It pains me. It really does.
How can I have a non-quarterback atop my NFL top-100 list? It always has to be a quarterback, right?
Not this year. This time around, the No 1 player in the league is Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. He edges out Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who had a sensational first year as a starter.
At times, Donald can’t be blocked. He’s clearly the best defensive player in the league, but I think he’s the best player period, which is why he gets the top spot on my list.
Yes, it hurts since I am a quarterback guy.
I made up for it by having three quarterbacks in the top 10 and 13 in my top 100. Some might quibble with me having Tom Brady in the sixth spot, but he didn’t have a great regular season in 2018 before lighting it up in the playoffs. Here’s proof: Brady had just 56 more passing yards than Giants quarterback Eli Manning, had a lower completion percentage than Manning and threw 29 touchdown passes and 11 picks to 21 and 11 for Manning.
Manning was seared for his play last season, which gives you an idea of how Brady’s regular season wasn’t that special – which is why he’s ranked sixth here.
For the record, the Chargers have the most players in my top 100 with eight, followed by the Cowboys (seven), and the Saints and Chiefs with six each.
So dive in, look around, complain, moan and groan – I expect all of it – but putting together a list like this isn’t easy. Good players get left out because we have an abundance of them in the NFL right now and there is a giant middle class after the 25 or so dominant group of stars.
JUST MISSED: Terron Armstead, T, New Orleans Saints; C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets; Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings; Cameron Heyward, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers; Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles; Earl Thomas, S, Baltimore Ravens; Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers; Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams; Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams; Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings; Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals; Trent Williams, T, Washington Redskins; David DeCastro, G, Pittsburgh Steelers; Brandon Brooks, G, Philadelphia Eagles; Jonathan Allen, DT, Washington Redskins; Jerry Hughes, DE, Buffalo Bills; Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots; Darius Slay, CB, Detroit Lions; Malcolm Jenkins, S, Philadelphia Eagles; Jarran Reed, DT, Seattle Seahawks; Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns; Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys; Joel Bitonio, G, Cleveland Browns; Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans; and John Johnson, S, Los Angeles Rams.
Graphic illustrations created by Mike Meredith.