NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: Analysis

I berated the players for their crappy rankings in the Top 100 NFL Players of 2011 and people seemed to like that. I ran other critiques of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2013, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2014, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2015, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2016, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2017, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2018, the Top 100 NFL Players of 2019 and the the Top 100 NFL Players of 2020. I’ve gotten many requests to do the same for the 2021 version, so here we are.

I really find it amazing how NFL players can screw up these rankings. As I pointed out before, if you’re in an office, you and your other co-workers can probably rank the best employees and come to a smart consensus. NFL players, however, continuously bungle things like this, probably because many of them don’t watch film or pay attention to the other games. They ranked Michael Turner in the top 100 nine years ago, yet the guy couldn’t even move. Five years ago, Carson Palmer was 12th, Blake Bortles was 56th, and Chris Ivory was 78th! Here was my reaction:

OH MY GOD. CHRIS IVORY IS 78TH?!??!?! ARE YOU F***ING SERIOUS??? CHRIS IVORY… IS 78TH!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

Four years ago, DeMarco Murray was voted in as the 31st-best player in the NFL. Yes, DeMarco Murray, the guy who lost his job during the year. The NFL players ranked Murray ahead of Kam Chancellor, Joey Bosa, Bobby Wagner, Trent Williams and Jadeveon Clowney.

The following year, Case Keenum was 51st. Let me repeat that. Case Keenum was 51st. Here’s what I wrote:


The NFL players thought that Case Keenum was a better player than Philip Rivers. It was almost as bad in 2019, when Jared Goff was slotted in 32nd place. Yes, NFL players thought Goff was the 32nd-best player in the NFL. Like I said, these players have no clue.

The big screw-up in 2020 was Jimmy Garoppolo, who was somehow slotted at No. 43. Here were my thoughts:




Predictably, there were some very dumb choices in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2021. I’ve highlighted them, marking the underrated players in blue and overrated players in red.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 100-91:

100. James Robinson, RB, Jaguars
99. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles
98. Brandon Scherff, G, Redskins
97. Kyle Juszczyk, FB, 49ers
96. Cole Beasley, WR, Bills
95. Tre’Davious White, CB, Bills
94. Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns
93. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions
92. Jason Kelce, C, Eagles
91. Corey Davis, WR, Jets

100. James Robinson: I like James Robinson, but if he were a top-100 player, why did the Jaguars spend a first-round pick on another running back?

96. Cole Beasley: I’m a big supporter of Cole Beasley’s rights – go here to buy a Cole’s Body, Cole’s Choice shirt – but he’s just a slot receiver and thus doesn’t belong in the top 100. I wonder if players voted Beasley into this list because he was brave enough to speak out about his rights against the totalitarian blue-check brigade.

91. Corey Davis: Ugh, Corey Davis? He was a huge bust throughout his career until he was up for a contract in 2020. Perhaps he’ll continue to play well, but he doesn’t have enough of a positive track record to deserve a spot in the top 100.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 90-81:

90. Jessie Bates, S, Bengals
89. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Buccaneers
88. Shaq Barrett, DE/OLB, Buccaneers
87. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
86. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints
85. Zack Martin, G, Cowboys
84. Leonard Williams, DT, Giants
83. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
82. Garett Bolles, OT, Broncos
81. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers

88. Shaq Barrett: I’m surprised to see Shaq Barrett at this number. He’s a year removed from logging 19.5 sacks, and he absolutely dominated in the Super Bowl.

83. Ryan Tannehill: In what universe is Ryan Tannehill better than Zack Martin, Marshon Lattimore, Allen Robinson and Shaq Barrett? Tannehill is a great game-manager, but he’s not a franchise quarterback and thus doesn’t belong in the top 100.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 80-71:

80. Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings
79. Terron Armstead, OT, Saints
78. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Titans
77. Quandre Diggs, S, Seahawks
76. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
75. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Texans
74. James Bradberry, CB, Giants
73. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Bengals
72. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
71. Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

There’s nothing egregiously wrong in this range. I think Tyler Lockett is a bit too high, but I don’t think it’s a huge blunder, or anything. Some may disagree with Baker Mayfield’s ranking, but I think he’s in the right spot.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 70-61:

70. Eric Kendricks, LB, Vikings
69. Ryan Kelly, C, Colts
68. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
67. K.J. Wright, LB, None
66. J.J. Watt, DE, Cardinals
65. Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons
64. Demario Davis, LB, Saints
63. Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles
62. A.J. Brown, WR, Titans
61. Chase Young, DE, Redskins

68. Josh Jacobs: I have a difficult time believing that Josh Jacobs is a better player than Michael Thomas, Ryan Kelly, Eric Kendricks and a bunch of players in the 71-100 range. I don’t think he belongs in the top 100. He struggled last year when finally not running behind an elite offensive line.

67. K.J. Wright: WTF is this ranking? K.J. Wright is so past his prime that he’s not even on an NFL team right now! How can he possibly be ranked as the 67th-best player in the NFL!?

61. Chase Young: I would have placed Chase Young in the top 20. He single-handedly dominated games at the end of last season, and there’s a good chance he’ll win NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 60-51:

60. Corey Linsley, C, Chargers
59. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Buccaneers
58. Tyrann Mathieu, S, Chiefs
57. Cameron Heyward, DT, Steelers
56. Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers
55. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
54. Grady Jarrett, DT, Falcons
53. Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
52. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Steelers
51. Za’Darius Smith, DE/OLB, Packers

59. Jason Pierre-Paul: Did the NFL players feel sorry for the fireworks incident? Is that why Jason Pierre-Paul is listed higher than Shaq Barrett? Because he’s certainly not better than Barrett, and no reasonable person on this planet is picking him over Chase Young.

58. Tyrann Mathieu, S, Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu probably belongs in the top 100, but definitely not in the top 60. He’s a good player, but he’s not the elite defensive back he once was prior to all of his injuries.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 50-41:

50. George Kittle, TE, 49ers
49. J.C. Jackson, CB, Patriots
48. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
47. Stephon Gilmore, CB, Patriots
46. Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints
45. Justin Simmons, S, Broncos
44. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
43. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers
42. Trent Williams, OT, 49ers
41. Jaire Alexander, CB, Packers

41. Jaire Alexander: Jaire Alexander was the best cornerback in the NFL last year, so I would have him higher than this. Outside of that, these 10 players seem appropriately ranked. Perhaps J.C. Jackson is a bit too high, but he had a strong 2020 season.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 40-31:

40. Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, Broncos
39. Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
38. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens
37. Darius Leonard, LB, Colts
36. David Bakhtiari, OT, Packers
35. Darren Waller, TE, Raiders
34. Chris Jones, DT, Chiefs
33. Quenton Nelson, G, Colts
32. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers
31. Jamal Adams, S, Seahawks

31. Jamal Adams: I was very critical of the Seahawks’ re-signing of Jamal Adams. They paid way too much money for a player who was torched often in coverage last year. Adams wasn’t 100 percent, but he certainly did not perform like the 31st-best player in the NFL, despite his high sack total (9.5).

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 30-21:

30. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
29. Julio Jones, WR, Titans
28. Devin White, LB, Buccaneers
27. DeForest Buckner, DT, Colts
26. Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
25. Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks
24. Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
23. Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Bears
22. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks
21. Fred Warner, LB, 49ers

30. Aaron Jones: Come on. Aaron Jones is a very good player, but he’s not better than David Bakhtiari, Quenton Nelson, Chris Jones, Darius Leonard and Marlon Humphrey. And he’s not better than Christian McCaffrey, either. Somehow, NFL players believe Jones is better than McCaffrey. Unreal.

29. Julio Jones: If these rankings were from 2018, I could buy this ranking. Julio Jones, however, is now in his 30s, and he can’t stop getting hurt. There’s no way he’s a top-30 player in the NFL at this stage of his career.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 20-11:

20. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
19. Budda Baker, S, Cardinals
18. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
17. Xavien Howard, CB, Dolphins
16. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
15. Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
14. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
13. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Rams
12. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
11. Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills

I have no significant issues with this group, as I assume the voting was done before the Deshaun Watson allegations surfaced. The top 10 has not yet been released, so check back when it is!

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: 10-1:

10. Josh Allen, QB, Bills
9. T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Steelers
8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
7. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
6. Davante Adams, WR, Packers
5. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
4. Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2. Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers
1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

These were my predictions: 10. Josh Allen. 9. T.J. Watt. 8. Davante Adams. 7. DeAndre Hopkins. 6. Travis Kelce. 5. Derrick Henry. 4. Aaron Rodgers. 3. Aaron Donald. 2. Tom Brady. 1. Patrick Mahomes.

The greatest disparity is Tom Brady. Perhaps the players are correct for being lower on Brady because he could decline at the age of 44, but I think the quarterback who just led his team to a seventh Super Bowl victory should be in the top three.

NFL Top 100 Players of 2021 – Snubs:

Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants – Saquon Barkley was 31st in 2020, but he’s out of the top 100 entirely. That makes no sense. I get that he missed most of the 2020 campaign, but he’s still a stellar play-maker. Other running backs who are worse players – namely James Robinson and Josh Jacobs – made the list, yet Barkley deserves to be ranked above them!

Nick Bosa, DE, 49ers – Nick Bosa was ranked 17th in 2020, and yet he’s presumably out of the top 100 now. I understand that he barely played last year, but he’s still one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. A case could have been made to be in the top 10, and yet he didn’t even crack the entire list!

Kevin Byard, S, Titans – There’s a reason the Titans signed Kevin Byard to a 5-year, $70.5 million contract recently. He’s one of the best players at his position. Byard was also left out of the top 100 in 2019 and 2020, so this is another instance of NFL players being clueless.

La’el Collins, OT, Cowboys – La’el Collins had an amazing 2019. He was injured last year, but still should be recognized as a top-100 player.

Lane Johnson, OT, Eagles – When healthy, Lane Johnson is arguably the best right tackle in the NFL.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys – Did people forget about Demarcus Lawrence because the Cowboys were so bad last year? Lawrence is still one of the better edge rushers in the NFL.

Shaq Mason, G, Patriots – Shaq Mason is one of the top guards in the NFL, so it’s ridiculous that he wasn’t slotted into the top 100 at all.

Marcus Maye, S, Jets – How did Jamal Adams get ranked over Marcus Maye? Adams struggled last year when not rushing the quarterback, while Maye had a stellar season.

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12