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.
The Super Bowl MVP returns to the Top 100 for the fourth time in his career after missing the cut last season. Edelman returned from a torn ACL and four-game PED suspension to post another consistent season. Over his past five full seasons, his Pro Football Focus season grade has been between 78.0 and 83.7 each year. But Edelman really makes his name during the postseason, and that remained true in 2018. He had 10 catches for 141 yards in Super Bowl LIII and passed Michael Irvin for second all-time in postseason receiving yards (1,412). Not bad for a seventh-round pick who played quarterback at Kent State.
Here comes another Patriots veteran. McCourty's brother made the big play in Super Bowl LIII, but Devin has been the more consistent twin since they entered the league in 2009 and 2010, respectively. McCourty, a two-time Pro Bowler, has exactly one interception in each of the last four seasons, but his 2018 pick was the most impressive of all. After he made the play, McCourty returned it 84 yards for a touchdown, reaching a top speed of 22.05 miles per hour on the return. It was the third-fasted speed of a ball carrier in 2018, and one of only two defensive players in the top-20 fastest speeds.
At this point, the Steelers match the Rams, Titans and Patriots with their second player in the Top 100. Heyward drops 41 spots from last season's list, but he was still a very reliable player for Pittsburgh in 2018. In 16 starts, Heyward generated 59 pressures, good for the fifth-most at his position. He made his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance in 2018, and the Steelers need him to continue his production as they look to return to the postseason.
Newton has been in the Top 100 each year since he entered the NFL in 2011 and this is his lowest ranking. He claimed the top spot in 2016, but that was his only appearance inside the top-20. In that sense, it's been a strange career for the former Heisman trophy winner. He's had five or more fumbles in six of his eight seasons, but is third all-time in rushing yards by a quarterback. He's had five losing seasons as a starter, but has won three playoff games and made it to a Super Bowl. It's been a seesaw career for Newton -- and it wouldn't be surprising for him to make another leap next year if his shoulder stays healthy.
Like Newton, Slay dropped significantly in the Top 100 this year. He remained a strong corner, but couldn't replicate his breakout 2017 season in which he was named first-team All-Pro and led the league with eight interceptions and 26 passes defended. Last season, Slay had the sixth-best forced incompletion rate and was third in the league with 12 pass breakups. Still one of the best corners in the game and a sure-fire Pro Bowler, but he did regress slightly, and this ranking reflects that.
Clark broke out in 2018 after starting just 17 of 46 games in his first three seasons. He started all 16 games for Seattle, totaling career-highs with 13.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. Clark helped carry the Seahawks back to the playoffs in 2018, tallying 24.6 percent of Seattle's total pressures (fifth-highest of any defender in the NFL). The Chiefs are paying him huge money (five years, $105 million) after an offseason trade, and they are clearly expecting his production to continue to improve as he enters his age 26 season.
Landry's first season in Cleveland brought pretty similar production to his previous four in Miami. It was his fourth straight 950-plus yard season, his fifth straight 80-plus reception season and his fifth straight 110-plus target season. Not to mention he was able to do that with a quarterback combination of Tyrod Taylor (not known for his passing) and rookie Baker Mayfield (who played more like a veteran). Landry might not get as many targets now that his buddy Odell Beckham Jr. is in town, but he will benefit from not being the No. 1 wideout and another year of continuity with Mayfield.
Similar to Darius Slay a few spots up, Smith wasn't able to fully replicate his 2017 first-team All-Pro season, but was still very good in 2018. Smith thrives against the run, scoring a 91.3 run-defense grade in 2018, via PFF. He also was the most efficient tackling safety in 2018. The Vikings' defense regressed in 2018 as well, falling from No. 1 in total defense in 2017 to No. 4 in 2018. Smith is now on the wrong side of 30, so it's tough to imagine he'll return to his 2017 form. Then again, Eric Weddle has shown in recent years that safeties can still play at a high level into their mid-30s.
Bradley Chubb was one of the quieter rookie sensations in 2018. He fell to John Elway's clutches at No. 5 in the draft and proceeded to lead all rookies with 12 sacks. Guys like
Darius Leonard and
Leighton Vander Esch stood out as bigger-name defensive rookies, but Chubb led all rookie edge defenders with 58 total pressures. The
Broncos might not have the No Fly Zone defense that led them to a
Super Bowl win in 2015, but with Chubb and
Von Miller still disrupting quarterbacks, no one wants to go to Mile High.
Williams has been a staple in the mid-to-late section of the Top 100 since 2013. Even though Williams just turned 31, he's still one of the top linemen in football. His three-year PFF grade (89.1) ranks third among all left tackles, and that's with the ever-changing quarterback situation in Washington. Now, he'll be relied upon to protect rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins' blind side (or Case Keenum/ Colt McCoy's, if you're into that).