Videos by OutKick
NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2021 concludes this Saturday, ranking the final 10 players. Here are the remaining players the series will rank, released in alphabetical order:
- Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
- Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
- T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
I suspect the top three will rank as follows: 1) Aaron Donald, 2) Patrick Mahomes, 3) Aaron Rodgers.
There’s a level of ego among football guys — the players who vote — that forces them to put Donald No. 1. Claiming a defensive lineman is better than a star quarterback suggests, in their minds, they know the Xs-and-Os of the sport. It’s happening.
However, because I don’t follow unwritten rules, I’ll put Donald third, behind the top two QBs.
Mahomes versus Rodgers is closer than people want to admit. Rodgers outperformed Mahomes last year, doing so with fewer weapons. Mahomes didn’t have an MVP case by the end of the season because Rodgers was so dominant.
Though Mahomes made the Super Bowl, that’s no reason to say he’s better than Rodgers. They both lost to the same team, the Bucs. Rodgers just played Tampa sooner due to conference alignment. Rodgers also performed far better against the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game than Mahomes did in the Super Bowl.
Rank Rodgers and Mahomes as you wish. It’s that close. But if last year is the tiebreaker, Rodgers gets the slight edge.
At No. 4, I’ll go Derrick Henry. Based on the list’s rules, players are ranked upon on how good they are at their position (excluding special teams). Henry is a better running back than Tom Brady is a quarterback at this point. Henry has led the NFL in rushing yards the past two seasons. Last year, Henry bulldozed his way to over 2,000 yards, leaving the second-ranked Dalvin Cook behind at 1,550. Brady comes in at No. 5.
Travis Kelce gets the edge over Davante Adams at 6th. Adams relies more on his chemistry and timing with Rodgers than Kelce does with Mahomes. Take the QBs out of the equation, and Kelce is more valuable than Adams on the open market.
Josh Allen is the wild card. He was one of the five best players in the NFL last season. Yet select skeptics still think he is a one-year wonder. We will see this season. I’m betting on Josh Allen. In some ways, Allen is as talented as Rodgers and Mahomes. He’s also bigger, faster, and stronger than both of them. If Allen can improve his accuracy, he could challenge Rodgers and Mahomes this season.
Josh Allen is No. 8.
T.J. Watt is a solid choice at No. 9. He changes the game plan for opposing offenses and eases tension on his defense. From start to finish, Watt is always one of the best players on the field.
Finally, DeAndre Hopkins is No. 10. If not for these options, I would not have Hopkins in the top 10. Jalen Ramsey, David Bakhtiari, and Trent Williams add more to their teams than Hopkins does. Hopkins might not even be the second-best receiver in the game. Whatever.
My full ranking:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Patrick Mahomes
- Aaron Donald
- Derrick Henry
- Tom Brady
- Travis Kelce
- Davante Adams
- Josh Allen
- T.J. Watt
- DeAndre Hopkins