NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: The GOAT is #1, Chiefs’ Kelce Top 10(3)

89. Chase Young, edge rusher, Washington Football Team

NFL top 100: Chase Young
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The No. 2 overall pick is doing everything we knew he was capable of coming into the NFL. He is a force off the edge who created all kinds of havoc in his maiden pro campaign with 44 stops, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. It’s not quite to the level of his former Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa, but it won’t be long before Young is playing at that level as he fills out a more sophisticated, diverse pass-rushing arsenal.

88. Calais Campbell, defensive end, Baltimore Ravens

NFL top 100: Calais Campbell
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In what might be one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history, the Ravens acquired Campbell for a Day 3 draft pick in the spring of 2020. A defense that was already frightening added a five-time Pro Bowl selection to its defensive line, and although he didn’t play quite as well in 2020, he is turning 35 just ahead of the upcoming season. The fact he’s still on the NFL top 100 list at this phase of his career is a testament to Campbell’s consistency and overall greatness.

87. Keenan Allen, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL top 100: Keenan Allen
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Since missing most of the 2016 season, Allen has returned to NFL stardom. Coming off three consecutive seasons with 1,100-plus receiving yards and six touchdowns, the Chargers and fantasy owners know they can always count on Allen to deliver, and even as he was banged up throughout this last year, he still managed 100 receptions for 992 yards and matched a career-high with eight scores, forming a strong connection with young phenom Justin Herbert.

86. Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper entered Week 2 on the injury report
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While Rex Ryan might not have paid Cooper, NFL teams were more than happy to do so. The Washington Football Team tried to steal him from Dallas, but there was no way Cooper would turn down that eye-popping contract and the No. 1 spot in one of the NFL’s top offenses. With Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb proving to be exceptional weapons themselves, Cooper is still the go-to guy for Dak Prescott. Even with Prescott out for most of 2020, Cooper racked up a personal-best 92 receptions for the season, mostly from Andy Dalton.

85. Demarcus Lawrence, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys

NFL top 100: Demarcus Lawrence
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The sack production hasn’t been there for the past couple seasons, yet Lawrence, for the past four seasons at Pro Football Focus, has an overall player grade ranking that easily gets him inside the top 10 of the NFL. Now, how much stock can you put into PFF grades? It can’t be the sole determining factor. However, it’s a good starting point, and perhaps data that beats back the notion Lawrence is in decline despite diminishing sack totals. In addition to continuing on as a top-tier pass-rusher, Lawrence has learned to defend the run better, too.

84. Demario Davis, linebacker, New Orleans Saints

NFL top 100: Demario Davis
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Davis bounced around the NFL from 2012-17 with the Jets and Cleveland Browns, then he found a home in New Orleans. One of the league’s most underrated defenders, this former third-round pick’s road to becoming an All-Pro linebacker is incredible. After leading all linebackers in PFF grades during 2019, Davis followed up with a top-five ranking this past season.

83. Brian Burns, edge rusher, Carolina Panthers

NFL top 100: Brian Burns
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Carolina drafted Burns with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, recognizing an edge rusher with elite physical tools. We’re seeing that athleticism and explosiveness turn into production and it’s only his second season. His 16.5 sacks and 37 QB hits in 31 career games are solid figures, but bear in mind he’s made only 19 starts. Now that he’s a full-time fixture in the lineup, Burns is on track to be a future All-Pro edge rusher.

82. Shelby Harris, defensive lineman, Denver Broncos

NFL top 100: Shelby Harris
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One of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL, Harris logged six sacks in 2019 and is proving to be a menace as an interior pass-rusher. The 290-pound defensive tackle recorded 49 combined tackles, four tackles for loss and knocked down nine passes that season. His continued impact in 11 games last year helped compensate for the loss of injured superstar Von Miller — and drove up his free-agent price tag. Broncos coach Vic Fangio knows how valuable Harris is to his defensive system, so a contract extension for the 29-year-old should be among Denver’s top offseason priorities.

81. Justin Herbert, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers

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Thanks to a phenomenal rookie campaign, Justin Herbert earns a spot in the NFL top 100 despite his relative inexperience. He may well emerge as the best QB prospect of the 2020 draft despite being the third off the board behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. With incredible arm talent, excellent athleticism and an ability to thrive with pressure in his face, Herbert has the makeup to be a true franchise signal-caller and someone the Chargers can rally around for the next decade.

80. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Many will say Roethlisberger doesn’t belong here right now, but despite his shocking decline toward the end of 2020, it’s worth pointing out that he did steer the Steelers to an 11-0 start. They also had unquestionably the worst running game in football, which put Big Ben in many compromising, obvious passing situations. At this juncture of his career, that’s not where he’s best suited. Let’s see if Pittsburgh gets a little more balanced on offense and helps its QB out before totally writing Roethlisberger off just yet.

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