The NFL Top 100 Rankings That Need a Do-Over

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 30, 2020

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a long pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The NFL's Top 100 Players of 2020 list is now fully available, with reigning MVP Lamar Jackson taking the top spot. And while it's hard to dispute Jackson's claim to the throne considering his 2019 dominance, the list—which is annually generated by a leaguewide player vote—contains some glaring misjudgments. 

Here's a look at 15 particular rankings the players got wrong. 

     

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: 4th

Despite dealing with multiple injuries in a "down year," the magical Mahomes put up near-identical numbers to No. 2-ranked Russell Wilson (he averaged 0.3 more yards per attempt). He also became dominant during Kansas City's Super Bowl run, while Wilson faded a bit down the stretch. Throw in that third-ranked Aaron Donald's play dropped off markedly, and the Super Bowl LIV MVP probably should have been this year's runner-up to Jackson.

Where he should be ranked: 2nd

     

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones: 11th

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The fifth-ranked Michael Thomas was historically productive in 2019, so there's no issue with Jones ranking behind him. But the seven-time Pro Bowler ranked second to only Thomas in receiving yards and put up far better numbers (99-1,394-6) than the eighth-ranked DeAndre Hopkins (104-1,165-7). A recent ESPN poll of 50 players, coaches and executives concluded that Jones is the best receiver in the league. He should be entrenched in the top 10. 

Where he should be ranked: 7th

     

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady: 14th

Give me a break. Brady lit up a bunch of bad opponents early in 2019 but then showed signs of a steep decline after that. The 42-year-old completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes and posted an 83.0 passer rating while averaging only 6.2 yards per attempt beyond Week 5, and then he fell on his face in a one-and-done playoff appearance. He looks as though he's toast, and yet he's ranked ahead of standouts like Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa, Travis Kelce, Khalil Mack, Deshaun Watson, and every quarterback except Jackson, Mahomes and Drew Brees

Where he should be ranked: Out of Top 100

     

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: 16th

Rodgers hasn't been himself the last few seasons, which might be an indication that he's lost it. The two-time MVP posted a so-so 95.4 passer rating and completed only 37 percent of his deep attempts in 2019. He should at least be listed behind Watson, and probably also division rival Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott, both of whom were far more effective in 2018 and 2019. His and Brady's rankings are all about reputation. 

Where he should be ranked: Out of Top 50

     

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson: 20th

Watson has produced 85 passing and rushing touchdowns in 38 career regular-season games (37 starts). Only Dan Marino has accounted for more total touchdowns at the 37-start mark. Last season, he posted a 113.4 passer rating during the fourth quarter of one-score games. Among the 30 quarterbacks who have thrown 100-plus passes in the fourth quarter of one-score games since Watson came into the league in 2017, the 24-year-old ranks first with a rating of 116.1. He's magic, and it's ridiculous that he trails Brees, Brady, Rodgers and even Mack, Kelce and Nick Bosa on this list. 

Where he should be ranked: 12th

     

Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Denver Broncos edge Von Miller: 26th

Miller's reputation and name got him into the top 30, but he's no longer a better player than Jamal Adams, Quenton Nelson, Mike Evans, Shaquil Barrett, Joey Bosa and Minkah Fitzpatrick, all of whom ranked lower. The 31-year-old is coming off a season in which his sack total plummeted from 14.5 in 2018 to 8.0 last year, and he failed to force a single fumble in 15 games. 

Where he should be ranked: 40th

     

Indianapolis Colts G Quenton Nelson: 29th

Nelson has been a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in each of his first two seasons, missing only 32 snaps along the way. He didn't give up a single sack in 2019 while also putting up the second-best run-blocking grade among qualified guards at Pro Football Focus. He's easily the most dominant offensive lineman in the NFL, and he's only ranked this low because he's a young player at an unpopular position. 

Where he should be ranked: Top 12

     

Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge Shaquil Barrett: 32nd

It's possible that Barrett is a one-hit wonder, because he was never particularly productive before exploding in his debut season with the Buccaneers. However, he's coming off a 19.5-sack season in which he also forced six fumbles. That's something only a handful of players have accomplished in league history. He deserves to be at least a dozen spots higher. 

Where he should be ranked: Top 20

     

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 35th

Based on Pro Football Reference's approximate value metric (which is "an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year"), Fitzpatrick was the second-most valuable defensive player in the NFL last season. He picked off five passes and scored two touchdowns in 14 oft-dominant starts with the Steelers, but he's ranked lower than Miller, Richard Sherman, Adams and running backs Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and Aaron Jones.

Where he should be ranked: Top 25

     

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 43rd

This was an immediate eyebrow-raiser. It was nice to see Garoppolo complete a healthy season for the first time in his career, and he made obvious progress over the course of the year. However, he also lacked consistency and rarely carried a 49ers team that was balanced on offense and dominant on defense. He hasn't done enough to merit a ranking higher than Prescott, All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White, sack artist Za'Darius Smith, Super Bowl hero Chris Jones and many others listed below him. 

Where he should be ranked: Bottom 10

     

Atlanta Falcons RB Todd Gurley: 51st

This is another case in which voters might have put together their lists with 2018 (or even 2017) in mind. Limited by a balky knee, Gurley has become a shell of his former self. He averaged only 3.8 yards per carry and was hardly a factor in the passing game during a disappointing 2019 campaign, and he's likely to work as part of a committee this season on a cheap one-year contract in Atlanta. It's outrageous that he ranks ahead of Jones, Cousins and game-changing offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley. 

Where he should be ranked: Out of Top 60

     

Free-agent CB Logan Ryan: 60th

Huh? If Ryan were the 60th-best player in the NFL, he'd probably be on a team right now. The Tennessee Titans decided he wasn't worth an expensive new contract after he surrendered five touchdowns in coverage during an inconsistent 2019 campaign primarily in the slot, and nobody has bitten since. There's no reason why the 29-year-old zero-time Pro Bowler should even be on this list at all. 

Where he should be ranked: Out of Top 100

     

Gene Puskar/Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley: 74th

Jackson's blind-side protector was a first-team All-Pro for the 14-win Ravens in 2019. The 26-year-old was named PFF's pass-blocker of the year. Yet for some reason, he ranks behind Garoppolo, Gurley, Ryan, and unreliable players like J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr. and Ryan Tannehill. He should be listed in Nelson's range. 

Where he should be ranked: Top 30

     

Cleveland Browns edge Myles Garrett: 80th

A late-season suspension for a violent incident against Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph might have hurt Garrett's cause, but it's comical to consider him the NFL's 80th-best player. Before that suspension, he possessed an league-high 25 percent pass-rush win percentage at PFF, and he was one of only five players with double-digit sacks to that point. He's one of the most impactful players at a high-impact position, but he ranks behind everybody listed above Stanley as well as the declining Calais Campbell.  

Where he should be ranked: Top 50

     

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen: 87th

Allen continues to possess sky-high potential, and he made significant progress in his third season, but he doesn't belong ahead of fellow quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (who was dominant in an abbreviated season), Carson Wentz (who had far superior numbers in 2019) and Matt Ryan (a former MVP who also had better stats last year). He completed fewer than 60 percent of his throws and posted only 20 touchdown passes in 16 games. This ranking gave Allen too much credit for his ceiling. 

Where he should be ranked: Out of Top 100

     

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.

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