Here is how Wikipedia describes the process of ranking the “NFL Top 100” list every year:
The NFL Top 100 is an annual list that features the top one hundred players in the National Football League (NFL), as chosen by fellow NFL players. The rankings are based on an off-season poll organized by the NFL, whereby players vote on their peers based on their performance for the recent NFL season. Only players that are not retired in the next season are eligible for consideration.
So we are clear, the list is a broad representation of how NFL players feel about the value and talent of their peers. That’s important to note right in the beginning. Now let’s get to how players felt about players one year ago.
Aaron Donald was number one on the list. Great. It was really hard to argue with that position then and it would be pointless to argue it now. Donald has dominated as a defensive player in a way that maybe five or fewer players have in the last 30 or 40 years. Donald being number one in 2020 (the list was released on July 22 last year after coming out in late April or early May for the first eight years of existence) would not be a surprise.
Number two was Drew Brees. If he’s not the best QB of all-time, he’s at least in the discussion.
Number three was Khalil Mack, a pass rusher who has almost matched Donald accomplishment for accomplishment and if not for Donald may be seen as the Lawrence Taylor of his generation.
Number four was Patrick Mahomes, the reigning MVP and now most likely the player who will unseat Donald at number one.
Then number five was Todd Gurley.
I am not pointing this out to say that Gurley’s place on the list was shocking then or appalling now. Gurley had posted back-to-back seasons as the first team All-Pro running back and had MVP consideration in both campaigns. However, it would also be fair to say that other than Mahomes, Gurley had accomplished the least of these five players. Mahomes was certainly a better bet to remain in the top five, if only based on position.
There was also the matter of growing concern around Gurley’s knee and I’m sure that gave some players pause, even as they voted for Gurley to be in elite company.
A year later and there’s no chance that Gurley will be in the 2020 Top 100. He is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons and hoping to prove to doubters and the LA Rams (one in the same, I suppose) that he’s going to shoot back up the Top 100 in 2021. Maybe he will. It’s just fascinating to me how much things change year to year, if not week to week.
The number six player on the list was Tom Brady, but number seven was Antonio Brown. He is perhaps no longer in the league.
The next running back on the list was Alvin Kamara at 14 and while he keeps catching 81 passes every year, all the other numbers are getting worse. I can’t imagine him in the top-50 this year. Saquon Barkley was 16th and his numbers went down last season. Will he stay in the top 25 based on reputation and optimism?
When Derrick Henry emerges in the top 10 this year, will many expect him to repeat in 2021?
Others who’ve found themselves probably off the list are Andrew Luck (20), Luke Kuechly (24), Melvin Gordon (34 — AHEAD of Christian McCaffrey at 42), Ben Roethlisberger (44), and Baker Mayfield (50).
(Deshaun Watson was 51st.)
The LA Rams had three other players on the NFL Top 100 last year:
Jared Goff was 32nd and this year he’ll be off the list, I assume.
Robert Woods was 76th and this year he may stick in that range.
Andrew Whitworth was 92nd and I’m guessing he won’t be ranked.
Jalen Ramsey was 27th with the Jacksonville Jaguars and I would think players like him in that range. What has he done to help or hurt his status?
Cooper Kupp wasn’t ranked and he absolutely should be right now. Tyler Higbee made a case to get included too. I could see Donald, Woods, Ramsey, and Kupp all on the list in 2020, with Higbee knocking on the door. That’s not a bad number of good players to have on your team, but as we’ve seen, those opinions on “good” can change in a hurry.