NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2019" -- as voted on by the players themselves -- concluded Wednesday night, and this is their top 10?!
10)Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
9)Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
8)Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
7)Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
6)Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
5)Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
4)Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
3)Khalil Mack, OLB, Chicago Bears
2)Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
1)Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
The actual NFL players came up with these rankings? Not a group of Pop Warner kids?
I make it a life goal to not get offended by rankings and lists. Well I'm offended.
Look, obviously all of these guys are great players. That goes without saying. But we're talking about the absolute best of the best here. And I can't let some of the players' hierarchical hiccups go.
Speaking of my personal preferences, well, that's why we're here today. I'm here to correct the record by providing my own ranking of the NFL's top 10 players in 2019. You're welcome.
10) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Elliott has been in the NFL for three years, and he's averaged the most rushing yards per game in each, winning a pair of rushing titles in the process. Not to mention, he hauled in a career-high 77 passes last season. Elliott impacts the entire Cowboys team. He's not a running back, he's a weapon. He's the engine that makes this thing go. Not surprisingly, he accounted for a higher percentage (34.2) of his team's total scrimmage yards than any other player in the NFL last season.
Now about that contract, Jerry ... Pay the man!
9) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Too low? Too high? Brady is the single greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL. And while signal-callers like Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson provided better individual production in 2018, Tom Brady is Tom Brady. He still dominates, maximizes the Patriots talent and comes up huge in big moments -- like on Championship Sunday this past January. The guy is 30-10 in the postseason.
Any list of NFL elites without Brady would be incomplete. The six-time Super Bowl champion oozes greatness and just wins. The end.
8) Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
Brown's a legend. He has put together a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. AB's numbers are off the charts over the last six years, when he has averaged 114 catches for 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year, he logged an NFL-best 15 TDs in 15 games.
So, how will he fare after the relocation to Oakland? Expect more of the same. The 31-year-old's still in his prime and will dominate in Year 1 with Jon Gruden's Raiders.
7) Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Thomas has hands of crazy glue. No receiver in NFL history has piled up as many catches in his first three seasons as Thomas (321). His catch rate in 2018 (a mind-bending 85 percent, with 125 grabs on 147 targets) easily topped the league. That allowed Thomas to lead the NFL in catches despite ranking outside of the top 10 in targets.
And now, the 2016 second-round pick is the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, having inked a five-year, $100 million extension on Wednesday. Good for him. The dude's unstoppable.
6) Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The word gets tossed around loosely nowadays, but this cat is a true, unadulterated freak. Julio's the ultimate blend of size, toughness, hands, athleticism, professionalism and pure domination. When Jones is doubled, he's wide open. And he has no ego, making him an ideal cornerstone player for the Falcons. Which is why, yes, he should -- and will -- get the new deal he desires.
Having just led the NFL in receiving yards for the second time in the past four years, Jones has now eclipsed 1,400 yards in five straight seasons -- no other player, not even Jerry Rice, has accomplished such a feat. Did I mention he's the all-time leader in receiving yards per game (96.7)?
5) Khalil Mack, OLB, Chicago Bears
The Bears sack artist strikes fear in the opposition. He was like a wind-up toy upon arrival in Chicago, seemingly sacking the quarterback the moment he got off the airplane at O'Hare. There is no doubt in my mind that his 12.5 sacks last season -- the most by a Bear since Richard Dent in 1993 -- were just the starting point. He's a true game-wrecker, having logged six forced fumbles and a pick-six last year.
Mack's the focal point of a spectacular defense that also features 2018 Pro Bowlers Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson. It's a ferocious unit, with Mack as the tip of the spear. Vic Fangio, now head coach of the Broncos, will be missed. But yeah, Chuck Pagano will do just fine with Mack and Co. at his disposal.
4) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Who's the best wide receiver in the NFL today? There's only one answer. Hopkins is everything you want in a wideout. I mean, back in 2015, the man put up a stat line of 111/1,521/11 while catching balls from the four-QB clown car of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden. Now that he has a real quarterback in Deshaun Watson, it's no surprise to see him post a 2018 line of 115/1,572/11.
Oh, and he doesn't drop the ball. Ever. Pro Football Focus started charting drops back in 2007, and Hopkins just set the record for most catches in a season without a single drop. We're talkin' vise-grip hands, people.
3) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Here's the deal: Aaron Rodgers is the most talented quarterback in NFL history. He's healthy. Thus, he should be flat-out amazing in 2019. I only say "should" because we'll have to wait and see how Rodgers jells with Matt LaFleur. But the first-time head coach can't screw this up -- Rodgers is just too gifted.
His career passer rating of 103.1 is the highest in NFL history. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4.23 (338:80) is the highest in NFL history. Are you catching the trend here?
2) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes is the most exciting player in sports right now. He just hit 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his first year as an NFL starter, taking home league MVP honors at age 23. I still don't think we truly appreciate just how absurd that is. It's scary to think how good this guy can become, because he's just getting started. His skill set and commitment to greatness are spectacular. Would anyone be surprised if he repeated as MVP in 2019? Didn't think so.
It's not like Mahomes benefited from hot streaks, either. His entire season was a hot streak. SEE: Thirteen games with a passer rating of 100-plus. In today's pass-happy, breakneck-paced NFL, Mahomes is a golden-armed king.
1) Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
OK, kudos to the players: They got the No. 1 spot right.
Donald is unstoppable, unblockable and the NFL might have to rename the Defensive Player of the Year award after him. He recently told the press that he expects to play better in September because he is at his first training camp in three years. Frightening. Donald sacked the quarterback 20.5 times last year -- as a defensive tackle!
There are a bunch of fine defensive players in the NFL in 2019, but Donald's just on another level. Since 2015, he's hit the quarterback 136 times -- that's 30 (!) more than Von Miller's second-place total.