Baker Mayfield Returns, Chase Young Debuts in NFL Network Top 100 Players of 2021

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 16, 2021

BEREA, OH - AUGUST 03: Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) participates in drills during the Cleveland Browns Training Camp on August 3, 2021, at the at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Sunday, the NFL Network unveiled the first 60 names on its annual top-100 player list, as voted on by the players. 

Below, we'll list every pick revealed thus far, along with a breakdown some of the more interesting and controversial selections.

Players No. 100-81

100. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

99. Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

98. Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington Football Team

97. Kyle Juszczyk, FB, San Francisco 49ers

96. Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills

95. Tre'Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills

94. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

93. T.J. Hockenstein, TE, Detroit Lions

92. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles

91. Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets

90. Jessie Bates III, FS, Cincinnati Bengals

89. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

88. Shaquil Barrett, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

87. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

86. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints

85. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

84. Leonard Williams, DT, New York Giants

83. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

82. Garret Bolles, OT, Denver Broncos

81. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It's a little surprising to see Beasley make this list. At the very least, his inclusion should inspire some debate. He had a nice year in 2020, no doubt, catching 82 passes for 967 yards and four touchdowns. But was he truly one of the best 100 players in football? 

Put another way, Beasley ranked 21st in receptions, 23rd in receiving yards, tied for 63rd in receiving touchdowns and 73rd in yards per catch (11.8). Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 23 wideout in football heading into the 2021 season.

For what it's worth, however, PFF also ranked Beasley as the No. 75 player in all of football last year. So he has his admirers. 

Regardless, Beasley's insertion seems to imply that quite a few wideouts made the NFL Network's list. It will be fascinating to see if any productive receivers are snubbed. Beasley will potentially be an even more controversial selection with more context. 

Players No. 80-61

80. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

79. Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans Saints

78. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans

77. Quandre Diggs, FS, Seattle Seahawks

76. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

75. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Houston Texans

74. James Bradberry, CB, New York Giants

73. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals

72. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

71. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

70. Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings

69. Ryan Kelly, C, Indianapolis Colts

68. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

67. K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle Seahawks

66. J.J. Watt, DE, Arizona Cardinals

65. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

64. Demario Davis, LB, New Orleans Saints

63. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

62. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

61. Chase Young, DE, Washington Football Team

Mayfield went from No. 50 in 2019 to off the list entirely last summer. Now he's back at No. 71. 

His inclusion is a fair one. He threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, completing 62.8 percent of his passes while leading the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff win. 

But having him above Tannehill is...a choice. Tannehill threw for more yards (3,819) and touchdowns (33), had fewer interceptions (seven) and a better completion percentage (65.5 percent). He led the Titans to an 11-5 record, though they lost their lone playoff game. 

Tannehill was ranked by PFF as the No. 17 player in all of football last season on its top-101 list. Mayfield was No. 45. Mayfield earned his place on both of these lists, it's just surprising to see Tannehill below him on this one. 

As for Young, it's no surprise that he debuts on the list after his rookie season. After all, he posted 7.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, a defensive touchdown and was both a Pro Bowler and the Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

It would appear the sky's the limit for Young. 

Players No. 60-41

60. Corey Linsley, C, Los Angeles Chargers

59. Jason Pierre-Paul, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

58. Tyrann Mathieu, FS, Kansas City Chiefs

57. Cameron Heyward, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers

56. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

55. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

54. Grady Jarrett, DT, Atlanta Falcons

53. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

52. Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Pittsburgh Steelers

51. Za'Darius Smith, EDGE, Green Bay Packers

50. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

49. J.C. Jackson, CB, New England Patriots

48. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

47. Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots

46. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints

45. Justin Simmons, FS, Denver Broncos

44. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

43. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

42. Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers

41. Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers

Kittle went from being No. 7 on this list to No. 50. But you can blame injuries for that. 

He appeared in just eight games last year, as an MCL sprain and broken foot cut his season in half. He still managed to catch 48 passes for 634 yards and two touchdowns. Translated to a full 16-game season, he was on pace for 96 receptions, 1,268 receiving yards and four scores. 

For most tight ends, that pace would have put them in career-year territory. For Kittle, well, that's becoming the norm. If he can stay healthy, you can bet he'll be much higher up on this list next summer. 

Ditto for McCaffrey, who played just three games last year but still had enough respect from his peers to make the list. When you post a season with 1,387 rushing yards, 116 catches, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 total touchdownsโ€”like McCaffrey did in 2019โ€”people don't forget.