Greatness is what makes sports exciting. Discussion is what drives us to tune in on game day. Debates are sparked by controversial topics and differing opinions. With the 2021-2022 NFL season right around the corner, we decided to put together a list of the top 50 players heading into the upcoming year. We hope this list will drive our readers to decide for themselves if they agree with our selections, and debate and discuss amongst themselves who they would choose for their own top 50 player rankings. Without further ado, here are our selections for the top 50 players heading into the 2021-2022 NFL season.
50. Tyrann Mathieu, SS, Kansas City Chiefs
We begin our list with the LSU product, Tyrann Mathieu. He is heading into his ninth NFL season as a safety and has been one of the dynamic on the defensive end since he entered the league. Last season saw him continue to improve as he retained his ability to read offenses well and ended up with the most interceptions of his career with six.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X First-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl
49. Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans
Julio Jones has been one of the best wide receivers in the league for 10 years now despite dealing with a hamstring injury last season. Although he is in the latter half of his career, at age 32 he still has something left in the tank. Before last year’s injury-riddled campaign, Jones produced six-straight seasons of 1,390 plus yards and averaged at least 90 yards per game during that
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 3X Second-Team All-Pro, 7X Pro Bowl, 2X NFL receiving yards leader (2015, 2018), NFL receptions co-leader (2015)
48. Shaquil Barrett, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shaquil Barret helps to lead one of the top defensive pass-rushing units in the entire NFL. With his blend of speed and quickness, he is always someone to keep an eye on for opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators. Barrett has been in the league since 2015 and posted 19.5 sacks which led the entire NFL in 2019. Although that number dipped a bit in 2020, Barrett could still produce eight sacks and 16 quarterback hits, which is a testament to that speed and explosiveness. At 28 years old, Barrett still has a lot left in the tank.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Pro Bowl, Second-Team All-Pro, NFL Sacks Leader (2019)
47. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Calvin Ridley is a receiving touchdown machine. Catching passes from Matt Ryan down in Atlanta has become a habit for Ridley during his three-year career, as he already has 26 touchdown receptions at just age 26. He also added 1,374 receiving yards last season, which was the highest mark of his NFL tenure so far. The future is bright for the young Falcons receiver.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Second-Team All-Pro, PFWA All-Rookie Team
46. Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans Saints
Our first offensive tackle on this list is Terron Armstead. He is a 6 foot 5 inch, 304 pound monster on the line of scrimmage. He was a third-round pick in 2013 and took over the starting position at left tackle in his rookie season and has held onto it ever since. He has proven indispensable for the Saints’ offense and will again play a significant role in their success in 2021. He may be even more valuable this year, given that New Orleans lost their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Drew Brees, to retirement.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X Pro-Bowl, Second-Team All-Pro
45. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints
Those Saints just keep producing strong offensive linemen. Coming in at number 45 is the right tackle, Ryan Ramczyk. Ramczyk weighs in at 314 pounds and stands 6 foot 6 inches tall. Over the past two seasons, Ramczyk has allowed a total of two quarterback sacks combined. His outstanding performance earned him a 5-year, $96 million dollar contract extension to stay in New Orleans.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro
44. David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers
Next is the 6 foot 4 Inch 310-pound bruiser David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari is entering his 9th professional season which has all come with Green Bay. He has protected Aaron Rodgers his whole career and could someday be joining the future Hall of Fame QB in Canton as he is possibly on a Hall of Fame trajectory himself. One thing to note is that he is dealing with an injury and is questionable for week one.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 3X Second-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl
43. Cam Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
Jordan has been incredibly durable for the Saints over his ten-year career, as he has not missed a regular-season game during that span. From 2017-2019, Jordan averaged double-digit sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl each season during those years. Although last year those numbers were down, he still had 7.5 sacks to go along with 34 solo tackles and 16 quarterback hits.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 6X Pro Bowl, NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team
42. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
It wasn’t that long ago when Prescott was in the running for the best quarterback in the league. While his stock has dropped a bit, he is still an outstanding talent looking to bounce back after an injury ended his season in 2020. Prescott threw for over 3,000 yards in each of his first four seasons in the NFL and also eclipsed the 20 touchdown pass mark during those seasons as well. If he can stay healthy in 2021, Prescott should be in line for another strong campaign.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
41. Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Pittsburgh Steelers
Fitzpatrick has been a dependable free safety through his first three seasons in the league. He was traded in 2019 to the Steelers from Miami where he has continued to succeed. Last season saw him finish with four interceptions, 60 solo tackles, 79 combined tackles, and one touchdown off of an interception as well. The Steelers were upset by the Browns in the playoffs in 2020, so they will look for revenge in 2021. In order to bounce back, Fitzpatrick and the Pittsburgh defense are going to have to lead the way.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl
40. Demario Davis, LB, New Orleans Saints
Davis will be entering his ninth season in the league and fourth with the Saints. He has been a reliable defensive player in the NFL, as he has not missed a regular-season game throughout his career. However, he is more than just a durable player, as he has averaged almost three sacks a game from the linebacker position as well as a total of 620 solo tackles over the course of his time in the league. He will look to continue to provide consistency in his age 32 campaign in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro
39. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In last season’s playoffs, David was responsible for covering arguably the best tight end in the game, Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. The 31-year-old David was able to hang with the elite tight end and help to limit him in the Chiefs passing game. This speaks to the tenacity and heart of the Tampa Bay Linebacker as he played a crucial role in the defending champion’s success. He finished last season with 82 solo tackles and 117 combined tackles, while also helping to cover tight ends and receivers over the middle.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 2x Second-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl
38. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another Buccaneers linebacker makes the list at number 38. Where teammate Lavonte David brings veteran experience to the table, White brings youthful energy as he prepares to enter his third season in the NFL.
So far, so good for the 23-year-old out of LSU. In 2020, the linebacker could sack opposing quarterbacks nine times while also adding 97 solo tackles and 140 combined tackles. His career is certainly trending in the right direction, and he may find himself even higher on this list if he continues to play like he did last season.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Second-Team All-Pro, PFWA All-Rookie Team
37. Budda Baker, FS, Arizona Cardinals
Baker, a four-year veteran, will look to make his fourth Pro Bowl in five years in 2021. The Cardinals’ safety has had a quick start to his career and has been productive in each season he’s been on the field. 2020 was perhaps his best year yet, as he was named to the Pro Bowl and was selected for First-Team All-Pro. He was not only pesky with two interceptions and one forced fumble but also dependable as he added 90 solo tackles. Baker will look for more of the same in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
36. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans has been so good for so many years now it is surprising to hear he is still just 27 years old! He was drafted out of Texas A&M in 2014 and has turned into one of the most consistent receivers in the sport.
He failed to catch less than eight touchdowns in only two of his seven NFL seasons, including a career-high 13 touchdown receptions in 2020. He quickly developed chemistry with Tom Brady, which led to one of Evan’s best seasons yet last year.
In addition to the 13 touchdown catches, he also added over 1,000 yards receiving, 70 total receptions, and 14.4 yards per reception. Evans has somewhat quietly been one of the best receivers over the past seven years, and he will look to build on that longevity during the upcoming campaign.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X Pro Bowl, Second-Team All-Pro, PFWA All-Rookie Team
35. Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
White has evolved from a reliable cornerback to one of the best in the game over the past couple of seasons. A former wide receiver, white transitioned into a full-time defensive player during his time at LSU. It turns out that switching sides of the ball ended up being the best decision for him, as he has gone on to be selected to two Pro Bowls and has shut down some of the best wide receivers in the game. 2020 saw him finish with 57 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three interceptions.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, NFL Interceptions Co-Leader (2019)
34. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
Another Saint joins the list in Lattimore. The cornerback continued to shine in 2020 as he intercepted two passes and finished with 52 solo tackles in just 14 games. He dealt with a legal issue over the offseason, but as long as he can be on the field in 2021, he should continue to excel.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X Pro Bowl, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, PFWA All-Rookie Team
33. Jamal Adams, SS, Seattle Seahawks
Adams is one of the best pass-rushing safeties in the game, and that was established in 2020 with his 9.5 sacks. Having a safety on your team who can pressure the quarterback provides an extra weapon to a defensive unit. The most amazing thing about that statistic is that those sacks came in just 12 games. Imagine how much that total may have been if he had been able to play in all 16 contests. He also added 59 solo tackles and one forced fumble.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
32. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Fred Warner is a guy who makes plays from the linebacker position. If you tune into a broadcast with the 49ers on the field, you are going to hear his name a great deal of the time. Warner can cover tight ends and even put some pressure on wide receivers. Last season, he caught three interceptions, made 79 solo tackles, and an outstanding 125 combined tackles. That statistic alone shows just how involved he is for this 49ers defense. At just 24 years of age, the sky’s the limit for Warner.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl
31. Khalil Mack, LB, Chicago Bears
Mack is one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL. He has numerous accolades to his credit after just turning 30 this past February and could find himself in the Hall of Fame someday. In 2020, Mack finished with nine sacks, 29 solo tackles, and three forced fumbles. He also added an interception for good measure. He will look to continue his dominance in the 2021 campaign.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 3X First-Team All-Pro, Second Team All-Pro, 6X Pro Bowl, NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team
30. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Jones will be one of the more interesting players to watch in 2021. Based on a recent report, the Chiefs plan to use him as an edge rusher this season. This could lead to more sacks and quarterback hits for Jones, who has primarily been used inside the defensive line. With that being said, Jones was able to get 7.5 sacks last season and even had 15.5 back in 2018. So if Jones has a chance to add even more onto those totals in 2021 by playing on the outside, this could be a special season for the Kansas City defensive tackle.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
29. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Metcalf is a monster in every sense of the word. He stands 6’4, weighs 235 pounds, and has elite speed. Other teams have to rely on their most athletic and agile cornerbacks to have any chance of stopping Metcalf. He plays on a team featuring Russel Wilson as the QB and should expect plenty of targets in the upcoming season. He has some competition on his team with Tyler Lockett, but both receivers are poised to have good years in 2021. Last year he had ten touchdowns, 83 receptions, and over 1,300 receiving yards. Those numbers could be even higher if he can stay healthy and play in every game.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Second-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl
28. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
Leonard has been excellent through his first three seasons in the NFL, with 268 solo tackles and 416 combined tackles. However, he is more than just a linebacker who can tackle opponents. Leonard is the first player to record 15 plus sacks and five-plus interceptions through his first three seasons since Brian Urlacher in 2000-2002. He is an image of versatility given his ability to contribute in almost every facet of the game defensively, and that is why he recently earned a 5-year, 99.25 million dollar deal to stay in Indianapolis through the 2026 season.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2X First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, NFL Tackles Leader (2018), PFWA All-Rookie Team
27. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens
Humphrey is an excellent cornerback who had a very unusual 2020. Most players at his position focus on deflecting passes and interceptions, which he was still successful. However, Humphrey led the entire NFL in a category that usually is dominated by linemen or linebackers, which is the statistic of forcing fumbles. He had an incredible total of 8 forced fumbles from the cornerback position. He is a nimble, 6’0 tall 200 bound athlete who excels at making big plays and shutting down star receivers.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl
26. Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins
Despite some contract restructuring and drama between Howard and the Dolphins during the offseason, he is back in Miami for the 2021 campaign. The two-time interceptions leader has become one of the best cornerbacks in all of football.
He has a knack for reading quarterbacks and making plays, targeting other receivers than Howard is covering. 2020 may have been his best season yet as he led the league in interceptions with ten and led in passes defended by a defensive player (PD) with 20. Howard will look to continue that dominance in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, 2X NFL Interceptions Leader (2018, 2020)
25. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley has all the talent in the world. When on the field, he is one of the best running backs in the game, without a doubt. However, therein lies the issue staying on the field. Last year, as many angry fantasy football managers will recall last year, Barkley played in all two games before enduring a season-ending injury. While he still is recovering from his ailment in training camp, the Giants are hopeful that he will be ready sometime in the early portion of the 2021 campaign.
The Penn State product had two highly successful seasons to begin his career in 2018 and 2019 as he rushed for over 1,000 yards in each season and even led the league in 2018 with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, which combines receiving and rushing yards. If he can stay healthy in 2021, there is no reason why he couldn’t duplicate his early career success.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
24. Chandler Jones, LB, Arizona Cardinals
Jones played in only five games during the 2020 season, but before that, he had a streak of five straight years of double-digit sacks including a league-leading total of 17 back in 2017. As he prepares to enter his 10th season in the NFL, Jones will try to stay healthy and get back to putting up big numbers. He is also able to provide veteran leadership for the Cardinals in addition to his outstanding talent. The Cardinals could also be an exciting team to keep tabs on as they made some quality additions in the offseason.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl, NFL Sacks leader (2017), NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team
23. T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
T.J. is no longer just the younger brother of J.J., as he has established himself as one of the finest linebackers in the league. Since 2018, Watt’s sack numbers have continually risen from 13 that season, 14.5 in 2019, and 15.5 in 2020. His 2020 total also led the league in that category. Watt is a highly aggressive player, as his eight forced fumbles led the NFL in 2019. The Steelers have always been known for their tremendous defenses over the years, and Watt is smack dab in the middle of another solid defensive unit.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl, NFL Sacks Leader (2020)
22. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The 22-year-old wide receiver has quickly risen to NFL stardom after netting 88 catches, 1,400 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns in just his rookie season! As he continues to gain experience in the league, there is no telling how good the young Viking’s star could be. While it is possible that opposing defenses make the necessary adjustments to contain Jefferson, there is no reason to believe he can’t perform just as well in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Second-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
21. Myles Garret, DE, Cleveland Browns
Garrett has gone from the new kid on the team with loads of potential to veteran leader in just four career seasons. The Browns have a young and exciting defensive unit that they hope Garrett will take charge of and lead them to the playoffs for a second straight campaign.
He has been a model of consistency by averaging almost 12 sacks per season over the past three years. Garrett was also able to force four fumbles in 2020 and add 48 combined tackles. He is the heart and soul of this Cleveland defense, and the Browns will need him to step up and lead by example in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
20. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Some people are worried about how Kittle will fare in 2021 after missing half of 2020 due to injury. However, when healthy, this is a player that is one of the best overall tight ends in the game. We are banking on a bounce back season for Kittle. From 2018-2019, he was one of the most productive players in football by receiving for over 1,000 yards, reeling in over 80 receptions, and posting a combined total of 10 touchdowns in both seasons, from the tight end position that is nearly irreplaceable. At just age 27, he will have a great chance to replicate that success if injuries do not prove to be an issue this year.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl
19. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
Over the past couple of years, Waller has emerged as a top-tier tight end and should expect to see a high volume of targets playing in Las Vegas. He had a good 2019 with over 1,000 yards receiving and three touchdowns, but in 2020 he established himself as one of the top tight ends in the league. Waller was able to reel in 107 receptions, nine touchdowns, and 1,196 yards receiving. Those are genuinely elite numbers, and if Waller continues to play like this, he could be in the conversation for top tight end by next season.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Pro Bowl
18. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams
Ramsey has an argument for being the NFL’s top corner. He is a guy who can match up with any receiver in the league and give them trouble. The Rams have developed a competitive defense with a few huge names, and they could lock up Ramsey through the 2025 season. One other advantage to having Ramsey on the roster is that he provides versatility, meaning that he can defend strong receivers and cover tight ends and slot receivers. He is undoubtedly a weapon and will be a big part of any Rams’ success in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X First-Team All-Pro, 4X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
17. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Chubb, who fell just short of 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie season, has rushed for over 1,000 yards over the past two years. Last year, in just 12 games, he was able to total 1,067 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and averaged 88.9 rushing yards per game. The year before, in 2019, Chubb rushed for 1,494 yards. Although he is not a big part of the passing game, he is an efficient running back who is still improving despite his already elite status.
The other optimistic reason to believe in Chubb is that if the Browns are going to repeat as playoff contenders, they will feed Chubb the ball often and give him a chance to lead them back to the postseason.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X Pro Bowl
16. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Murray is going into his third season as the Cardinals signal-caller, and he showed immense signs of improvement in year number two. Not only was he able to manage getting sacked less in 2020, but he also finished with almost 4,000 yards passing and 26 passing touchdowns. Some people feared that Murray may not be a great quarterback in the NFL and could wind up only being valuable in terms of scrambling.
However, Murray has proven that not only is he an exceptional talent at throwing the football, but that his running ability is just another tool that he can use to expose defenses, as proven by his 819 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns last season. He is a dual-set quarterback who is only improving and is still just 24 years old.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2019)
15. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
The longtime Packers receiver has been outstanding during his time in Green Bay. He has arguably been the best receiver in all of football over the past three seasons, as evidenced by his averages of 121 receptions, 1,466 yards receiving, and 14 touchdown catches during that time span. His best overall season came in 2020, where he finished with 18 touchdowns to lead the league and added 1,374 yards and 115 catches. He also led the league with 98.1 receiving yards per game. He is still just 28 and will try to continue to dominate the competition in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, 4X Pro Bowl, NFL receiving touchdowns leader (2020)
14. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook is going into his fourth season in the NFL, but his breakout year came in 2019 when he had 13 touchdowns and 1,135 rushing yards. As good as those numbers were, they were just a taste of how truly talented Cook is. In 2020, Cook finished with 16 touchdowns and 1,557 yards on the ground, and he is also a reliable receiving back.
The former Florida State star has a firm grasp on the title of one of the best players in the NFL, and as he is only entering his fifth season in the league. The only real knock on him is that he has never played an entire season, so if he can stay healthy and play in every game, Cook could improve on his already stellar numbers.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 2X Pro Bowl
13. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
Diggs went from a good receiver in 2019 to a great one in 2020. After spending all of his career with the Vikings, Diggs connected with Buffalo QB Josh Allen in his first season with the Bills. Diggs saw a lot of volume in 2020 as he was targeted 166 times which produced 127 receptions to lead the league. He also led the NFL with 1,535 receiving yards and added eight touchdowns as well. He indeed showed an elite skill set last season, and he should be able to stay atop the wide receiver leaderboards in 2021 consistently.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: First-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl, NFL Receptions Leader (2020), NFL Receiving Yards Leader (2020)
12. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Allen is already an elite quarterback as he enters his fourth season in the league. The addition of Stefon Diggs in 2020 gave him a tremendous target to consistently throw to, and his I.Q and overall awareness at the position have improved dramatically over his three-year career. He has taken massive steps forward in each season, as he improved his overall passing yards by over 1,000 yards each year since entering the league.
After finishing with 2,074 yards in 2018, he upped that total to 3,089 in 2019 and 4,544 in 2020. Allen is a top-tier quarterback without question, as he also added 37 touchdown passes and a 107.2 quarterback rating a season ago. Allen and the high-powered Bills offense will be exciting to watch once again in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Second-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl
11. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Hill is consistently known around the league as one of the top talents at the wide receiver position. He is easily a top-three receiver in the NFL and gives Patrick Mahomes a highly-skilled target to throw to. While Hill has excellent hands and can bring down passes with the best of them, his best tool is explosiveness.
He is not only quick down the field, but he also excels at losing receivers with fancy footwork near the line of scrimmage. Hill is coming off of another great season where he could reel in 87 receptions, 15 touchdowns, and 1,276 yards receiving.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 5X Pro Bowl, NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team, PFWA All-Rookie Team
10. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce seems to be the consensus top tight end around the NFL. He has been nothing short of electric for the Chiefs throughout his career, including five straight seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving. He was a massive part of the puzzle during Kansas City’s 2019-2020 championship campaign. Kelce also provides Patrick Mahomes with another weapon to target offensively, given his elite receiving ability. Last season, Kelce continued to perform at a high level as he reeled in the most catches of his career with 105 and added 11 touchdown receptions and 1,416 yards receiving. He is one of the most proven players on this list which is why he lands within our top ten.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 6X Pro Bowl, NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team
9. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Hopkins continued his reign of terror on opposing defenses in 2020 during his first year with Arizona. The now 29 years old posted 115 receptions and 1,407 yards receiving to go along with six touchdowns. His numbers did dip a bit after the Kyler Murray injury last season. Still, with Murray expected to be back at total health in 2021, Hopkins should continue to dominate as he has throughout his eight seasons in the league.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 5X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team, NFL receiving touchdowns leader (2017)
8. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a solid offensive line, and Kamara has a blend of elusiveness and speed mixed in with pass-catching ability. He has been consistently productive in terms of both running and catching the football. In 2020, Kamara rushed for 932 yards and scored 16 touchdowns while he caught 83 passes for 756 yards and five touchdown receptions.
His receiving numbers could decline given that Drew Brees announced his retirement, but it figures to still be a part of Kamara’s game despite who is calling the plays behind the line of scrimmage.
With that being said, Brees leaving could force the Saints to rely on their running game more, leading to more touches for Kamara. This is a player in the prime of his career at age 26 and should continue to play at an elite level.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 4X Pro Bowl, PFWA All-Rookie Team
7. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
With back-to-back rushing titles, the king of the stiff arm Derrick Henry is arguably the best running back in football for the 2021 season. He also has had the heaviest volume over the past two seasons, with over 300 rushing yards each year. That intense volume could lead to fatigue for the sixth-year running back, but he is truly built to last with Henry’s strength and athleticism.
Henry’s 2020 season included over 2,000 yards rushing and 17 rushing touchdowns to lead the league in both categories. He also led the league in yards per game with an astounding 126.7! He is a beast, and the Titans will continue to let him run free as long as he remains on the gridiron.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 2X Pro Bowl, 2X NFL rushing yards leader (2019, 2020), 2X NFL rushing touchdowns leader (2019, 2020), 2,000 rushing yard club (2020)
6. Russel Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Fortunately for the Seahawks, it looks as if Wilson will remain with Seattle despite some rumors to the contrary earlier in the summer. Wilson has been about as consistent as it gets, as he has thrown for over 3,000 yards each season during his nine-year career, which also includes four seasons with over 4,000 yards through the air. As the veteran gains more experience in the league, he is seemingly still improving on the field.
Last season saw Wilson throw for the most touchdowns of his career with 40 and his 4,212 passing yards were the second-most of his NFL tenure. Wilson should continue to have success in 2021, given that he has tremendous talent in his receiving core and that the Seahawks feature one of the better offensive lines in the game.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Second-Team All-Pro, 8X Pro Bowl, NFL passer rating leader (2015), NFL passing touchdowns leader (2017)
5. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
2020 was a down year for Jackson. There is no way around that fact. However, this player features a genuinely elite skill set and is poised to bounce back in 2021. After all, just two seasons ago, the quarterback led the NFL in touchdown passes with 36 to go along with over 3,000 yards through the air. He also displays extraordinary rushing ability as he has run for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. He paints a picture of what a superstar dual-threat quarterback can be, and if he can return to playing how he did in 2019, the rest of the league will be in for a world of hurt.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: NFL Most Valuable Player, First-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl, NFL passing touchdowns leader (2019)
4. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 20-year veteran continues to perform at a high level at the ripe age of 44. Realistically, Brady could’ve retired years ago and could be preparing for his Hall of Fame induction this season. Instead, he will be looking to lead the Buccaneers back to the Super Bowl after earning his seventh championship ring in 2020.
While many expected Brady to perform at a lower level last season, given his age and being on a new team, the legend continued to defy expectations by throwing for over 4,000 yards and recording even 40 touchdowns. It is remarkable what Brady continues to do at his advanced age, and we can only expect more of the same in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X NFL Most Valuable Player, 5X Super Bowl MVP, 2X NFL Offensive Player of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, 3X First-Team All-Pro, 2X Second-Team All-Pro, 14X Pro Bowl, 4X NFL passing touchdowns leader (2002, 2007, 2010, 2015), 3X NFL passing yards leader (2005, 2007, 2017), 2X NFL passer rating leader (2007, 2010), NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team, NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team, NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
3. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald is a three-time defensive player of the year and has become arguably the best defender in today’s NFL. He is the best defensive tackle without question. Donald led the Rams with 13.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits in 2020. He added 45 combined tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. He is a one-person wrecking crew, and opposing offenses will often create whole game plans just to contain him.
It is not too often that offensive coordinators will take the time to try and stop one player on the defensive side, but that is precisely what tends to be the case with Donald. He will seek to continue to light up opposing offenses in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: 3X NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 6X First-Team All-Pro, 7X Pro Bowl, NFL sacks leader (2018), NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team, PFWA All-Rookie Team
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers had a dramatic offseason. Every day, it felt as if there was a new report about Rodgers wanting to leave and rumors of a potential trade. However, since the storm has settled, Rodgers is back in training camp with his longtime team. The QB was coming off of a third-career MVP season in 2020.
At age 37, he has undoubtedly aged gracefully and remains one of the best players in the NFL. Rodgers threw for a league-leading 48 touchdowns during his MVP campaign last season, but his main goal for 2021 will be to reach the Super Bowl. The Packers fell one game short in the 2020 playoffs, which led to Rodgers leaving Green Bay rumors.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Super Bowl MVP, 3X NFL Most Valuable Player, 3X First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 9X Pro Bowl, 3X NFL passer rating leader (2011, 2012, 2020), 2X NFL passing touchdowns leader (2016, 2020), NFL completion percentage leader (2020), NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team
1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
The number one selection goes to Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the best player in the sport right now and has become one of the prominent faces of the NFL. The craziest thing about Mahomes is that despite his imposing football resume, he is still just 25 and only entering his fourth season as the Chiefs’ full-time quarterback.
He first established himself by leading the league in touchdown passes by throwing 50 back in 2018 and also threw for over 5,000 yards. While he has not quite reached those enormous numbers over the past two seasons, he has still produced extraordinary numbers.
In 2020, Mahomes threw for over 4,000 yards through the air and added 38 touchdown passes. He has led the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances over the past two years and won the Super Bowl in 2019. Mahomes is a generational talent and will seek to keep on his Hall of Fame trajectory in 2021.
Career Awards and Accomplishments: Super Bowl MVP, NFL Most Valuable Player, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Pro, Second-Team All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl, NFL passing touchdowns leader (2018), Sports Illustrated Sports Person of the Year (2020)