#10: Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks:
While not as flashy as Patrick Mahomes, Wilson had a tremendous 2018 season, carrying the Seahawks to yet another playoff berth. While he does not throw the ball as much as other quarterbacks, Wilson is poised and consistent. He made big-time throw after big-time throw throughout the season including when Mahomes and the Chiefs came to town in December. Wilson is as good as it gets in the NFL, and he should be the best quarterback in the league moving forward.
#9: Bobby Wagner, Linebacker, Seattle Seahawks:
Wagner has played 103 of 112 available games in his career. In 2018, he recorded his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl season and third consecutive All-Pro season, his fourth in total. Wagner has continued to play at an exceptionally high-level, rivaling Luke Kuechly as the best linebacker in the NFL for most — if not all — of his career. Wagner registered 138 tackles including a staggering 84 solo tackles in 2018. Look for Wagner to continue to be the catalyst in the Seattle defense that never seems to die.
#8: Fletcher Cox, Defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles:
Cox finally broke through and made the All-Pro team in 2018. A four-time Pro Bowler, Cox has registered 44.5 sacks over his career with the Eagles. In 2018, Cox set a career-high with 10.5 sacks. Another catalyst in the Super Bowl-winning Eagles team, Cox dominates the interior of each offense that opposes him. Cox will turn 29 during the season, but that should not slow production from the former first-round pick.
#7: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Carolina Panthers:
After playing 16 games for the first time since 2014, Kuechly ended any doubt as to his injury past. The five-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler had yet another incredible season in the middle of the Panthers defense. Recording 130 tackles and 93 solo tackles, Kuechly flew around the field with recklessness, making stop after stop and playing exceptionally well in coverage. If the Panthers are to return to the playoffs in 2019, Kuechly will surely be at the height of the defense.
#6: Von Miller, EDGE, Denver Broncos:
Miller is just two sacks shy of the 100 career sack mark. In 2018, Miller was a Pro Bowler for the seventh time. The three-time All-Pro linebacker has recorded double-digit sacks in every season he has played more than 10 games. After posting 14.5 sacks in 2018, Miller will look to have another powerful campaign and continue to be one of the best rush linebackers in the history of the sport.
#5: Julio Jones, Wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons:
Jones led the NFL with 1,677 yards in 2018, recording his sixth career Pro Bowl appearance. After being kept from the top of the yard leaderboard in 2016 and 2017, Jones returned with a vengeance, posting his most catches since 2015 and the most touchdowns since 2015. When on the field, Jones is as good as it gets in the NFL, registering five separate seasons with at least 100 yards per game. In the history of the sport, Jones has the highest number of receiving yards per game in a career with 96.7.
#4: DeAndre Hopkins, Wide receiver, Houston Texans:
Over the course of six seasons, Hopkins has recorded five 1,000-yard seasons, two 100-catch seasons, and three seasons with 10 touchdowns. One of the most gifted athletes in the NFL, Hopkins has the athleticism to open up separation on routes and be able to haul in contested catches. Hopkins is as good as it gets in tight coverage. Moving forward, he will have slightly more help with the rise of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee, but the three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro should be terrorizing cornerbacks and safeties for the next five to 10 seasons.
#3: JJ Watt, Defensive line, Houston Texans:
Watt made his triumphant return to the All-Pro team and Pro Bowl team after a two-year absence. His sixth season with 16 games played, Watt recorded 16 sacks, his most since 2015. Watt is within striking distance of the 100 sack plateau, and he should reach it assuming he is healthy during the 2019 season. Since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 Draft, Watt has been an absolutely tremendous player, hauling in three Defensive Player of the Year awards with his excellent play as an edge rusher.
#2: Khalil Mack, EDGE, Chicago Bears:
After being traded to the Bears from the Raiders, Mack had an exceptional season. From opening week against the Packers, Mack was a difference-maker on the defense, helping them to be the best unit in the league and leading them to a 12-win season. Mack had 12.5 sacks in 14 games, earning him his fourth Pro Bowl and third career All-Pro team honors. A star in Oakland, Mack blossomed into the clear-cut best edge rusher in all of football with the Bears this season. Look out for Mack to lead the NFL in sacks in 2019.
#1: Aaron Donald, Defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams
Without a shadow of a doubt, Aaron Donald is the best player in the NFL. A four-time All-Pro in five seasons, Donald has been nothing but dominant since he stepped on the field in 2014. He has recorded 59.5 sacks as an interior defensive lineman, a staggering tally. In 2018, he recorded a league-high 20.5 sacks — an absurd figure — bringing him to the brink of setting the NFL record. With 25 tackles for loss in 2018, Donald also led the NFL. Donald is as good as it gets, and is a surefire future Hall of Famer.