NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2020 concludes on Wednesday night, with the order for the top 10 -- as voted on by the players themselves -- revealed over two episodes beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The players who made the top 10 were unveiled on Tuesday evening. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
- Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
- Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
- George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
- Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Each of those players certainly has a strong case for being included in the top 10, but was a more deserving candidate left out of that elite group? Who is the biggest snub?
MAURICE JONES-DREW: Chandler Jones balled out again in 2019, posting a career-high 19 sacks and leading the league with eight forced fumbles. Yet, he's still not getting the respect he deserves, as evidenced by his exclusion from the top 10. He's an absolute game-wrecker who's finished among the top two in sacks in two of the last three seasons. I expect more people to notice Jones' impact as the Arizona Cardinals improve as a team. And hopefully, they'll start to give him the credit he deserves.
STEVE SMITH SR.: I'm going to be honest with you. (I know, what's new?) Every wide receiver who finished in the top 15 statistically (catches and/or yards) last season -- especially those on playoff teams (looking at you, Julian Edelman) -- should be in the Top 100. Quarterbacks get all the praise, but receivers are the players making the NFL go round. I saw the recent Twitter conversation between Mike Evans and Keenan Allen, and I agree that they don't get the credit they deserve. So, my answer to the question posed in the intro of this piece has got to be Julio Jones. I like Matt Ryan and all -- although he often did my Carolina Panthers wrong -- but Jones is what makes the Falcons' offense dangerous. Since 2014, Jones, who's constantly facing double- and triple-teams, has 623 receptions for 9,388 yards (both most in the NFL over that span). And it doesn't look he's going to slow down heading into his 10th season.
CHARLEY CASSERLY: Let me first say that every player who made the top 10 of this year's list is excellent. However, I believe Nick Bosa was one of the top 10 players in the league last season. The rookie was the missing link in the 49ers defense, as it didn't have a big outside rushing presence until his arrival. The addition of Dee Ford helped, but Bosa was the player opponents game-planned against. The Defensive Rookie of the Year, who finished with nine sacks and 25 QB hits last season, jumped on the scene as a disruptive player who had to be double-teamed no matter where he lined up. If he didn't receive that level of attention from offenses, he took the game over.
BRIAN BALDINGER: It has to be Arizona's Chandler Jones. With 96 sacks in eight NFL seasons, including 60 in his four years with the Cardinals, Jones has been consistent and extremely difficult to keep off the quarterback. As one of the best pass rushers -- if not the best -- in the league, there's no doubt in my mind that a healthy Jones should be considered a top-10 player.
DAVID CARR: Khalil Mack is coming off a down season by his standards (recorded 8.5 sacks), but he deserves a spot in the top 10. Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan missed significant time in 2019; thus, Mack received even more attention than usual. Despite that, Mack still ranked second in the NFL with 30 QB hurries (trailing only Aaron Donald), per Pro Football Reference. He also ranked seventh in the league in pressures with 45. Plus, Mack does a lot of things that go unnoticed. The Bears' defense ranked fourth in scoring last season, and it certainly would not have performed at that level without Mack's rare talent.