No. 20: Quenton Nelson, Interior Offensive Lineman, Indianapolis Colts
Nelson missed time for the first time in his NFL career, playing in 13 of 17 games. He made his fourth Pro Bowl in a row, but he slipped from the All-Pro tier. Nelson posted the lowest pass-blocking efficiency of his career, but he still kept Carson Wentz upright for the most part. Nelson is still one of the top players in the league, but he needs a bounce-back season in 2022.
No. 19: Zack Martin, Interior Offensive Lineman, Dallas Cowboys
Martin was up to his usual standards in 2021, playing 16 games and making his fifth All-Pro team. Martin posted his second consecutive 92.0 or better run-blocking grade, and his pass-blocking grade was nearly 15 points higher than in 2020. All told, Martin finished with a 93.9 overall grade, the best of his career by 2.6 points. Martin is the gold standard at right guard, and he will continue to rack up the accolades.
No. 18: Josh Allen, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Allen took a step back in the regular season, regressing from his MVP-caliber 2020 season. However, Allen’s playoff run is straight out of a dream. In two games, Allen fired nine touchdowns and 637 yards, completing passes at a 77.4 percent clip. He finished with a ludicrous 149.0 passer rating as the Bills came up just short of the AFC championship game. Allen is the MVP favorite for good reason.
No. 17: Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Las Vegas Raiders
Crosby led the NFL in pressures with 101. Among edge rushers, only Khalil Mack and Za’Darius Smith have had 95-pressure seasons in the last 10 seasons. Crosby had four games with at least 11 pressures including 13 in two different games. Crosby only had 8.0 sacks, but he was constantly disrupting the quarterback en route to a Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro. He also had seven pass deflections.
No. 16: Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
After missing 14 games in 2020, Bosa returned to being one of the best players in the NFL in 2021. He notched 15.5 sacks, and he led the NFL with 21 tackles for loss. Bosa recorded 75 pressures, including 18 in two games between Week 14 and Week 15. He earned a 90.0 pass-rushing grade three different times. In the playoffs, Bosa had 13 pressures on 88 pass-rushing reps, including six in the NFC title game.
No. 15: Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
Ramsey has now made five straight Pro Bowls and three total All-Pros. He allowed a passer rating below 75.0 for the fourth time in his career, notching 16 total pass deflections. Ramsey posted four games with an 89.9 or better PFF coverage grade, and his season grade was second to his elite 2017 season. Ramsey had some hiccups in the playoffs, allowing two touchdowns and 100 yards in two different games, but the Rams did win the Super Bowl.
No. 14: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
In the biggest moment, Chase did beat Ramsey one-on-one, but the rep ended up not mattering as Joe Burrow was under pressure. Chase had a historic romp through the playoffs, posting 368 yards and a touchdown. While he had some issues with drops throughout the season, Chase had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history with 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He saved his best for when it mattered, scoring multiple touchdowns in three games against eventual playoff teams.
No. 13: Tyreek Hill, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
Hill made another Pro Bowl with his 1,239-yard season. He scored nine touchdowns and had a career-best 111 catches. Hill had an 89.4 or better grade four different times. All told, Hill eclipsed a PFF grade of 80.0 for the sixth season in a row. In the playoffs, Hill continued to be a weapon, racking up 285 yards and three touchdowns. Now in Miami, Hill might elevate his game from a yards after the catch point of view.
No. 12: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns
Garrett made his second All-Pro team in as many years. He has four straight double-digit sack seasons, including a career-best 16 in 2021. Garrett set his career-high with 78 pressures and a 92.7 pass-rushing grade. Overall, Garrett was second in defensive grade, tied for second in pass-rush grade, and fourth in pressures. Garrett earned an 89.7 or better grade in four different games.
No. 11: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
By passer rating, Mahomes had the worst season of his career. He only averaged 7.4 yards per pass, and 2021 was the first time he did not have at least a 4.0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Like Allen, Mahomes proved his worth in the playoffs. He fired 11 touchdowns to three interceptions, totaling 1,057 yards as the Chiefs narrowly missed their third straight trip to the Super Bowl.
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