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NFL's 'Top 100 Players of 2023': Five things the voters got wrong

The votes have been tallied, and the list listed. After two weeks of rolling out the results of its annual poll, the NFL finally revealed on NFL+ on Monday night "The Top 100 Players of 2023" in full, with Patrick Mahomes a sure thing at No. 1.

But for every Mahomes -- the easy pick as a reigning NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP and streaming star -- there were a number of questionable calls. So here, for the fifth year running, are my five things the Top 100 voters (i.e., the players) messed up in this year's compilation:

1) "Oh well" to the Chiefs

Get this: The reigning Super Bowl champions, having logged a 14-3 regular-season record and a fifth straight AFC title game appearance, boast just three of the league's top 100 players -- at least, according to the players themselves. Even stranger, all three of them (Mahomes at No. 1, Travis Kelce at No. 5 and Chris Jones at No. 10) are in the top 10. So "top-heavy" were the Chiefs in 2022 that they were tops in the NFL come season's end. (Huh!) Who was left out and looked over from K.C.'s championship squad in this year's exercise? How about left guard Joe Thuney and center Creed Humphrey, second-team All-Pros on the line that held off Philly's prolific pass rush in Super Bowl LVII? Or Nick Bolton, whose 180 combined tackles and 108 solo takedowns ranked second in the league, behind Foye Oluokun? Don't forget L'Jarius Sneed, who was just the seventh DB this millennium with at least three picks, three sacks and three forced fumbles in the same season.

2) Quarterback questions

Fourteen signal-callers are strewn across this year's Top 100, from Mahomes to Trevor Lawrence (No. 96); only wide receivers (of which there are 16) saw more love. While the top five is pretty indisputable -- with QB5 Justin Herbert (No. 32) in purgatory between superstar and Pro Bowler -- from there on out, it gets tricky. Are we comfortable with Kirko Chainz (No. 42) as the sixth-best QB in the NFL in 2023 over the likes of Aaron Rodgers (No. 51), who dropped an obscene 48 slots amid a protracted parting of ways in Green Bay but is currently looking rejuvenated in Florham Park? Kirk Cousins benefits from throwing to the No. 2 player in football, while Rodgers didn't even have a WR in the Top 200 at his disposal last season. What should we make of Lamar Jackson's (No. 72) lag behind the lead-footed Jared Goff (No. 66)? Sure, Lamar's crashed out of the last two seasons due to injuries, but he just inked an at-the-time-record deal and is undoubtedly a more reliable game-changer than Goff when healthy. The greatest outcry has been over Lawrence's placement, behind an oft-unavailable Tua Tagovailoa (No. 82) and one-dimensional Justin Fields (No. 86). The Jags QB benefits from a strong finish -- in Jacksonville's season and wild-card game -- but suffers from the low-exposure Duval of it all. He won't land this far down again in this decade.

3) Value misjudgment

There are more running backs (six) than QBs (five) in the top 40 and 10 tailbacks in the Top 100 overall, including five ahead of Herbert, who just signed a $262.5 million extension. Of those five, three -- Josh Jacobs (No. 12), Austin Ekeler (No. 21) and Saquon Barkley (No. 31) -- actively agitated for better pay this offseason. Barkley and Ekeler will work under slightly improved terms for 2023; Jacobs, likely to play on the $10.091 million tag (barring a rare Saquon-like adjustment), apparently isn't even in Las Vegas for training camp. Something's off. I'm not here to pile on running backs; the invisible hand of the "free market" is doing more than enough of that this offseason. But the disconnect between how players and front-office figures view the talent and value of tailbacks, at least demonstrated by this list, is notable.

4) Entrenched warfare

Another year, another slight for the hog mollies. Only eight offensive linemen made this year's Top 100 list: five tackles, two guards and not a single center without a podcast. It's an annual tradition that trenchmen are overlooked in this exercise, but this year is bad enough to make Baldy break down. In absentia here are the only first-team All-Pro on offense or defense to miss the Top 100 this year (Browns starter Joel Bitonio) and three second-team All-Pros (the aforementioned Humphrey and Thuney and Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas). The players in the voting pool also apparently didn't attend TEU. Only three tight ends cracked the ranking: Kelce, George Kittle (No. 19) and Mark Andrews (No. 80), or The Usual Suspects. No love for NFC North navigator T.J. Hockenson or Duval dynamo Evan Engram, two former first-rounders with breakout 2022 seasons. The peer shade extends once again to special teams, as well, as Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, a trailblazer at No. 96 in '22, was booted from the club this go-around. The players yet again have no place for placekickers and many other unsung positions in their exclusive club.

5) Dropped calls

A number of Top 100 stalwarts from the '22 list disappeared from this year's collection entirely, some due to retirement (Tom Brady, No. 1 in 2022), some due to inexplicably poor performance (Quenton Nelson, No. 28 in '22) and others due to injury, though the latter category was not treated equally. Why did Shaquille Leonard (No. 18 in '22; played in three games last season) fall totally out of favor, but Joey Bosa (No. 30 in '22; played in five games last season) drop just 40 spots? The same goes for DeAndre Hopkins (No. 37 in '22) and Darren Waller (No. 58 in '22); each played nine games in '22 and landed in new homes in '23, but Hopkins dropped 53 spots and Waller was nowhere to be found. And what about recent Pro Bowlers like Jonathan Taylor (No. 5 in '22), Kevin Byard (No. 34 in '22) and Von Miller (No. 93 in '22), whose fine follow-ups were completely passed over? Of course, there isn't room for every above-average athlete with a league pension. (This isn't the "Top 167 presented by Good Enough.") But the inconsistency with which players choose to dismiss their brothers' talent remains baffling and, dare I say, unscientific.

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