Top 100 Players of 2019, Nos. 71-80: Jason Kelce makes list

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  • By Logan Reardon NFL.com
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It's that time of year again, when NFL players cast their votes to identify the best in the league heading into the 2019 NFL season. From July 22 through the 31st, NFL Media will reveal a new set of 10 names daily from the "Top 100 Players of 2019." Check in here and on NFL Network each day at 9 p.m. ET to see where your favorite players rank.

80
Mark Ingram
RB
Ravens
2018: 43

Ingram was often paired with other high-end running back talent during his eight years in New Orleans. From Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles in his early days to Alvin Kamara in recent years, Ingram has thrived while sharing a backfield. Now looking at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart in Baltimore with only Gus Edwards capable of challenging him, Ingram's production should improve in 2019. In the Ravens' run-heavy offense with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ingram excel this season, even as he nears his dreaded 30th birthday in December.

79
Geno Atkins
DT
Bengals
2018: 63

Jurrell Casey, Cameron Heyward and Atkins all have a lot in common. All have been ranked in the Top 100 so far, all are experienced veterans and all have made multiple Pro Bowls. Atkins ranks the highest of the three in the Top 100 -- and for good reason. He finished 2018 with a pass-rush win percentage of 16.2 percent, which was second in the AFC (behind Chris Jones), according to PFF. Next season will present a new challenge for Atkins, as it will be his first under an offensive-minded head coach. Marvin Lewis was there for each of Atkins' first nine seasons, so the adjustment to new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo could take some time.

78
Kirk Cousins
QB
Vikings
2018: 94

Since Cousins became the Redskins' starter in 2015, his record has been perfectly mediocre. No season with more than nine wins, no season with fewer than seven. He's even got two ties in there. Despite the middling record, his numbers have quietly been strong -- and that was especially true in 2018, his first year in Minnesota. Cousins tossed a career-high 30 touchdowns and a career-low (as a full-time starter) 10 interceptions. We've seen quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees thrive in their 30s (and 40s), so Cousins turning 31 in August isn't much of a concern. He has the weapons to lead the Vikings back to the playoffs in 2019, he just has to step up in big games. That 4-25 career record vs. teams with a winning record is a huge sore holding Cousins back.

77
Taylor Lewan
OT
Titans
2018: 78

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has missed games due to injury in each of his four years in the NFL. Usually when a quarterback is injured so frequently, it's because the offensive line isn't giving him a chance. That's certainly not the case here, as Lewan and the Titans' line has consistently been one of the league's best. Lewan, who protects Mariota's blind side, was PFF's highest-rated offensive tackle in the AFC South for 2018 as he was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He's been ranked in the 70s for three straight years now.

76
Robert Woods
WR
Rams
2018: N/A

After five indistinguishable years -- four in Buffalo and one in Los Angeles -- Woods officially arrived in 2018. Part of that is playing alongside another high-end receiver in Brandin Cooks, part of it is Jared Goff becoming more dangerous and comfortable in Sean McVay's offense. Regardless, Woods performed as a No. 1 wideout in 2018, especially after Cooper Kupp went down. Woods had a team-high 130 targets, 86 receptions, 1,219 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also added 157 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts. Woods is still only 27 years old and Goff is presumably still getting better, so this could be the first of many Top 100 appearances.

75
Gerald McCoy
DT
Panthers
2018: N/A

It's not often a guy gets cut and goes from unranked to No. 75 in the same year. But that's what we've got here. The Buccaneers severed ties with McCoy after nine seasons in Tampa. His leap in the rankings this year is a questionable one. Last season was the first time in six years that McCoy didn't make the Pro Bowl, and the Bucs were stagnant at 5-11 for the second straight year. Through the course of his career, McCoy has proven he was a worthy selection at No. 3 overall, but his days as an elite defensive tackle might be over.

74
Leighton Vander Esch
OLB
Cowboys
2018: not in league

Another rookie! The Cowboys' 2018 first-rounder proved to be one of the top linebackers in the league and was rewarded as a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro. Vander Esch had a knack for finding the ball carrier, finishing second in the league with 102 solo tackles. He leads an impressive group of young Cowboys defenders with Jaylon Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. The Cowboys ranked seventh in total defense last year, and now with Vander Esch firmly entrenched for the entire offseason, it only has room to improve. This is a player who should be a mainstay in the Top 100 for years to come.

73
Stefon Diggs
WR
Vikings
2018: 65

One of Kirk Cousins' two favorite targets slots in just a few spots ahead of him. Diggs actually had the best year of his career in 2018, but drops down a notch in the Top 100. He didn't have a Minneapolis Miracle last season, and the Vikings didn't even make the playoffs, so maybe that's the cause. Diggs set career highs with 102 receptions, 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns. Players respect the big plays, I guess. The Miracle definitely gave him a boost in last year's Top 100. But to catch 38 more balls for 172 more yards and drop in the rankings is tough. Another trip to the postseason would probably help him rise again.

72
Jason Kelce
C
Eagles
2018: N/A

After eight years in the league, Kelce finally makes his first appearance in the Top 100. My favorite Kelce stat -- since offensive linemen don't compile many touchdowns -- is that he's a two-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro, but they've come in four separate years. He's been an All-Pro each of the last two years and was a Pro Bowler in two of the three years prior. Kelce was also far-and-away the highest-graded center by PFF this season, finishing with a 84.9 overall grade compared to Alex Mack's 77.3. The Eagles' offensive line is in good hands as Carson Wentz begins life with a huge new contract and without Nick Foles as his backup in 2019.

71
C.J. Mosley
ILB
Jets
2018: 98

Mosley did his part to uphold the strong recent Ravens linebacker tradition set by Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. But instead of spending his entire career (Lewis) or entire prime (Suggs) in Baltimore, Mosley opted to move on to the Jets in 2019. Mosley jumps up the Top 100 this year after another Pro Bowl season and a return to the postseason, something the Ravens hadn't done since his rookie year in 2014. The Jets will count on Mosley, along with Jamal Adams, to get them back to the postseason next, as they haven't been there since 2010.

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