all-time high. Players are stronger, faster, and more skilled than they’ve ever been before, and yet Tom Brady is somehow still dominating the league at 45 years old. He narrowly missed out on the top spot in my top 100, as you’ll see momentarily, but he remains among the top players in the league. This list was put together using a combination of recent player performance and projections for the upcoming season. Feel free to give me a shout on Twitter if/when you disagree with your favorite player’s ranking. Let’s dive in.

*Note: the following players were left off the list primarily due to significant recent missed time, current injury concerns, or both: David Bakhtiari, Ryan Jensen, Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin, Danielle Hunter, Chase Young, Michael Thomas, Christian McCaffrey

#100: S Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals

Jessie Bates is in the midst of a messy contract situation, but his versatile play was a driving force in the Bengals’ run to the Super Bowl – he was the team’s highest-graded player in the postseason per Pro Football Focus (PFF). He admitted the contract situation bothered him during the regular season last year, and hopefully, that won’t be a hindrance moving forward.

#99: CB Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

Darius Slay has been one of the most consistent cornerbacks in football over the past several seasons. He only gave up 50+ yards in coverage three times all of last season despite always facing the opponent’s best receiver. With James Bradberry joining the team, the Eagles have one of the better cornerback tandems in football.

#98: DL Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead is one of the best all-around interior defensive linemen in football, and he was one of just eight defensive linemen to rank top-13 in both run stops, and quarterback hurries in 2021 per PFF. With the departure of D.J. Jones upfront, Armstead will have more to do in run defense this year.

#97: ED Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers

Brian Burns is emerging as one of the best young pass-rushers in the NFL, and while he has yet to hit double-digit sacks in a season, he made the Pro Bowl for the first time last year in his second-straight nine-sack season. Burns is quietly becoming a strong leader for an up-and-coming Carolina defense.

#96: S Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills

Jordan Poyer is crucial to everything the Bills do on defense, and his 15.1 passer rating allowed was the lowest by any safety by a massive margin. On 574 coverage snaps, PFF logged him with just 13 catches for 61 yards and no touchdowns allowed. Poyer and Micah Hyde make up the best safety tandem in football.

#95: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts is a special talent at tight end with an absurd 4.4 40-yard speed in a 6’6”, 246-pound frame, and he made the Pro Bowl last year as just the second rookie tight end in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards. Pitts has perhaps the highest upside to rise up this list this year, and while his quarterback situation isn’t ideal, he should have a monstrous season in store.

#94: DL Jeffrey Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Jeffery Simmons is one of the best interior defensive linemen at disrupting the quarterback. His brilliant three-sack performance against Joe Burrow and the Bengals in the playoffs highlighted that ability. Per PFF, Simmons had a career-high 62 pressures last year, which resulted in his eleven sacks.

#93: ED Chandler Jones, Las Vegas Raiders

Chandler Jones’s run defense has been on a steady decline, but he still came up with 11 sacks last year, which was his sixth double-digit sack season out of his last seven. Jones has plenty left in the tank and should have another ten-sack season across from Maxx Crosby, the best pass-rusher he’s ever played with.

#92: CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

Denzel Ward got a massive contract over the offseason, and it was well deserved as the former fourth overall pick in 2018 is one of the best rising talents at the cornerback position in the NFL. Ward has allowed over 100 yards just once in his four-year career despite facing the opponent’s best receiver every week.

#91: TE Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

After a rough 2021 plagued by injuries, the former Pro Bowler is looking to bounce back. Waller is just two years removed from two straight 1,100-yard seasons, and he’s a unique pass-catching weapon at tight end with his ability to make plays from all over the field.

#90: ED Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears

Robert Quinn’s 18.5-sack season in 2021 came as a major surprise as he had only surpassed double digits once since 2014 when his Rams were still in St. Louis. However, his second career All-Pro nod was well deserved as he produced at an elite level despite running mate Khalil Mack playing in just seven games.

#89: RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

Dalvin Cook had a down year in 2021 by his standards, but he still made his third straight Pro Bowl. Cook has 3,851 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns since 2019, both the second-most over that span. He should benefit greatly from an improved offense as the result of the new head coaching hire of Kevin O’Connell.

#88: QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

I was tempted to rank Kyler Murray higher, but the two-time Pro Bowler has just one playoff appearance, and he was dreadful in the loss to the Rams last year. However, Murray is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in football, and his deep-ball passing is unmatched – he completed 49.3% of his attempts 20+ yards downfield per PFF, the best mark in the league. He had a 54.9% adjusted completion rate, the best among passers with 30+ such attempts.

#87: LB Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints

All Demario Davis has done over the past three years is lead one of the best defenses in football, make three straight All-Pro rosters, and rack up 246 tackles, the sixth-most in the NFL over that span. Davis has no weaknesses in his game, but he benefits from being surrounded by an elite defensive line and secondary talent – he likely wouldn’t be as highly regarded on a different roster.

#86: OG Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns

With the benefit of hindsight, the Bills likely wish they could have a second chance after trading away their former fifth-round pick. Since arriving in Cleveland, Wyat Teller has made two All-Pro teams and ranked as a top-five guard in the NFL per PFF each of the last two years. Still just 27 years old, Teller is entrenched as one of the top interior offensive linemen in football.

#85: WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

The raw numbers are modest for Lamb – barely 2,000 yards and eleven touchdowns in two years certainly isn’t approaching Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase territory. However, Lamb should be set for a massive third-year breakout as Dak Prescott’s top weapon. With Amari Cooper now in Cleveland, Lamb could approach 150 targets and 10+ touchdowns this season if all goes according to plan.

#84: OT Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

Rashawn Slater turned 23 years old just a few months ago, and he’s already made the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro Second Team. His rookie season wasn’t perfect, but he only allowed four sacks all year, and they came against Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, and Cincinnati’s Trey Hendrickson (more on all of them later). Slater has an incredibly bright future ahead of him and is one of the truly elite young building blocks at the tackle position.

#83: LB De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers

Not even the Packers were expecting an All-Pro season from De’Vondre Campbell when they signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract ahead of the 2021 season. He was on his third team in as many years and had struggled in his two prior stops. However, Campbell ranked second among all linebackers in Wins Above Replacement in 2021 per Sports Info Solutions, and he parlayed his tremendous year into a new five-year, $50 million contract.

#82: DL Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After playing just 17 games through his first three seasons, Vea finally got on the field for most of last season and came through with the type of performance we knew was possible from the 6’4”, 347-pound defensive tackle who is one of the strongest players in the NFL. Vea’s 14.3% pass-rush win rate in 2021 was the tenth-best among interior defensive linemen (min. 400 pass-rush snaps), and most of the players ahead of them were three-techniques, not true nose tackles. Vea is a throwback player who should continue to bully opposing offensive linemen.

#81: CB Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills

While he works his way back from a late-season ACL injury, the Bills will miss Tre’Davious White’s defensive leadership and elite coverage. White ranked sixth among cornerbacks with a 61.4 passer rating allowed and tenth with a 53.4% completion rate (min. 400 coverage snaps). The Bills clearly missed the three-time All-Pro corner in the postseason as they had no answers for Kansas City’s passing attack, and his return will be pivotal for Buffalo’s Super Bowl aspirations.

#80: S Marcus Williams, Baltimore Ravens

When the Ravens signed Marcus Williams to a five-year, $70 million contract, they secured one of the best single-high free safeties of the last half-decade. Williams has been graded as a top-seven safety by PFF in all but one year since entering the NFL in 2017. He allowed just a 54.2 passer rating in coverage last year, the second-lowest among safeties (min. 600 coverage snaps). Williams fundamentally changes the way the Ravens can organize their defense.

#79: ED Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers

Khalil Mack only got on the field for seven games last year as he was hampered by a foot injury all year. Despite the injury, Mack had six sacks in those seven games and is only two years removed from his fifth All-Pro nod. The move to the Chargers should rejuvenate Mack as he plays across from Joey Bosa, a fellow elite edge rusher who is featured on this list. He likely won’t return to the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, but don’t write him off just yet.

#78: WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins’ season got off to a slow start with just 446 yards and two touchdowns through his first eight games as he dealt with a shoulder injury. However, over his final ten games (including playoffs), Higgins had 954 yards and six touchdowns as he was a massive catalyst in the AFC Championship run. Higgins ended the year with 42 yards per reception on deep passes, the third-best rate in the league, and is even closer to Ja’Marr Chase than these rankings reflect.

#77: CB Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Patrick Surtain II went through the typical ups and downs you’d expect from a rookie cornerback, but there were some shining moments. He allowed a 26.0 passer rating in coverage to Justin Herbert, 9.7 to Patrick Mahomes, and just 21 yards against Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ elite wideouts. In a division with three elite offenses, Surtain is a pivotal part of the Broncos’ ability to compete for the AFC West title.

#76: OT Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ experiment with former rugby player Jordan Mailata has paid dividends as they have molded the former seventh-round pick into one of the best offensive tackles in football. PFF ranked Mailata’s four-year, $64 million contract as the best in the NFL, and it’s easy to see why given the current market for a tackle of his caliber.

#75: OG Michael Onwenu, New England Patriots

Michael Onwenu has quietly become one of the best offensive guards in football, and his ascension contributed to New England’s decision to trade away Shaq Mason this offseason. Onwnenu allowed just 11 pressures last year, the fewest of all guards with 600+ snaps, and ranked sixth in PFF’s run-blocking grade among all offensive linemen while getting snaps at guard and right tackle. His versatility is unique, and he can play multiple positions at an elite level.

#74: WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

Perennially underrated among NFL wide receivers, Keenan Allen gained separation at a 67% rate, the second-highest in the NFL last year (min. 70 routes). Allen’s route running is teach tape for young wideouts, and he’s the only receiver in the NFL with 100+ receptions in each of the last three years. Check out the top-five lists for other top-tier receivers in the league to understand how respected Allen is among his peers – Ja’Marr Chase ranked him #2 in the NFL.

#73: CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

Marshon Lattimore’s instincts, speed, and intelligence make him a constant playmaker, and he led the NFL with 18 pass breakups last year. There is a boom-or-bust nature to Lattimore’s game as he has allowed 671.6 yards per season in coverage since entering the NFL, but he’s a menace on the field who covers ground in the blink of an eye.

#72: OT Terron Armstead, Miami Dolphins

While health has been a constant concern for Terron Armstead, he’s one of the best pass-blockers in the league when he’s on the field – he has graded top-five on PFF in that respect among offensive tackles in each season since 2018. Armstead is an absurd athlete who has developed elite technique over time, and he should be a transformative addition to Miami’s pass protection, health permitting.

#71: ED Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals

When the Bengals gave Trey Hendrickson a big contract last offseason, there were concerns about how his production would translate away from the Saints’ elite defense. Those concerns were squashed as he now has 30 sacks over the last two years and ranked fourth in the NFL with 75 total pressures in 2021. Hendrickson’s seven pressures and two sacks in the AFC Championship helped propel his team to the Super Bowl.

#70: C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

As a 22-year-old rookie, Creed Humphrey was PFF’s highest-graded center and tied for the fourth-highest-graded offensive lineman overall. Humphrey played over 800 pass-blocking snaps and allowed just 10 pressures all year – that’s fewer than one pressure allowed per game. The NFL made a mistake letting him fall to the second round, and he’s arguably the best offensive lineman under 25 years old in the NFL.

#69: S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers

Minkah Fitzpatrick had a brutal 2021 season as his PFF grade ranked outside the top 100 players at his position. However, last season was a blip on the radar as he had been working on a streak of four straight First-Team All-Pro seasons before 2021. The Steelers’ awful linebacker corps did Fitzpatrick no favors, and improvement from that unit would go a long way toward allowing Fitzpatrick to get back on track.

#68: QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

I fully anticipate some backlash here – nay, I embrace it. That’s the purpose of a list like this. Burrow was incredibly accurate last year – his 70.4% completion rate led the NFL – and he had the highest PFF grade of any passer. However, he raked 12th in QBR, 10th in EPA, and 15th in adjusted completion percentage on deep balls. His short-to-intermediate accuracy is due for some regression, and while he’s a rising star in the league, he’s a notch below some other passers for the time being.

#67: OT Jack Conklin, Cleveland Browns

Last season was rough for Jack Conklin as he missed ten games, but he was a First-Team All-Pro as recently as 2020, the second such nomination of his career. Conklin allowed just 15 pressures in 2020, the third-fewest of all offensive tackles with 900+ snaps. His best run-blocking season came last year as he ranked seventh in PFF’s grades in his limited time.

#66: ED Von Miller, Buffalo Bills

One of the legendary playoff performers of all time, Von Miller did it again in 2021 as he came through with 22 pressures and four sacks in the playoffs in the Rams’ Super Bowl run. Miller’s playoff pass-rush grade from PFF would have ranked behind only Myles Garrett in the regular season. However, Miller ranked just 29th in that respect during the regular season, and his 60 pressures ranked just 15th. Luckily for him, the Bills gave him that hefty contract for what he can do in January and February, and he could be the missing piece that puts them over the top.

#65: WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles traded a boatload of capital for A.J. Brown, and it was likely worth every penny. Brown’s efficiency is elite – he has just under 3,000 yards over his three NFL seasons despite missing six games and playing in one of the most run-heavy offenses in football. Brown was one of four receivers with at least 250 routes to eclipse 2.5 yards per route run against both man and zone coverage in 2021, and he’s in elite company in such metrics.

#64: OG Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

Joel Bitonio is the NFL’s iron man – he’s played in every game for five straight years and has made four straight All-Pro rosters, last year breaking through with a First-Team nod for the first time. Bitonio has been a top-ten guard in the NFL by PFF grading every year since 2017, and he ranked second last year while even picking up 123 snaps at left tackle. He’s likely a future Hall of Famer.

#63: DL Jonathan Allen, Washington Commanders

Consistently underrated among NFL defensive linemen, Jonathan Allen has been a high-level run defender for years and has progressed significantly as a pass-rusher. In 2021, Allen was second behind only Aaron Donald among interior linemen with 64 pressures and finally earned his first Pro Bowl nod. Still just 27 years old, Allen has missed just one game over the last four years and is only scratching the surface of his ability.

#62: LB Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams

A future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Bobby Wagner has had a brilliant career as an eight-time Pro Bowler, eight-time All-Pro linebacker, and Super Bowl champion. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Bobby Wagner has the most tackles in the league, and he has a great chance to land somewhere in the top-ten all-time in that respect. Wagner may have lost a step, but he’ll be rejuvenated playing next to the most talent he has since that Super Bowl season.

#61: QB Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Speaking of that Super Bowl season, Russell Wilson checks in one spot ahead of his former teammate. Wilson’s injured finger held him back last year, but it was the first time in his career that he has missed games. In 2020, his last fully healthy season, Wilson ranked fourth in EPA, sixth in completion percentage, and tied for second in touchdowns. With a much-needed change of scenery and a coach willing to open up the offense, Wilson should have a massive season.

#60: S Micah Hyde, Buffalo Bills

In 2021, Micah Hyde made the second All-Pro team of his career as he ranked third in coverage grades among safeties, behind only Kevin Byard and Jordan Poyer. The Bills ranked first in the NFL in pass defense DVOA last year, and their ability to rely on Hyde and Poyer in tons of Cover 2 schemes is a huge reason why especially as they held down the fort following Tre’Davious White’s torn ACL.

#59: OT Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

With four All-Pros and eight Pro Bowls before turning 32, Tyron Smith has been one of the best offensive linemen of the last decade. Unfortunately, injuries have been a significant part of the equation, as Smith has missed 20 games over the past two years. Still, Smith ranked second in PFF’s pass-blocking grades among offensive tackles in 2021 as he allowed just 11 pressures in 11 games. If he’s healthy, there may not be a better pass protector in the NFL.

#58: LB Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears

I had a difficult time with Roquan Smith as the PFF grades are not kind to him, but he has played every game over the last two years and has two straight All-Pro nods. The last player to match his 300+ tackles and 30+ tackles for loss over the past two years was Ray Lewis in 1999-2000. Smith is simply a magnet to the football and will continue to be a top-end linebacker, whether it’s in Chicago or somewhere else.

#57: K Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals found a gem in Evan McPherson. He was solid in the regular season as a rookie with 28 made field goals on 33 attempts, but he brought it up a notch in the postseason as his 14 made field goals Adam Vinatieri for the most in a single postseason run. Justin Tucker is often considered the best kicker of all time, and he has 14 made field goals in five total playoff seasons. McPherson made five game-winning field goals for Cincinnati last year, and he’s a rising star at a supremely underrated position.

#56: ED Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers

A former first-round pick in 2019, Rashan Gary has evolved into one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL as his 21.8% pass-rush win rate since 2020 ranks only behind Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt. His 81 total pressures ranked second in the NFL last year behind only Maxx Crosby, but he only converted those to ten sacks. He’s due for some positive regression in that regard, and don’t be shocked if he’s in the All-Pro conversation this year.

#55: C Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers

A back-to-back All-Pro center, Corey Linsley helped the Chargers jump from the fourth-worst run-blocking offensive line in 2020 to the tenth-best in 2021 per Football Outsiders. Linsley is also an elite pass-protector – he led all centers in PFF’s pass-blocking grades in 2021 and allowed just ten pressures and no sacks all season.

#54: OT Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

Last season was Ryan Ramczyk’s first since his rookie year that he wasn’t named to the All-Pro team, and it’s only because he missed seven games. Durability has been a strong suit, however, as it was the first year of his career that he didn’t clear 1,100 snaps. Ramczyk leads all offensive tackles in PFF’s WAR metric since entering the league in 2017, and he’s elite in both the run and pass games.

#53: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

If you’re curious about DeAndre Hopkins’s importance to the Cardinals’ offense, look no further than their record in his games played. In 2021, Arizona was 8-2 in his starts and 3-5 otherwise. Hopkins had missed just two games in his prior seven seasons, so durability has been a strong suit. While he’s now 30 years old and suspended for the first six games of 2022, Hopkins is a five-time All-Pro wideout who means everything to his team.

#52: ED Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Cameron Jordan became the eleventh player in NFL history last year to have 7+ sacks in ten straight seasons, and he has seven Pro Bowl nods in the last nine seasons. Jordan is still just 32 years old, and while he’s not likely to return to All-Pro caliber play, Jordan’s consistency against the run and pass makes him an incredibly valuable member of the elite Saints defense.

#51: C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

While retirement is likely in the cards after this season, Jason Kelce has been an iron man as he hasn’t missed a game since 2014. Kelce has four First-Team All-Pro nods over that span, including in 2021 at age 34. We should expect some decline in production for a player who will turn 35 during the upcoming season, but his play last year was some of his best as he earned the second-highest PFF run-blocking grade of his career.

#50: QB Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

The regular season was uneven for Matthew Stafford, particularly as his 17 interceptions tied for the most in the NFL, but his playoff run was the stuff of legend as he led the Rams on a game-winning scoring drive in each of their last three playoff games. Stafford ranked third in EPA in 2021, and he finally broke through with a Super Bowl win in his first season away from Detroit. With Sean McVay and Cooper Kupp by his side for the foreseeable future, Stafford is working on a Hall of Fame resume.

#49: S Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans

Kevin Byard is now a two-time All-Pro player who has never missed a game in his career, and he was PFF’s highest-graded safety in 2021. As the leader of the Titans’ defense, Byard is elite in both coverage and run defense. With his incredible instincts and vision, Byard is always in the right place to make a play on the ball.

#48: WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans has been in the NFL for eight years now, and he has never finished with less than 1,000 yards in a season. The contested-catch production is tremendous – he led the NFL with an 83.3% catch rate in contested situations in 2021 – but his route-running is underrated as he created separation at the highest rate in the NFL against man coverage last year. Evans is a future Hall of Famer.

#47: DL DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts traded a first-round pick for DeForest Buckner ahead of the 2020 season, and he has since made an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl. Buckner has headlined a Colts defense that has ranked top-ten in DVOA in the past two years after ranking 19th in 2019, the year before he arrived. Buckner is one of the best interior pass-rushers in the NFL, and he’s a tremendous run defender to boot.

#46: CB J.C. Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

J.C. Jackson has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in recent years, culminating with his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods in 2021 along with a massive contract from the Chargers this offseason. Jackson allowed just a 47.8 passer rating in coverage last year, the second-lowest of corners with 500+ coverage snaps, and his 17 interceptions over the last two years lead the league.

#45: OT Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers

Versatility is rare on the offensive line, and the kind that Elgton Jenkins has doesn’t come along every day – he has over 1,600 snaps at left guard in his career and last year took over at left tackle in place of the injured David Bakhtiari. He even took 297 snaps at the center in 2020. A Pro Bowler in 2020, Jenkins likely would have gone back-to-back if not for his torn ACL.

#44: LB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The leader of the elite Buccaneers’ defense, Lavonte David is a future Hall of Famer. David has 1,222 tackles since 2012, the second-most in the NFL over that span, and he has a knack for forcing fumbles. His 26 forced fumbles and 17 recoveries are the most in that span by far – the second-most are 16 and 7, respectively.

#43: S Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers handed Derwin James a four-year, $76 million contract last week, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. James has only played in 36 of a possible 65 games since entering the league, but he transforms the Chargers’ defense when he’s on the field with his ability to play every position. His impact supersedes any traditional role, and head coach Brandon Staley called him the “heartbeat of [the] defense.”

#42: RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry ran for over 3,500 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019 and 2020, and in 2021 his production was pacing to be at career-high levels with 937 yards and ten touchdowns through eight games before his foot injury. Henry faces the most stacked boxes in the NFL, and his 4,537 rushing yards against stacked boxes since 2018 are over 900 more than any other player.

#41: TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

The lifeblood of the Raven’s receiving game, Mark Andrews came through with a career-high and franchise-record 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 despite Lamar Jackson missing a handful of games. Despite Baltimore’s injuries in the running back room and along the offensive line, the offense stayed afloat largely due to Andrews’s contributions on his way to his first career All-Pro season.

#40: DL Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

Chris Jones had a dominant 2021 season with 65 total pressures, third-most among interior defensive linemen, as he made his third All-Pro team in the last four years. As a three-technique, one-gapping tackle, Jones has never made the same impact in run defense as some of his peers, but his pass-rushing is borderline unmatched at the position.

#39: RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb’s 46 runs of 20+ yards since 2018 rank as the most in the NFL – the next-closest player has 34. Of course, Chubb benefits from playing behind an elite offensive line that features three players on this list, but he has ranked no worse than third in the league in yards after contact per attempt over the last four seasons.

#38: WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

Last year was historic for Deebo Samuel as he became the third player in NFL history with over 1,000 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns, and five rushing touchdowns in a single season, and he did it in just 11 games. A First-Team All-Pro wideout, Samuel led the NFL in yards per catch despite ranking just 87th in average depth of target, and his 4.7 rushing yards after contact per attempt led all running backs with at least 20 carries.

#37: S Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos

Justin Simmons hasn’t missed a start for the Broncos since 2017, and he has become the heartbeat of the Broncos’ high-level defense. In a recent ESPN poll of executives, coaches, and players, Simmons was rated as the best safety in the NFL. Simmons can handle anything asked of him, and his ball production is elite – he tied for the league lead among safeties with five interceptions and ranked second with 12 passes defended.

#36: OG Joe Thuney, Kansas City Chiefs

Since being drafted in 2016, Joe Thuney hasn’t missed a game for the Patriots or Chiefs. Last year, he broke his hand in Week 5, and proceeded to face Jonathan Allen and Jeffrey Simmons, two players featured on this list, in back-to-back weeks. He didn’t allow a sack over that two games, and he only allowed one all year per PFF. There arguably isn’t a better pass-protecting interior offensive lineman in the NFL.

#35: DL Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

Cameron Heyward spent most of last season as the highest-graded defender in the NFL on PFF, and he ended the year with a third-straight All-Pro nomination. Heyward joins Aaron Donald as the only interior linemen with 60+ pressures in each of the last three seasons, and he has 33 sacks over that span. He’s also a tremendous run defender, and his 3.7% missed tackle rate ranked as the second-lowest among all interior linemen with 300+ run defense snaps last year per PFF.

#34: LB Shaquille Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

Now known as Shaquille Leonard rather than Darius, the Colts’ star linebacker is in elite company as he’s one of three linebackers with an 80+ pass-rushing, run defense, and coverage grade since entering the league in 2018 per PFF. He’s also come up with seven interceptions, tied for the most at the position since 2018. An All-Pro player every year since his rookie season, Leonard has helped redefine linebacker play in the modern NFL.

#33: S Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antoine Winfield Jr. was one of my favorite prospects coming out of the 2020 NFL Draft, and it’s been exhilarating to watch him evolve into an elite player. Winfield is a heavy-hitting downfield tackler with big-time playmaking ability, but his coverage progressed significantly last year as he was PFF’s fifth-highest-graded player in coverage at the position. Despite not having elite length, Winfield makes up for it with quick-trigger instincts and speed.

#32: QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

The most dynamic offensive weapon in football, Lamar Jackson still deserves praise despite coming off a down season. The odds were stacked against Jackson last year with injuries and an underdeveloped wide receiver room, and he still had them as the one-seed in the AFC entering December. Already the first quarterback in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards in multiple seasons, Jackson should return to MVP-caliber play in 2022.

#31: CB Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

Xavien Howard is consistently asked to play press coverage against the opponent’s top receiver, and he’s excellent at it. Since the Dolphins transitioned to more man-heavy concepts in 2020, he has led the league in PFF’s press-man coverage grade by a significant margin. Howard has 17 combined interceptions and forced incompletions in man coverage over that span, the same number of total touchdowns and first downs allowed.

#30: QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

I toyed with putting Justin Herbert even higher on this list, and he likely will be next year after what I anticipate will be a playoff season and MVP push. Herbert has the most passing yards (9,350) and touchdowns (77) through the first two seasons of any passer in NFL history, and he ranked first in the NFL in EPA last season. He also took care of the ball at an elite level with just a 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate per PFF, the lowest in the league, while ranking first in the league on completion percentage of passes 20+ yards downfield.

#29: RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor had a massively productive season as he led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on his way to an All-Pro nod. Taylor’s breakaway running was incredibly impressive as his 50 carries of 10+ yards were the most since Adrian Peterson in 2012. Taylor was also responsible for three of the five fastest speeds recorded last season per Next Gen Stats. Despite the Colts working through offensive line injuries and Carson Wentz’s poor quarterback play, Taylor came through and led all running backs in PFF grade.

#28: ED Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Maxx Crosby is a brilliant example of why I look to PFF’s pass-rush win rate and pressures accumulated rather than total sacks to approximate edge production. Crosby had just ten sacks, tied with a handful of players for the 17th-most in the NFL, but his 101 pressures far outpaced all other players – the next-closest player had 81. Crosby’s 26.8% pass-rush win rate also led the NFL, and it’s the best in an NFL season since PFF began tracking pass-rush data in 2005.

#27: OT Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When the Buccaneers drafted Tristan Wirfs in the first round in 2020, they immediately made him a starting tackle, and he has produced at an elite level since. He has only allowed three sacks on almost 1,500 pass-blocking snaps per PFF, and he’s only getting better. Wirfs was ranked as the second-best tackle in the NFL in ESPN’s recent poll of execs, coaches, and players, and his pristine pass-blocking mechanics will lead to a long and successful career.

#26: WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Last season was a down year by Stefon Diggs’s standards, but he still finished with 100+ catches for the third time in four years and over 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season. Diggs somehow only has one career All-Pro nod and two Pro Bowls, but he’s highly respected around the league as he ranked sixth in ESPN’s recent poll of execs, coaches, and players. Nothing is keeping Diggs from returning to his 2020 production levels when he had 127 catches for 1,535 yards, both of which led the league.

#25: LB Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

Fred Warner’s 2021 wasn’t quite as elite as his 2020 season, and he failed to make the All-Pro team, but he’s the standard for linebacker play in the NFL. The best game of Warner’s career came in this year’s playoff win over the Packers, six days after he sprained his ankle, as he held Aaron Rodgers to one completion for no yards in 35 coverage snaps, made three run stops, and forced a fumble on his way to his career-best PFF grade.

#24: QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Last season was a down year for Patrick Mahomes as defenses seemed to figure out how to beat him with an abundance of Cover 2 defense. His 7.6-yard aDOT was the lowest of his career by a solid margin, and he threw a career-high 13 interceptions on his way to a career-low 98.5 passer rating. Mahomes still threw the lowest rate of uncatchable passes in the league per PFF, but we’re about to learn a lot about him as a passer as he moves on this year without Tyreek Hill, one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in football.

#23: CB A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons

Despite the Falcons having virtually no pass rush, A.J. Terrell was unbeatable in 2021 as he allowed a 47.5 passer rating in coverage, the lowest of all corners with 500+ coverage snaps. Terrell allowed just 29 receptions for 200 yards all season on a 43.9% completion rate, and the most yards he allowed in a single game was 32. His passer rating allowed in zone was 7.7, the best of any defensive back by a big margin.

#22: K Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

When Justin Tucker hit a record-setting 66-yard game-winning field goal against the Lions last year, he cemented what we already knew about the kicker – he’s the best at his craft that we’ve ever seen. Tucker is first all-time in field goal percentage at 91.1% – only two other players even clear 90%. In just ten seasons, he already ranks 27th in all-time makes, and he’ll easily break into the top 20 this year. He’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

#21: TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle hasn’t cleared 1,000 yards in a season since 2019, his last All-Pro appearance, as injuries have been an issue – he’s missed a combined 11 games over the last two years. However, Kittle has been ranked as the best tight end in football by PFF in three of the last four seasons. His elite blocking sets him apart, but Kittle also led all tight ends in yards per route run last year (min. 30 targets).

#20: ED Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

I was surprised to learn that Joey Bosa has never made an All-Pro team, although he has made four Pro Bowls. The numbers don’t fully justify how skilled and dynamic a pass-rusher he is, as he has a 15.9% pressure percentage over the last four seasons, the highest rate in the NFL. On third and fourth downs over the last four seasons, he has a 22.6% pressure percentage – no other player cracks 20%. This could finally be the year he breaks through with an All-Pro nod across from Khalil Mack.

#19: CB Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams

One of the heroes of the Rams’ Super Bowl win, Jalen Ramsey made his second-straight All-Pro appearance with the team last year. Ramsey was graded as the best cornerback in football per PFF as he had more interceptions (4) than touchdowns allowed (3). Ramsey played a career-high 325 snaps out of the slot in 2021, and he allowed the second-lowest passer rating in the NFL out of the slot (min. 200 coverage snaps). PFF has tracked Ramsey with 1.37 Wins Above Replacement in his two full seasons with the Rams – no other cornerback has surpassed the 1.0 WAR mark.

#18: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

After a historic career at LSU, it didn’t take long for Ja’Marr Chase to make his mark on the NFL as he broke the NFL rookie record with 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Chase was elite across the board with the sixth-highest passer rating when targeted, but it was his deep-ball production that was most impressive. On passes 20+ yards downfield, Chase had a league-leading eight touchdowns and 141 yards after the catch. The combination of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase should be elite for years to come.

#17: WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson already has 196 catches for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns through his two NFL seasons, the most through the first two years of any receiver’s career of all time. Now, he will benefit from new head coach Kevin O’Connell’s pass-heavy offense that helped Cooper Kupp win the triple crown. Jefferson joins Davante Adams as the only two receivers to rank in the top five for yards per route run over the last two seasons. Ja’Marr Chase may have broken his rookie record for yardage, but Jefferson is a slightly better player in my eyes.

#16: TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

With Tyreek Hill on his way to Miami, Travis Kelce loses his top running mate as he turns 33 years old during the upcoming season. However, it doesn’t look like he’s close to slowing down as Kelce is coming off his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. Kelce has six straight All-Pro nods over that span, and he’s been arguably the most consistent skill position player in football over the last half-decade. Kelce is a future Hall of Famer, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him start to slow down this year, despite the Chiefs needing him more than ever.

#15: WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Cooper Kupp had 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season last year, but he wasn’t finished. His postseason was even more productive as he finished with 33 catches for 478 yards and six touchdowns on his way to the Super Bowl MVP. Kupp became the first wide receiver to win the triple crown since 2005 and just the fourth since 1970. Kupp won the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year award, and he would have had my vote for MVP as well. I gave a slight nod to Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill among wide receivers due to multiple years in a row of elite production, but Kupp’s 2021 season was the best we’ve seen in a long time.

#14: OG Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

2021 was a down year for Quenton Nelson as he missed four games, the first time in his career he’s missed time, and graded as PFF’s 26th-best guard when on the field (min. 200 snaps). However, Nelson still made the All-Pro Second Team after three straight years as a First-Team All-Pro from 2018 to 2020. Nelson has still only allowed four sacks in four seasons, and he’s one of the best run-blockers in football.

#13: CB Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers

Jaire Alexander became the highest-paid cornerback in football with a four-year, $84 million extension over the offseason, and it’s well deserved for the elite corner. Alexander played in just four games last year, but he was an All-Pro player in 2020 with PFF’s best coverage grade in the NFL. Alexander’s speed and fluidity make him a uniquely difficult player to throw against, and he hasn’t allowed more than 70 yards in a game since November 2019.

#12: QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

The evolution of Josh Allen has been fascinating, and his playoff production this past year was legendary. Allen had nine touchdowns to just twelve incompletions through two games, and his PFF grade was the highest charted in the playoffs since the site launched. Allen’s Bills played the first “perfect” offensive game in NFL history against the Patriots in a 47-17 win with touchdowns on every possession save for the final kneel-down, and no punts or turnovers. Allen failed to make the All-Pro team last year, but he’s been an MVP-level player for two straight years and should continue to ascend as arguably the best young quarterback in the game.

#11: OG Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

With six All-Pro nods in seven NFL seasons, Zack Martin has been one of the best offensive linemen in the league over the past decade. Martin has more Pro Bowl appearances (7) than holding penalties (6) since entering the league, and he committed no holding penalties in 2021. If Martin was drafted to any other team, he likely would have been a left tackle, and we’d be talking about him as one of the best blindside protectors in the NFL. As things stand, Martin has been a top-five guard on PFF every season since being drafted, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

#10: ED Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

After a torn ACL cut short his 2020 season in his second game, Nick Bosa picked up where he left off in 2021 with 15.5 sacks and a league-leading 21 tackles for loss. Bosa takes his play to another level in the postseason with an absurd 35 pressures and nine sacks in just six games. PFF logged him with 12 total pressures in Super Bowl LIV, tied for the most in a playoff game since 2006. Bosa has lived up to the hype as the number two overall pick in 2019, and his 2023 contract extension will rightfully reset the edge rusher market.

#9: LB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

I might be accused of being a prisoner of the moment with Micah Parsons, but his rookie season was exceptional. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in a landslide, was a First-Team All-Pro, and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting behind only T.J. Watt. Sports Info Solutions had him ranked first in Wins Above Replacement among linebackers. Parsons earned a higher PFF pass-rush grade than any defensive lineman or edge rusher, and his pass-rush win rate ranked second among all players. In addition to his pass-rushing prowess, Parsons ranked 11th among all linebackers in total run stops.

#8: WR Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

Over the last two seasons, Davante Adams has a whopping 238 catches for 2,927 yards and 29 touchdowns. The transition to the Raiders will be very interesting as he is the first player to change teams after 1,500 receiving yards in the prior year. Derek Carr isn’t nearly on the same tier as Aaron Rodgers, but Adams dominates press coverage as his 2,016 yards in man defense rank third in the NFL over that span. Adams is a particularly adept red-zone threat, and we should see a career-high touchdown total for Carr in his first season playing with his former teammate.

#7: WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

Like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill is leaving his elite quarterback for a more uncertain situation. However, Hill’s phenomenal play won’t disappear and he remains the most difficult player to plan against in the NFL. Hill has become a much more refined route-runner in recent years with his change-of-pace and short-area burst allowing him to find separation. Once the ball is in his hands, forget about it. Hill is arguably the fastest player in the NFL, and he’s brilliant at using that speed to keep defenders on their toes. He should facilitate a career year from Tua Tagovailoa this season.

#6: ED T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

Converting pressures to sacks is a skill, and nobody was better in 2021 than T.J. Watt as he broke the single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 15 games on only 62 total pressures, which tied for the tenth-most in the NFL. For reference, Maxx Crosby (101) and Rashan Gary (81) had significantly more pressures, but they finished with 17.5 combined sacks. Watt is still only 27 years old and entering his prime, and he is coming off three straight First-Team All-Pro seasons. Another Defensive Player of the Year award could be in the cards this season.

#5: OT Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams was the highest-graded player in PFF history in 2021. His pass protection has long been excellent – he allowed just one sack and 16 total pressures, tied for the second-fewest among all tackles with 500+ pass-blocking snaps. However, it’s in run-blocking where Williams truly sets himself apart. In Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme, Williams’s open-field blocking ability is invaluable as he erases would-be tacklers from the play in space. Williams has taken his play to another level since joining the 49ers, and last year was his first career First-Team All-Pro nod. Don’t be surprised if he repeats that feat this season.

#4: ED Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett had career-highs across the board in 2021 with 16 sacks, 51 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 33 QB hits as he made his third career All-Pro team. Garrett hasn’t been quite as consistent in sack production as T.J. Watt, but he had a higher pass-rush grade and pass-rush win rate last year per PFF. The biggest differentiator between the divisional rival pass-rushers for me is the supporting cast. Watt has the luxury of rushing next to Cameron Heyward, who checks in at #35 on this list, while Garrett is constantly double-teamed next to a weak defensive line.

#3: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

In 2021, Aaron Rodgers earned his second straight MVP award and the fourth of his career. He threw for 37 touchdowns and a characteristically low four interceptions – he’s averaged just over five interceptions per season since his last double-digit interception season in 2010. In addition to his remarkable ability to take care of the football, Rodgers has led the NFL in touchdown rate for two straight seasons. Last year, he ranked first in QBR and passer rating. Analytically, there isn’t a better quarterback in the NFL. However, Rodgers cedes the top spot among passers on this list to the greatest to ever play the position.

#2: QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Had the Packers even made the NFC Championship game this year, I’d be compelled to list Rodgers ahead of Tom Brady. However, for all of his regular season success, Rodgers only has two playoff wins since 2016. Meanwhile, Brady has 14 playoff wins, including two Super Bowls, since 2016. Keep in mind that he has spent virtually that entire span in his 40s. Brady’s longevity is absurd, and he’s still playing at an elite level. At 44 years old, Brady still ranked first in the NFL with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns, and he ranked second in both PFF grade and EPA. He’s shown no signs of slowing down as he enters his age 45 season.

#1: DL Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

A future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Aaron Donald put himself firmly in the defensive GOAT conversation with the Rams’ Super Bowl win. Donald’s near decade of dominance has been extraordinary. He has finished top-five in Defensive Player of the Year voting in every season since his rookie year, winning the award three times. He’s been a no-brainer First-Team All-Pro player every season since his rookie year. He has 98 sacks in his eight seasons, and he has ranked first or second in total pressures among all defensive players in four of the past five years. That pass-rushing success comes despite him fighting through double and triple teams in the middle of the line of scrimmage while edge rushers get frequent one-on-one opportunities on the outside. Donald came through in the Super Bowl with seven pressures and two sacks as he finally reached the pinnacle of football accomplishment.

Honorable Mentions

  • Quarterbacks: Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Mac Jones
  • Running Backs: Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, Damien Harris, Najee Harris, Saquon Barkley
  • Wide Receivers: DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore, Jaylen Waddle, Michael Thomas, Mike Williams, Marquise Brown, Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, Michael Pittman Jr., Diontae Johnson, Adam Thielen, Chris Godwin
  • Tight Ends: Dallas Goedert, T.J. Hockenson, Mike Gesicki
  • Offensive Linemen: Dion Dawkins, Garret Bolles, Penei Sewell, David Bakhtiari, Isaiah Wynn, Taylor Lewan, Brandon Scherff, Laken Tomlinson, Ryan Jensen, Chase Roullier
  • Defensive Linemen: Kenny Clark, J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell, Christian Wilkins, Grady Jarrett
  • Edge Rushers: Shaquil Barrett, Preston Smith, Josh Allen, Leonard Floyd, Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Matthew Judon, Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry III, Chase Young
  • Linebackers: Devin White, Eric Kendricks, Matt Milano, Shaq Thompson, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Nick Bolton
  • Cornerbacks: Adoree’ Jackson, Chidobe Awuzie, Rashad Fenton, D.J. Reed Jr., James Bradberry, Carlton Davis, Kendall Fuller, Marlon Humphrey, Jamel Dean, Marcus Peters
  • Safeties: Jevon Holland, Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams, Amani Hooker, Quandre Diggs, Budda Baker, Jimmie Ward, Adrian Amos, Harrison Smith
I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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