Who is the best NFL player in 2022? Sportsnaut’s NFL top 100 player rankings examine the most talented and entertaining players in the National Football League. From future Hall of Famers to young NFL players on the rise to stardom, the list captures many of the biggest names.
There will be surprises along the way. The greatest quarterback in NFL history isn’t No. 1, in fact it’s not even a quarterback. Meanwhile, a handful of players from the 2021 NFL Draft proved so much as rookies that they earned prominent spots in the NFL top 100 list.
Let us know what you think of our NFL top 100 player rankings. Updates will be provided on a weekly basis throughout the 2022 NFL season. Let’s dive into the list.
Players who just missed NFL Top 100
- Micah Hyde, safety, Buffalo Bills – One of the best NFL safeties since he signed with the Buffalo Bills, the only question is how much longer the 31-year-old performs at a high level.
- De’Vondre Campbell, linebacker, Green Bay Packers: An All-Pro selection in 2021, De’Vondre Campbell proved to be the steal of free agency a year ago. To earn a spot among the NFL Top 100, though, we’ll need to see another great season.
- Arik Armstead, defensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers: Playing a crucial role against both the run and pass, the 28-year-old could rank among the 100 best NFL players when midseason updates arrive.
- Trevon Diggs, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys: Leading the NFL in interceptions (11) is great, but Diggs will need to give up a lot fewer players in 2022 if he wants to be among the NFL top 100 players.
- Jevon Holland, safety, Miami Dolphins: A center fielder in coverage as a rookie for the Dolphins’ secondary, Holland is on his way to becoming one of the best NFL players at his position.
There are some stark differences between Sportsnaut’s NFL top 100 players list and what the NFL itself is revealing. As former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth notes, though, the NFL top 100 players list is largely fraudulent. Very few players take the top-20 ballot seriously, often putting all their teammates or friends down. Let that shape your evaluation when comparing the two lists.
NFL top 100 players: Ranking the best NFL players in 2022
100. Leonard Williams, defensive tackle, New York Giants
Some questioned the New York Giants for trading a third- and fifth-round pick for Leonard Williams. While he hasn’t earned a Pro Bowl nod since the 2016 season, Williams is responsible for 44 quarterback hits, 18 sacks and 14 stuffs in the last two years.
99. Michael Onwenu, guard, New England Patriots
Versatility is a unique skill for offensive linemen. Michael Onwenu, the New England Patriots’ sixth-round pick in 2020, brings that to the table. He lined up at both guard spots and right tackle this past season, while also serving as a third tackle on the field. Oh, he’s also a freight train as a run blocker.
98. Jonathan Allen, defensive tackle, Washington Commanders
On a defensive line with plenty of big names, Jonathan Allen slides under the radar. Incredibly, per Pro Football Focus, he ranks fourth among all defensive tackles in quarterback pressures (114) since 2020. It’s obvious why the Washington Commanders didn’t hesitate on signing that $72 million extension.
97. Robert Quinn, edge rusher, Chicago Bears
One of the lone bright spots on the Chicago Bears roster, Robert Quinn exploded for 18.5 sacks this past season. While he’s unlikely to approach that mark in 2022, the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft deserves attention for becoming the 60th NFL player ever to record 100 career sacks unofficially.
96. Laremy Tunsil, offensive tackle, Houston Texans
The most important job for a left tackle is protecting the quarterback. It’s precisely why, despite being in a rebuild, the Houston Texans are keeping Laremy Tunsil. While he might not be the most reliable run blocker, it’s the ability to keep Davis Mills’ jersey clean that makes Tunsil invaluable to Houston.
95. Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Denver Broncos
If you’re looking for a player who could challenge for a top-25 spot within the next two years, it’s Patrick Surtain II. He flashed elite ability during his rookie season, all while still learning on the job. Now that the Denver Broncos pass rush is improved, the breakout year for Surtain could follow.
94. Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have needed a dependable linebacker on the inside for years, Bobby Wagner fills the void. Age is catching up to him some, taking away some of his athleticism and limiting his effectiveness in coverage. With that acknowledged, the instincts and leadership are still there.
93. Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s fair to argue the reputation surrounding Minkah Fitzpatrick might have surpassed his play the past two seasons. A first-team Al-Pro selection in 2019 and 2020, the 25-year-old safety wasn’t as sharp against the pass in 2021. He’s still an excellent all-around safety, just not an elite player right now.
92. Budda Baker, safety, Arizona Cardinals
A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Budda Baker consistently puts his skills on display. The 5-foot-10 safety was dominant against the run in 2020 (36 stops per Pro Football Focus) but took a step back in that regard last season. If he returns to form and remains dependable in coverage, Baker can once again be viewed as one of the best all-around safeties in football.
91. Danielle Hunter, edge rusher, Minnesota Vikings
We’re now several years removed from Danielle Hunter being one of the best pass rushers in the sport. A second0team ALl-Pro selection in 2018, Hunter has played in just seven games over the last two years. If he ever returns to his 2016-’19 form, he’s a top-50 player.
90. Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The heart of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, everything looks better when Lavonte David is on the field. He doesn’t seem to be plying at an All-Pro level anymore, but the 32-year-old linebacker’s value is apparent any time he can’t suit up for the Bucs.
89. CeeDee Lamb, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
CeeDee Lamb could be a lot higher on this list by December. The Dallas Cowboys felt confident enough in him to trade away Amari Cooper for practically nothing, thrusting Lamb into the No. 1 receiver role. A weapon in space and capable of making tough catches, Lamb offers the tools to become one of the best NFL players at his position.
88. Carl Lawson, edge ruser, New York Jets
A torn Achilles in August 2021 robbed the New York Jets of enjoying the Carl Lawson experience. While there are never guarantees a player fully recovers from that injury, there are enough reasons to bet on the 27-year-old who racked up 32 QB hits in 2020.
Related: New York Jets schedule 2022
87. Marcus Williams, safety, Baltimore Ravens
In desperate need of a difference-maker in the secondary, the Baltimore Ravens opened up the checkbook for Marcus Williams. The 6-foot-1 safety is responsible for 28 pass deflections over the last three seasons and he’ll be a huge asset in a defense poised to rebound in 2022.
86. Shaq Mason, guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It remains a bit of a mystery as to why the New England Patriots traded Shaq Mason. Ultimately, Bill Belichick’s loss was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ gain once again. Outstanding as a run blocker and dependable in pass sets (1 sack allowed in 545 snaps), Mason’s addition was huge for Tom Brady.
85. Frank Ragnow, center, Detroit Lions
The only member of the Detroit Lions on our initial 2022 NFL top 100 players list, Frank Ragnow missed a majority of the 2021 season with a turf toe. He returns to the field in 2022, a huge boost to the Lions as he’ll clear some run lanes for D’Andre Swift and help keep the interior clean for Jared Goff.
84. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Cleveland Browns
The last time we saw quarterback Deshaun Watson play a meaningful snap was over a year ago. He’s now suspended the first 11 games of the season after allegations of sexual misconduct from north of 20 women. However, this is also the same quarterback who posted a 112.4 QB rating with a 33-7 TD-INT ratio in 2020. When he’s on the field, he’s one of the most talented players in football.
83. Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, New Orleans Saints
Marshon Lattimore perfectly captures the state of cornerbacks today. For the No. 1 corners outside of the ‘elite’ tier, there can be some variation in how they perform. After allowing a 103.3 QB rating when targeted in 2020, per PFF, Lattimore looked a lot like more like a shutdown weapon on the boundary.
82. Derek Carr, quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders
Considering quarterback Derek Carr played behind a mediocre offensive line and without a true No. 1 receiver, he accomplished a lot. The truth is, the circumstances in Las Vegas have been far from ideal in recent years. With Carr now partnering with Davante Adams and play-caller Josh McDaniels, we could see the best out of him in 2022.
Related: Las Vegas Raiders schedule
81. Chase Young, edge rusher, Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders defense proved to be a major disappointment in 2021 and Chase Young (1.5 sacks in nine games) played a part in that. He’s still incredibly talented, but he’s recovering from a torn ACL. Until seeing how he looks on a surgically-repaired knee, Young will have to earn his way up past other NFL top 100 players. He’s out for the first four games of the season after suffering a setback in his return to action.
80. Darius Slay, cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
One of the best boundary cornerbacks in the NFL, Darius Slay had even more pressure on him as the only reliable defensive back in the Philadelphia Eagles secondary last year. He did more than old his own, allowing just 10.4 yards per reception and a 76.1 passer rating when targeted (PFF). With a strong No. 2 opposite of him, Slay’s job should be easier this season.
79. Wyatt Teller, guard, Cleveland Browns
Wyatt Teller is the security detail for Nick Chubb. A fifth-round pick in 2018, Cleveland acquired him from the Buffalo Bills for fifth-and sixth-round picks before the 2019 season. He’s now a two-time selection to the second-team All-Pro squad and is one of the best run blockers in the game.
78. A.J. Brown, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t hesitate to flip a first-round pick for A.J. Brown. He’s already racked up 2,995 receiving yards in his first 43 games and will now the focal point of an offense that should be more pass-oriented. Another plus, Brown is a huge advocate for mental health and is open with his experiences with depression.
77. Jessie Bates III, safety, Cincinnati Bengals
Bothered by his contract situation in 2021, Jessie Bates didn’t play up to his usual standard. With that said, he showed some of his elite form during the playoff run. Ultimately, the 2022 season will really determine whether Bates drops off the NFL top 100 players list or moves up.
76. Kyle Pitts, tight end, Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts is going to be the best tight end in football. Players at that position typically struggle in their rookie season, it’s a difficult transition after college. Pitts snagged 68 receptions for 1,026 yards, showcasing some phenomenal skills in the open field. He’s going to become a perennial All-Pro pick.
75. Eric Kendricks, linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
In a pass-heavy league, linebackers who can drop back in coverage and lock down the middle are increasingly valuable. While Eric Kendricks might not be a strong run defender, he’s always proven himself against the pass.
Related: Minnesota Vikings schedule 2022
74. D.K Metcalf, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
If ranking NFL players based on pure physical talent, DK Metcalf is much higher on the list. While the quarterback situation will significantly impact his production, Metcalf can be a matchup nightmare who is always capable of a 200-yard game if the football is thrown in his vicinity.
Related: Ranking NFL’s top wide receivers
73. Creed Humphrey, center, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs felt confident that Creed Humphrey could handle being the center for Patrick Mahomes, even as a rookie. Not only did the 63rd overall pick hold up in his rookie season, but he also dominated the competition with far more experience. We’re likely just a year or two away from Humphrey being the best center in football.
72. Rashan Gary, edge rusher, Green Bay Packers
Viewed as a minor draft bust early in his career, Rashan Gary put everything together in 2021. The former 12th overall pick stepped up in the absence of Za’Darius Smith, compiling 28 quarterback hits and proving he is the new star pass rusher in Green Bay.
71. Kenny Clark, defensive tackle, Green Bay Packers
Kenny Clark (64 pressures in 2021) has managed to deliver phenomenal production under the circumstances in Green Bay. For years, the Packers really couldn’t find a player to help make his job easier on the inside. With Devonte Wyatt and Jarran Reed now on the roster, Clark should see a lot fewer double teams and that could yield even better results.
70. Xavien Howard, cornerback, Miami Dolphins
Xavien Howard saw a massive drop in his interception total (10 to five) last season, but that’s par for the course in his career. After snagging seven interceptions in 2018, he recorded one pick across five games in 2019. He still gets targeted, but Howard is proving he is capable of both making plays and matching up with No. 1 receivers.
69. Demario Davis, linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2018, Demario Davis went from a player bouncing around the league to earning All-Pro honors in three consecutive seasons. Entering his age-33 season, Davis will once more serve as a leader in the middle of the Saints’ defense who stands out against the pass and run.
68. Ronnie Stanley, offensive tackle, Baltimore Ravens
Ronnie Stanley has played in just seven games over the last two years. That’s how an elite offensive tackle slips all the way down our NFL top 100 player rankings. If Stanley’s issues are behind him, he could be the biggest reason fro the Ravens’ offensive turnaround in 2022.
67. Corey Linsley, center, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers made protecting Justin Herbert their top priority in the 2021 offseason. Corey Linsley quickly proved why he is the best center in the NFL, allowing zero sacks and just two quarterback hits (PFF) last season in 724 pass-block snaps.
66. Alvin Kamara, running back, New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara is walking into a much better situation than he found himself in last year. While the left side of the Saints’ offensive line is a mess, a receiving corps featuring Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry will make life so much easier for Kamara. If he’s on the field, this is one of the best all-purpose backs in football.
65. Trey Hendrickson, edge rusher, Cincinnati Bengals
Anyone left wondering if Trey Hendrickson’s breakout 2020 season was the product of great talent around him had that erased this past year. The Cincinnati Bengals struck gold with the FAU alum and he should have a few more double-digit sack seasons ahead of him.
- Trey Hendrickson stats (2021): 27 quarterback hits, 14 sacks, 12 tackles for loss
64. Russell Wilson, quarterback, Denver Broncos
Putting Mr. Unlimited this low could look foolish. The Denver Broncos quarterback is surrounded by weapons and is in a quality offensive system to help him thrive. However, it’s only fair to wonder when the 5-foot-11 passer’s height and advancing age will result in a steep decline. Denver hopes not after signing him to a massive extension ahead of the season.
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63. Brian Burns, edge rusher, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers defense flew under the radar in 2021 and so did Brian Burns as a result. In his first three NFL seasons, the 6-foot-5 edge rusher out of Florida State generated 55 quarterback hits, 26 tackles for loss and 25.5 sacks. An easy choice for our NFL Top 100 players list now, Burns could push for a top-50 spot by midseason.
62. Darren Waller, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller already had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume. Now, defenses will be so focused on stopping Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow that Waller will practically be operating in open space. We could be looking at the best receiving tight end in the NFL by 2023.
61. J.C. Jackson, cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers
One of the great ballhawks in the NFL, cornerback J.C. Jackson is responsible for 22 interceptions over the last three seasons. Now the top cover weapon for the Los Angeles Chargers defense, he should play a huge role in the unit’s turnaround in 2022.
60. Dalvin Cook, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook is starting to miss more time with injuries, partially a product of the hits he takes and his running style. When Cook isn’t banged up or on the sideline, he is an electric runner who is equally capable of turning a screen into 30-plus yards. As Minnesota shifts to a more pass-oriented offense, it should bode well for Cook’s durability and efficiency.
59. Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons
While the Atlanta Falcons might be one of the worst NFL teams in 2022, there is some talent on this roster. Grady Jarrett is arguably one of the most underrated linemen in the NFL, stuck facing double-teams because there isn’t much help around him, but none the those assigned to block Garrett would disagree that he is one of the top 100 NFL players.
58. Kevin Byard, safety, Tennessee Titans
A third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Kevin Byard earned first-team All-Pro honors in just his second NFL season. Unsurprisingly, one of the best defensive backs in the NFL received that recognition once again in 2021. Opponents are advised to stay away from the Middle Tennessee State product who racked up 13 pass deflections and five INTs last season.
Related: Tennessee Titans schedule
57. Antoine Winfield Jr, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The son of former All-Pro corner Antoine Winfield Sr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. has only played two seasons in the NFL and he’s already one of the best safeties. He is the same caliber of playmaker we saw in college, ruining dreams of big plays by quarterbacks every other week.
56. David Bakhtiari, left tackle, Green Bay Packers
It comes down to health for David Bakhtiari. If the Green Bay Packers left tackle is on the field and playing at his usual standard, he’s a top-25 player. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played a meaningful snap since December 2020. The latest setback adds further uncertainty to exactly what caliber of player he’ll be when he returns from injury Week 1. If things don’t change, Bakhtiari won’t be on the NFL top 100 player list in 2023.
55. DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
The suspension isn’t to blame for this fall by DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, it’s a concern shared with Christian McCaffrey. Hamstring injuries are becoming a recurring problem. Nuk is one of the best of his generation pulling down contested catches, but even the Arizona Cardinals can’t count on him being healthy all year.
54. Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Only six players in NFL history have eight consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, including Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Marvin Harrison. Mike Evans is the only player to accomplish that feat in his first eight NFL seasons. Expect another 1,000 yards in 2022, which would put him in company with only Rice and Tim Brown.
53. Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers
Can Christian McCaffrey stay healthy? When he isn’t limited by soft-tissue problems or on injured reserve, the Carolina Panther arguably have the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL. It’s just the lack of durability that pushes McCaffrey farther down the list than some might expect.
52. Lane Johnson, offensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
Lane Johnson, one of the NFL’s leading voices for mental health awareness, is also one of the game’s best offensive linemen. He played over 800 snaps last season and continues to play at a high level even through injuries. He’s a big part of the reason why one of the best NFL offensive lines resides in Philly.
51. Derrick Henry, running back, Tennessee Titans
A top-10 player on our list in 2021, Derrick Henry takes a tumble before the 2022 NFL season. There’s a chance the foot injury is just a freak occurrence, but 955 touches in three seasons take a toll on a running back. If Henry proves he can stay healthy, he’s one of the 20 best players in the NFL.
50. Tyron Smith, offensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys – 50 best NFL players this season
Tyron Smith is a future Hall of Famer, but years of putting his body on the line to protect the Dallas Cowboys quarterback took a toll. He can play at an All-Pro level when healthy, but that’s never a guarantee and most fans acknowledge he’ll miss a few games every year. That’s magnified this season with Smith out at least until December with a torn hamstring.
49. Terron Armstead, offensive tackle, Miami Dolphins
After years of issues on the offensive line, the Miami Dolphins found an answer with Terron Armstead. He’s coming off an injury-plagued 2021 season, but there’s little doubt Armstead is one of the best pass blockers in football when healthy.
48. Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
At times, Matthew Stafford looks like the No. 1 quarterback in football. Then you’ll see dumbfounding decisions that result in interceptions, especially pick-sixes last year. The good far outweighs the bad and the Los Angeles Rams don’t come close to the Lombardi Trophy without the Stafford trade. There’s now some questions relating to Stafford after he underwent a procedure on his throwing elbow during the offseason and following a disastrous Week 1 performance.
47. Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns
In terms of pure rushing ability, Nick Chubb might be the best running back in the NFL. He is impossible to take down at times, highlighted by PFF with a league-high missed tackles forced per rushing attempt (0.25). He does get knocked down among the NFL top 100 players for not being an excellent threat on passing downs, but Chubb is among the best at what he does.
46. Khalil Mack, defensive end, Los Angeles Chargers
Khalil Mack certainly is no longer the caliber of player who created havoc and won Defensive Player of the Year. However, he remains an outstanding defender against the run and is perfectly suited to be the complementary pass rusher opposite of Joey Bosa.
45. Von Miller, edge, rusher, Buffalo Bills
Any notion that Von Miller was declining went away. After missing the 2021 season, Miller came alive and looked even more effective in eight games with the Los Angeles Rams (12 tackles for loss, eight sacks in eight games). Now one of the highest paid NFL players, Miller should have another season or two remaining as an elite pass rusher.
44. A.J. Terrell, cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
The 16th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, A.J. Terrell showed some promising signs in his rookie season. He put it all together and took it to another level in 2021. Terrell held opponents to an absurd 47.5 quarterback rating when they targeted him in coverage and surrendered just 6.9 yards per reception (PFF). Terrell is one of the best, young players in the NFL and quarterbacks will avoid him in 2022.
Related: Atlanta Falcons schedule 2022
43. Vita Vea, defensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Injuries are likely responsible for Vita Vea being a bit lower on other NFL top 100 players lists. While it’s a factor to consider, he is just so overwhelming as a run defender that opposing teams stop even trying. When you can make that type of impact on the game, you’re a top-50 player.
42. Jeffery Simmons, defensive tackle, Tennesse Titans
Just look back at what Jeffery Simmons did against the Cincinnati Bengals. He almost single-handedly won the game, racking up three sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He is capable of taking over a game in an instant and that makes him someone offenses must always fear.
41. Shaquill Leonard, linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
Whether or not he is viewed as the No. 1 player at his position, Shaquill Leonard has one of the best stories in the NFL. Drafted out of South Carolina State, Leonard earned first-team All-Pro honors as a rookie and has earned a spot on the All-Pro ballot every year. Formerly going by Darius Leonard, it shouldn’t take long for fans to create great nicknames for one of the NFL top 100 players.
40. Fred Warner, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
Fred Warner is the best linebacker in the NFL. The backbone of the San Francisco 49ers defense, the 6-foot-3 defensive weapon is just as good at making plays in coverage as he is stopping the run. As long as Warner is on the field, the 49ers’ defense is one of the top units in football.
39. DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts didn’t hesitate when DeForest Buckner became available for a first-round pick. In two seasons since joining the Colts, Buckner is responsible for 44 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in 32 games. Indianapolis strengthened its pass rush this offseason, which will make the 6-foot-7 defensive tackle’s job easier.
38. Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Putting quarterback Dak Prescott this high in the NFL top 100 player rankings is betting on what he showed early last season. Before playing through a leg injury, Prescott posted a 115 QB rating , 73.2% completion rate and a 16-4 TD-INT ratio. Unforunately, Prescott is out at least six weeks after undergoing surgery on his throwing hand after Week 1.
37. Kyler Murray, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
Some will label quarterback Kyler Murray as a first-half player. He posted a 112.2 QB rating and a 72.7% completion rate in his first nine starts last year followed by an 85.6 QB rating and 64.8% completion rate in his last five games. The truth is, Murray is tasked with overcoming bad coaching and a flawed supporting cast. He is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL, no matter the time of year.
36. Rashawn Slater, offensive tackle, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers just wanted someone reliable at left tackle to protect Justin Herbert. Rashawn Slater proved to be so much more. Earning ALl-Pro honors in his rookie season, Slater is on his way to becoming one of the true elites at his position.
35. Joel Bitonio, guard, Cleveland Browns
One of the most well-paid linemen in the NFL, Joel Bitonio developed from a second-round pick out of Nevada into a perennial All-Pro honoree. Amid so many changes on the Browns’ offense Bitonio is the stabilizing force and he always performs at a high level.
34. Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints
There are plenty of reasons for concern with the New Orleans Saints offense in 2022, but Ryan Ramczyk isn’t one of them. The 6-foot-6 right tackle clears running lanes like a bulldozer and allowed just two quarterback hits in 361 pass-block snaps last year. He is the best of the best.
33. Maxx Crosby, edge rusher, Las Vegas Raiders
Expectations weren’t absurdly high for Maxx Crosby when he entered the league, that’s the norm for a fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft. Selected 106th overall in 2019, the Raiders’ 6-foot-5 edge rusher emerged as one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Now paired with Chandler Jones, Crosby could set a career-high in sacks this fall.
32. Deebo Samuel, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Call him a wide receiver or a wide back, Deebo Samuel just wants to be appreciated. A 1,000-yard receiver who also generated nearly as many more missed tackles forced (28) as Lamar Jackson (30) and had the third-highest yards after contact average (4.1) in the NFL. Put the football in Samuel’s hands and he does special things.
31. Stefon Diggs, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills
While the production for Stefon Diggs dipped a bit in 2021, he still delivered his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard campaign. Once the 146th player picked in the 2015 NFL Draft, Diggs is now one of the elites at his position and a huge reason for Josh Allen becoming a perennial MVP threat.
- Stefon Diggs career stats: 7,383 receiving yards, 48 touchdowns in seven seasons
30. Chris Jones, defensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
When the Kansas City Chiefs line up Chis Jones at his natural position, he’s a phenomenal defensive lineman. The 6-foot-6 defensive tackle has racked up 94 quarterback hits, 41 sacks, 38 tackles for loss and 18 pass deflections across the last four seasons. If the exterior pass rush improves, Jones could do even more this fall.
29. Joey Bosa, defensive end, Los Angeles Chargers
While he might have been surpassed by his brother, Joey Bosa is still one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The 6-foot-5 edge defender will benefit even more now that he is joined by Khalil Mack. It could result in 12-plus snacks for Bosa and an improved Los Angeles Chargers defense.
28. Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay Packers
Jaire Alexander missed a majority of the 2021 NFL season. So, the best way to highlight one of the best NFL cornerbacks is to look back a year prior. In 2020, Alexander surrendered the third-lowest reception rate (50.7), the second-lowest yards per reception (9.6) and the second-lowest passer rating allowed (68.3). Green Bay already had a good defense and a healthy Alexander makes it so much better.
27. Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tristan Wirfs became one of the best right tackles in football upon his arrival in the NFL. In nearly 1,5000 pass-blocking snaps, Wirfs surrendered just three sacks and nine quarterback hits. Tom Brady didn’t expect to have a shield like this protecting his right side when he signed with the Bucs, but Wirfs is one of the biggest reasons Brady remains an MVP threat.
26. Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson certainly didn’t meet expectations in 2021. When you consider the injuries to the Ravens’ offensive line and at running back, the production he put up looks a lot better with the context. He remains one of the most difficult players to stop and should rebound in 2022.
- Lamar Jackson career stats: 9,967 passing yards, 84 touchdowns, 3,673 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns
25. Mark Andrews, tight end, Baltimore Ravens
Mark Andrews enjoyed a career-best season in 22021, snagging 107 receptions for 1,361 receiving yards. Frankly, the totals might have been even higher if not for the injury to Jackson. Improvements in the receiving game for Andrews, paired with his effectiveness as a blocker, make him one of the three best tight ends in the NFL.
24. Quenton Nelson, guard, Indianapolis Colts
When healthy, Quenton Nelson is the best interior offensive lineman in the NFL. He dealt with some issues last year, but the Indianapolis Colts guard remains an indispensable part of the team’s success. If he is available all year and returns to form, Nelson will move back up our NFL top 100 player rankings.
23. Cameron Heyward, defensive lineman, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt were about the only positives on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense last year. The 295-pound defensive lineman recorded 46 stops and 61 total pressures, serving as a brick wall against the run and causing destruction as a pass rusher. Even entering his age-33 season, we expect Heyward to be one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.
22. Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins
We’re going to see Tyreek Hill without Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. While we might not see as many deep shots to Hill, Miami Dolphins play-caller Mike McDaniel knows how to utilize one of the most electric playmakers we’ve ever seen in the NFL. In fact, Hill’s new role could showcase even more than anyone ever expected from him.
21. George Kittle, tight end, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers offense is simply different when George Kittle is out there. Sure, Kyle Shanahan loves a pass-catching weapon with 3,974 receiving yards in his last 52 games. What really makes him so valuable, Kittle seems to love blocking just as much as touchdowns. He’s the best all-around tight end.
20. Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
The best cornerback in the NFL, Jalen Ramsy is the Los Angeles Rams ultimate weapon. Whether they want to deploy him in the slot or on the boundary, the coaching staff knows he will consistently shut down whoever is lined up against him.
19. Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
A year away from football didn’t slow down Ja’Marr Chase in the slightest. As a rookie, the Cincinnati Bengals receiver ranked third in the NFL in yards per target (136.0). With a pair of 200-yard games in his first season and eight games of 70-plus yards, Chase proved he is one of the best receivers in football.
18. Jonathan Taylor, running back, Indianapolis Colts – Best NFL running back in 2022
The torch is officially passed. Even if you put Henry’s injury red flags aside, the modern NFL places an emphasis on running backs who thrive in a three-down role. Jonathan Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles forced (66), runs of 10-plus yards (50) and he ranked third in Elusive Rating (77.2). On top of all this, he ranked ninth among backs in yards per reception (9.0) and 10th in routes run (264). He is everything you want and more in an elite running back.
17. Travis Kelce, tight end, Kansas City Chiefs – Best tight end in NFL
Even if he isn’t the best blocking tight end in the NFL, Travis Kelce is one of the best offensive weapons in the sport. It’s simply unfair that a 6-foot-5 person can move this fast, outmuscling defensive backs and outrunning linebackers. Expect a fifth consecutive season of Kelce generating a 100-plus passer rating when he is targeted, even with Tyreek Hill gone. Let’s enjoy one of the best tight ends in NFL history.
16. Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow did the unthinkable, that’s why he vaulted so high in our NFL top 100 players list. A year removed from a gruesome knee injury, Burrow ended a streak of 31 years without a Bengals’ playoff win. Oh, he also led all NFL quarterbacks in on-target rate (82.8%) and passer rating when pressured (92.4).
15. Zack Martin, guard, Dallas Cowboys
Consistently elite, that describes Zack Martin. The best interior lineman in pro football. Over his last three seasons, the Dallas Cowboys guard has allowed just two combined sacks and 51 pressures in 1,765 pass-blocking snaps. If you are facing Martin, you aren’t getting by him.
Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule, predictions
14. Justin Herbert, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert showed flashes of superstardom as a rookie. In 2021, he reached that level more consistently. Coming off a year with a 108.1 QB rating on 20-plus yard throws, Herbert can challenge Josh Allen for both the AFC title and the crown as best downfield passer in 2022.
13. Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Give Justin Jefferson an elite quarterback and everyone might view him as the best receiver in football. He enters 2022 season just 1,148 yards shy of breaking the NFL record for most receiving yards in the first three seasons (Randy Moss – 4,163). It feels safe to project the record being broken. One of the best deep threats in the league, Jefferson could be a top-10 player on this list a few months from now. After recording nine catches for 184 yards and two scores against Green Bay in Week 1, that could come sooner rather than later.
12. Micah Parsons, edge, Dallas Cowboys
It might be a surprise to some that a second-year player grabs the No. 12 spot among our NFL NFL top 100 players. Look at what Micah Parsons accomplished in his rookie season, per PFF. He held opponents to an 80.9 passer rating when targeted in coverage, recorded 20 tackles for loss and tacked on 13 sacks. Factor in his defensive versatility in the modern NFL and that elevates Parson’s value. Parson’s two-sack performance against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has him looking like a true star.
11. T.J. Watt, edge rusher, Pittsburgh Steelers
If the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have T.J. Watt, they might have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Watt accounted for 30.6% of their pressures and 41% of their sacks last season. A first-team All-Pro selection in each of the last three years, the 27-year-old is already outproducing his contract. Unfortunately, Watt will miss substantial time after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in the season opener.
10. Nick Bosa, edge rusher, San Francisco 49ers
In his first season back from a torn ACL, San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa looked like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He is one of the rare draft picks who became one of the best NFL players the second he stepped foot on the field. If you’re looking for a candidate to be top 5 on this list by November, it’s Bosa. If Bosa’s Week 1 performance (one sack, two QB hits) is any indication, he’ll be rising this list in no time.
Related: San Francisco 49ers schedule
9. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers – Highest paid NFL player
Back-to-back NFL MVP awards. Not bad for a quarterback the Green Bay Packers seemed ready to replace a few years ago. There are some legitimate worries about how Aaron Rodgers will perform without Adams. That was taken to a new level in an ugly Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in which Rodgers failed to score a touchdown while turning the ball over two times.
8. Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams – Best wide receiver in NFL
Cooper Kupp delivered the best single-season by a wide receiver in NFL history. From the regular season stats (1,947 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns) to his playoff excellence – 478 yards and six touchdowns – the Super Bowl LVI MVP delivered a season for the ages, also leading the NFL in yards after catch (855). Even if he doesn’t repeat the numbers in 2022, he deserves this title.
7. Davante Adams, wide receiver, Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams wanted a quarterback downgrade this season, but a lack of chemistry with his new signal-caller won’t be a problem. Adams and Derek Carr formed one of the best quarterback-receiver duo’s in recent college football history back at Fresno State. Now together in the NFL, Carr should love catching passes from a quarterback who had a higher on-target rate (77.4%) than Rodgers last year. Adams caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in his Raiders debut.
6. Myles Garrett, edge rusher, Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett is one of the most dominant players in the NFL when healthy. He’s already recorded 116 hits and 58.5 sacks in his first 68 games, well on his way to a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If Cleveland’s secondary improves in 2022, Garrett (78 pressures last season) could have a 20-sack year.
5. Trent Williams, offensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers
Trent Williams is the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Across 608 pass-blocking snaps in 2021, the veteran tackle allowed just six quarterback hits and one sack (PFF). He is the very definition of a brick wall, keeping even the best pass rushers away from the quarterback.
4. Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Best NFL player ever
The Tom Brady retirement created some fun drama, but everyone knew the NFL MVP candidate wouldn’t walk away like that. Entering his age-45 season, many keep waiting for Father Time to defeat the greatest quarterback in NFL history. We’ll keep betting on the passer who set career-highs despite Bucs’ drama.
- Tom Brady stats (2021): 5,316 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, 102.1 QB rating
3. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is in the midst of his first NFL season without Tyreek Hill, creating discussion about how he’ll perform without an elite receiver. Even if he doesn’t post MVP-caliber production, this is the same quarterback who posted a 113.3 QB rating on throws of 20-plus yards last season. The one thing keeping him from a higher spot among the NFL top 100 players, a second-half performance in the AFC title game with a 1.4 quarterback rating. With that said, Mahomes dominated the Arizona Cardinals to the tune of five touchdowns in a Week 1 win.
2. Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills – Best quarterback in NFL
Who is the best quarterback in the NFL? It comes down to Josh Allen vs Patrick Mahomes, Allen did more with less in the past two seasons and he’s undeniably the more dangerous runner. With Mahomes facing the uncertainty of a production dip with Hill gone, Allen gets the QB1 nod. Allan opened the 2022 season by putting up north of 350 total yards and four touchdowns in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Yeah!
- Josh Allen stats (2021): 4,407 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, 763 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
1. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams – Best NFL player in 2022
There’s a reason the Los Angeles Rams made Aaron Donald the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. The 6-foot-1 defensive tackle overwhelmed opponents again in 2021, racking up 25 quarterback hits and 12.5 sacks. Naturally, he saved his biggest moments for the game-winning plays in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. Donald is the best NFL player in 2022 and one of the best defensive players ever.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.