NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2022 -- voted on by the players themselves -- comes to a conclusion on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET, when the final 20 slots will be revealed. In advance of this three-hour finale, NFL Media unveiled the players in alphabetical order:
- Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
- Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
- Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
- Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
- J.C. Jackson, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
- Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
- Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
- Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
- Shaquille Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
- Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
- Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
- T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers
Taking that slate of superstars, my editors asked me to accumulate my own top-10 ranking. Essentially, who's the cream of the cream of the crop?
Now, to begin with, it wasn't easy whittling the list down to just 10 names from that original pool of 20 players. My toughest omission: Trent Williams. The man's an expert at his craft; I'd sleep quite well knowing he's protecting my blind side. But this kind of exercise demands difficult decisions.
So, which players do make my personal top 10 heading into the 2022 campaign? And how do they stack up against each other? Enough dillydally -- let's get to it, countdown style!
It doesn't feel right placing Brady at No. 10. He's the G.O.A.T. He's one of the greatest athletes in sports history. And an all-time great winner, with a whopping seven Super Bowl rings. So what am I doing here?
Well, something doesn't feel right entering this season. Brady, who just turned 45 years old, kicked off the offseason with a 40-day retirement. Then he just missed 11 days of training camp for "personal reasons." Meanwhile, his offensive line is suddenly a shell of what it was last season.
Could TB12 enjoy yet another prolific season and make me look stupid? Absolutely. But in a ranking this challenging, I have to factor in the strange vibes.
Kelce's the best tight end in the league. In fact, draw a line after his name. With all due respect to tight ends like George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller and rising star Kyle Pitts, Kelce's in a class of his own at the position. He's the only tight end in NFL history with six 1,000-yard seasons to his name -- and he's piled 'em up over the past six seasons straight.
And with Tyreek Hill in Miami, Patrick Mahomes is going to pepper No. 87 with targets all season long. I know tight ends don't typically provide prolific production into their mid-30s, but this cat's clearly different. Canton awaits.
Can we just stop for a second and marinate on everything Kupp just accomplished during his transcendent 2021 season:
- Won the receiving triple crown, leading the league in catches (145), yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16).
- Won Offensive Player of the Year -- and even received an MVP vote.
- Piled up 33 catches for 478 yards and six touchdowns in four playoff games. (And yes, that reception total is a postseason record.)
- Earned Super Bowl LVI MVP honors, accumulating five touches for 46 yards and a touchdown -- while also drawing three penalties -- on the Rams' game-winning drive.
I mean, does a season get any better than that? What more could a wide receiver possibly do? Bring about world peace?
I've long argued Ramsey is the best corner in the NFL. I recently argued he belongs in the Madden 99 Club. He talks the talk and then owns the walk. Ramsey is special. Never let him get lost in the Rams' galaxy of stars.
In six NFL seasons, Ramsey has collected five Pro Bowl nods, three first-team All-Pro selections and one shiny, new ring. Not to mention, the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the game today, serving as the queen on the chessboard that is Raheem Morris' defense. This past February, prior to the Super Bowl, Morris provided some pretty glowing words when asked about the deployment of No. 5.
"Jalen is one of one," Morris said. "I would put him on anybody in the history of our game."
That about sums it up.
Tying Michael Strahan's single-season record with 22.5 sacks, Watt ran away with the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year award. As an absolute game-wrecker off the edge, Watt had been knocking on the DPOY door for multiple seasons. Since entering the league in 2017, the guy has 22 forced fumbles -- easily an NFL high. Like his older brother J.J. was in his prime, T.J.'s a force of nature rushing the passer.
Now I'm dying to see what the Steelers star has in store for 2022. I mean, look at this sack trend line, starting with his rookie season: 7, 13, 14.5, 15, 22.5. He could leave Strahan in the dust this season.
Mahomes has been a starting quarterback in the NFL for four seasons. In related news, Kansas City has at least made it to Championship Sunday in each of the past four seasons. Pat's won a regular-season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio (151:37) and passer rating (105.8) are video game numbers. And he should just be entering his prime, turning 27 in September. "The sky is the limit" is an overused saying, but it's apropos with No. 15.
Mahomes is magical. You cannot miss a snap. His ability to make the impossible possible is second to none in the NFL. And I'm fascinated to see how his game evolves without the Tyreek Hill cheat code at his disposal. By the end of the 2022 campaign, Mahomes will be a better, more well-rounded quarterback. That's a terrifying thought for the rest of the league.
As I outlined above, Cooper Kupp just authored one of the most dominant seasons in league history. But Davante remains the best receiver in the game today. Offering the ultimate blend of speed, hands, body, route-running and big-moment savvy, Adams has been a game-breaking monster over the past six seasons. Since 2016, he leads all receivers in catches (581), yards (7,192) and touchdowns (69). He's caught nine passes in each of his last four playoff games. And his Q-rating is off the charts among his receiving brethren across the NFL, with everyone waxing poetic about his releases off the line of scrimmage and pristine patterns.
How will the relocation to Vegas affect his production? Well, do you remember the sweet music Davante made at Fresno State with his best bud Derek Carr? In 26 games together over two seasons with the Bulldogs, Carr and Adams hooked up 233 times for 3,031 yards and 38(!) touchdowns. Something tells me Davante will be just fine with the Raiders.
Rodgers just earned his second straight MVP -- and fourth overall. He's the most talented quarterback ever and still at the top of his legendary game. No player does more wow, Jordan-esque things at the quarterback position than Rodgers. Just ask his new teammate Sammy Watkins.
"He's amazing. How he controls the ball," Watkins recently said. "How he puts everyone in place. I've been with a lot of quarterbacks, and I've never seen them carry themselves like Aaron Rodgers."
Remember, Watkins has played with two former MVPs in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Earlier in camp, Watkins put it even more bluntly: "I think Pat is incredibly good, but A-Rod is on a whole 'nother level." That's not shade -- it's just the truth.
Yes, heading into the 2022 season, I view Allen as the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL. And that's saying something, given how highly I regard Aaron Rodgers, as regular readers know. Allen is the entire package of arm strength, accuracy, athleticism, smarts, leadership and big-game brilliance. Remember last year's two-game playoff performance? Allen completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 637 yards and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions, equaling a 149.0 passer rating. Oh, and for good measure, he carried the ball 17 times for an additional 134 yards. How on Earth did the Bills not reach Championship Sunday again?
Talking to Allen this week on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," the quarterback seemed focused and fired up for a huge year. He wanted to play in the second preseason game to work on the communication with new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, whom he loves. He got one drive in that game ... and led the Bills 70 yards on six plays, completing all three of his passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The 26-year-old is hungry. I asked him where he can improve in Year 5, and he let loose: "Where are my eyes in zone coverage? What am I trying to throw here? Am I trying to throw the high-low? OK, let's find the linebacker responsible for this area, and let's work him instead of having my eyes in a different spot. Whether it's a safety or a corner, finding the right guy to ID and just owning the game of football as much as I can. Knowing the situation. Coach (Sean) McDermott does such a great job with that in our locker room, in our team meetings, teaching us situation football. So I gotta be honed in on that and just being a handoff from what Coach Dorsey is on the field."
Allen is going to quarterback the best offense in the NFL this season. And hit the Super Bowl.
Well, I did this in countdown fashion to build suspense. No suspense here, though: The answer is always Aaron Donald. I don't even need to know the question.
Best player in the NFL today. Best defensive player in league history. What Donald does, wrecking games from the defensive tackle position, is simply sensational and unprecedented greatness. The man entered the league as the No. 13 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Since then, he leads the league in sacks (98) and QB pressures (713, per Pro Football Focus). And he just put a ring on his finger with a dominant Super Bowl performance capped off with a game-icing pressure.
I don't know what else I really need to say here. Do you need more convincing? Do you watch football? AD is the D.G.O.A.T.
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