Top 100 rankings tend to favor the positions seen as “more valuable” in the NFL. It’s natural to see quarterbacks, pass rushers, receivers, and offensive tackles ranked quite high. But what would it look like if we ignored that and instead tried to base the rankings purely on the dominance a player displays in a vacuum?
PFN Top 100 NFL Players of 2022 | 1-25
1) Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
It was refreshing to see the best player of this generation win a Super Bowl. But it would have been devastating for football fans if his retirement contemplation had been serious enough to act.
Luckily, a newly-minted deal paying him over $30 million a season over the next two years probably puts retirement talk off until then.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to actively argue against Donald being the greatest defensive player ever. If he can remain at the top for another few seasons, make a ridiculous nine straight first-team All-Pros, and maybe add another DPOY Award, it may become a boring argument.
Donald is not human. He’s simply suppressing his powers enough to try and fool us into believing he’s a mere mortal.
2) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Angel is a hack compared to Patrick Mahomes. Despite a disgusting love for ketchup on everything and the drama that seemed to surround his kin and significant other at times in 2021, Mahomes has remained almost universally adored.
He’s the most creative escape artist in the league today. SB Nation’s Justis Mosqueda once said it looks like Mahomes runs like he’s trying not to spill a beer. Try watching him ever again without that thought.
We’re all well versed on the mind-bending cross-body and field passes he makes, but Mahomes isn’t given enough credit for his off-script antics. Other QBs have the ability to escape pressure, but the game seems to slow down for Mahomes in those moments. His vision and ability to process angles and proper trajectory while being chased by defensive linemen and linebackers is what sets him apart from the rest.
3) Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers
It’s nearly impossible to crack the elite of the elite in the game without being a rare athlete, and Trent Williams is no exception. Since heading out west and escaping a bad situation in Washington, the Oklahoma tackle has been the best in the game.
There isn’t a more dominant run blocker in the NFL, no matter the position. Williams’ rare athleticism meets a veteran savvy that always puts him in just the right positional leverage to decimate defenders at the second and third levels. But he also possesses the lower-body explosiveness to consistently create a push at the line of scrimmage.
Although there may be a few “cleaner” pass protectors, none can mix together Williams’ dominance in both aspects of blocking. He allowed just one sack last season and only 16 total pressures.
4) Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns
Madden create-a-players don’t come out looking like Myles Garrett. If the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end went into bodybuilding and hopped on a few diet water cycles, he might have the frame to compete for a Mr. Olympia title.
He’s the first guy off the bus … and he’s probably not wearing a shirt.
But looking good and playing to the same level aren’t mutually exclusive. Garrett finished third in pressures and second in sacks last season while boasting ESPN’s highest pass-rush win rate. But his frame, outrageous athleticism, and length also allow him to be one of the better run-defending perimeter rushers in the NFL.
And while Watt has accumulated more sacks in the past two seasons, Brandon Thorn’s True Sack Rate project puts Garrett at 22 high-quality sacks in that time compared to Watt’s 13.
5) Zack Martin, G, Dallas Cowboys
Usually, when someone is robotic, it’s used with a negative connotation. But if one was to build an interior blocker in a lab, they would come out looking exactly like Zack Martin, sans the inability to grow a real guard/center beard, which is a shame.
Anyway, Martin is and has been about as infallible as any player in the league, regardless of position. If Joey Bosa is the technical wizard of pass rushers, Martin is that for guards, but with even greater relative athleticism for the position.
The Cowboys guard has allowed just nine sacks over his eight-year career, despite playing in an NFC East that has continuously boasted some of the most potent interior defensive lines and linemen in the league.
The only thing keeping him from eight straight All-Pros was an injury in 2020 that cost him six games. He’s been the league’s first-team right guard five times in eight seasons.
6) Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams
Jalen Ramsey may not be as naturally sticky as Jaire Alexander, and he’s certainly not as fast in a straight line as Marshon Lattimore. He doesn’t take the ball away like Trevon Diggs, J.C. Jackson, or Xavien Howard.
And yet, there is – or shouldn’t be – no debate on who the most talented cornerback in the NFL is.
Nobody does everything well the way Ramsey does. He’s only had one season with a double-digit missed tackle rate, which means he’s more consistent than your favorite linebacker, most likely. Last season, he played by far more snaps than ever in the slot, and he finished the season targeted far more than in 2019 or 2020.
However, he also tied his career-high in passes defended and interceptions and allowed just a 74.4 passer rating.
7) Quenton Nelson, G, Indianapolis Colts
While Quenton Nelson is only the second-best guard in the NFL, he’s admittedly more fun to watch than Zack Martin for those who aren’t offensive line play geeks.
Nelson is one of the few linemen who could actually splice together an entertaining highlight reel for the common football fan. Because of that dominance, many want to crown him before allowing the one true king, Martin, to hand down the kingdom.
But in the end, we’re talking about minuscule differences in production and ability. Much like the debate between Watt and Garrett, there’s really no “wrong” answer, depending on how one looks at the question.
For the first time in his four-year career, Nelson missed games in 2021. If he can continue to sharpen his tools while maintaining his health and outrageous tenacity, he could end up as the league’s premier blocker by next offseason.
8) Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Only one player (Davante Adams) has more receiving yards than Travis Kelce over the past five seasons. If not for Rob Gronkowski’s unbelievable peak, Kelce would be seen as the best tight end of this generation and in contention as one of the best ever.
The one thing he has over Gronk is reliability. Kelce has been a first- or second-team All-Pro in each of the past six seasons. He’s accomplished that by staying healthy. But he’s also been the most important weapon on a team that’s been to the AFC Conference Championship for four straight years. He’s so smooth that we often underestimate how explosive he is, especially for his size.
With Tyreek Hill heading to Miami, Kelce will most likely catch some of the volume that’s left, meaning there’s a good chance his production spikes back up to where it was from 2018-2020.
9) T.J. Watt, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers
The way sports media makes ranking one player above another disrespectful in some way, shape, or form. But in the case of T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett, we’re arguing between two top-10 players in the league and perennial All-Pros.
And while T.J. Watt has had more statistical success when we look at the traditional metric of sacks, Myles Garrett affected the quarterback more often in total, both from a volume and efficiency standpoint.
But there’s no reason to get caught up in the distinction between the two. This is about how dangerous Watt is.
The most impressive thing about his game has been his linear improvements against the run throughout his career. He keeps getting better and more productive as a run defender.
Watt, like his older brother, has never had a problem running his engine as hot as anyone in the league. Many of his sacks come from a neverending effort. It may not be as pretty as some of the other top pass rushers, but it is effective.
10) Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is a cheat code. His play style could be best described as a bull in a china shop. The 240-pound quarterback is built like the 13-year-old who hit puberty before the rest of his classmates and is no longer allowed to play football with his friends at recess.
Allen still isn’t as polished a passer as most of the top quarterbacks, but his highs and rushing ability make him arguably the most dangerous weapon at the position. He was the league leader in yards per carry (6.3) for those that qualified for the crown.
He was especially dangerous on the ground from Week 14 through the Bills’ two playoff appearances. Oh, and that second appearance was one of the greatest performances ever in a loss. He went toe-to-toe with the best quarterback in the league, and it was his top-ranked defense that came up short.
Allen’s arm is out of this world. He has so much velocity that when he was at Mobile for the Reese’s Senior Bowl, he overthrew a crossing route to the back of the end zone during 7-on-7s, and it ended up somewhere around row 16.
But now he’s learned to reel that in. He’s no longer just a fastball thrower. He’s a pitcher that’s able to change up speed. Additionally, he’s one of the very few instances of a quarterback seriously improving their accuracy as a pro.
11) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
For better or worse, Aaron Rodgers has come out of his shell over the past two years or so. He’s become much more vocal publically, and he’s just so happened to win back-to-back MVP awards.
Nobody has ever found a balance between aggression and passivity on the field as a passer the way Rodgers has. There are times when he’s become too conservative, but he found his groove again in 2020 and 2021.
Rodgers is the most naturally gifted passer of this generation. He’ll never be considered for any greatest-ever debates because he lacked team success, but arguably, nobody outside of Dan Marino has an argument for their pure passing ability.
12) Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Fred Warner would have been a first-round pick had he been drafted two years later. The Bobby Wagners of the world aren’t nearly as prevalent anymore because the game continues to get faster as rules continuously are tailored toward taking physicality from the game.
Warner, like Eric Kendricks, is a safety playing inside linebacker. He deletes throwing windows and continuously finds ways to bait quarterbacks into making ill-advised throws over the middle.
But Warner’s consistent improvements in his own physicality and trigger against the run have made him into the all-around defensive weapon that garners All-Pro attention.
13) Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers’ defense ran shop on offensive lines in the back half of the NFL last season. They blitzed fewer than all but three teams in the NFL, and they were still able to terrorize opposing quarterbacks.
Nick Bosa is a huge reason why, both as a producer himself and because of the attention opposing offenses gave to him. Bosa was double-teamed the most of any of the top pass rushers.
While brother Joey wins consistently on the outside track, Nick plays an even more powerful game and is able to win on the inside more often, despite being slightly less advanced technically than his older brother.
Despite the high double-team rate, Nick Bosa split Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt in terms of win rate on pure dropbacks, and he finished fourth in total pressures last season.
14) Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
It’s probably weird to see the top receiver positioned outside of the top 10, considering how much of the narrative surrounds skill position players. It’s also probably a surprise to see Justin Jefferson as the highest-ranked receiver.
Don’t let that surprise you anymore. Temporarily borrow one of your pal’s NFL Game Pass logins and turn on the tape of this young man. He is Stefon Diggs with a 2.8 liter Kenne Bell supercharger strapped to him.
It’s obvious Jefferson is a basketball fan. He adapted the rocker step to attack off coverage and turned it into a full Eurostep that puts defenders into the spin cycle. He’s able to do that because he’s endlessly flexible. But we always wondered if Jefferson had the frame and strength to beat press coverage because he was used in the slot and somewhat struggled with it in college.
Jefferson doesn’t have a weakness as a receiver. He separates like a red, white, and blue shot and shows wiggle after the catch. He’s also incredibly efficient, considering his 13.3-yard aDOT was 1.4 yards higher than the next-closest receiver who received at least 150 targets.
15) Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor went from making Big Ten secondary players look slow while giving up 40 pounds to him to making NFL secondary members look slow while still giving up 30 pounds to the back.
Taylor’s lack of receiving use while at Wisconsin and his poor ball security is probably what landed him in Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s improved his fumbling issues and proved that his lack of receiving production in college was simply a usage issue and not a skill issue.
The Colts’ offensive line took a step back in 2021, but Taylor was able to transcend that and still produce one of the best volume and efficiency seasons we’ve seen in quite some time.
16) Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What is left to say about Tom Brady after a career that has lasted long enough to legally drink alcohol in the United States? Seriously, the man’s Pro Football Reference page looks like a CVS receipt. It’ll give you a migraine if you try to find a singular cell for a stat without highlighting the rows and columns to triangulate it.
There’s arguably nobody that’s been more dedicated to their body than Brady. Andrew Whitworth had an outrageous career at offensive tackle, and that physical toll was probably more than Brady, but there was a decline in his play that was expected.
Brady’s arm … is getting stronger? He’s been as productive in his 40s as a passer as ever before, and he’s remained healthy. After initially retiring after the season, Brady decided he was still not ready to hang up his cleats and hang out with his family.
17) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
If Micah Parsons can catch, he might be the best receiver in the NFL. Put him in the backfield, and he might be the most dangerous back in a year or two. The young man simply isn’t human.
After rarely rushing the passer since his high school days, Parsons was a menace to opposing quarterbacks when he stepped down onto the defensive line to spell the injured Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.
Parsons teleports from place to place. He’s the fastest player on the field on most occasions, and he accomplishes that at 240+ pounds. But he’s not a finesse player, either. While Parsons is still improving as a pure off-ball linebacker, he displays the violence necessary to play MIKE at the NFL level for 10+ years.
Dan Quinn and Parsons are a match made in heaven, and there’s a chance we begin talking about Parsons the way we do Aaron Donald as soon as this season.
18) Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
At the risk of overcomplicating things, Cooper Kupp might be the best football player in the world. Or at least he should be everyone’s favorite football player. The amount of unnecessary dirty work Kupp has to deal with in the Rams offense is disgusting.
Sean McVay uses him as a pseudo-tight end at times, forcing the 200-pound receiver to block defenders 70 pounds heavier. Kupp will cross the formation and seal the edge on play-action looks where McVay willingly keeps his most dangerous weapon in the backfield. It can be maddening to watch, but it makes one respect Kupp in the same way we should have respected Bobby Trees when he was still in Los Angeles.
Oh, and then Kupp went out and almost put up 2,000 yards receiving. And while his lack of explosiveness keeps him from the top receiver spot, there’s no denying he’s the poster child for speed not being the be-all, end-all of receiver play.
19) Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb is what Broncos fans want Javonte Williams to eventually become. However, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Chubb and Williams are both incredibly elusive, with powerful lower halves that allow them to bounce off any non-square contact.
The difference is in the vision and second-level manipulation. Since college, Chubb has possessed outstanding vision, and he’s remained incredibly efficient as a runner because of it. He doesn’t rely on splash plays to boost his per-carry numbers, although he’s also one of the most dangerous runners in the league on top of being consistent.
And unlike Jonathan Taylor and Dalvin Cook, Chubb breaks 15-plus-yard runs in a majority gap system. The only thing keeping him from having a real conversation against Taylor for being the best in the league is his health.
20) Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We’ve become accustomed to seeing the Midwest Big Ten schools and Notre Dame develop some of the best offensive linemen in college football and transfer to the NFL level. Tristan Wirfs is a shining example of that.
The Iowa alumnus is the closest thing we’ve seen to Trent Williams but on the other side of the offensive line. While technically short for the position, both possessed great proportional girth, length, and freakish athletic testing.
But unlike Williams, Wirfs hit the ground running, allowing just one sack on over 700 pass-blocking snaps as a rookie. He came in technically refined with unbelievable play strength both in the run game and as a pass protector.
21) A.J. Terrell, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Some discredit A.J. Terrell’s season because he didn’t travel with the opposing offense’s most dangerous weapons. But in a league where consistent cornerback play is as fleeting as the US economy, we need to acknowledge the unbelievable season he had in the situations he was put in.
Terrell put up coverage metrics that might make Darrelle Revis blush. Terrell broke up 13 of the 66 targets coming his way (19.7%), allowing just 6.9 yards per catch and 200 total yards for the season. The longest completion against him went for 28 yards in Week 1.
Terrell didn’t allow another 20-plus-yard reception ALL SEASON! Yes, we’d all like to see him playing press man on every play while traveling across formations to cover opposing No. 1 wide receivers. But when it comes to “doing the job,” nobody was better at it than Terrell was last season.
22) Ryan Jensen, C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ryan Jensen is an old-school brawler on the interior. He’s neither the most athletic or physically imposing. But he’s one of the biggest bullies in the league and the biggest menace of any center. Jensen looks for work like his unemployment is about to run out, and he pursues said work with vicious intent.
When tasked with one-on-one situations, Jensen possesses an ideal anchor and hands that consistently deliver body blows over the course of 60 minutes. And while his violence shines, his intelligence is what sets him apart from the rest. Most maulers have a few mental or technical deficiencies, but Jensen is arguably the most intelligent blocker in the NFL.
23) Kevin Byard, S, Tennessee Titans
The season Kevin Byard put together in 2021 was outstanding. Kristian Fulton’s progression and an uptick in pass-rush ability helped put the All-Pro safety in a better position than in 2020.
Byard is a more traditional back-end coverage safety, but he is a valuable member fitting the run as well. He flies downhill but does a great job controlling himself and avoiding missed tackles.
Byard’s performance alongside safety-mate Amani Hooker battled the Buffalo tandem as the best in the league, and his instinctive nature in coverage is a big reason why.
24) Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers
Derwin James received one of the greatest seals of approval ever for a defensive player this offseason. We always hear about surrounding a quarterback with weapons or a running back with an offensive line to facilitate success. But this offseason Brandon Staley said they added defensive talent specifically to surround James.
Safeties are sometimes seen as the quarterback of the defense. With James’ unbelievable versatility in alignment and deployment, the addition of other supreme talents should free Staley up to get creative with James.
There really isn’t anything James can’t do on the back end. He has the range to play a more traditional free safety role, the frame to match up against tight ends in coverage, and the physicality to consistently fit the run when aligned in the box.
He’s the Micah Parsons of defensive backs, splitting his time between the box, slot, and safety almost evenly. He’s one of the few true defensive chess pieces in the NFL.
25) Lane Johnson, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
If not for mounting injuries over the past few seasons, Lane Johnson would still probably be considered one of the 10 or so most dominant players in the NFL. Unfortunately, the athletic marvel only played just over 400 snaps in 2020 and has missed time in each season dating back to 2015.
Johnson’s athleticism has made so many discount the power he generates as a run blocker, which has become increasingly important as the Eagles’ offense became a run-dominant team with Jalen Hurts at QB.
Johnson’s athleticism already overwhelms most pass rushers, but it’s the versatility in his hands and the consistency in which he lands unique strikes that makes him such a dominant pass protector. Nothing a tackle does is prettier than Johnson’s fake strike to make a rusher show his cards, just to have Johnson counter with the strike necessary to counter the rusher’s primary plan.
PFN Top 100 NFL Players of 2022 | 26-50
26) Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs
It’s frustrating to discuss Creed Humphrey. Every time he’s brought up, it’s impossible to ignore how Humphrey was robbed of millions of dollars and draft positioning because he snaps the ball with his left hand instead of his right.
Humphrey burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma and proceeded to put elite tape out for three seasons. Then, during the height of lockdowns, he proceeded to test as the most athletic center ever with no apparent red flags in sight to hinder his draft stock.
And the league just let Kansas City stick their hand in the vending machine and pick out the All-Pro center.
Humphrey battled Micah Parsons and Ja’Marr Chase as the most impressive rookie in 2022. He’s already playing at an All-Pro level and will be considered the league’s best center and arguably the best interior blocker sooner rather than later.
27) Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Some may be aghast at the sight of Davante Adams all the way down at 27 while other receivers have yet to be listed. There’s no denying that in terms of being a high-volume efficiency machine, there is no better receiver in the NFL.
Whereas Keenan Allen is the man of 1,000 releases, Adams holds a more deadly set, if not as unique. His short-area quickness allows him to win at the line of scrimmage with consistency. But his ability to manipulate a cornerback’s leverage makes him so dangerous within 10 yards.
But that’s kind of the rub. Adams ranked well behind Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson in explosive plays. And while some of that is due to his usage, both are more dangerous with the ball.
28) Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Las Vegas Raiders
Maxx Crosby somehow only managed eight sacks in 2021 despite pressuring the quarterback more often than anyone in the league. However, raw statistics accumulated only mean so much if a player doesn’t accomplish the feat efficiently. Well, Crosby also won more often than anybody on all dropbacks, and he finished with the third-best rate against true dropbacks, which disregard play action.
Part of the reason why he has such a high win rate while not finishing as often at the quarterback is because of how he wins. Crosby’s cross chop and rip through paired with ample flexibility and explosiveness allows him to consistently win the outside arc.
But a pass rush must be complementary, and if there is no pocket push to keep a quarterback stationary, any decent QB can account for and evade a single outside rusher.
Patrick Graham will bring a new style to Gus Bradley, and the Raiders also upgraded from Yannick Ngakoue with the addition of Chandler Jones in free agency. Crosby has 20-sack potential if he can continue to mount the pressures.
29) Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
There is no more terrifying opponent to game plan for in the NFL. While his usage in Kansas City changed and the frequency he scampered downfield by himself waned, the threat always remained.
Hill isn’t as talented a receiver as Adams, Jefferson, or Kupp. However, he is far from just a speed and YAC player. Hill has progressed over the years as a technically refined route runner, changing pace and getting in and out of breaks with less wasted motion.
The most intriguing thing about his fit in Miami is how having Tua Tagovailoa instead of Patrick Mahomes affects the way teams defend Hill. Tua cannot unlock Hill’s ultimate potential, which always came on broken plays downfield where he and Mahomes would lock eyes and freestyle for massive shot plays.
30) Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
While Patrick Mahomes makes the “wow” factor look effortless and Josh Allen makes it look like he is an overgrown toddler bullying smaller children, Herbert’s ability to wow may be most impressive. That is to say, it’s arguably the most impressive from a pure “quarterbacking” perspective.
He’s around the same size as Josh Allen, but he’s not as physically imposing. And he doesn’t quite have the looseness of Mahomes while on the move. But throws like the Cover 2 honey-hole pass against Dallas, his cross-field toss against Philadelphia, and his outrageous downfield bomb to Jalen Guyton against the Giants gave him a ridiculous trifecta against NFC East opponents.
And we’re not even getting into his more intermediate tight-window throws. If the Chargers’ defense can play up to its newfound talent level, a Year 3 Herbert makes the other Los Angeles team a legitimate contender in a stacked AFC.
31) Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
The Joe Burrow vs. Justin Herbert debate will most likely rage on for the entirety of their careers. In the end, we all win because they are both incredibly talented.
Burrow was as close to a finished product as a prospect that we’ve seen in quite some time. He’s not the biggest, most athletic, or have the biggest arm. Burrow became a mental menace to defenses in his final season at LSU. He was already a professional quarterback, and he completed a transformation from a Day 3 guy to the first overall pick.
And there is certainly an aura about him. He moves with as much confidence as one can possibly possess before having it spill over into arrogance. He’s also incredibly accurate and a wizard in the pocket at avoiding pressure.
The debate between him and Herbert will be like the early debates about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Can Burrow’s “it factor” propel him to greatness that the more physically talented quarterback cannot reach?
32) Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
Playing cornerback in the NFL is incredibly difficult, and consistency at the position is hard to find. For as talented as Marshon Lattimore is, even he has found struggles at times throughout his career. But the Ohio State product has absolutely flourished in Dennis Allen’s defense.
It helps that he hailed from a similar style in college, but Lattimore has only become more intelligent and instinctive in time. There are few corners playing the backside third that can defend the post from the opposite side of the field, but Lattimore has done it a handful of times in his career after passing off underneath routes.
New Orleans’ defense is filled with intelligent defenders, and Lattimore displays that in spades. He also happens to be one of the most explosive athletes ever at the position, which means he covers ground in the Saints’ zone-heavy scheme like a cheetah.
33) Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers
Not having Jaire Alexander on the field for most of last season was awful for the Packers, but fans of defensive back play lost out too. Alexander is a pest. He sticks to receivers in coverage like loose dirt does to a sweaty individual. And we should have seen it coming.
During his Louisville days, he trolled a Wake Forrest receiver so badly that legend has it he retired immediately after the game so his teammates wouldn’t flame him during the film review of the loss.
In all seriousness, Alexander is the poster child of the modern mold of NFL cornerbacks. He’s just under 6 feet and at around 190 pounds. But that frame allows him to flow effortlessly and drive in any direction without losing too much of a length advantage. If he’d been healthy last year, there is little doubt he’d be higher on this list.
34) Joey Bosa, EDGE, Los Angeles Chargers
No defensive end in football is as technically refined as Joey Bosa. And while his brother’s impact was greater in 2021, Joey is still a cleaner watch.
He’s such an intelligent rusher. Bosa changes pace with hesitations, has the quickness to cross the face of blockers, and the power to run straight through them with a bull rush. He doesn’t have a go-to move, although he has the most disgusting spin move in the league currently.
And now he’s paired up with an improved interior and Khalil Mack rushing on the opposite side. The older Bosa brother could be freed up a bit more in 2022, and opposing quarterbacks will hate that. But Bosa is also an excellent run defender, forcing six fumbles last season.
35) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Aside from possibly Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins probably has the most natural hands of any receiver of this generation. It’s constantly jarring to see his 4.94 Relative Athletic Score, given what we’ve seen from him over the past nine seasons.
The fact that he’s only 6-foot-1 is the most mind-boggling metric. He has consistently been the best in the game with the ball in the air, disrespecting cornerbacks left and right. The “Hail Murray” was just the most glaring example of Hopkins’ freakish ball skills.
Although it’s a small sample size, all one must do to understand Hopkins’ value is to look at Kyler Murray’s performance with and without the elite receiver. Hopkins helps drive that offense.
36) Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
When it comes to the “first off the bus,” there may not be a more intimidating figure than Derrick Henry. The photo of him at Alabama standing next to Mark Ingram when he was already a pro made Ingram look like he was a high school senior chosen to flip the coin.
Henry is arguably the last of a dying breed. In his six-year career, he has only 94 receptions. And yet, he still ranks incredibly high on the PFN Top 100 because of his old-school style. In a league that consistently wants to spew rhetoric about a physical back wearing teams down on defense as the game goes on (false), Henry may be the exception.
Henry will hopefully be back to 100% after breaking his foot last season. Clearly, the Titans’ offense, in particular, Ryan Tannehill and the passing attack, struggled without Henry’s presence. In a league where running back value is low and, in theory, a back of Henry’s ilk should be inconsequential, he may be the most important RB in the league.
37) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
We probably should have all seen Ja’Marr Chase’s rookie season coming when Justin Jefferson decided the league was his in Year 1. Chase was seen as the better prospect coming out of LSU. But the best thing to happen to Chase was landing with Joe Burrow.
The two have an uncanny rapport. It’s Tony Romo to Dez Bryant on steroids. The explosive receiver is still improving as a route runner, and he isn’t the most natural separator, but it doesn’t matter. He’s hyper-aggressive in attacking the football, and he already proved to be one of the best in the league with the ball in his hands.
Chase still has room to grow in regards to the nuance of the position. When he reaches that potential, he’ll be fighting his former college teammate as the best receiver in the game.
38) Joe Thuney, G, Kansas City Chiefs
It appeared the Chiefs may have overpaid Joe Thuney to come to Kansas City until he took the field in 2021. Thuney went from being one of the most underrated guards in the league in New England to one of the league’s elite interior blockers.
The 29-year-old hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Last season, he broke his hand in Week 5 and proceeded to face Jonathan Allen and the Washington interior DL before battling Denico Autrey and Jeffery Simmons the following week. He even had a game at left tackle while Orlando Brown Jr. was injured.
39) Jeffery Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans
Few interior defenders are as physically versatile as Jeffery Simmons. The 300-pounder has the anchor of a true nose tackle while also possessing enough burst to surprise quarterbacks on the edge when the Titans play line games.
When he’s able to pin his ears back, he displays a quick first step and outstanding power in his lower half to convert speed to power and collapse the pocket. Last season, he finished fifth in pressures and sacks for an interior player and is still improving his pass rush plan.
40) Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore’s usage of Mark Andrews is in stark contrast to how San Francisco deployed Kittle last year. Andrews only aligned tight to the formation on 30.5% of his offensive snaps. And while there is no doubt that the 49ers receiving corps was better than Baltimore’s, Andrews received 59 more targets than Kittle!
Andrews also took a massive positive step forward with his hands in 2021, dropping only three passes and looking more aggressive in contested situations.
Andrews is the quintessential move tight end. The big slot receiver has flashed nuance and suddenness for his size dating back to his days at Oklahoma. But he’s also become far more stout as a blocker, which is something he needed to do as he made the leap to the big leagues.
41) George Kittle, TE, San Francico 49ers
Kyle Shannahan is touted as one of the greatest offensive minds in the NFL, and for defensible reasons. But with that said, George Kittle did not touch the ball nearly enough in the 49ers’ offense, and that needs to change going forward.
Yes, Kittle is a 250-pound wrecking ball as a blocker. He is the closest archetype we have seen to Gronk, including the constant injury concerns.
However, he’s also about as fast as many receivers in the league. Like Samuel, he’s an absolute unit after the catch. So having him aligned inline on 72% of his snaps is a misuse of fine resources! Yes, he’s necessary as a blocker in Shanahan’s wide zone scheme, but he’s far more valuable as a receiving mismatch!
42) Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs began last season using Chris Jones primarily as an EDGE. Maybe that made sense in theory because Kansas City lacked any semblance of an exterior rush. But Jones is more disruptive on the interior, and interior pressure is more detrimental to quarterbacks.
In a completely shocking turn of events, Jones began disrupting quarterbacks much more frequently around Week 9 when he started shuffling inside on a majority of his defensive snaps.
Jones has been the second-most disruptive defensive tackle in the league over the past four seasons. He’s posted at least 64 pressures in each season, and he’s had at least 7.5 sacks in each.
43) Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
There isn’t a more electric and versatile player in the NFL than Deebo Samuel. But he may have landed even higher on the list had he remained at wide receiver instead of being forced into a role as a runner toward the back half of last season.
There is a ton of recency bias when discussing Samuel. He’s been discounted as a receiving weapon because of the versatility he showed as a back as well. But what many fail to realize is he was holding pace with Cooper Kupp for the receiving yards crown. Kupp had 42 more yards than Samuel through eight games.
Nobody is more dynamic with the ball in their hands. Samuel averaged 10 yards after every catch and led the league in yards per catch at 18.2. While he’s not as polished as other pass catchers, his route running ability is undervalued because of his outrageous post-catch abilities.
44) Cameron Jordan, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
Cameron Jordan’s parents probably loathed seeing the yearbook photos every time they rolled out if he was anything like he is for his yearly photoshoots with the New Orleans Saints. Every year, Jordan seems to have a different facial expression and unique facial hair.
Earlier, we applauded Von Miller’s reliability and durability, but Jordan takes that to another level. From 2012-2020, he played at least 900 snaps in each season and played 831 in 2021, where he missed one game due to Covid-19 protocols.
Now, for the talent portion of the contest. Jordan’s trump card is his natural power mixed with elite hands, which he uses to accomplish some of the most aesthetically pleasing pass rushes among any player in the league.
He’s a bit of a unicorn. Most modern pass rushers finding success do so through elite explosiveness and bend, and only Myles Garrett comes close to matching Jordan’s frame among the league’s best. But the wily vet brings experience and an elite game plan that allows him to dissect the blocks of some of the best blockers in the league immediately, helping him clear a path to opposing quarterbacks.
Just ask Tristan Wirfs.
45) Demario Davis, LB, New Orleans Saints
Demario Davis has never provided the flash of other top linebackers. He’s a bit like his teammate who comes up next on the list of the top 100 NFL players heading into 2022. Davis simply excels in every aspect of defensive football quietly.
But that’s kind of the way the Saint defense operates, which makes Tyrann Smith’s arrival interesting.
Intelligence and preparation are inherent in New Orleans’ defense, and Davis exhibits that consistently as a coverage player. If he were in the military, his superiors would love him. He’s always in the right place at the right time.
46) Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings
If you packed Jessie Bates into a 230-pound frame, you’d come out with Eric Kendricks. While Fred Warner is almost universally seen as the best true linebacker in the game, Kendricks might be even better than Warner in zone overage.
His ability to bait quarterbacks into ill-advised throws boggles the mind, and while so many others flail aimlessly at trying to defend passes, Kendricks has made a career out of getting his hands on the ball.
But what has been so impressive over the past two seasons is his production against the run despite the near-complete lack of talent on the Vikings’ defensive front. Things should be different next season after Minnesota invested in beefing up the defensive interior, which should keep Kendrick clean and able to attack.
47) Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
The Vikings made what seemed like a massive error in judgment when they traded away Stefon Diggs, only to then draft the supercharged version of the Maryland product in Justin Jefferson. But the Buffalo Bills got one of the smoothest operators in the league, and it helped jumpstart Josh Allen’s ascension up the quarterback ladder.
Diggs possesses ideal flexibility for the position, which allows him to carry a ton of speed in and out of route breaks, making him incredibly difficult to stick to in man coverage. The biggest difference between Jefferson and Diggs, and why Diggs ranks lower than some other receivers, is his lack of high-end post-catch playmaking ability.
However, Diggs carries so much value because he is a high-volume, high-efficiency machine in the intermediate zones where Allen’s arm can fit passes into, and Diggs can go out and get even if they’re slightly off target.
48) Von Miller, EDGE, Buffalo Bills
When you’ve already accomplished a Hall of Fame career, why not go about your final few years hopping around the country chasing Super Bowl parades? That’s exactly what Von Miller is doing, except he’s somehow still in his physical prime. No pass rusher in this generation has been so consistently great, and only an injury in 2020 kept him from playing at least 833 defensive snaps in every season since 2013.
His “ghost” move should hang in the Louvre, and despite not being a hulking giant like Myles Garrett, he’s been consistently great against the run for his entire career. And were it not for a midseason sack slump and ridiculous campaigns from Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt, Miller could have inserted himself into the All-Pro conversation.
49) Jessie Bates III, S, Cincinnati Bengals
Jessie Bates certainly didn’t have the same regular season in 2021 that he had the year prior, but he turned on the lights when it mattered most. Bates’ playoff run was incredible. His interception of Ryan Tannehill was what happens when film and tendency study meet insane route recognition, mental triggering, and click-and-close athleticism.
He allowed a QBR of 35.6 when targeted during the four-game playoff run. While his inconsistency last season dropped his stock a bit, when he is on his game, there is no better coverage player on the back end than Bates. He can play as a single-high free safety or show versatility in two-high zone match looks.
50) Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins
Speaking of ball-hawking cornerbacks, nobody has more interceptions over the past five seasons than Xavien Howard. While he’s been inconsistent at times allowing big plays, he has been much better in 2020 and 2021 at avoiding that splash play.
There was a stretch early on in 2021 where it looked like Howard might not be sustaining the play we saw in 2020, but he really rounded into form over the latter part of the season. From Weeks 7-17, we saw the All-Pro caliber player we’d been used to seeing.
PFN Top 100 NFL Players of 2022 | 51-75
51) J.C. Jackson, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
J.C. Jackson may be the premier ball hawk in the NFL today. His 17 INTs lead the league over the past two seasons, and he’s defended 37 more in that two-year span. Those are unheard-of numbers on a defense that plays a high amount of man coverage as the Patriots do.
Things might be different in Brandon Staley’s defense, but they don’t necessarily have to be. Staley’s quarters-heavy scheme will rely on man-to-man press coverage, often on the backside of 3×1 looks. That would fit into Jackson’s hands like a football does.
But Jackson isn’t just a man cornerback. While his reactive athleticism is an outstanding fit for man coverage, he’s no slouch when he’s off the ball with his eyes on the quarterback.
52) Budda Baker, S, Arizona Cardinals
Budda Baker has been on the cusp of the elite for a few years now, but he finally cemented his status in 2021. The Cardinals’ pass defense had no business being as good as it was. And while it’s probably unsustainable, Baker does help clog a few of the holes that would be prevalent would he not be around.
His ability to come downhill and deny the alley is superb. For a smaller safety, he makes no qualms coming downhill in run support. However, that stature has also caused him to be an inconsistent finisher at times.
His versatility of alignment allows Vance Jospeh the freedom to move him freely around the formation. And even though Joseph would rather play a zone-heavy coverage scheme, his personnel dictates otherwise.
53) A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
A.J. Brown had a down season relative to expectations going into 2022, but it’s not his fault the Titans lost their offensive engine and Ryan Tannehill took a step back.
While he’s not the best in the league with the ball in his hands, he’s pretty darned close to it. The 6-foot, 230-pound receiver is built more like Ezekiel Elliott than Julio Jones, which is a testament to the transition we’ve seen at the position over the past few seasons. Brown is difficult to bring down, but he’s more than just a YAC monster.
When studying him at Ole Miss, Brown was a physical specimen who played in the slot and won more with physicality than nuance. Now, he’s learned the ins and outs of route running and has shown an ability to creatively pace routes to separate from tight coverage.
54) Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
However, Godwin edges Evans out on too many different receiving traits to keep Evans rated over him at this point. Godwin is a tricky evaluation because there really isn’t a ton of flash to his game.
Godwin is fast, but he’s not incredibly explosive. He wins with intelligence. He’s about as savvy a route runner as they come in the league. And he’s able to separate at all three levels of the field. He is also one of the best blockers at the position.
The one area where Godwin does flash, and what really makes the argument for him over Evans, is his efficiency and ball skills as a deep receiver. He tracks the ball incredibly well, and he attacks it at its highest point.
55) Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Many may not be used to seeing Mike Evans’ name before Chris Godwin’s, but there is very good reason for it. Value is subjective, and it’s difficult to properly value two entities that are different, even if they technically do the same job. That is what makes the Evans vs. Godwin debate so great.
Evans is a big-play receiver by nature, but he’s far more polished than many give him credit for because he is such an athletic marvel. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound speedster isn’t as nuanced a route runner, but he offers excellent separation quickness, especially for a receiver with his build.
He’ll never be a highly efficient pass catcher given his intermediate-to-deep usage, but his ability to separate at that level is nearly unmatched.
56) Cameron Heyward, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Heyward is one of the few exceptions to the rule that in order to be elite, especially on the defensive side of the ball, one needs to be an elite athlete relative to their position. The Steelers’ defensive tackle is not an incredibly explosive player. His hands are simply better than anybody not named Aaron Donald.
Length is always a plus for trench players, and Heyward has used his length and refined hands to shed blocks against the run and as a pass rusher since 2014. It took a few years to become so technically refined, but he rounded into one of the most dominant players in the game.
57) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens
Before we commence, we must first acknowledge that Marlon Humphrey being as high as he is on this list is an unbelievable achievement. Any cornerback who can sustain success while wearing a number in the 40s is conquering some serious demons.
Sure, Ja’Marr Chase embarrassed him and the Ravens’ secondary during their Week 7 matchup, but that was merely an example of two things: 1) how difficult playing cornerback in Wink Martindale’s defense can be, and 2) how much of a freak Chase is with the ball in his hands.
What made Humphrey so unique in Martindale’s defense was his versatility. He was truly the Alpha that so many want a No.1 CB to be. If the opposing team’s best playmaker was a slot-first player, that’s where No. 44 lined up. If they were a TE lined up in the slot or on the outside, that’s where Humphrey was.
58) Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
If we simply looked at the physical attributes of quarterback play to determine how good a quarterback would be, Dak Prescott would fall outside of the top 10. He has an adequate but not overwhelming arm, and he isn’t nearly as mobile as he was back in 2016.
Prescott is one of the best in the game because he’s becoming one of the most intelligent when it comes to processing what he sees. He accomplished that while also vastly improving his pocket presence and lower body mechanics between 2018 and 2019.
If he hadn’t injured his calf at the end of the Patriots game, Prescott probably would have had the same type of fanfare he had around his 2019 season. Instead, the calf injury significantly hampered his ability as a playmaking downfield passer, which limited the Cowboys’ offense to a measly … seventh in EPA/play and sixth in dropback EPA/play.
59) Wyatt Teller, G, Cleveland Browns
While Brandon Bean is one of the best talent evaluators in the game, he lost big when he traded Wyatt Teller after his rookie season. The Virginia Tech guard was always going to be a project, but Bill Callahan and Co. spent long nights in the lab getting the experiment to come out perfect on presentation day.
By Year 3, Teller was a second-team All-Pro on an offensive line that generally bullied opposing front sevens on the ground. Teller is the biggest bully on the Browns’ physical offensive line. While he doesn’t have the Quenton Nelson highlight reel, he finishes blocks as aggressively as any interior blocker in the league.
The only reason he’s not considered higher on the list is some intermittent gaffes in pass protection and a high penalty rate. He had six holdings called against him and an unnecessary roughness penalty in 2021.
60) Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Only Jonathan Taylor had more runs of 15-plus yards last season. Dalvin Cook also finished second in breakaway rate among those with at least 206 rushing attempts. And he was able to accomplish this despite playing behind one of the poorer run-blocking lines in the NFL last season.
Cook is one of the more explosive runners in the league, but his true gift is his vision while running wide-zone concepts. He is a master at manipulating second-level defenders, and his acceleration makes him a menace when he’s able to attack outside of the tackle.
Hopefully, Ed Ingram comes along quickly at right guard because he would theoretically provide an uptick in production on the ground over Jesse Davis. Having a healthy Christian Darrisaw in Year 2 should help bring Cook’s efficiency back up. But having Kevin O’Connell as the offensive architect should be the biggest help.
61) Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson is the most dynamic weapon in the NFL. And for a while in 2021, it looked like he would be competing for the league’s MVP award once again. However, something flipped around the Ravens’ embarrassing Week 7 loss to Cincinnati.
Baltimore was trying to stay afloat despite losing key contributors on what felt like a weekly basis. Their offensive line disintegrated, and Jackson simply tried to make the impossible happen too often, leading to poor decisions.
A healthy Ravens team, and a healthy Jackson, should compete in the AFC, and the 25-year-old could once again elevate his stock in the league.
62) Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns
Denzel Ward is second to only Jaire Alexander in the “gnat” factor. At just under the prototypical size for a cornerback, Ward’s effectiveness comes from his outstanding foot quickness and reactive athleticism. Like a gnat on a sticky July evening in Louisiana, he’s tough to get out of your face.
Ward has been incredibly consistent throughout his first four NFL seasons, which is probably why he got the most guaranteed money of any NFL defensive back. The scariest thing is Greg Newsome looks like he has the potential to be just as good if he’s ever able to stay consistently healthy.
Ward is also a pesky run defender who misses tackles at a rare rate for a cornerback, particularly one who is sub-200 pounds.
63) Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
It’s unfortunate that Tre’Davious White falls at 63 after ranking 38th in 2021, but that is the nature of season-ending injuries at a position overflowing with elite-level talent.
White’s aggressiveness is his greatest attribute. He is a fighter who displays genuine joy for the game when he’s on the sideline, spilling onto the field in the form of fantastic effort. But he’s not just a mauler on the outside, either. White consistently displays his intelligence and ability to play off his two veteran safeties in match concepts. The two-time All-Pro also shows no issues carrying routes vertically.
64) Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Going into 2022, Antoine Winfield Jr. was ranked as the 25th-best safety in the NFL, despite the narrative that he struggled in coverage as a rookie. Despite having a few gaffes in coverage, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before his production matched the tape.
Winfield is a dense safety who can lay the boom coming downhill while providing excellent ball skills despite lacking length. The Buccaneers’ free safety is an excellent processor that can cover groups through a mix of adequate long speed and a quick trigger. Aside from missing a few tackles here and there due to his lack of length, there isn’t anything he cannot do.
65) Corey Linsley, C, Los Angeles Chargers
Adding Corey Linsley to the fold in Los Angeles was one of the first aggressive moves they made to improve Justin Herbert’s quality of life. Linsley put together quite a career during his time in Green Bay, but his game elevated to a different level in his final season as a Packer.
Linsley isn’t a road grader but a technical run blocker who wins by attacking with great positional leverage and hand placement. In pass protection, the veteran is one of the most cerebral centers in the league, which is a huge weight off the shoulders of a young QB like Herbert.
66) DeForest Buckner, DT, Indianapolis Colts
There isn’t a more proportionally interesting player in the NFL than DeForest Buckner. He possesses 34 3/8″ arms and massive 11 3/4″ hands. He uses those hands to generally incapacitate blockers with one of the most devastating go-to moves in the league.
His swim move, which is a club and arm-over, is demoralizing for interior blockers. In a league where pad level and leverage is so important, Buckner … bucks … that trend and plays higher. And with his outrageous length, he can gain ground horizontally to the point blockers can’t counter when he lands his club.
67) David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers
Missing the entire 2021 NFL season was a tough pill for some to swallow. David Bakhtiari’s late-season ACL tear ended up taking over a full year to properly heal in an era of medicine where we witnessed Cam Akers come back from an Achilles tear in five months. But every individual body and every injury is unique.
Aside from being arguably the best beer chugger in the NFL, Bakhtiari is also arguably the best pass protector. He is the prototype at left tackle. His technical proficiency is unmatched, and only injury and Trent Williams being an alien keeps him from earning the top tackle spot in the top 100.
68) Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
Tyron Smith is rarely ever seen with a shirt on after practice, and if you looked like him, you’d probably petition to wear the old Ezekiel Elliott belly jersey from Ohio State.
While Smith isn’t in the 100th percentile for athletic testing at offensive tackle, he might be the craziest athlete at the position. On top of having outrageous speed, explosion, and agility, he has some of the longest arms (36 3/8″) and biggest hands (11”) ever at the position.
Funny enough, Terron Armstead is one of the closest RAS comps for Smith. But like Armstead, Smith’s health has been an issue every season dating back to 2016. In the past two years, he’s only played 13 games.
69) Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints
Ryan Ramczyk is amazing to watch at right tackle because of the way he attacks defenders in pass protection. Few blockers can consistently keep pass rushers guessing the way Ramczyk does with his strikes.
Many blockers attempt to keep defenders on their toes by changing strike timing and technique, but Ramczyk is able to do so without sacrificing efficiency. He missed significant time for the first time in his career last season but has been reliable in previous years. However, he has battled through injury in both 2019 and 2020 as well.
70) Kenny Clark, DT, Green Bay Packers
Packer’s defensive tackle Kenny Clark has consistently been one of the most underappreciated defensive players in the league over the past half-decade. Amazingly, the six-year veteran is still just 26.
Only Chris Jones, Jonathan Allen, and Aaron Donald totaled more pressures than the Packer’s interior defender. Clark (314 pounds) is easily the biggest of the bunch, with the rest listed as sub-300 pounders.
It’s unique to see an interior defender with his versatility. He splits his snaps between the A, B, and C gaps, where he displays the strength and awareness to survive heavy double-teams inside along with the athleticism to stress blockers in one-on-one pass-rush situations.
71) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
When he’s on the field and healthy, there may not be a better all-around running back in the NFL. But that’s the rub. McCaffrey has only played in 10 games over the past two seasons in Carolina, which is the main reason he lands all the way down at 71.
He’s an outstanding receiver out of the backfield, and he’s as nimble as a cat. But durability is a massive ability for runners, and he hasn’t been able to show that in 2020 or 2021.
He heads into 2022 with an improved offensive line in front of him. Hopefully, he can replicate his outrageous all-purpose production from 2019, where he generated over 2,300 yards on 400-plus touches.
72) Marcus Williams, S, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Williams is one of the few true free safeties left in the NFL. Defenses have become more multiple and begun asking safeties to put on multiple hats. However, the Saints lined up Williams in an adjacent parking lot on most occasions. It was a depth that would make even Gregg Williams blush.
Williams showed that he can do more than just patrol center field, but he hasn’t had to play around the line of scrimmage often throughout his time in New Orleans. It will be fascinating to see how things pan out in Baltimore, a defense that has historically been one of the most aggressive in the league.
73) Frank Ragnow, C, Detroit Lions
Hopefully, Frank Ragnow remains healthy in 2022, so we can discuss him among the best centers in the NFL because that’s the potential he possesses.
He has elite size and athleticism for the position, and he processes information effortlessly at the line of scrimmage. His mental prowess takes a lot of pressure off his quarterback. He began his NFL career at guard but has steadily improved his strike timing and placement since. He has also evolved his hands to keep interior defenders guessing, and he makes no qualms about finding work.
74) Elgton Jenkins, iOL, Green Bay Packers
Elgton Jenkins is a unicorn on the offensive line. There is a famous saying with unknown origins that talks about fielding the best five on the roster, but that’s not the reality – unless you’re Jenkins. The NFL is not Madden. You can’t just swap a 93-rated left tackle and magically expect them to be a plus starter at right guard.
But with Jenkins, you can. His versatility is a weapon for the Packers. However, it could have also aided in his injury.
Hopefully, Green Bay has a plan for him in 2022, and he’s able to focus his mental and physical energy on one position. Because if he’s able to specialize for an extended period, whether at guard or tackle, he could become one of the very best in the entire league.
75) Shaquil Barrett, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s incredibly rare to see an undrafted pass rusher among the league’s best. In fact, Barrett (11th) was the only undrafted player inside Brandon Thorn’s top 35 in sack score for the 2021 season. The 10 above him included nine first-round picks and a third-rounder.
Only T.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, and Myles Garrett have more sacks over the past three seasons than Barrett. And it’s unlikely that his reign of terror bestowed upon opposing quarterbacks ends soon because he’s the only player to rank inside the top five in total pressures in each of the past three seasons as well.
Sacks are not a good indicator of future sack production on their own, but pressures are. It’s incredible to see a short-armed, relatively unathletic (for his position) and small pass rusher win so consistently on the outside track, but Barrett does.
PFN Top 100 NFL Players of 2022 | 76-100
76) Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of toe-drag swag, it would be incredible to see Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea line up a fullback on the goal line and catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in 2022.
The 340-pound behemoth is one of the freakiest players in the league. His raw power is unmatched on the defensive interior, and his hump move is living proof of that. And when that upper-body strength is matched with an explosive lower half, Vea easily converts speed to power in devastating fashion, collapsing the pocket consistently without having many nuances as a rusher.
When you’re built like a sophomore in high school going up against a bunch of seventh graders, you’re bound to make a mess. That’s what it looks like when Vea is fresh on the field.
77) DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
DJ Moore has been in a bit of a predicament throughout his career in Carolina, and that was no different with Sam Darnold and Co. in 2021. Moore hasn’t been incredibly efficient as a receiver throughout his career, but he has still found a way to produce on the outside. Moore is a dynamic weapon who is strong and elusive after the catch. While he isn’t as nuanced a route runner as the McLaurin and Allens of the world, he doesn’t have trouble creating separation in man coverage.
And to be productive with mediocre quarterback play, a receiver must be a stellar ball catcher. Moore doesn’t have a long frame, but his explosiveness allows him to elevate and finish catches, and he has the wherewithal around the sidelines to show off some toe-drag swag.
78) Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
There is no wide receiver in the NFL quite like Keenan Allen. He has a release repertoire with greater volume than the number of features Weezy took on during 2010 when he was on everything.
Allen isn’t a 4.7 runner as his 40 time would suggest, but he’s certainly not fast, either. In reality, he’s the less explosive but more consistent version of Amari Cooper. In other words, Allen is one of the most technically savage route runners in the league.
But he’s also well-built at 6’2”, 210 pounds, allowing him to fight through contact and use his frame subtly to create separation. And while he lacks long speed, he’s geared like a 1/8-mile drag car. He’s able to accelerate quickly and hit his chute to break off routes.
79) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers
On the opposite side of the ball, the Chargers struck gold in Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. He was immediately one of the most impactful rookies in the NFL and one of the best left tackles in the entire league.
Slater is the prototypical athlete at left tackle but lacks the prototypical length often coveted in a blindside blocker. However, the nuance he possesses in his strikes allows him to maximize the length he has. Additionally, his lower-body strength and ability to counter keep his lack of length from hurting him.
Slater isn’t just a pass protector, though. While Storm Norton isn’t a starting-caliber right tackle, it was startling to see just how more efficient Austin Ekeler was running behind Slater than to the right side of the Chargers’ offensive line. Slater is a technically sound run blocker, and his patience and athleticism at the second level make him tough to shake for linebackers and defensive backs.
80) Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers
There are few players who are as consistently great at their craft as Khalil Mack has been for the better part of a decade. He’s consistently produced high-pressure and double-digit sack seasons during his eight-year career.
Not only is he an outstanding pass rusher, but he’s also arguably the best run-defending EDGE in the league. The only thing keeping him from being much higher on this list is the fact that he’s 31 and coming off a serious foot injury that required surgery.
But he also has a few big things in his favor in regards to his potential production in 2022. He’s part of a talent-laden defense that boasts one of the best defensive ends in the NFL on the opposite side. They also happen to have an absolute weapon at safety, upgraded the interior, and paid arguably the best ball-hawking cornerback in the NFL in J.C. Jackson. If Mack is fully healthy, his production could explode.
81) Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Much like with Armstead, from a physical talent perspective, it’s difficult to understand why Matthew Stafford wouldn’t be higher on this list. For Pete’s sake, he just won a super bowl, after all!
He did, and there is zero debating his contribution to the Rams’ success last season. He has one of the biggest arms in the league, and he has the arrogance in it to make all of the throws.
But then there are the far too common instances where FIGJAM comes into play, and Stafford tries to fit a ball into a nonexistent window. While he doesn’t come with the allure of Brett Favre, he is this generation’s Favre.
82) Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders
It became more difficult to feel bad for Terry McLaurin after he secured the bag during the offseason, but we can still wish he was in a better situation.
McLaurin is one of the few sub-4.4 receivers with the ability to pace routes and start/stop efficiently. That becomes especially tricky as a player gets bigger, and McLaurin is no DeSean Jackson at over 200 pounds.
His only true weakness has been the postal service attempting to deliver his packages. They often end up at the wrong address, which even his outstanding explosiveness can’t make up for.
83) Bobby Wagner, LB, Los Angeles Rams
Bobby Wagner is no longer the perennial All-Pro we became accustomed to seeing. He had his worst season as a pro in 2021 but was still a positive impact on a defense that struggled all season in Seattle.
Now, the aging veteran gets to breathe some fresh smog-filled air in Los Angeles as he once again plays on a squad ready to compete for a championship. The Rams desperately needed help at the position, and playing behind arguably the best defensive player ever and Greg Gaines should allow Wagner to flow freely to the football.
84) Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
Darius Leonard is the Trevon Diggs of the linebacker position in regards to his ball-hawking tendencies. While he may be a bit of a risk-taker, he’s a more consistent linebacker than Diggs is a cornerback.
He’s made a career forcing fumbles (16), intercepting passes (11), scoring defensive touchdowns (six), and breaking up passes (14). Last season alone, he scored three times! Matt Eberflus spent a lot of time around Rod Marinelli, and his defense always allowed Leonard to be a heat-seeking missile. It will be interesting to see how things change under Gus Bradley.
85) Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Between Lavonte David and Demario Davis, it’s difficult to figure out who has been the more underrated linebacker over the past decade. But with Davis’ ranking in the top 100 heading into 2022, I guess David is the answer.
People so badly wanted to tout Devin White as the Buccaneers’ present and future while forgetting he wasn’t even the best linebacker on his team.
David is outstanding as a coverage player and has the immediate downhill trigger of a decade-plus NFL veteran. He’s also maintained outstanding athletic ability into his early 30s.
86) Terron Armstead, OT, Miami Dolphins
If based on talent alone, Terron Armstead might be one of the best two or three offensive tackles in the NFL. Unfortunately, missing games as an offensive lineman is a tough pill to swallow, given the lack of sufficient line play in the league.
Armstead is a terrifyingly unique entity. Think about it this way; his 40-yard dash time would be in the 79th percentile for tight ends! There are few more terrifying images than dreaming of a 305-pound individual running at you faster than 87% of defensive ends move.
And that athletic ability translates beautifully to his pass protection. His hands are never out of place, and he’s only underrated as a run blocker because he’s nearly perfect in pass pro. His only knock is health.
87) Jonathan Allen, DT, Washington Commanders
Interior pressure is the most detrimental development to an opposing quarterback’s success in the NFL. In 2021 only Aaron Donald generated more pressure from the interior than Allen. Allen finished third in sacks, 12th in defensive stops, and only missed one tackle all season.
So what’s the rub? Why is he so low on the list compared to his peers on the interior? Well, his inconsistent run-defending would be the culprit. Allen’s game is predicated upon penetration, and while that is disruptive, it can also put him out of position against the run.
But he’s still a top-100 NFL talent because he is consistent as a pass rusher. Allen generates pressure every week because he is difficult to game plan against. He wins with a myriad of rush moves that display power, finesse, or a combination of the two. He pairs that with an insatiable appetite that keeps his motor running hot at all times.
88) Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Talent has never been an issue for Joe Mixon. The lack of solid offensive line play and poor quarterback play, however, has hindered his efficiency as a pro. And then Joe Burrow showed up.
Despite still having a poor offensive line, Mixon had his most productive season since 2018. With the passing offense’s explosiveness and improvements to the offensive line, Mixon should be even more efficient in 2022.
89) Tyrann Mathieu, S, New Orleans Saints
Since we’re on the topic of intelligence, there may be no better example of that than Tyrann Mathieu. There are more physically gifted safeties in a vacuum, but Mahieu’s importance to Steve Spagnuolo’s defense cannot be overstated.
That’s why his departure from the team for a player relatively unheralded at around the same price as Mathieu (more guaranteed money, in fact) raises eyebrows.
A change of scenery may prove mutually beneficial, and there isn’t a better defensive situation for Mathieu to step into than in New Orleans. Dennis Allen’s defense needs intelligent coverage defenders, and he gets one in Mathieu, who should be happy to be home.
90) Kenny Moore II, CB, Indianapolis Colts
The best pure slot cornerback in the NFL comes in at 90 in PFN’s Top 100. The undersized cornerback from Division II Valdosta State was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Belichick has a knack for eyeing cornerback talent, and he receives partial credit with identifying Moore.
However, the Patriots waived Moore, and their loss was Chuck Pagano and the Colts’ gain. The undersized, undrafted cornerback survived as a rookie playing on the outside before sliding into the slot in 2018, where he flourished.
Moore is an explosive defensive back whose ball skills are incredible for his size. He instantly processes information, and his understanding of opponents allows him to take calculated risks in coverage to make outrageous splash plays.
91) Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Last season was a new situation for Alvin Kamara, and his dip in efficiency was not surprising. Sean Payton decided bashing Kamara’s head into a brick wall over and over again was going to be the key to keeping Jameis Winston in check and keeping games shorter to favor the Saints’ talented defense.
Kamara has never had a 1,000-yard rushing campaign but has three seasons under his belt of 1,500 all-purpose yards along with three with 13 or more touchdowns. Just two years ago, he scored a league-high 21 times.
His contact balance is his calling card, alongside his steady hands. If New Orleans can open the offense up in 2022, Kamara should get back on track.
92) Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Many of the players inside the top 100 are athletic freaks. It’s nearly impossible to be an elite professional athlete without also being an elite athlete relative to the individual sport. Kyle Pitts is one of the freakiest among a group of athletic marvels. While not as sudden as Waller, he’s as smooth as silk and a far more competitive blocker.
No TE averaged more yards per catch than Pitts last season. His 1,026 receiving yards ranked second all-time for rookie TEs, and his 68 receptions ranked third. The Florida product is primed to be the next great tight end in the NFL.
93) Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
Waller might be even more physically gifted than Kyle Pitts, but his injury-riddled season in 2021 and the addition of Davante Adams to the Raiders could hinder his production even in good health.
The one positive to the offseason regarding Waller’s potential production is Josh McDaniels, who has a long history of finding ways to utilize tight ends at a high rate within his offense. With his rare size and explosiveness, Waller is a matchup nightmare for anybody aligning opposite him. And the ability to stop and start as if he were a much smaller receiver makes him a threat to all three levels of the field.
94) Joel Bitonio, G, Cleveland Browns
While Mason has rounded into a consistent blocker, Joel Bitonio has been doing it now for the better part of 10 seasons in the NFL. The former second-round pick was immediately a productive starting guard as a rookie, and only injury in the next two seasons kept him from eight straight 1,000-snap seasons of quality football.
In fact, Bitonio’s consistency is spooky. He’s allowed exactly 17 pressures in each of the past three seasons – granted, there was an extra game in 2021. However, he even bumped out to play left tackle in Weeks 15 and 16, where he allowed one of his two sacks on the season.
95) Darius Slay, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Darius Slay shouldn’t be here. The 31-year-old cornerback was presumed washed in 2019 and practically pronounced dead as an upper-echelon cornerback after his first season in Philadelphia. It’s incredibly difficult to get back on track at such a reactive position after age 30.
And yet, here we are!
All credit to Slay, the veteran turned things around in a big way last season. He still has incredible closing speed, plus his understanding of what he sees on tape and his ability to bring that onto the field is how he remains one of the best coverage players in the NFL.
96) Carlton Davis, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carlton Davis was a fun, athletic prospect coming from Auburn that needed to put a few things together mentally in order to be a successful NFL cornerback. His three-year, $44.5-million contract is the proof that he has.
Davis has the length and athletic ability to play on an island. But his route recognition in man is among the best in the league, and it allows him to better mirror receivers in and out of breaks. But he also excels in zone coverage due to his understanding of different passing concepts and complementary routes. He will flat-out run routes for receivers sometimes. However, Davis has suffered minor setbacks in health every season so far which has kept him from the conversation as one of the league’s elites.
97) Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles
While the first-team All-Pro recognition that came Jason Kelce’s way in 2021 was more of a legacy vote than earned by being the best center in the league, Kelce is still one of the best in the game despite mulling retirement.
The four-time All-Pro will one day be in the Hall of Fame alongside his brother, Travis. Jason is the prototype for an undersized, athletic center. And while he has benefitted from the Eagles’ long-standing zone-based run scheme, in the 30% to 40% of the time he’s spent in more downhill looks, his lack of girth has never been a hindrance.
98) Robert Quinn, EDGE, Chicago Bears
Last season, Robert Quinn finished second in sacks behind T.J. Watt. It was Quinn’s second season of at least 18 sacks, and the 32-year-old is still one of the most gifted pass rushers in the NFL. His explosiveness and flexibility let him be a weapon off the edge.
But he lands at 98th on the list because he’s not as well-rounded, nor as consistent as many of the league’s talented rushers. Quinn has always been an underwhelming run defender. He also hasn’t consistently put together high-productivity pass-rushing seasons because he never developed a power element to his game.
That’s partially the reason why he has had some high sack seasons without consistently producing pressures. He wins quickly, or he doesn’t win at all. But at 32, there are few pass rushers you’d rather field on a 3rd-and-6+.
99) Chandler Jones, EDGE, Las Vegas Raiders
Chandler Jones began the 2021 NFL season by legally becoming Taylor Lewan’s adopted father (and then doing the same to Kendall Lamm as well). However, things slowed down dramatically for the wily veteran after Week 1.
Over the next 16 weeks, he amassed only six more sacks and only posted one game with more than four pressures. But while we’ll probably never see the 2019 version of Jones again, he should still contribute to the Raiders aligning opposite of Maxx Crosby.
100) Shaq Mason, G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Many of the physical freaks we think of fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, but Shaq Mason is among that group. The college center turned NFL guard falls in the third percentile for height at the position and only the 39th percentile for weight. However, he posted elite speed and explosive scores while narrowly missing out on an elite grade in agility drills.
Mason entered the league with the reputation of a mauler but has rounded into a consistently solid pass protector over the years as well. In 2021, he allowed just a single sack and only 15 total pressures. Now he’ll be sandwiched between Ryan Jensen and Tristin Wirfs with Tom Brady once again his QB.
He’s set up to have a nearly perfect season.