The two most-recent NFL MVPs. Record-breaking contracts and record-setting performances. As we delve into the NFL top 100 for the 2020 season, prepare to be surprised who is within the top five. Also, prepare to disagree with where one future Hall of Fame quarterback is ranked.
Swipe down to see our NFL top 100 picks, or tap here to jump to our top 50.
Updated: March 16 at 1:21 AM EDT
100. Marcus Maye, safety, New York Jets
After the Jets traded Jamal Adams, Maye became the focal point of New York’s secondary. The 27-year-old free safety played extremely well during the 2020 season, grading as one of Pro Football Focus’ top cover safeties (No. 4 with an 85.8 grade). Playing so well amid the worst of circumstances result in Maye being rewarded with a nice contract this offseason — whether it’s with Gang Green or a new team.
99. Joel Bitonio, guard, Cleveland Browns
One of the few mainstays in Cleveland amid constant regime changes in recent years, Bitonio is a rock on the offensive line, which is the Browns’ most improved unit and a big reason for their resurgence in 2020. Bitonio ranked right among the NFL’s elite this year as a key cog in Cleveland’s No. 1-ranked offensive line by PFF, so his inclusion on the top 100 list is definitely merited despite the position he plays lacking glamor.
98. Jonathan Jones, cornerback, New England Patriots
Much of the shine in New England’s defensive backfield rightly goes to Stephon Gilmore and the McCourty twins, but don’t sleep on Jones’ contributions. He was PFF’s fifth-ranked cornerback overall this year, and ranked 19th the previous season. Jones is emerging as one of the NFL’s premier slot corners, which is an increasingly valuable position in the modern game as teams like to spread defenses out with three-wide formations.
97. Trey Flowers, defensive end, Detroit Lions
The only reason Flowers isn’t higher on this list is because the Lions’ defense has been awful of late. Nevertheless, his individual play and consistency from season to season is undeniable. Garnering grades of 80-plus over the past four years in PFF’s system, Flowers is among the NFL’s most steady — if not spectacular — producers at one of the game’s most important positions. Maybe a new head coach in Dan Campbell will help spotlight Flowers’ brilliance better as the Detroit works to execute a serious rebuild.
96. Eric Kendricks, linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
Once a star on UCLA’s campus, Kendricks has found a home on Minnesota’s defense. The former second-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft elevated his game last year, earning first-team All-Pro honors, and he must be recognized as a member of the NFL top 100. He backed up that highly decorated 2019 campaign with a strong year this past season, grading as PFF’s No. 3 linebacker overall.
95. Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
Imagine if Joe Burrow didn’t get his knee blown out behind a horrendous offensive line, or actually went to a franchise that had some semblance of a competitive roster in place. As the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Burrow made an immediate splash as a rookie. He kept Cincinnati relevant despite the team being set up to lose. If he comes back healthy in 2021, Burrow is in for a rapid climb up this list.
94. Terry McLaurin, wide receiver, Washington Football Team
After bursting onto the scene as a rookie, McLaurin continued his stellar form in the NFL during his sophomore campaign, amassing 87 receptions for 1,118 yards. Adjusting to a new system with no offseason and instability at the quarterback position hasn’t stopped McLaurin from continuing to be a premier playmaker — and he’s really the only go-to wideout on Washington’s roster. As the Football Team acquires more weapons and establishes continuity, look for McLaurin to boost his game to another level and join the NFL’s true elite at wide receiver.
93. Ronnie Stanley, offensive tackle, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens rewarded Stanley with a massive contract, because the 26-year-old is an elite left tackle and earned his status as the highest-paid offensive lineman. MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson needs to be protected in the coming years, and Baltimore made the right move by securing his blindside protector long-term. Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in 2020, and his absence took a toll on the Ravens — further proving his immense value.
92. Josh Allen, defensive end, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have made plenty of draft blunders in recent years. Taking Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in 2019 isn’t one of them. He racked up 10.5 sacks in his rookie season, proving he wasn’t a fluke at Kentucky. Allen will be one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers here soon, and now that Urban Meyer is hopefully bringing a culture change to Jacksonville, look for Allen to flourish in this new Jags era.
91. Adrian Amos, safety, Green Bay Packers
If you want to know why Green Bay’s defense has gotten the Packers to two straight conference championship games, just watch their secondary. They boast one of the best two cornerbacks in the NFL in Jaire Alexander, and Amos is among the greatest, most versatile safeties in the sport. Across 1,123 snaps this season, per PFF, Amos boasted a top-two grade among all safeties. He was in the box for 387 snaps, played 590 snaps at free safety and even aligned at slot corner for 108 plays in 2020.
90. Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Chicago Bears
It’s the same story in Chicago as he went through in Jacksonville. Robinson is an elite wide receiver, but poor quarterback play constantly hurts his stats — or at least prevents him from being even better. He’ll likely be available for NFL teams in free agency, or in a potential tag-and-trade scenario if the Bears decide to franchise him. We hope Robinson lands in the right spot after having to catch passes mostly from Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles and Jaguars bust Blake Bortles to begin his NFL career.
89. Chase Young, edge rusher, Washington Football Team
The No. 2 overall pick is doing everything we knew he was capable of coming into the NFL. He is a force off the edge who created all kinds of havoc in his maiden pro campaign with 44 stops, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. It’s not quite to the level of his former Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa, but it won’t be long before Young is playing at that level as he fills out a more sophisticated, diverse pass-rushing arsenal.
88. Calais Campbell, defensive end, Baltimore Ravens
In what might be one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history, the Ravens acquired Campbell for a Day 3 draft pick in the spring of 2020. A defense that was already frightening added a five-time Pro Bowl selection to its defensive line, and although he didn’t play quite as well in 2020, he is turning 35 just ahead of the upcoming season. The fact he’s still on the NFL top 100 list at this phase of his career is a testament to Campbell’s consistency and overall greatness.
87. Keenan Allen, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
Since missing most of the 2016 season, Allen has returned to NFL stardom. Coming off three consecutive seasons with 1,100-plus receiving yards and six touchdowns, the Chargers and fantasy owners know they can always count on Allen to deliver, and even as he was banged up throughout this last year, he still managed 100 receptions for 992 yards and matched a career-high with eight scores, forming a strong connection with young phenom Justin Herbert.
86. Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
While Rex Ryan might not have paid Cooper, NFL teams were more than happy to do so. The Washington Football Team tried to steal him from Dallas, but there was no way Cooper would turn down that eye-popping contract and the No. 1 spot in one of the NFL’s top offenses. With Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb proving to be exceptional weapons themselves, Cooper is still the go-to guy for Dak Prescott. Even with Prescott out for most of 2020, Cooper racked up a personal-best 92 receptions for the season, mostly from Andy Dalton.
85. Demarcus Lawrence, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys
The sack production hasn’t been there for the past couple seasons, yet Lawrence, for the past four seasons at Pro Football Focus, has an overall player grade ranking that easily gets him inside the top 10 of the NFL. Now, how much stock can you put into PFF grades? It can’t be the sole determining factor. However, it’s a good starting point, and perhaps data that beats back the notion Lawrence is in decline despite diminishing sack totals. In addition to continuing on as a top-tier pass-rusher, Lawrence has learned to defend the run better, too.
84. Demario Davis, linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Davis bounced around the NFL from 2012-17 with the Jets and Cleveland Browns, then he found a home in New Orleans. One of the league’s most underrated defenders, this former third-round pick’s road to becoming an All-Pro linebacker is incredible. After leading all linebackers in PFF grades during 2019, Davis followed up with a top-five ranking this past season.
83. Brian Burns, edge rusher, Carolina Panthers
Carolina drafted Burns with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, recognizing an edge rusher with elite physical tools. We’re seeing that athleticism and explosiveness turn into production and it’s only his second season. His 16.5 sacks and 37 QB hits in 31 career games are solid figures, but bear in mind he’s made only 19 starts. Now that he’s a full-time fixture in the lineup, Burns is on track to be a future All-Pro edge rusher.
82. Shelby Harris, defensive lineman, Denver Broncos
One of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL, Harris logged six sacks in 2019 and is proving to be a menace as an interior pass-rusher. The 290-pound defensive tackle recorded 49 combined tackles, four tackles for loss and knocked down nine passes that season. His continued impact in 11 games last year helped compensate for the loss of injured superstar Von Miller — and drove up his free-agent price tag. Broncos coach Vic Fangio knows how valuable Harris is to his defensive system, so a contract extension for the 29-year-old should be among Denver’s top offseason priorities.
81. Justin Herbert, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
Thanks to a phenomenal rookie campaign, Justin Herbert earns a spot in the NFL top 100 despite his relative inexperience. He may well emerge as the best QB prospect of the 2020 draft despite being the third off the board behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. With incredible arm talent, excellent athleticism and an ability to thrive with pressure in his face, Herbert has the makeup to be a true franchise signal-caller and someone the Chargers can rally around for the next decade.
80. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
Many will say Roethlisberger doesn’t belong here right now, but despite his shocking decline toward the end of 2020, it’s worth pointing out that he did steer the Steelers to an 11-0 start. They also had unquestionably the worst running game in football, which put Big Ben in many compromising, obvious passing situations. At this juncture of his career, that’s not where he’s best suited. Let’s see if Pittsburgh gets a little more balanced on offense and helps its QB out before totally writing Roethlisberger off just yet.
79. Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints
A first-round pick out of Wisconsin back in 2017, Ramczyk has started all 63 regular-season games in which he’s appeared in four seasons with New Orleans, missing only one game. He’s coming off an All-Pro performance manning right tackle for the perepetual Super Bowl contenders. Along with left tackle Terron Armstead, he’s one of the primary reasons Drew Brees was sacked just 28 times in his last 26 starts, counting the playoffs.
78. Harrison Smith, safety, Minnesota Vikings
A first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Smith has blown past all expectations since joining the Vikings. He was unarguably one of the NFL’s best defensive backs over the last decade and he continues to play at a high level to this day. The question is whether he’ll finish his career with Minnesota or chase a Super Bowl somewhere else.
77. Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For some reason, David is not mentioned among the best inside linebackers in the NFL. While he’s getting more shine after the’ Buccaneers Super Bowl LV triumph, he still continues to fly under the radar. Despite this, the former second-round pick from Nebraska continues to prove his worth. David, 30, recorded 117 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six passes defended and three forced fumbles for the Bucs last season.
76. Justin Simmons, safety, Denver Broncos
It’s pretty sensational what Simmons has done in Denver since the team made him a third-round pick from Boston College back in 2016. The safety has recorded 37 pass breakups and 16 interceptions since becoming a full-time starter as a sophomore. He’s coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and will soon be among the highest-paid safeties in the NFL after his lucrative one-year deal expires. He’s a legit top-100 player in the NFL.
75. John Johnson III, safety, Cleveland Browns
Darious Williams has emerged from obscurity this year to shine in LA’s defensive backfield. Then, of course, there’s the elite talent of cornerback Jalen Ramsey. One man who often gets overlooked is Johnson — but not here! After being banged-up and appearing in only six games in 2019, under coordinator Brandon Staley, Johnson flourished again as a cornerstone of perhaps the NFL’s best secondary. Johnson can drop deep in coverage as the last line of defense and also happens to be a tackling machine. Now he’s a cornerstone for the Browns after Cleveland signed him in free agency.
74. Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Baltimore Ravens
Just ask the New England Patriots what it’s like to face Humphrey. He has become one of the NFL’s rising stars on the defensive side, earning All-Pro honors in 2019. Humphrey is a big reason why Baltimore boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses and secondaries.
73. Darren Waller, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders
Waller recorded a combined 18 receptions in his first four NFL seasons after the Ravens made him a sixth-round pick back in 2015. Breaking out big time with the Raiders in 2019, the Georgia Tech product recorded 90 receptions for 1,145 yards while catching 77% of his targets. The inevitable increased attention he drew from opposing defenses didn’t hurt his 2020 production at all, as Waller ascended to new heights with 107 catches, 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.
72. Andrew Whitworth, left tackle, Los Angeles Rams
Everyone loves to talk about Tom Brady beating Father Time, but Whitworth’s success is just as incredible. A second-round pick in 2006, the 39-year-old tackle is still a force in pass protection and can maul against the run with the league’s best. Whitworth was called upon for 402 pass-blocking snaps this last year, and held up extremely well. He is one of the oldest players in the NFL — and still one of the best. He’s said he “doesn’t see any reason” he wouldn’t return in 2021 to block for a new, better quarterback in Matthew Stafford.
71. Tyler Lockett, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Another player who doesn’t necessarily stand out from a national perspective, Lockett has quickly become Russell Wilson’s favorite target in Seattle. Over the course of the past three seasons, the Kansas State product has recorded a resounding 76.6% catch rate while putting up north of 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s a legit No. 1 receiver, making him an ideal complement to the more explosive DK Metcalf.
70. Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings – Best undrafted player
Injuries limited Thielen to just 30 catches for 418 yards during 2019. This doesn’t take away from what the Minnesota State product has done since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in 2014, though. Combined, Thielen tallied north of 200 catches for nearly 2,600 yards in 2017 and 2018. He returned to form and health in 2020 with 14 touchdown grabs on 74 catches for 925 yards, as he and Justin Jefferson formed an exceptional duo for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
69. Josh Jacobs, running back, Las Vegas Raiders
The only other member of this Las Vegas team to crack the top 100 aside from Waller, Jacobs was absolutely sensational as a rookie. The former Alabama star tallied over 1,300 total yards at a clip of 5.0 yards per touch. Due to injuries and lackluster play to the Raiders’ interior offensive line in 2020 — and the fact that their defense was bad and caused them to abandon the running game earlier than they’d have liked — Jacobs saw his yards per carry drop below four in his second season. It’s only a matter of time before he finds more running room.
68. Cameron Jordan, defensive end, New Orleans Saints
One of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league, all Jordan has done since New Orleans made him a first-round pick back in 2011 is show a level of consistency few others have reached. He’s put up 7.5 sacks or more in each of the past nine seasons while playing extremely well against the run. At this point, Jordan seems to have Hall of Fame credentials.
67. Aaron Jones, running back, Green Bay Packers
It’s still baffling that Jones is not talked about among the game’s elite backs. All the former mid-round pick from UTEP did last season was record 1,459 total yards and 11 touchdowns even as quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the midst of his own MVP season. Plus, the team had invested a second-round draft pick in AJ Dillon. None of that fazed Jones. He’s among the most electrifying playmakers who could make or break whether or not the Packers make a third straight conference title game next season.
66. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Tennessee Titans
Tannehill’s career resurgence was one of the best ongoing stories in the NFL. He went from backup quarterback to leading the Titans to the AFC Championship Game in only a few months. He’s now one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks, and he earned the raise by taking Tennessee back to the postseason and winning the AFC South in 2020.
65. Myles Jack, linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars
There haven’t been a lot of bright spots for the Jaguars of late. One of the few, Jack becoming one of the NFL’s best linebackers. He is outstanding against the run, excels in coverage and can rush the passer. Under contract through the 2023 season, Jack is the heart of Jacksonville’s defense.
64. Devin White, inside linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We discussed earlier how Lavonte David doesn’t get his due for Tampa Bay, and part of that may be White’s fault. He’s the much more explosive athlete who’s still polishing up his gap discipline and technical work in pass coverage. Nevertheless, White is a supreme athlete and possibly the most freakishly gifted ‘backer in the entire NFL. He shined during the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV run with multiple big plays, and is a lethal interior blitzer who had a whopping nine sacks during the 2020 regular season.
63. Shaq Barrett, outside linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yet another former undrafted free agent, Barrett flew under the radar during a five-year stint with Denver. That changed big time after signing a free-agent deal in Tampa Bay ahead of the 2019 season. The Colorado State product responded by racking up 37 quarterback hits while leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks, and backed that up with a phenomenal performance when it mattered most as part of a championship defense. Barrett has to be among Tampa Bay’s top priorities to re-sign in the 2021 offseaosn, if not the highest.
62. Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
It’s hard to imagine that Jones is in his 10th season in the NFL after Atlanta pulled off the blockbuster trade for the Alabama product during the 2011 NFL Draft. Despite some bumps and bruises throughout said career and appearing in only nine games in the latest season, Jones remains among the best receivers in the game when healthy enough to play. As professional and consistent as they come, Jones averaged 104 receptions for 1,565 yards from 2014 through 2019.
61. Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons
There’s a reason the Falcons signed Jarrett to a massive contract extension in July 2019. One of the biggest steals of the 2015 NFL draft, Jarrett has ascended from fifth-round pick to an All-Pro defensive tackle in a few years. With 77 quarterback hits and 51 tackles for loss in 93 games, few interior linemen can match his disruptive abilities.
60. Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
It takes a lot for a rookie to jump onto the NFL top 100 players list during the season. However, Jefferson is quickly proving he deserves the recognition. Despite dealing with some middling quarterback play especially early on, he recorded an even 1,400 receiving yards in his first year. We knew the 2020 draft class was loaded at receiver, but Jefferson might prove to be the best.
59. Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
Historical. Electric. That’s what we saw from Barkley as he ended up winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018. That season saw the Penn State product gain a league-high 2,028 total yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging nearly six yards per touch. Injuries hampered Barkley to an extent as a sophomore, but he was still able to go for 1,441 yards in 13 games. Sadly, the injury bug bit again in 2020. The hope is Barkley can return to an improved Giants team in 2021 at full strength.
58. Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Something tells us Jerry Jones and the Cowboys will regret not signing Prescott to a long-term extension sooner. After losing Prescott to that gruesome, season-ending injury, the Cowboys wound up falling short of the playoffs despite the NFC East being won by Washington with a losing 7-9 record. With each passing loss, Prescott’s asking price went up, and Dallas needs to secure his services for the long haul to ensure its ongoing relevancy. Or, the Cowboys could go a totally different direction at the most important position, which wouldn’t exactly be the most logical route.
57. Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns
Chubb is one of the most difficult players to tackle in the NFL. He rushed for nearly 1,500 yards behind a bad offensive line in 2019, which the Browns addressed in a big way by bringing aboard Jack Conklin, drafting Jedrick Wills and getting incredible play from Wyatt Teller at guard. Injuries didn’t stop Chubb from piling up 1,067 yards rushing (5.6 yards per carry) and 12 scores in just 12 games last season. Don’t be shocked if Chubb helps Baker Mayfield carry Cleveland deep into the playoffs this next year.
56. Za’Darius Smith, outside linebacker, Green Bay Packers
The Packers heard plenty of skepticism when they signed Smith to a $66 million contract a couple offseasons ago.Two years later, the deal looks like a bargain after Smith recorded 60 quarterback hits and 26 sacks while helping Green Bay get to within one win of a Super Bowl berth in consecutive seasons.
55. Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Cleveland Browns
Conklin turned out to be a home-run free agency signing by new Cleveland GM Andrew Berry, who was the youngest in his post in NFL history but retooled the Browns roster amid yet another regime change within the organization and helped them finally return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Not bad for a first season’s work as the top executive. However, Conklin had to go out and play right tackle at an elite level to justify his acquisition, which is precisely what he did throughout Cleveland’s surprisingly successful 2020 season.
54. D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Metcalf proved to be more than just a workout warrior in his rookie season. He posted some gaudy stats (900 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) for a rookie and it turned out we were just seeing glimpses of his potential. The rising star has proven to be a fantasy football monster after an 83-catch, 1,303-yard, 10-touchdown stat line from 2020. Now that the Seahawks are breaking in a new offensive coordinator, Metcalf could wind up ascending even higher.
53. Calvin Ridley, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
For all the deserved love Julio Jones gets in Atlanta, Ridley has proven more adept at getting it done on the most important downs in the scoring zone. In only three seasons as a pro, Ridley’s 26 receiving touchdowns are almost half of Jones’ career total of 60. Whether that’s thanks in part to the attention Jones attracts in the red zone is unclear, but Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sure likes to look Ridley’s way when he needs a score. It’ll be interesting to see how Ridley is utilized in new head coach Arthur Smith’s scheme.
52. Danielle Hunter, defensive end, Minnesota Vikings
When the Vikings invested a third-round pick in Hunter, they hoped he could develop into a productive pass rusher. He blossomed into an unstoppable force off the edge. Just look at Danielle Hunter’s career stats (54.5 sacks in 78 games) and appreciate it, because his future is uncertain after neck surgery cost him the 2020 season.
51. Budda Baker, safety, Arizona Cardinals
Thanks to his ability to blur the line between linebacker and safety with his unique physicality and skill set, Baker earns a spot pretty high up on this list. Although he’s predominantly a defensive back, there’s no question the Cardinals can get as creative as they are on defense thanks to Baker’s versatility and a knack for playing in coverage and getting physical versus the run.
Next Up: The NFL Top 50
50. Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, New England Patriots
One of the very few big-time free-agent successes around the NFL in recent years, Gilmore earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors for the Patriots two seasons ago. It’s a campaign that saw him record league highs in passes defended (20) and interceptions (six). Gilmore also yielded a sub-50 passer rating when targeted, but with so many Pats opting out of the 2020 season, the New England secondary suffered, and Gilmore regressed. Nevertheless, he’s still among the 50 best players in the game.
49. Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints
More history in the NFC South. Throughout the start of his young career, Thomas recorded 470 receptions for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns in four seasons. He broke the single-season mark for receiving yards last season with 1,725. Thomas is also catching a ridiculous 77.6% of the passes thrown in his direction thus far. However, the Saints are in a bad salary cap situation for the foreseeable future, and the quarterback situation is uncertain. Oh, and Thomas appeared in only seven games in 2020 and made waves within the organization. All of these elements are suddenly leaving Thomas’ future in New Orleans up in the air.
48. Chandler Jones, outside linebacker, Arizona Cardinals
Looking back to ahead of the 2016 season, it seemed to be a fantasy to believe Jones would turn into one of this generation’s top-100 players. He had performed well with New England in 2015, recording 12.5 sacks. Since then, the former first-round pick has been on an upward trajectory. This includes Jones tallying 98 quarterback hits and 60 sacks in four prior seasons with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, his 2020 campaign got cut short to a right biceps injury, and he might not be in Arizona much longer.
47. Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers – Best running back
Historic. Any attempt to explain what McCaffrey did in his first three seasons would fall short. In 2019 alone, McCaffrey led the NFL in touches (403), total yards (2,392) and total touchdowns (19). He also averaged north of 100 receptions per season leading into 2020. Then, he dealt with injuries and appeared in just three games. With a hopefully improved quarterback situation next season and superior health, perhaps McCaffrey will get back to the phenomenal form that once had him much higher in the NFL Top 100.
46. Garett Bolles, offensive tackle, Denver Broncos
This past November, Bolles agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $68 million, proving he’s worth every penny in 2020 with an elite year at the left tackle spot. That deal made him the fourth highest-paid player at his position in the league. No matter who the quarterback is in Denver going forward, the Broncos have found a key piece in the trenches in Bolles, a 2017 first-round pick who’s living up to his potential.
45. Jessie Bates III, safety, Cincinnati Bengals
Guess who was PFF’s highest-graded safety last season? Not many would have Bates at the top of the list. Alas, there he was, playing incredible ball for a lost Bengals team whose roster was much worse than previously feared. Just about every area of the team has room to improve in Cincinnati, but the safety position is one exception. That’s largely thanks to Bates, who will soon be up for a massive contract when he hits free agency in 2022 unless the Bengals step in and ink him to a lucrative extension first.
44. Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Only two players in NFL history recorded 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons: Hall of Famer Randy Moss and wide receiver Mike Evans, who developed excellent chemistry with TB12 as a member of the Super Bowl champion Bucs. Evans did Moss one better by eclipsing 1,000 yards once again in 2020, and hauled in a personal-best 13 touchdowns.
43. Lamar Jackson quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
It’s been a disappointing 2020 season for Jackson to follow his MVP award-winning effort as a second-year stud, but a lot of this falls on the Ravens. The offensive line took a massive step back, no receivers can get open and Greg Roman’s offense is being called out by defensive players. Eventually things will get turned around, but the good news is, in the midst of all that, Jackson managed to earn his first playoff win, which is a huge confidence boost going forward for one of the game’s most incredible talents.
42. Cameron Heyward, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the unsung heroes of Pittsburgh’s sensational defense, other studs at flashier positions such as T.J. Watt or Minkah Fitzpatrick get more exposure than Heyward. Meanwhile, the 10th-year pro continues to go about his business and trucks along as one of the most consistent players in the entire league. Heyward was a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and 2019. Even at this relatively later phase of his career, the 31-year-old is a critical building block for the Steelers’ D.
41. Corey Linsley, center, Los Angeles Chargers
PFF ranked Linsley as 2020’s top-graded center, as he snapped the ball to MVP winner Aaron Rodgers and made sure the superstar signal-caller was checked into all the right protections and blocking schemes upfront. On the first day of NFL free agency for the 2021 season, the Los Angeles Chargers rewarded Linsley with a huge contract.
Next Up: The NFL Top 40
40. George Kittle, tight end, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco made him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history for a reason. George Kittle’s stats are certainly gaudy with 2,430 yards over the prior two seasons and 634 yards receiving in only eight 2020 games, but ruthless pancake blocks like this make him the best overall tight end in football other than Travis Kelce.
39. Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Minkah Fitzpatrick trade might go down as one of the best moves in the Steelers’ recent history. He made the same impact for Pittsburgh’s defense that he did for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Frankly, he is one of the NFL’s best playmakers and is showing no signs of slowing down with a long career ahead of him.
38. Zack Martin, guard, Dallas Cowboys
Martin could retire today and probably be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The decision to draft him over Johnny Manziel pays off to this day and he could well be considered one of the best guards ever when he’s finished playing. Before going down with a calf injury last season, Martin further proved his value and versatility by excelling at right tackle for an injury-depleted offensive line.
37. Chris Jones, defensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes might have won Super Bowl LIV MVP, but the Chiefs don’t complete that fourth-quarter comeback without Jones. He earned every dollar of that $85 million contract and will be essential for this team to become the next NFL dynasty. He responded to his lucrative long-term deal with a 7.5-sack 2020 campaign and graded as PFF’s No. 2 interior defender behind only Aaron Donald.
36. Kyler Murray, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals – NFL breakout player
The Grand Canyon-sized leap we saw from Lamar Jackson from 2018 to 2019? Something similar happened this past year with Murray, who became a more decisive, devastating ball-carrier and improved as a passer. He fits perfectly into Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins is paying off big time. Murray was on pace to become the first quarterback in NFL history with 4,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards in a season, but got banged up down the stretch. It’s very possible Murray hits those historic numbers in 2021.
35. Tre’Davious White, cornerback, Buffalo Bills
It would have been devastating for the Bills if Tre’Davious White opted out of the 2020 NFL season. Fortunately, he decided to play and helped boost Buffalo to the AFC Championship Game. The All-Pro cornerback deserves to see his previous Madden rating (90) go up. As strong as the Bills’ secondary is across the board, White is definitely the best player in their defensive backfield.
34. Tyrann Mathieu, safety, Kansas City Chiefs
Honey Badger’s story is of consequence. Here’s a dude that was kicked off the LSU football team due to off-field issues. Mathieu then entered the NFL as a major question mark after Arizona made him a third-round pick back in 2013. Since then, he’s morphed into an elite-level cover safety. Mathieu led the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance this past season, earning first-team, All-Pro honors for the third time in his career and second year in a row.
33. Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks
An unheralded second-round pick out of Utah State in 2012, Wagner became one of the best linebackers of the decade. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time All-Pro, Wagner is living the dream and will one day be a Hall of Famer.
32. Darius Leonard, linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
From second-round pick in 2018 to instant star. Leonard didn’t just win Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, he was also named first-team All-Pro as a rookie. From FCS star to one of the game’s best linebackers, Leonard proves NFL teams can find talent anywhere.
31. Nick Bosa, defensive end, San Francisco 49ers
Not only did Bosa earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last season, he put up one of the greatest initial seasons in NFL history. The Ohio State product recorded 25 quarterback hits, nine sacks and one crazy interception last season. He also put up an absurd 102 pressures. One. Hundred. Two. The only question: how will he look in 2021 coming off a torn ACL?
30. Joey Bosa, defensive end, Los Angeles Chargers
Signed to the richest contract for a defender in NFL history at the time he put pen to paper, Bosa has more than lived up to that billing. The former No. 3 overall pick from Ohio State has recorded 109 quarterback hits and 47.5 sacks in five NFL seasons. Bear in mind that he missed four games as a rookie, nine in 2018 and four this past season. Provided he stays healthy in his prime, Bosa has the production and elite skill set to ascend much further up the NFL top 100 list.
29. Fred Warner, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco found a gem in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Warner is emerging as one of the NFL’s best young defenders with a track record of causing problems for the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
28. Khalil Mack, defensive end, Chicago Bears
A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the then-Oakland Raiders, Mack has not lost a step since the Bears acquired him in a blockbuster trade ahead of the 2018 season. Mack has put up 129 quarterback hits and 70.5 sacks in seven NFL seasons. That sustained success has led to six consecutive Pro Bowl trips.
27. Brandon Scherff, guard, Washington Football Team
A fixture on Washington’s front ever since being chosen fifth overall in the 2015 draft, Scherff is slated to hit free agency this offseason, and the Football Team would do well to re-sign one of football’s premier interior offensive linemen. Scherff is a four-time Pro Bowler who will be a key building block for whichever offense he’s playing for in 2021 and beyond, and is truly capable of playing anywhere in the trenches if need be. His dependability and versatility warrant a high NFL top 100 bid.
26. Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
Some fans may think he is one of the most overrated players in the NFL, but that feeling isn’t shared around the league. Ramsey is a shutdown corner and an incredible trash talker, who deserves the record contract he received in the form of five years and $105 million.
Next Up: The NFL Top 25
25. Alvin Kamara, running back, New Orleans Saints
Kamara fought through a variety of injuries during the 2019 season, which limited his explosiveness and hurt his production. Now that he’s healthy, Kamara is back to doing jaw-dropping things on the football field. He finsihed with 932 yards rushing and 756 receiving last season, as he continues to rank alongside Christian McCaffrey as the best all-around offensive weapons out of the backfield in all of football.
24. Dalvin Cook, running back, Minnesota Vikings
A monster in fantasy football and a dangerous all-purpose threat on the field, Cook is the engine that drives the Vikings’ offense. If Minnesota can upgrade at quarterback from Kirk Cousins someday, perhaps Cook can be even more dangerous in the prime of his career now that his future with the franchise is secure with a long-term contract.
23. DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Here ends the run of wide receivers. Shockingly acquired from the Houston Texans, Hopkins has been a dominant force throughout his career. We’re talking about a young man who is producing at a rate unmatched by anyone in the NFL right now. In his first year with Arizona catching passes from Kyler Murray, the Cardinals’ newest playmaker to take up the mantle from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald put up 115 receptions, 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
22. DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts could have taken their chances on a rookie with the No. 13 overall pick. Instead, they traded it for Buckner. After making him one of the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history, we expected the All-Pro defensive tackle to push this team into the playoffs, and he did just that with an exemplary 2020 in which he 58 combined tackles and 9.5 sacks as PFF’s fifth-ranked interior defender.
21. Jamal Adams, safety, Seattle Seahawks – Best safety
A malcontent during his three-year stay with the New York Jets, Adams finally got his wish and was shipped off to the Pacific Northwest. He’ll now act as the face of a secondary previously known as the “Legion of Boom” after earning consecutive Pro Bowl trips in Jersey. One of the best safeties in the NFL, Adams recorded 190 tackles, 21 quarterback hits and 19 tackles for loss in his last two seasons with the Jets, and fought through multiple injuries in his maiden year with Seattle to put up 83 combined tackles (11 TFL) and 9.5 sacks in 12 games.
Next Up: The NFL Top 20
20. Trent Williams, offensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco lost left tackle Joe Staley and replaced him with another top pass protector. Even after a year away from football, Williams has shown everyone why his new teammates were so elated to land him, earning PFF’s No. 1 overall grade for offensive tackles.
19. Wyatt Teller, guard, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland dominates with its running game and Teller is pivotal to that success. A fifth-round pick in 2018, turned out to be an absolute steal for the Browns in a seemingly trivial trade carried out by departed GM John Dorsey. Teller absolutely dominates as a run blocker, and now that he’s thriving with a full-fledged starting opportunity, Teller can prove he is the best guard in the NFL in 2021.
18. Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay Packers
Meet the NFL’s new shutdown corner. Alexander is proving to be the top cover player in the NFL, shadowing No. 1 wide receivers and routinely taking them off the map. Keep in mind, he’s doing this with a defense that doesn’t have much in the way of cornerback depth. Alexander seemed like almost a certain lock to earn first-team All-Pro honors, but he made the second team in 2020 — despite being PFF’s top-graded corner. Expect that to motivate him to go to another level as he tries to will the Packers to a Lombardi Trophy next season.
17. Xavien Howard, cornerback, Miami Dolphins – Best cornerback in NFL
Is it buying into coach Brian Flores’ system, the presence of Byron Jones, or both that has led to a renaissance for Howard in 2020? The issue is, Howard has flashed this type of brilliance before, only to see his production and player grades fall off a cliff the next year. When he’s locked in, Howard has the tools to be as good as any player at his position. Until he strings together multiple top-shelf seasons, though, it’s hard to push him higher in the NFL top 100 list. No less, he’s here after a mind-boggling 10 interceptions last season.
16. Myles Garrett, defensive end, Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett will forever be known for striking Mason Rudolph in the head with his helmet. But, there’s also no denying he is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. We told you he could’ve won Defensive Player of the Year before this last season and with 12 sacks, he is well on his way to achieving that accolade soon enough.
15. David Bakhtiari, offensive tackle, Green Bay Packers
It’s fitting that a team with a rich history in the NFL thrives at finding offensive linemen late in the draft. Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has become an outstanding pass protector and a pillar on the left side protecting Aaron Rodgers. Now the highest-paid tackle in NFL history, Bakhtiari will be anchoring left tackle in Green Bay for years to come. Unfortunately, he’s recovering from a season-ending knee injury suffered just before the Packers’ playoff run in practices leading up to Week 17.
14. Quenton Nelson, guard, Indianapolis Colts – Best NFL offensive lineman
It was somewhat of a surprise that Indy exhausted a top-six pick on a guard back in 2018. At the very least, it was a surprise to those who didn’t see Nelson dominate at Notre Dame. He’s a generational talent, and has proven that in three seasons. Still so young, Nelson already seems to be on the trajectory that will land him in Canton as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
13. Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Electric. That’s been the name of the game for this two-time All-Pro since the Chiefs made him a fifth-round pick back in 2016. Hill is only continuing to evolve as a receiver. Despite some injury and off-field issues, he remains one of the game’s top playmakers. That’s not going to change moving forward.
12. Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills
We doubted Allen coming into the season, as accuracy was an alarming concern. While there is still the occasional erratic play from the 24-year-old gunslinger, his 69.2% completion rate last season was a stunning improvement over his mark in 2019 (58.8%). Plenty of credit goes to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and receiver Stefon Diggs, but Allen’s progress is undeniable, and arguably the biggest Year 3 progress leap an NFL quarterback has ever taken.
11. Stefon Diggs, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills
There were some concerns about how Diggs would fare in Buffalo with Josh Allen, a shared belief that a quarterback with ball placement issues would be a major problem. It turns out, this is the perfect pairing. Diggs wound up leading the NFL with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards receiving in 2020. It’s scary to think what the Bills could accomplish offensively in 2021 with Allen’s improvement and Diggs having an entire offseason to gain more chemistry with his cannon-armed QB.
Next Up: The NFL Top 10
10. Derrick Henry, running back, Tennessee Titans – Best NFL running back
A former Heisman winner at Alabama, Henry’s first two seasons with Tennessee was nothing to write home about. The bulldozer of a back recorded an average of 617 rushing yards during that span. Since then, however, he’s been nothing less than dominant. Henry went for a whopping 1,746 total yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019 en route to leading the Titans to a shocking appearance in the AFC Championship Game. His follow-up act in 2020? Leading the NFL in carries (378) rushing yards (2,027) and rushing TDs (17). Yep, the Triple Crown for King Henry.
9. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans
Lost in the shuffle of the performance we’ve seen from Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson over the past two years, Deshaun Watson has proven to be a franchise quarterback himself. After the Texans fired Bill O’Brien, Watson actually improved and proceeded to lead the NFL in passing yards this past season despite playing for a horrible Houston team. This offseason, he’s made himself the hottest quarterback commodity ever by requesting a trade.
8. T.J. Watt, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers – Best NFL edge rusher
Watt has easily gotten out of the shadow of his brother J.J. in recent years to carve out his own legacy as the Steelers’ next elite defensive player in an extensive franchise history of them. He continues to do eye-popping things on the football field, and was frankly snubbed as Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 after logging 41 quarterback hits, 15 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, seven pass deflections and an interception.
7. Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers – Best NFL wide receiver
Adams is proof that the draft bust label can be applied too quickly. After two seasons, the former second-round pick seemingly couldn’t put it together. He put in the extra effort, realized his full potential and is now one of the best players at his position. As a key cog in Aaron Rodgers’ MVP season, Adams accumulated 115 receptions, 1,374 yards and a ridiculous 18 touchdown catches.
6. Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson is living the dream life as an NFL star. Well, except for the fact that the Seahawks seem to routinely not give him enough pass protection. The former third-round draft pick still hears jokes about his height (5-foot-11). However, Wilson can just laugh as he continues to dominate his peers with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, incredible stats and a future bust in Canton, Ohio. Can Seattle surround him with better offensive linemen in 2021? Wilson is growing impatient as he pursues a second championship.
Next Up: The NFL Top 5
5. Travis Kelce, tight end, Kansas City Chiefs – Best NFL tight end
An argument can be made that Kelce is the game’s best tight end. The five-time Pro Bowler is averaging over 101 receptions for 1,327 yards over the past three seasons. He’s one of the primary reasons Patrick Mahomes has morphed into the NFL’s best quarterback after such a short time under center — and why the Chiefs have made three straight AFC title games.
4. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers‘ demise was greatly exaggerated. He came back with a vengeance after the Packers drafted Jordan Love with one phenomenal performance after another last season. He graded as PFF’s top-ranked quarterback in 2020, and it’s easy to see why with the 48-5 TD-INT ratio and 121.5 quarterback rating. Keep in mind, he did that without Green Bay giving him any additional weapons.
3. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams – Best defensive player
Plenty questioned Donald coming out of college because of his height at 6-foot-1. For those 12 teams that passed on him in the 2014 NFL Draft, it’s a day that will live in infamy. Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL and with 85.5 career sacks already, he’ll one day retire as one of the NFL’s all-time greats on the defensive line.
2. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback Kansas City Chiefs – Highest paid NFL player
There’s a reason the Chiefs signed Patrick Mahomes to a $500 million contract last offseason. He makes throws that seem humanly impossible and defy physics. When his career is over, we could be talking about Mahomes as the best player in NFL history. Even some of his incompletions in a disappointing 31-9 blowout loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV were mind-boggling. Mahomes should bounce back from the disappointing performance versus the Bucs and have the Chiefs in championship contention on an annual basis for the next decade.
1. Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Best quarterback of all-time
Tom Brady is the best player in NFL history. He is also the best player in the NFL, as evidenced by leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl title. There has to be regret in New England these days, as the GOAT is now bringing championships to south Florida at the ripe old age of 43.