Who was snubbed? Insiders debate NFL Rank top 100


NFL Rank, our annual ranking of the top 100 players in the league, is out and sure to spark some debate. We’ve assembled a group of NFL Insiders to audit the list with their takes on who’s underrated, who’s overrated and much more.

Check out the full NFL Rank list from 1-100 here.

Who got snubbed and should have made the top 100?

Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos

Harris has the unique talent to play coverage outside on an island and also bump down to the slot. And it’s tough to play inside of those numbers — there’s a lot of field there to cover. However, Harris has the footwork, the technique and the lateral quickness to match routes in space. Plus, he tackles well. Yeah, Harris is going to show up in the run game. This is a guy I would love to coach, and the complete skill set is there to warrant a Top 100 rank. — Matt Bowen, NFL writer

Some corners only play one side. Some shadow, but only on the perimeter. Some can succeed only in the slot. Harris can do all of that and at an elite level. Harris is an every-down, shutdown corner who is versatile enough to handle slot duties in nickel and dime. He’s been one of the league’s best corners since entering the league in 2011 and is a top-50 player in the league. — Mike Clay, NFL writer

Harris is a big part of a Denver defense that was the only thing standing between the Broncos and a potential 0-16 record last season, given how bad Denver was at QB and on special teams. — Mike Sando, NFL senior writer

Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets

He was asked to take on a leadership role in the Jets’ secondary as a rookie — no easy task — and his coaches believe he handled it well. He projects as a major building block for Todd Bowles’ defense this year and going forward. — Dan Graziano, NFL national writer

It might seem appropriate that the Jets rookie didn’t crack the top 100, given the fact that he didn’t record a single interception in 2017. But Adams did just about everything else right: He was reliable in pass coverage and phenomenal against the run, finishing the season with 83 tackles and a pair of sacks. Adams is well on his way to becoming one of the premier safeties in the NFL. The picks will come. — Mina Kimes, senior writer

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette, who ranked fifth in the NFL as a rookie last season by averaging 80 rushing yards per game, will be a centerpiece of the Jaguars’ offense. We can debate the value of traditional workhorse running backs, and note that many teams prefer versatile runner/receivers such as Dion Lewis. But any player who can be counted on for a 1,200-yard season (presuming health) merits a spot among the 100 best players in the league. Only three players — Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley II and Le’Veon Bell — did that in 2017. They’re all on this list. — Kevin Seifert, NFL national writer

Eric Weddle, S, Ravens

What more does Weddle have to do to prove his place among the game’s best safeties? Since signing with the Ravens in 2016, Weddle has 10 interceptions to go along with nearly 180 tackles. He’s the quarterback of the Ravens’ secondary, a reliable teammate and durable too: He has played all but seven games in an 11-year career. — Field Yates, NFL Insider

Who’s the most underrated player in the top 100?

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Rank: 79

The Eagles tight end is one of the best route runners at the position and the matchup ability is there, too. Do me a favor: Go turn on the tape and watch Ertz set up defenders in the pass game. He’s a great fit for Doug Pederson’s offense due to his formation versatility, Ertz totaled 74 grabs in ’17 to go along with eight touchdowns. And he also showed up on the game’s biggest stage, catching seven passes for 67 yards and a score in the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots. We need to bump him up in the ranks. — Bowen

Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles
Rank: 94

Graham is now 30 years old, but he has been one of the game’s best edge rushers since he emerged in 2012. There’s little reason to expect a dip in play in 2018. Graham hasn’t dominated in the sack category throughout his career, but generates a ton of pressure and did have 9.5 sacks last season. Graham remains one of the game’s most underrated players. — Clay

Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee Titans
Rank: 91

Casey twice turned down a Pro Bowl invite because he didn’t want to go as an alternate. As admirable as that mindset might be, it could have contributed to him being underrated. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler who should be a five-time choice. At No. 91, he’s well below other top tackles even though the gap between their performance doesn’t seem massive. — Sando

It’s easy to be underrated when you play the thankless position Casey plays, but Casey’s a reliable run-stopper and one of the best in the league at generating pressure from the interior of the defensive line. — Graziano

Marshal Yanda, G, Baltimore Ravens
Rank: 99

It’s true that he is 33 and missed all but two games last season because of a fractured ankle. But there is no reason to think that injury will impair him this season, and there is every reason to think Yanda will resume his spot as one of the top two or three guards in the NFL. Yes, there is only one other guard on this list. But that is more a function of the anonymity of the position than Yanda’s skill. This guy is probably going to the Hall of Fame. Presuming he stays healthy, he is at least among the top 50 players in the league — far better than his No. 99 ranking. — Seifert

Casey Hayward, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
Rank: 66

Hayward is the seventh-ranked cornerback on this list. That’s preposterous. He was absolutely phenomenal last season, allowing a passer rating of 31.1, according to ProFootballFocus. Provided he can stay healthy (Hayward was sidelined by a minor hamstring injury last week), the former Packer deserves recognition as one of the best cover corners in the league. — Kimes

Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Rank: 93

The Vikings rewarded Hunter with a lucrative extension this offseason, yet he still seems to be overlooked in the discussion of the league’s most dominant edge players. He has uncommon physical traits and the ability to lead the NFL in sacks this season (and for many years beyond). — Yates

Who’s the most overrated player in the top 100?

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Rank: 21

Putting Ryan at No. 21 overall meshes with his 2017 tape under Kyle Shanahan when the Atlanta QB tossed 38 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. However, coming off a season in which Ryan’s numbers dipped in Steve Sarkisian’s system — 20 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions — has me questioning his top-25 position, with impact players such as DeAndre Hopkins and Harrison Smith ranked behind the veteran QB. — Bowen

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rank: 49

Evans has packed the box score since entering the NFL in 2014, but a deeper look shows that his production has been built on volume, not efficiency. Evans has been limited to a 54 percent catch rate on 571 career targets and his yards per target has decreased each season of his career. He ranks seventh in the league with 44 touchdown receptions during the span, but should actually have more when you consider he ranks first with 73 end zone targets. Evans is a good player, but not as dominant as raw statistics suggest. — Clay

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Rank: 41

Watt’s accomplishments are unassailable and likely point him toward the Hall of Fame. But if this is a ranking of what’s expected for 2018, how can we feel this good about Watt after the health issues that have dogged him the past couple of years? Just feels like an awfully high projection for a player who’s had that many injuries and whose best we haven’t seen in a while. — Graziano

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Rank: 63

Newton is still a very good quarterback who can (and will) put on jaw-dropping performances, but his MVP season is beginning to feel like a distant memory. In 2017, Newton ranked 24th in passer rating and 19th in QBR; in 2016, he ranked 28th and 27th in those categories. Some of his drop in production can be attributed to the Panthers’ lackluster offensive weaponry, but Newton needs to be more consistent if he wants to climb the quarterback ranks. — Kimes

Andrew Whitworth, LT, Los Angeles Rams
Rank: 58

Public perception says Whitworth was an outstanding tackle for the Rams last season. Evaluators think he was a solid veteran presence who had a difficult time in pass protection. The No. 58 ranking has Whitworth 26 spots ahead of David Bakhtiari. Which one would you take? — Sando

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Rank: 17

Maybe I’m too cautious. But I’m not assuming that Wentz will pick up where he left off after a December ACL tear, especially when at least some of his success can be attributed to movement in and out of the pocket. It’s reasonable to expect at least some regression in the initial months after returning from an ACL tear. It happens to many players. There is every reason to think he’ll eventually make a full recovery, but I don’t think he’ll have a better 2018 season than Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan, all of whom rank below Wentz (No. 17) on this list. — Seifert

Vic Beasley, OLB, Falcons
Rank: 88

He has had a bit of an up-and-down start to his career, with a five-sack season following a 15.5-sack season. He has a chance to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, he just needs to be a more consistent player. — Yates

Looking ahead to 2019: Who will rise into the top 25 of NFL Rank?

Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
Rank: 31

We could make an argument that Jordan should already be in the Top 25 after racking up 13 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in ’17. He wrecks things up front with the ideal combination of power and technique. In short, the Saints’ vastly underrated defensive end can create instant chaos for opposing offenses off the edge in any game situation. — Bowen

Casey Hayward, CB, Chargers
Rank: 66

Hayward should already be much higher in these ranks, but maybe another season of dominating opposing No. 1 wide receivers will get him the respect he deserves. Last season, Hayward was asked to travel with Demaryius Thomas (twice), Alshon Jeffery, Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper (twice), Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Josh Doctson and Robby Anderson. Despite the tough assignments, Hayward allowed a 42.7 percent catch rate and 58.6 QB rating. He’s arguably the league’s best cornerback. — Clay

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
Rank: 53

He’s coming off the type of year that merits consideration for that honor anyway, and what probably holds him back is his injury history. Another big, healthy year would cement his status as one of the league’s top wideouts. — Graziano

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Rank: 27

At the end of the 2016 season, Johnson was a credible MVP candidate; he led the entire league in both all-purpose yards and combined receiving and rushing touchdowns. While a wrist injury sidelined him last year, I fully expect Johnson to reclaim his place among the most dangerous players in the NFL this season. The Cardinals have a weak receiving corps behind the ageless Larry Fitzgerald, and will likely lean on Johnson as both a rusher and a pass-catcher. — Kimes

Marcus Peters, CB, Rams
Rank: 48

Setting aside J.J. Watt, who obviously will be in the top 25 if healthy, Peters stands out as an elite talent with early career production that has put him on a Hall of Fame-type pace. He can take off in Wade Phillips’ defense. — Sando

Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Rank: 57

Based on what we’ve seen this preseason, and presuming health, it’s reasonable to expect 12 or more sacks from him this season. While sack numbers don’t always illuminate a player’s true skill, they do generate attention and respect. Given the importance of edge rushers in today’s game, Garrett will shoot up this list. — Seifert

Mike Thomas, WR, Saints
Rank: 44

He’s sure-handed, dynamic, a touchdown-maker and primed to build off an incredible second season. There’s little that Thomas can’t do. Expect him to climb these rankings and stack up a few highlight-reel plays along the way. — Yates

Saquon Barkley is already in our top 100. The next player from the 2018 class who will crack next year’s NFL Rank is …

Roquan Smith, LB, Bears

Miami’s Minkah Fitzpatrick is a name to watch here given his versatility in the secondary. He can be disruptive in his rookie season. But I’m going with Smith due to his modern fit in the pro game, along with the defensive scheme in Chicago under Vic Fangio. With the natural instincts to find the ball, Smith should rack up tackles in the middle of the Bears’ defense. Plus, that sideline-to-sideline speed will allow Smith to find the ball in passing situations. The Bears drafted an impact guy here in the first round. — Bowen

It would not surprise me if Smith has as much of an impact as any rookie (Barkley included) in 2018. He is built to play linebacker in today’s NFL: He’s a high-end athlete with an edge to him to play with toughness and man the middle of the Bears’ defense — Yates

Denzel Ward, CB, Browns

The Browns aren’t messing around. They selected Ward with the fourth overall pick in April’s draft and immediately inserted him as their No. 1 corner. The Ohio State product is expected to “stay at home” early, but it won’t be long before he’s shadowing superstar receivers. It’s possible he’ll make an immediate impact similar to 2017 rookies Tre’Davious White and Marshon Lattimore That would vault forward both the Browns’ defense and Ward into the 2019 Top 100. — Clay

Quenton Nelson, G, Colts

Lots of people had him as the best overall player in this year’s draft, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to physically dominate at his position right from the jump. — Graziano

If Andrew Luck bounces back in 2018, it’ll be due in large part to the Colts’ efforts to fix the offensive line — and Nelson will likely receive credit for the quarterback’s improved protection. When the Colts took him with the sixth overall pick, it might not have been the sexiest choice, but he was widely viewed as the most polished rookie in the draft. During his last two years at Notre Dame, he allowed only a single sack. — Kimes

Zack Martin, Marshal Yanda, David DeCastro and Andrew Norwell were the only other guards to make it this year. Nelson looks like a surefire projection as a Pro Bowler and possibly even an All-Pro. Being drafted so early (sixth) overall also means voters will notice him. — Sando

Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles

Everything we’ve seen from Goedert in training camp and the preseason suggests he is primed to be an every-down mismatch and red zone monster for the Eagles. The presence of Ertz could depress some of Goedert’s numbers, but he’ll finish the season strongly enough to merit huge expectations for 2019. — Seifert

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