It’s time to identify the top 100 players in the NFL, this time Nos. 60 through 51. Be sure to check out the offensive honorable mentions and the defensive honorable mentions.
Previous Installments: 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61
No. 60: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Linebacker, Cleveland Browns
Owusu-Koramoah may have slipped into the second round in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he quickly proved he was worth more than a measly second-round pick. Owusu-Koramoah played 14 games, recording 1.5 sacks, four passes defended, a pair of forced fumbles, and 76 total tackles. He missed his fair share of tackles, but the rest of his game was quite mature. Koramoah-Owusu was a consistent run defender, using his otherworldly athleticism to make a host of ridiculous plays. His masterpiece came in Week 12 as he helped the Browns baffle the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.
No. 59: Lavonte David, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David’s 10th season was one of his weaker campaigns, but considering the quality of his career, that is a compliment. One of his generation’s top linebackers, David earned a 78.8 overall grade, the fifth season in a row he was over 75.0. For the first time since 2017, he earned a 65.0 grade or better in run defense, tackling, pass-rushing, and coverage. David continues to be instinctual in coverage and productive against the run.
No. 58: Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Cleveland Browns
The Warden made his second Pro Bowl as he played 15 games for the first time in his career. He nabbed three interceptions, including a 99-yard pick-six of Joe Burrow. According to PFF, Ward allowed a 74.8 passer rating, an improvement on his 2021 season. Despite being targeted more often than in 2019 or 2020, Ward allowed the fewest yards of his career, holding pass-catchers under 10 yards per catch. Ward posted a 75.9 coverage grade.
No. 57: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans crossed the 1,000-yard threshold for the eighth time in his career. Only six players have accomplished that more times. He also tacked on 14 touchdowns, which represented a career-high and was the fourth time he had at least 12. Only Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, and Randy Moss have surpassed 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in five different seasons. Evans was a ridiculously efficient 15-for-18 on contested catches, by far the best mark of his career.
No. 56: J.C. Jackson, Cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson is the exception to the idea that turnovers are volatile. In 62 NFL games, Jackson has 25 interceptions and a forced fumble. He led the NFL with 23 passes defended in 2021, the third season in a row that he had at least 10. Jackson made his first Pro Bowl as well as the second All-Pro team. Jackson surrendered a 47.8 passer rating, a mark that raised his career average (now 45.7). The Chargers will hope Jackson continues to force a ludicrous number of turnovers. He averages an incredible seven interceptions per 17 games.
No. 55: Jessie Bates, Safety, Cincinnati Bengals
Bates may not have been quite the same regular-season player as his 2021 All-Pro snub season, but he had an insane playoff run to revive his season. Now in a contract dispute with the Bengals, Bates makes a solid case to have earned top dollar at safety. In the playoffs, Bates earned a 90.0 overall grade with an 89.5 coverage grade. Bates picked off a pair of passes, and he allowed just three yards per target. He had two games in which he allowed a single-digit passer rating, finishing with an excellent 35.6 passer rating allowed in the playoffs.
No. 54: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
Allen is the only player in the NFL with five consecutive 900-yard, six-touchdown seasons. He has cracked 1,100 yards in four of five seasons, and he has rattled off five consecutive Pro Bowls. His per-17-game stats are 111 catches, 1,290 yards, and seven touchdowns since 2017. Allen turned 30 in April, but he should continue to be one of the league’s top route technicians. He creates separation like few in the NFL, and he should be a shoo-in for 100 catches and 1,100 yards.
No. 53: A.J. Brown, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
Brown does not have quite the statistical resume that Evans and Allen have. However, he passed the eye test. In 2021, Brown posted 869 yards and five touchdowns in an offense that ranked 30th in pass attempts despite missing Derrick Henry for eight weeks. Brown trades one run-offense for another, so the statistics may not match the league’s best, but on a per-play basis, there are few as great as Brown. He can score any time he touches the football.
No. 52: Cameron Jordan, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
Jordan made his seventh Pro Bowl, posting his sixth season with double-digit sacks. He is now 27th all-time in sacks (officially), but he has plenty of juice left in the tank. Jordan has a scarcely believable streak of 10 years with 7.5 or more sacks. Aaron Donald has the second-longest active streak with eight seasons in a row. While he had his lowest pass-rush grade since 2014, he posted his second-best run-defense grade. He has earned an 82.0 or better overall grade in seven straight seasons.
No. 51: Creed Humphrey, Interior Offensive Lineman, Kansas City Chiefs
It is a travesty that Humphrey walked away without any All-Pro or Pro Bowl consideration. Humphrey was a dominant run-blocking force, posting 85.0 or better grades six times. On the pass-blocking front, Humphrey allowed one sack and one hit on over 800 pass-blocking snaps. From Week 7 to Week 18, Humphrey did not allow Patrick Mahomes to be hit on 508 pass-blocking reps. He earned an 80.0 or better pass-blocking grade seven times in that stretch.
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