NFL Top 100 Players of 2021: The GOAT is #1, Chiefs’ Kelce Top 10(4)

79. Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints

NFL top 100: Ryan Ramczyk
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A first-round pick out of Wisconsin back in 2017, Ramczyk has started all 63 regular-season games in which he’s appeared in four seasons with New Orleans, missing only one game. He’s coming off an All-Pro performance manning right tackle for the perepetual Super Bowl contenders. Along with left tackle Terron Armstead, he’s one of the primary reasons Drew Brees was sacked just 28 times in his last 26 starts, counting the playoffs.

78. Harrison Smith, safety, Minnesota Vikings

NFL top 100: Harrison Smith
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A first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Smith has blown past all expectations since joining the Vikings. He was unarguably one of the NFL’s best defensive backs over the last decade and he continues to play at a high level to this day. The question is whether he’ll finish his career with Minnesota or chase a Super Bowl somewhere else.

77. Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dec 21, 2019; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) reacts as he makes a tackle against the Houston Texans during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, David is not mentioned among the best inside linebackers in the NFL. While he’s getting more shine after the’ Buccaneers Super Bowl LV triumph, he still continues to fly under the radar. Despite this, the former second-round pick from Nebraska continues to prove his worth. David, 30, recorded 117 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six passes defended and three forced fumbles for the Bucs last season.

76. Justin Simmons, safety, Denver Broncos

NFL top 100: Justin Simmons
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It’s pretty sensational what Simmons has done in Denver since the team made him a third-round pick from Boston College back in 2016. The safety has recorded 37 pass breakups and 16 interceptions since becoming a full-time starter as a sophomore. He’s coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and will soon be among the highest-paid safeties in the NFL after his lucrative one-year deal expires. He’s a legit top-100 player in the NFL.

75. John Johnson III, safety, Cleveland Browns

NFL top 100: John Johnson
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Darious Williams has emerged from obscurity this year to shine in LA’s defensive backfield. Then, of course, there’s the elite talent of cornerback Jalen Ramsey. One man who often gets overlooked is Johnson — but not here! After being banged-up and appearing in only six games in 2019, under coordinator Brandon Staley, Johnson flourished again as a cornerstone of perhaps the NFL’s best secondary. Johnson can drop deep in coverage as the last line of defense and also happens to be a tackling machine. Now he’s a cornerstone for the Browns after Cleveland signed him in free agency.

74. Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Baltimore Ravens

NFL top 100: Marlon Humphrey
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Just ask the New England Patriots what it’s like to face Humphrey. He has become one of the NFL’s rising stars on the defensive side, earning All-Pro honors in 2019. Humphrey is a big reason why Baltimore boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses and secondaries.

73. Darren Waller, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders

NFL top 100: Darren Waller
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Waller recorded a combined 18 receptions in his first four NFL seasons after the Ravens made him a sixth-round pick back in 2015. Breaking out big time with the Raiders in 2019, the Georgia Tech product recorded 90 receptions for 1,145 yards while catching 77% of his targets. The inevitable increased attention he drew from opposing defenses didn’t hurt his 2020 production at all, as Waller ascended to new heights with 107 catches, 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.

72. Andrew Whitworth, left tackle, Los Angeles Rams

NFL top 100: Andrew Whitworth
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Everyone loves to talk about Tom Brady beating Father Time, but Whitworth’s success is just as incredible. A second-round pick in 2006, the 39-year-old tackle is still a force in pass protection and can maul against the run with the league’s best. Whitworth was called upon for 402 pass-blocking snaps this last year, and held up extremely well. He is one of the oldest players in the NFL — and still one of the best. He’s said he “doesn’t see any reason” he wouldn’t return in 2021 to block for a new, better quarterback in Matthew Stafford.

71. Tyler Lockett, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks

NFL top 100: Tyler Lockett
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Another player who doesn’t necessarily stand out from a national perspective, Lockett has quickly become Russell Wilson’s favorite target in Seattle. Over the course of the past three seasons, the Kansas State product has recorded a resounding 76.6% catch rate while putting up north of 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s a legit No. 1 receiver, making him an ideal complement to the more explosive DK Metcalf. 

70. Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings – Best undrafted player

NFL top 100: Adam Thielen
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Injuries limited Thielen to just 30 catches for 418 yards during 2019. This doesn’t take away from what the Minnesota State product has done since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in 2014, though. Combined, Thielen tallied north of 200 catches for nearly 2,600 yards in 2017 and 2018. He returned to form and health in 2020 with 14 touchdown grabs on 74 catches for 925 yards, as he and Justin Jefferson formed an exceptional duo for quarterback Kirk Cousins.