Every year around this time, NFL Network gradually releases a list of the top 100 players in the NFL. The unique aspect of this annual list is the fact that the players themselves vote. While this factor makes the list special, it tends to aause some strange rankings.
During the season, most players do not keep in touch with the rest of the NFL; they are focused on their games each week and nothing else. Therefore, the players may not have as great of a representation of various players as most NFL fans do.
For example, such a condition causes the list to consist of far too many quarterbacks (Alex Smith made the list this offseason), since the position is the most popular as opposed to, say, offensive linemen.
Since there is a great deal of error among the rankings, here is my opinionated list of rankings as an avid watcher of every game.
To clarify, this list includes the top players entering 2017 and is not just a rank of the best performances from 2016.
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Did Brady really have to get a fifth ring for people to begin recognizing him as the greatest of all time? Look for Brady to drop another 50-touchdown season in 2017 with a healthy Gronkowski and a new deep threat in Cooks.
2. Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders
Who is the best defensive end in the NFL? Mack. Who is the best outside linebacker in the NFL? Mack. Enough said. Mack’s quarterback pressure is unmatched in the NFL, and he increased the big plays between 2015 and 2016 that won his team multiple games.
3. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Donald is a top-five pass rusher in the league, and he plays defensive tackle. Eight sacks in 2017 earned him his second straight First-team All Pro nod and has now been rewarded a Pro Bowl spot in each of his first three seasons. Donald is about to become the highest paid defensive tackle in NFL history in 2018.
4. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Watt is the obvious top candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Watt constantly draws (and shreds) double teams with the most explosive get-off and athletic hand movement at the position.
5. Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos
Miller ended the season with 24 combined sacks and hits, with 55 additional hurries also to his name. The reigning Super Bowl MVP was also a force in the run game, leading all edge defenders this year with 53 defensive stops, nine more than any other player.
6. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier said that every time Le’Veon Bell touched the football he could hear Axl Rose whistling, and no better metaphor has ever been spoken. Bell’s unique running style has made him the best running back in the NFL, and he becomes a top-ten wide receiver when he’s split out wide as a pass catcher.
7. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The catch by Jones that nearly clinched the Falcons Super Bowl LI is an archetype of the performance level of Jones. The man recorded 300 yards in one game against the Panthers this season. That number is just ridiculous to think about. The best wide receiver in the NFL is going to have a tough time matching his 2016 performance next season.
8. Luke Kuechly, MLB, Carolina Panthers
Kuechly is at times a liability simply due to his usual missed time. With that being said, when Kuechly is on the field, his performance is incomparable to any other middle linebacker in the game. the Boston College alumnus is the league’s best coverage linebacker, able to influence plays through recognition and quick action that most linebackers never get close to, and his absence was a big hole for Carolina.
9. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
It seems like magic happens every time Johnson touched the football last season. He scored six points 20 different times last season, including 16 on the ground, and averaged over 130 scrimmage yards per game in 2016. Maybe if Bruce Arians gave Johnson the ball more than 18 times per game, the Cardinals would have had a record of at least .500.
10. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Quite possibly the greatest play of the 2016 regular season was Brown’s reach across the goal line with under a minute to go in order to beat the Ravens and clinch the AFC North. Brown is the league’s best route runner, and his ability to find an opening in the defense was proven by leading the league with 7 receptions per game.
11. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
The reigning MVP just misses out on the top-10 of this list, but still edges out Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Since I’m sure many will disagree with placing Ryan over Rodgers, let’s compare stats quickly; Ryan had over 500 more passing yards on over 75 less attempts, averaging two yards more per attempt with a much higher passer rating as well (not to mention the head-to-head).
12. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers benefitted from an offensive line that allowed him to hold the ball for an average amount of time second to just Tyrod Taylor. Even when he was pressured, his passer rating over the entire year was over 90.0. His stats will always be impressive, but he may take a drop in performance since guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton are now playing for other NFC North teams.
13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2012, when he reached over 1,300 yards and led the league in touchdowns. A full season alongside another deep threat in Brandin Cooks may lead Gronkowski to setting single season records for the position. Of course, when the man is on the field, he is near impossible to control.
14. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Although often plagued by injuries, Green makes catches on an every-week basis that very few can replicate. The toe-tapping sideline catches, the goal line fade toss-ups, the plays that make SportsCenter’s Top Ten each week are made effortlessly by Green. The only thing that can stop Green are his injuries.
15. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins
Williams has always been one of the league’s best run blockers, but upped his game in pass protection in 2016 and is playing the best football of his career. He guarded Kirk Cousins’s blind side very efficiently and proved his versatility by filling in at guard at times.
16. Marshal Yanda, OG, Baltimore Ravens
Yanda remained the NFL’s best guard, proving it this season while having to flip to the left side of the line midseason without decreasing in performance whatsoever. Yanda was graded by PFF as the best overall guard as well as the best run blocking guard, leading the Ravens’ running backs to over four yards per carry.
17. Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle Seahawks
Wagner’s ability to quickly recognize plays and explosively react led him to 60 defensive stops and giving up just a single touchdown in pass coverage. He also is a great pass rusher as a mike backer, recording the most pressures of an off-the-ball defender.
18. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos
Talib was by far the best corner in 2016, not allowing a single touchdown pass all year. He allowed just a 46.7 passer rating, second only to Rhodes among cornerbacks.
19. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Elliott finished his rookie season leading the league in rushing by more than 300 yards, and averaging 2.9 yards per carry after contact. He averaged over 5 yards per carry total all season, and toted the ball a league-leading 322 times in the regular season.
20. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Even in his uglier seasons, Brees still performs to the level of a top-10 quarterback. Bree finished the season with a completion percentage of 70.0 and a passer rating of 101.7. Brees, in fact, was far better than that most of the season, but two tough divisional games late in the year hurt his statistics.
21. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks
Still the hardest hitting defensive back in the league, Chancellor has explosiveness and a nose for the football that outshines most linebackers. The pass defense was a little bit poor in comparison to recent years for Chancellor, but making up for the loss of Earl Thomas is no easy task.
22. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans has truly exploded over his first three seasons, and finally being able to limit his usually high drop rate has made him one of the league’s best. The catch Evans made against the Falcons on Monday Night Football this past season demonstrated the absurd acrobatic ability he has despite being 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. Look for him to improve even further lining up alongside DeSean Jackson and with Winston continuing to develop.
23. Landon Collins, S, New York Giants
Collins was everywhere for the Giants this year, impacting the run, covering receivers close to the line and even causing havoc as a pass-rusher on the blitz. Collins recorded 46 defensive stops over the regular season, eight more than any other safety.
24. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
His inconsistent hands may cost his team at times, as well as his childish attitude, but Beckham Jr. is as good after the catch as any player in the NFL right now. When Eli Manning actually hits Beckham Jr. on a slant route over the middle or finds him on a drag route in the opposite flat instead of throwing the ball at his feet, it’s off to the races with his 4.4-speed and insane agility.
25. Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
Not many players can have an ACL surgery in the offseason, and in their first full game back (Week 12 vs. the Broncos) record 10 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety. Fans almost seem to undervalue Houston because of the tremendous OLB talent in that division, but Houston is set for another huge season in 2017.
26. Janoris Jenkins, CB, New York Giants
Jenkins gave up the third-lowest completion percentage (45.7) among all No. 1 cornerbacks this season. He became the lock-up corner the Giants were hoping for and always shadowed the opponent’s top receiver; Jenkins allowed Bryant just one catch in Week 14, on which he forced the star receiver to fumble.
27. A.J. Bouye, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars made one of the best free agent signings in the offseason, and now have the best cornerback grouping in the AFC South. On the season Bouye allowed just 47.9 percent of the targets against him to be completed at just 10.8 yards per reception, fifth-lowest among No. 1 corners.
28. Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
2016 was a poor performance in general for Peterson, but he is still one of the best at the position. Just because he is asked to do so much in a secondary that gives him no help whatsoever doesn’t mean we can write off on a player we have praised for so long just because his stats weren’t great. Hopefully the addition of rookie safety Budda Baker and a resurgence year from Tyrann Mathieu can help turn things around for the Cardinals secondary.
29. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carr was a serious candidate for MVP until he injured his finger late in the season, and then again injured in Week 16, and subsequently ruled out for the season. Carr threw 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions when kept clean in the pocket, completing 67.1 percent of those pass attempts.
30. Dont’a Hightower, MLB, New England Patriots
If there’s a single attribute that defines Hightower as a player, it’s his ability to make big plays in the most crucial moments. In Super Bowl XLIX it was Hightower who tackled Marshawn Lynch just short of the goal line one play before Malcolm Butler’s famous interception, and in Super Bowl LI it was Hightower who strip-sacked Matt Ryan to flip momentum and give the Patriots an extra possession.
31. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Ajayi is likely the most punishing back in the NFL, which his stats prove. Ajayi ended the year with 1,272 yards, but he gained a staggering 900 of them after contact, as the Miami offensive line did little to aid his progress. Ajayi was the hardest back in the game to bring down and stop, as he broke a league-high 58 tackles on the ground — 11 more than any other runner — despite ranking 15th in attempts.
32. Casey Hayward, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
Hayward led the NFL with seven interceptions, and allowed just 51 percent of targets to be completed. He also matched up well with talented wide receivers, holding Mike Evans to 16 yards in Week 13 and Cooper to one catch in Week 15. His passer rating allowed was 49.0, third-best.
33. Matt Paradis, C, Denver Broncos
Paradis took a huge leap forward this season, and was as good as it got at center league-wide. He finished with an overall PFF grade of 90.7 and a run blocking grade of 90.6, which ranked him first and second respectively among centers.
34. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton is top-five in basically every stat from the 2016 season; Hilton accumulated a league-high 1,448 yards over the regular season from his 91 receptions. Hilton was incredibly productive as Andrew Luck’s top target, catching 63.6 percent of balls thrown his way.
35. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
In the past few seasons, Luck had been a very talented quarterback and obvious starter, but nowhere near his supposed potential. Luck made a move in the right direction in 2016, recording a career-high completion percentage of 63.5 and raising his average yards per attempt figure to a career-high 7.8 yards.
36. Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys
In 2016, Lee notched 114 solo tackles and 29 additional assists, recording 60 defensive stops (third in the NFL, playoffs included). Lee has now gone three straight seasons playing at least 700 snaps for the Cowboys, playing as the most consistent linebacker Dallas has seen in years.
37. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Cox racked up 57 total QB pressures over the season, despite seeing his playing time cut down to 75.5 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He especially demonstrated his star talent against top competition notching eight total QB pressures in two games against the Dallas Cowboys and All-Pro guard Zack Martin.
38. Calais Campbell, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Campbell’s overall grade of 90.4 given by PFF represents the first time he has broken the 90.0-barrier in his career, and if anything, he ended the season stronger than he began it, with six sacks in his last five games. Campbell notched 57 total QB pressures and five batted passes when rushing the passer.
39. Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Bennett continued to perform as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers in 2016, recording a pressure in every game and totaling 48 pressures overall. His quickness and agility allow him to avoid blockers and consistently make stops.
40. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Rhodes was at many times a shut down corner this season, allowing an NFL-low 41.8 percent catch rate while shutting down top receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. Rhodes also recorded five interceptions on the year.
41. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Los Angeles Rams
Whitworth continues to play as one of the most consistently-excellent linemen in the game, and allowed only 15 total pressures across 637 snaps of pass protection. You read that right; Whitworth allowed pressures on just two percent of passing plays.
42. Chris Harris, CB, Denver Broncos
Harris is the most versatile defensive back in the NFL, being able to lineup inside or outside. He is strong against the run, recording two more defensive stops in 2016 than the next best corner, and allowing just 126 total yards after the catch and an average of only 8.9 yards per reception despite being targeted 84 times.
43. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans
Clowney finally demonstrated his pure strength and athleticism in 2016, enough to make him a top-50 player as of now. Clowney notched 58 total QB pressures over the season (including the playoffs), and averaged 4.5 pressures in his two playoff games. Progress was made between 2015 and 2016, and his potential is sky-high.
44. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
This season Berry transitioned from a strong safety to more of a free safety, lining up in the box on less than one-fifth of defensive snaps. It certainly worked well for the Kansas City defense, since Berry picked off four passes as well as the game-winning two-point conversion against the Falcons in Week 13.
45. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce racked up 1,125 receiving yards, the most in the league among TEs, and averaged an impressive 7.7 yards per reception after the catch, turning shallow Alex Smith targets into big plays. Not many teams can make the playoffs surviving on screen plays to their tight end.
46. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ offense without Nelson is a total disaster; this was portrayed all of last season and at the start of the 2016 season. Once Nelson was fully recovered from his injury, the Packers offense resurged, causing Nelson to lead the league with 14 touchdown receptions while catching 97 passes for 1,257 yards and dropping only four balls.
47. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
In five straight years, Thomas has done the following: been targeted over 140 times, recorded at least 90 catches, tallied over 1,000 yards, and been named to the Pro Bowl. His stats took a big drop from 2015, but that was expected with a quarterback transition from Peyton Manning to Trevor Siemian.
48. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Although the stats may not show, Jeffery is one of the most talented pass catchers in the game. Since the retirement of Calvin Johnson, Jeffery has been arguably the best jump ball receiver in the NFL. With the exception of maybe A.J. Green, no other receiver has the same ability to grab contested balls. Jeffery is going to be very fun to watch with young gun Carson Wentz in 2017.
49. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
For the season, Jordan posted 79 total QB pressures, the same number as Von Miller, and was a consistent force against the run game. He was held without a pressure in just one game throughout the 2016 season.
50. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant hasn’t looked the same since his 2015 foot injury, but we know his talent level and what he’s capable of. In just 2014, Bryant earned First-team All Pro and led the league with 16 touchdowns. An offseason to recover from injury and connect with Dak Prescott should boost Bryant back to the top of the league.
51. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
There aren’t many quarterbacks in the league that can throw the long ball like Roethlisberger. Every year he puts up huge yardage totals; well, huge yards per game totals, since his total yardage totals have been low in 2015 and 2016 due to missed time. In 2014, his last full season, Roethlisberger nearly reached 5,000 yards while leading the league in that stat. Roethlisberger has the ability to climb up this list if he can perform in the post season in 2017.
52. Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
Cooks recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season in 2016, and a trade that places him with the greatest quarterback in the game can only mean good things. Robert Kraft has already compared the speedster’s potential to that of Randy Moss.
53. Anthony Barr, OLB, Minnesota Vikings
If this list was based entirely on the 2016 season, Barr may not have made the list. He was beat for four touchdowns in coverage this season and overall was a very large liability in pass defense. With that being said, at the end of the 2015 season Barr was widely regarded as the best OLB in the NFC, and one bad season at 24 years old shouldn’t make people write off on him. We’ve already seen just how productive Barr can be.
54. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer was one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks of the 2016 season, but even better than how Hopkins reacted in Houston, Fitzgerald still notched over 1,000 yards and even led the league with 107 receptions. Fitzgerald caught 72.8 of targeted passes and also was a phenomenal blocker throughout the season.
55. Kelechi Osemele, OG, Oakland Raiders
Osemele was a monster this season, and was narrowly edged onto PFF’s All-Pro second team by his former teammate Marshal Yanda. Osemele’s run blocking was especially explosive and powerful, and he allowed very few quarterback pressures all year.
56. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
While Hopkins’s stats took a major hit in 2016 since his quarterback was Brock Osweiler, he still often showed off his playmaking capability and proved that his talent is still not to be taken lightly. With fellow Clemson Tiger Deshaun Watson likely to assume the starting role, Hopkins should see a resurgence of numbers in 2017.
57. Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots
McCourty finished the season with the highest PFF coverage grade among safeties (92.4), and is defined by how rarely he makes a mistake. McCourty’s performance hit a career-best for him this season, but he has always been a valuable leader in a young secondary.
58. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford is easily the most underrated quarterback in the NFL. Stafford has an absolute cannon and people tend to underestimate his value. The Lions won nine games last season and earned a playoff spot with no running game whatsoever, no true deep threat, and an offensive line whose best feature was a rookie tackle. It’s about time people start giving Stafford credit for what he’s done in Detroit.
59. Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
Butler allowed fewer than 20 receiving yards seven times this season and had nine games in which he allowed two or fewer catches. He notched 13 pass breakups over the year (including the playoffs) and made big plays while showing aggressive physicality against dominant receivers.
60. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton wasn’t his normal self in 2016, but he is still just two seasons removed from the League MVP that led a 15-win team to the Super Bowl. We saw in 2015 a great deal of immaturity from Newton, and the 2016 season may have been a necessary lesson for Newton that helped him grow and mature for the 2017 season. Newton still has one of the top arms in the NFL, plus tremendous power on the ground, and with incoming offensive rookie talent, Newton should be back at the top of his game in 2017.
61. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
This season, Suh posted career highs in tackles and batted passes, recorded 43 defensive stops (good enough for third among interior defenders), and missed just one tackle all year. Suh has been the most consistently productive defensive tackles in the past five seasons.
62. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
It was difficult to grade Wilson in 2016 since he was under pressure on 41.6 percent of his dropbacks. Wilson ended the season with a passer rating of 93.0, and only really struggled when the O-line had games where the unit went from a significant impediment to prohibitive disaster.
63. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
In 2016, Atkins had a pass rush that was second-best among defensive tackles, but his run defense took a big hit. Atkins posted 77 total QB pressures, trailing only Rams DT Aaron Donald among interior linemen, but posted only 26 defensive stops compared to 40 a year ago and 47 during the 2012 season.
64. Damon Harrison, DT, New York Giants
Harrison’s performance against the run is unmatched; he once again led the league in run-stop percentage and run stops among interior defenders. “Snacks” made 52 defensive stops this season, which led all interior defenders, but 49 run stops, which led all interior defenders by 10.
65. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Olsen was one of only two NFL TEs to record over 1,000 receiving yards in the 2016 season, racking up 1,073 from his 80 receptions, catching 65.6 percent of balls thrown his way. Just two passes were dropped by Olsen out of his 82 catchable targets. Overall, Olsen’s reliable hands was a bright spot in a rough offensive year for the Panthers in 2016.
66. Brent Grimes, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opposing quarterbacks targeted Grimes 73 times in coverage, but he allowed just 47.9 percent of those to be completed, fifth-lowest among No. 1 corners. The veteran did allow four touchdowns but also registered four interceptions, including one pick-six.
67. Davis Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers
Bakhtiari surrendered just 20 total quarterback pressures, and is the NFL’s only left tackle to be charged for less pressure than the man he is protecting, since Aaron Rodgers was blamed for 23 pressures. Bakhtiari was rated as the best pass blocking tackle in the game while letting Rodgers hold the ball for the an average amount of time that was second only to Tyrod Taylor.
68. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
Perhaps the down season for Sherman was caused by the MCL injury he reportedly played through, but Sherman was burnt left and right allowing 14.6 yards per reception and losing battles to mediocre NFL receivers like Kenny Britt. Sherman is still one of the best at the position, but for now he is no longer the “best damn corner in the game.”
69. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Two rookies led the league in rushing; Elliott of course was the NFL’s top rusher, but Howard followed closely behind. Howard didn’t start until Week 4 in Chicago, and still ended the season with 1,313 rushing yards. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 3.0 yards per carry after contact, and also broke 40 tackles in 252 attempts.
70. Alex Mack, C, Atlanta Falcons
Led by Mack, who ranked first among run blocking centers, the Falcons’ line was at its best when blocking for the ground game, opening holes for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to combine for 1,599 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Mack’s performance among centers was second only to Matt Paradis, well worth the annual $9 million the Falcons agreed to pay him in the offseason.
71. Cameron Wake, DE, Miami Dolphins
Wake was slowly implemented into the Miami defense coming back from a torn achilles, but Wake recorded at least one sack in nine of 10 games from Week 6 onward, which was his first start of the season. Wake was one of the league’s best pass-rushers in 2016, easily making up for the loss of Olivier Vernon.
72. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott didn’t just leading the league in rushing, but also in yards before contact, and much of that heavy lifting was done by Martin. His combination of speed and strength makes him a perfect fit for Jason Garrett’s love of zone blocking.
73. Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Graham ended the season with 17 knockdowns, third-most in the league, to go along with 83 total pressures (second-most). Graham would be ranked much higher on this list if he could just convert his 83 pressures into more than six sacks.
74. Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Throwing for the fifth most passing yards in the NFL in 2016 with Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman as the top targets is very impressive. His league worst 21 interceptions continue to hurt his chances of a Hall of Fame spot, especially those late fourth quarter picks that cost his team games and lost me a couple fantasy football match-ups.
75. Olivier Vernon, DE, New York Giants
Vernon recorded the second-most quarterback pressures in the NFL in 2016, part of which was due to Vernon’s ability to stay on the field. No player was made to work harder in terms of snap volume than Olivier Vernon in his first year with the Giants; his 1,041 snaps in the regular season were 78 more than any other edge rusher.
76. Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee Titans
Casey racked up five sacks an 51 total QB pressures over the season, acting as more of a pass-rushing threat than an impactful run defender. Casey also was formidable against the run, as his ability to disrupt was always present. Casey also tallied five pass deflections on the season.
77. Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore Ravens
Weddle recorded a bounce back season from his poor 2015 performance as a Charger, recording just three missed tackles all year. He picked off four passes on the season and re-established himself as a top safety in the NFL.
78. Mike Daniels, DT, Green Bay Packers
Daniels is a player who has really broken out since the loss of defensive tackle B.J. Raji. In 2016, Daniels posted 43 total QB pressures and played fewer snaps overall than most interior linemen: 664 defensive snaps on the season.posted 43 total QB pressures and played fewer snaps overall than most interior linemen—664 defensive snaps on the season.
79. Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
The issue last season for Peters was although he made big plays, leading the league with eight interceptions as a rookie in 2015, he also gave up long plays religiously. The ball-hawking remained for Peters in 2016, checking in with six interceptions this season, but he also cut down his mistakes, allowing just 12.8 yards per reception.
80. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman had his breakout season in 2015, gaining over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and earning a spot on the Second-team All Pro roster. Although he wasn’t acknowledged with the same accolades and awards in 2016, the stats and tapes showed even further improvement from Freeman. He tallied more rushing yards on less attempts, averaging 0.8 more yards per attempt than he did the previous season. His ability to make big plays was shown no matter the size of the stage, ripping off a 37-yard rush on the first offensive play in Super Bowl LI.
81. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ramsey is one of the best up-and-coming stars in the league as he proved capable of playing with the big boys in 2016. Only a rookie, Ramsey was able to shadow top wide-outs, limiting Amari Cooper to four yards in Week 7, and allowing DeAndre Hopkins to just five catches for under 50 yards on 11 targets in Week 15.
82. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon is a very punishing back, but as opposed to most downhill runners, he doesn’t sacrifice speed for power. No other runner besides maybe David Johnson has a greater balance of speed and power. Gordon nearly doubled his yards from scrimmage total from his rookie season to his sophomore season, while also playing in fewer games. Gordon is a very resilient back who will be a dynasty player for the Chargers while they transition to Los Angeles.
83. Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
If Norman’s performance matched his trash talk, he’d be top-ten on this list. Norman was signed to a $75 million deal so that the Redskins could match him up against top receivers. Instead, he refused to leave his half of the field at times and avoided major competition. He did (mostly) access against the receivers he matched up against, but a lot of the time those receivers were a team’s number two. The snaps he did get against number one’s were not very successful (ex. Odell Beckham Jr.), causing the decrease in ranking from 2016.
84. C.J. Mosley, MLB, Baltimore Ravens
Mosley is a tremendous run stopper who often takes on multiple blockers and fills rushing lanes with great tenacity. Mosley has great potential given his youth and has the promise to climb high on this list, but as of now he has plenty of room to improve. His double digit missed tackles and tendency to be penalized shows there is available growth from Mosley.
85. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers
Bosa ended the season with 59 total QB pressures despite only playing 563 snaps, a rate higher than that of Von Miller. He was also very versatile for the Chargers defensive front, effective as a pass-rusher and as a run defender at both defensive end and outside linebacker, also playing on the left and right sides of the defense.
86. Vic Beasley, OLB, Atlanta Falcons
Beasley is virtually a one-dimensional player, but his one skill is so strong that he is worthy of being listed among the top-100 players in the NFL. He was arguably the most productive finisher in 2016, converting 28.6 percent of his pressures into sacks and ultimately leading the league in sacks with 15.5. If Beasley can build upon other weak aspects of his game, he may become a perennial Pro Bowler.
87. Cliff Avril, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Avril came in at No. 56 on NFL Network’s Top-100, which isn’t a bad spot for him. Avril recorded a career-high in sacks, leading him to his first career Pro Bowl nod in nine seasons. The veteran took down the quarterback on 11.5 occasions, which placed him second among defensive linemen. Avril is approaching the end of his career, but for the time being, he and Michael Bennett are a very productive pass rushing duo.
88. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks
Before his devastating injury that made him mull retirement, Thomas was the best free safety in the league with no exceptions. Since then, Eric Berry made the transition to free safety which would have been an interesting argument, but fact of the matter is that Thomas likely won’t be the same player as he has been. Thomas’s style involves very aggressive play, and without full confidence restored and a full recovery, the injury just may put him out of football.
89. Chandler Jones, OLB, Arizona Cardinals
Jones totaled 66 QB pressures over the season and ended the year with back-to-back two-sack games. Jones also recorded multiple pressures in all but three games this season, forming a very dangerous pass-rushing duo with Markus Golden.
90. Jamie Collins, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Collins is going to be the staple of the Browns defense in their upcoming building years after signing four-year $50 million contract in the offseason. In his last full season with the Patriots, Collins reached the Pro Bowl and was listed on the Second-team All Pro roster. Not many linebackers are as versatile as Collins, who performs on the outside and the inside, and also covers the pass like no other backer. His athleticism will lead the Browns to constructing a very substantial defensive front.
91. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
In 2o16, McCoy rushed for an average of 5.4 yards per attempt, which outperformed both of his First-team All Pro seasons in 2011 and 2013. That number was also highest among starting running backs in 2016, making him worthy of fourth-straight Pro Bowl nomination. McCoy still has some of the best jukes and shiftiness in the NFL entering his ninth season, and although injuries have become a problem for him as he continues to age, the veteran consistently puts together productive seasons no matter the quarterback.
92. Deion Jones, MLB, Atlanta Falcons
In three years, Jones is going to be as much of a threat for the Falcons as Dont’a Hightower is now for the Patriots. Jones led the Falcons in tackles as a rookie and was a punishing tackler often disrupting run plays within a yard of the line of scrimmage. The LSU alum is one of the most exciting young defenders the league has to offer.
93. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The turnovers and poor decisions were present throughout Winston’s sophomore season, but all of that is expected in just his second professional season. The catch is that between these mental errors were a number of tremendous efforts and throws that will hopefully overcome the faults in the upcoming seasons. Add in his pocket escapes and rushing talent and Winston is going to be very fun to watch develop in 2018 and on.
94. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns
Blocking for six different quarterbacks in a seven-week span is no easy task, but even with the constant changes at the helm, Thomas put forth yet another Pro Bowl season. His performance was weaker in comparison to other recent seasons, but even still Thomas remains one of the best at offensive tackle.
95. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
All of the pre-draft analysis involving Thomas said that although he wasn’t the fastest or the tallest or had the best hands, he was consistently dubbed “Most NFL-ready”. Thomas caught 92 balls for over 1,100 yards in his 15-game rookie season, including two games with double digit receptions. Thomas is already a borderline Pro Bowler and may just reach that in 2017 with Brandin Cooks out of New Orleans.
96. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
Short notched 38 defensive stops and 49 total QB pressures in the 2016 season, including 37 total QB pressures and 24 stops from Week 8 onward. His start to the season, as well as the Carolina defense as a whole, began very slow and not close to where they were at the end 0f 2015, but Short and the defense finished 2016 strong, making the Panthers a possible resurgence team in 2017.
97. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McCoy is still a top pass rusher from the interior, and even though he wasn’t as dominate as usual in 2016, he still finished the year with eight sacks and 49 total QB pressures.
98. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Frederick likely has the most difficult task among all offensive linemen in the NFL; the zone blocking scheme that Dallas runs requires the center to make some of the most difficult blocks, often against a team’s best defensive lineman. All season he dominated players like Damon Harrison, Linval Joseph, and Danny Shelton.
99. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants
When targeted, Rodgers-Cromartie gave up a passer rating of just 56.6 to opposing quarterbacks. D.R.C. was able to move between the outside and the slot with Eli Apple getting reps, and overall he ended the year with six interceptions and 10 pass breakups.
100. Melvin Ingram, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers need to lock down Ingram long term before the 2017 season ends, because right now the pass rushing duo of Bosa and Ingram is near the top of the league. Ingram recorded 33 defensive stops and 72 total QB pressures, including multiple pressures in every game this season.
Jackson Haskins is an NFL writer for DYSTNow.com, you can follow him on Twitter @JacksonHaskins1.