Top 100 Players of 2019, Nos. 50-41: Baker Mayfield debuts

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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.

50
Baker Mayfield
QB
Browns
2018: Not in league

Mayfield joins Watson as a quarterback ranked No. 50 in the Top 100 after their rookie campaign. Like Watson last season, Mayfield gets the bump after bursting onto the scene. For Mayfield and Cleveland, more important than any number of touchdowns or passing yards is one category: wins. In 2018, the Browns went 7-7 with Mayfield at quarterback (including his relief effort, debut win over the Jets on Monday Night Football). From 2015 through 2017, the Browns won four games total. All the Browns did in the offseason was add Odell Beckham Jr. to their receiving corps. Like Watson, Mayfield has the supporting cast to make a playoff run in Year 2. These two, along with Patrick Mahomes, are the future of the AFC -- if that Tom Brady guy ever retires.

49
Myles Garrett
DE
Browns
2018: N/A

Back-to-back Browns in the middle of the Top 100. Imagine saying that two years ago when DeShone Kizer was their quarterback and they went 0-16? Garrett suffered through an injury-ridden rookie year, playing just 11 games. But he was fully healthy throughout 2018, and that was bad news for quarterbacks. Garrett nearly doubled his sacks (7.0 to 13.5) and tackles (19 to 35) in Year 2. His 29 quarterback hits was fifth in the NFL and third among defensive ends. Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt both won AP Defensive Player of the Year in their fourth season, so 2019 could be the prequel to a dominant run for Garrett.

48
Melvin Ingram
DE
Chargers
2018: 76

After missing 19 games in his first three years, Ingram hasn't missed any over the past four years. Health and continuity has helped make him one of the league's better pass rushers. Joey Bosa missed most of last season, so Ingram was tasked with more responsibilities. He made his second straight Pro Bowl, and the Chargers made a long-awaited return to the postseason. Ingram regressed in sacks, tackles and quarterback hits in 2018, but the playoffs are a magic potion for players on this list. The Chargers look like they're in for another strong season, so even if Ingram's numbers stagnate or regress again, he could end up back in the Top 100 next year.

47
JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR
Steelers
2018: N/A

For all the offseason ribbing between him and former teammate Antonio Brown, I think JuJu made out pretty well. It was almost universally agreed on that A.B. was out of line when he posted a screenshot of college JuJu asking him for advice on how to get better. The offseason drama shouldn't take away from just how good Smith-Schuster was last season. He topped A.B. in receptions (111 to 104) and receiving yards (1,426 to 1,297) despite being the so-called No. 2 wideout. A huge fumble against the Saints in Week 16 partly contributed to the Steelers missing the playoffs, but he had 11 catches for 115 yards in that game. It's unfair to place all the blame on him, as A.B. did. JuJu as a No. 1 option this season -- without the drama clouding over the team -- should be fun.

46
Patrick Peterson
CB
Cardinals
2018: 23

Peterson hadn't been outside the top-25 since 2013, so this ranking seems like a reflection of the Cardinals bottoming out last season. Again, team record seems like a clear factor in the decision-making of the Top 100 voters. Peterson was his usual self in 2018 despite the rest of the team faltering around him. He only allowed 30 catches on the year in 16 starts and his 0.63 yards allowed per coverage snap was the lowest in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2019, Peterson will miss the first six games of the season due to a PED suspension. Those will be the first six games he's missed in his eight-year career.

45
Demarcus Lawrence
DE
Cowboys
2018: 34

After consecutive 10-plus sack seasons, the Cowboys rewarded Lawrence with a five-year, $105 million deal in April. It's getting redundant, but Lawrence, 27, is just another young, talented Pro Bowler on this Dallas defense. I guess it's probably not redundant for Cowboys fans. Still, there was risk in giving Lawrence a long-term, big money deal. Injuries and a suspension burdened the first three years of his career, so Jerry Jones is banking on Lawrence being the player he was in the last two years for the next five. Offseason shoulder surgery isn't going to ease any of those concerns, but he still should be ready for the beginning of the regular season.

44
Ben Roethlisberger
QB
Steelers
2018: 18

Big Ben lost a big target in A.B., but, as we just talked about, JuJu Smith-Schuster is ready to be the No. 1 option. Roethlisberger already proved last year he could do it without Le'Veon Bell, after he posted career-highs in passing yards (5,129) and touchdowns (34) at age 36. He also didn't miss a game for the first time since 2014. In that sense, this tumble down the Top 100 seems unwarranted. But it's not hard to crack the formula players used in their voting. The Steelers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Yep, that's it. He threw a career-high 16 interceptions, but he threw the ball a league-high 675 times. Big Ben got a bad deal in this year's Top 100.

43
David Bakhtiari
OT
Packers
2018: 91

Did Bakhtiari jump 48 spots in the Top 100 because he dominated Aaron Rodgers in a beer-chugging contest? I'm not saying that's why, but I'm not not saying it. OK, Bakhtiari was also insanely good in 2018. He was named first-team All-Pro and PFF's 2018 Pass Blocker of the Year, so I guess that's bigger than out-chugging his QB. Rodgers will keep letting him chug beers if he keeps protecting him like he did last season. Bakhtiari allowed just 25 pressures on 737 pass-block snaps. He's crucial to getting the Packers back to the playoffs in 2019.

42
Christian McCaffrey
RB
Panthers
2018: N/A

We made it 20 spots since the last running back ( James Conner, 62). The difference between McCaffrey and Conner justifies that. McCaffrey is underrated on this list, and that's likely because (1) he's young and this is his first appearance in the Top 100 and (2) McCaffrey's team underperformed in 2018. But make no mistake, RUN CMC is the real deal. He was the only RB in football with 1,000-plus rushing yards and 100-plus receptions. McCaffrey's emerged as one of the top dual-threat backs in the NFL.

41
Cameron Jordan
DE
Saints
2018: 26

The Saints rewarded Jordan for his production and durability (has not missed a game in his career) this offseason with a three-year, $52.5 million extension through 2023. The 15-spot drop in this Top 100 is a confusing one. The Saints were a Super Bowl-caliber team, Jordan made the Pro Bowl again and he recorded 12.0 sacks -- his seventh straight season with over seven sacks. Jordan likely deserved better, but a strong group of young players was too much for him to stay in the top-40.

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