It’s that time of year again, when NFL players cast their votes to identify the best in the league heading into the 2022 NFL season. Check out the results of this year’s voting to see where your favorite players rank.
Although the Honey Badger continues his slide from 39 two years ago and 58 in last year’s iteration of the Top 100, his versatility to make a difference both in the box and at free safety remains enviable across the league. Mathieu cashed in on his reputation this offseason with a three-year contact to join his hometown Saints. New Orleans will hope Mathieu can replicate his recent three-year run with Kansas City, which netted him 13 interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two All-Pro nods.
A stint on the COVID-19 list ending Jordan’s streak of games started, which dated back to 2011, is about the only thing that went wrong for the defensive end last year. Jordan found results, tallying 12.5 sacks to become a member of the 100-sack club. He ranks third among active players, behind Von Miller and Chandler Jones. If Jordan can bring his 2021 PFF pass-rushing win percentage (12.5) back to the level he averaged the six years prior (17.3), he may just catch them.
Martin is a mainstay on the Top 100 list — this is his sixth consecutive appearance. Thanks to a return to full strength after a calf injury robbed him of six games in 2020, the eight-year veteran recently logged his seventh campaign as a Pro Bowler and fifth as a member of the AP All-Pro Team. Those accolades are expected at this point for a potential Hall of Famer. He’s one All-Pro season away from trying another legendary Cowboys guard, Larry Allen.
A perennial Pro Bowler, Baker’s PFF pass coverage grade (65.6) last season was nearly three points higher than his average (62.8) since entering the league in 2017, and he allowed the least passing yards (254) and passing touchdowns (one) of his career. The lone gripe with Baker’s 2021 season, which may have contributed to his precipitous 48-spot drop in the Top 100 list, is that his run defense grade fell below 70 for the first time. Even undersized at 5-foot-10, Baker’s track record suggests he’ll return to form in that aspect sooner rather than later.
The Indianapolis Colts have fielded a top-10 scoring defense and top-10 rushing defense in both seasons since trading San Francisco a first-round pick for Buckner. Thanks to Buckner’s ability to seamlessly switch gears between pass rushing (16.5 sacks with Indy) and run stuffing, the Colts have been able to instill fear at multiple levels of their defense — the lucky player who manages to bypass the two-time Pro Bowler gets to deal with linebacker Shaquille Leonard next.
Welcome back to the party, Derek Carr. The 31-year-old returns to the Top 100 for the first time since 2018. Carr’s stats from last season don’t immediately jump off the page. He’s thrown more touchdowns several times throughout the years, and even tossed a career-high 14 interceptions. Regardless, it’s impossible to overstate the leadership Carr displayed in gutting his team to a playoff berth during a year of near-unprecedented tumult for Las Vegas. The forecast appears sunnier ahead. He now has his good friend Davante Adams in black and silver to help dismantle defenses.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · LB
The third-year linebacker continued to wreak havoc on his way to his first Pro Bowl in 2021, and although his sack numbers dropped from nine to 3.5, quarterback wrangling has never been his primary responsibility. White is at his best when using his 4.42 speed to fly sideline to sideline. The future of the Buccaneers’ defense, White is also the now, and he’s as vital to that side of the ball as Tom Brady is to the offense.
Waddle wasted no time getting acclimated to the NFL, checking off both his first 1,000-yard receiving season and his first 100-catch season on the way to setting the rookie record for receptions (104). Along with fellow rookie Ja’Marr Chase — and Justin Jefferson the year before them — Waddle obliterated normal expectations for the WR learning curve. Waddle feasted on underneath routes in 2021 even without a proper field stretcher to complement him. Imagine the possibilities lined up opposite Tyreek Hill.
A biceps injury limited Jones to five games in 2020 and dropped him all the way from 15 to off last year’s Top 100 list. How did the 2010s All-Decade Team linebacker announce his comeback? By racking up five sacks against the Titans in Week 1. Jones is a master of the strip, with 14 forced fumbles in his last two fully healthy seasons. Now, he’s bringing that magic to Vegas and forming a fearsome duo alongside Maxx Crosby.
Wilson’s games started streak of 149 ended last season after the quarterback suffered a finger injury, but his run of 10 straight years as a member of the Top 100 list is still holding strong. Wilson remains as shifty and dangerous under pressure as ever. If he sticks to his current pace, he should top 40,000 career passing yards and 300 passing touchdowns in his first season with Denver, all be before he surpasses 100 career interceptions.