Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design

Picking the best player in the NFL is easy, a layup, a gimme putt. 

It's Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes -- and then everybody else. Mahomes has won two straight Super Bowls, three total, has two regular-season MVPs and three Super Bowl MVPs. He showed last season that he can win it all, even at a time when the Chiefs looked vulnerable for much of their season.

Mahomes might be on his way to being the best of all time, not just quarterback, but player.

Mahomes, who once again is the No. 1-ranked player in my annual list of the top 100 NFL players, has a chance to three-peat this season, which could give him four Super Bowl titles in seven seasons as a starter.

Tom Brady is considered the best quarterback of all time with his seven Super Bowl rings, but one more for Mahomes would make for an interesting argument about the GOAT. Brady never won three Super Bowls in a row.

As for the greatest player of all time, I always go with Jerry Rice, who is the greatest receiver of all time. But what makes him the best player in my mind is that there is no argument to be made about the best receiver, which you can do for every other position in the league.

If Mahomes continues with his winning ways, he could take them both down. For now, there is no arguing about the top spot of any rankings of the league's players.

One thing that stood out when doing this year's ranking was how obvious it is that the league is in transition. Aaron Donald, a surefire top-2 player, has retired. Some veterans who have been near the top of my rankings in recent years haven't played as well and the young players are still on the rise, heading for the top 10, but not there yet. 

That made filling out the rest of the top 25 a challenge this year. There isn't the usual star-studded top 20, although that can change with the emergence of young players like C.J. Stroud and other second- and third-year players. 

This is my list, based on my evaluations, as well as some conversations with some league personnel. Mostly, though, it's my list. 

So get mad at me. Talk about the omissions, about who you think is too high and who is too low. That's what it's all about.

But it isn't easy. That much I can promise you. Putting together a top 100 list is tougher than you think -- aside from No. 1, of course. That's easy. That's a player who now clearly looks down from the top spot of these rankings and soon might be looking down from the top spot of all rankings of players in NFL history. 

Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
His numbers were down last season, but he showed in the playoffs that he is the best player in the league -- and on his way to being considered the best ever. If he three-peats this season, is it time to say he's the best ever? (Last season: No. 1)
Myles Garrett Cleveland Browns DE
He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after getting 14 sacks and adding 86 pressures. He is one of those special defensive players who has to be accounted for on every play. (Last season: No. 5)
Trent Williams San Francisco 49ers OT
At the age of 36, he remains the game's best left tackle. He is key to their run game, but he also excels in pass protection. The only concern is when does he start to show his age. (Last season: No. 10)
Tyreek Hill Miami Dolphins WR
His speed scares the daylights out of defensive backs and defensive coordinators. He changes the way teams play with his ability to run by people and turn short passes into big plays, catching 119 passes last season for the Dolphins. (Last season: No. 12)
T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers OLB
He led the NFL in sacks with 19 last season and remains a true game-wrecker. He bounced back from an injury-shortened 2022 to show he remains one of the game's best edge players. (Last season: No. 11)
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
He led the NFL in total yards and touchdowns (44) when combining his passing and rushing touchdowns, yet the perception was he didn't play well. Yes, he turns the ball over too much, but he was a legitimate MVP candidate last year and will be again this season. (Last season: No. 2)
Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR
Injuries limited him to nine starts last season, which is why he had a career-low 68 catches in his fourth season. But he averaged 107.4 receiving yards per game, which was a career best. (Last season: No. 7)
Christian McCaffrey San Francisco 49ers RB
He is the game's best back, a dual-threat player who can kill a defense with his ability to run it and catch it. He is the prototypical back for today's game -- and he gets paid like it. (Last season: No. 27)
Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB
He has 40 1/2 sacks in three seasons, including 14 last season, to put him in the conversation as best rusher in the game. He also led the league in pressures with 103. He has moved around a lot in his three seasons with the Cowboys, but he is best when rushing the passer off the edge. (Last season: No. 8)
Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE
His sack number fell from 18 1/2 in 2022 to 10 1/2 last season as he wasn't as dominant as he was the year before. He had just one double-digit sack game last season after having four in 2022. (Last season: No. 4)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Maxx Crosby Las Vegas Raiders DE
He had 14 1/2 sacks and was among the league leaders in pressures, showing off an ability to take over a game. His relentless play should put him in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation again this season. (Last season: No. 38)
Sauce Gardner New York Jets CB
He followed up an impressive rookie season with another outstanding year in coverage. He is long and athletic and makes it tough for receivers to win consistently against him. (Last season: No. 15)
Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR
Even with Joe Burrow missing time, Chase had a big season for the Bengals in 2023. He had a career-best 100 catches with seven touchdowns. Expect the Bengals to lock him up with a big contract soon. (Last season: No. 16)
Chris Jones Kansas City Chiefs DE
The Chiefs leaned heavily on their defense to win last year's Super Bowl, with Jones being the catalyst of that unit. He can take over games, and can do so from the inside and the outside. He can wreck an offensive line. (Last season: No. 13)
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
He was limited to 10 games in 2023 because of a calf strain followed by a season-ending wrist injury, the latter basically ending the Bengals' playoff chances. When on the field, he's a star. But he has to stay there. That's the only thing holding him back. (Last season: No. 3)
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
He won his second MVP last season, but the next step is getting his team to the Super Bowl. He has improved greatly as a passer, which should continue this season in Year 2 under OC Todd Monken. (Last season: No. 35)
Penei Sewell Detroit Lions OT
Now entering his fourth season, he has emerged as one of the game's best offensive linemen. He is massive, athletic and can maul in the run game. He has it all. (Last season: No. 66)
Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs TE
He wasn't quite as good last year as he's been in his career with too many drops, but he still remains one of the best in the league. A bad year for him was catching 93 passes, but his yards per catch fell to 10.6, the lowest of his career. He did amp it up in the postseason with 32 catches in four games. (Last season: No. 6)
Dexter Lawrence New York Giants DT
He is a massive man in the middle of the New York defense who makes it tough to run inside. But he is also a power pass rusher inside who can really push the pocket, which makes him far more than just a one-dimensional run stuffer. (Last season: No. 34)
Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB
He is coming off a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Week 1 last season, which ended his first year with the Jets. Now he's back healthy, which makes the Jets a contender. When on the field, he is still a big-time thrower of the football at the age of 40. (Last season: No. 29)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
CeeDee Lamb Dallas Cowboys WR
He led the NFL with 135 receptions last season, cementing his place among the elite of the league. He also had 12 touchdown catches, the best of his career. He's a true No. 1 receiver. (Last season: No. 48)
Fred Warner San Francisco 49ers MLB
He remains the game's best inside linebacker, a true off-the-ball star. He can run and cover and play the run. The only issues are when he isn't as protected and big linemen get out on him in the run game. (Last season: No. 37)
Josh Allen Jacksonville Jaguars LB
He had his breakout season with 17 1/2 sacks in 2023, earning him a big contract extension from the team. He is a relentless pass rusher, who is good against the run as well. He proved to many -- me included -- that he can be a game-wrecker. (Last season: Not ranked)
Tristan Wirfs Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT
He made a smooth transition from right tackle to left tackle last season, continuing to be a dominant offensive lineman. He wants to be paid like it, too, which is why he missed some offseason work. (Last season: No. 46)
Patrick Surtain II Denver Broncos CB
Playing on a bad team, he has established himself as one of the best corners in the game -- if not the best. His play tailed off some after a special 2022 season, but he still is in the mix to be considered the best in the league. (Last season: No. 19)
Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR
He has 100 or more catches in four consecutive seasons, including 103 last season for a quarterback-troubled team. His yards-per-catch number did go down from 15.2 to 11.1, but that was more a product of the quarterback play. (Last season: No. 17)
A.J. Brown Philadelphia Eagles WR
In his second season with the Eagles, he had 106 catches after having 88 in 2022. He is a big, physical receiver who is a tough matchup for a corner. His big plays were down last season, but that was a product of the offense struggling more than the year before. (Last season: No. 47)
Chris Lindstrom Atlanta Falcons OG
He was named Second Team All-Pro, but should have been on the first team. He is a power player in the run game who has improved in pass protection and should start to get more acclaim this season. (Last season: No. 58)
Quinnen Williams New York Jets DT
He is a power player in the middle of the Jets defense, a guy who can be a menace for offensive lines. His sack numbers fell from 12 to 5 1/2 last season, but his pressure rate was better than the year before. (Last season: No. 28)
Trent McDuffie Kansas City Chiefs CB
He had his best season in helping the Chiefs defense lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. He played in the slot in the second half of the season and showed off his skills there to do a lot of things, including rush the passer. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Antoine Winfield Jr. Tampa Bay Buccaneers SAF
This do-it-all safety was recently rewarded with a big long-term deal that will keep him part of the Bucs secondary. His ability to cover, blitz and play the run makes him a valuable asset to the defense. (Last season: NR)
Jordan Mailata Philadelphia Eagles OT
This bruising left tackle continued to impress in 2023 in both the run game and in pass protection. He doesn't get the hype of Lane Johnson on the other side, but he was the better of the two last season. (Last season: No. 60)
Trey Hendrickson Cincinnati Bengals DE
After a down year rushing the passer in 2022, he came back with 17 1/2 sacks in 2023 to again show his dominance as a pass rusher. He wants a new contract from the Bengals, or to be traded, which could be extra motivation if he doesn't get one. (Last season: No. 91)
Jaylon Johnson Chicago Bears CB
He had his breakout season in 2023, which earned him a new contract from the team. He gives them a true No. 1 corner and will team with Tyrique Stevenson and Kyler Gordon to give them one of the best trios in the league. (Last season: NR)
Danielle Hunter Houston Texans DE
He had 16 1/2 sacks for the Vikings last season, continuing to be a force off the edge. In Houston, he will team with Will Anderson Jr. to give the Texans a nice duo of pass rushers. (Last season: NR)
Kyle Hamilton Baltimore Ravens SAF
He had his breakout season for a dominant Ravens defense in 2023. He can do a lot of things, which makes him so special. His versatility sets him apart from a lot of safeties in the league with his ability to rush, cover and play the run. (Last season: NR)
George Kittle San Francisco 49ers TE
He continued to be one of the league's best combo tight ends -- he is a dominant blocker -- as the 49ers went to the Super Bowl last season. He had 65 catches but he averaged 15.7 per catch, the best of his career. (Last season: No. 32)
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
He was special as a rookie, leading the Texans to the playoffs. Now comes the hard part: Doing it again. I don't think that will be a problem because he has the look of being a star for a long time. (Last season: NR)
Amon-Ra St. Brown Detroit Lions WR
He had 119 catches with 10 touchdown receptions in 2023, the best numbers of his career. He is a reliable player in the Lions offense and was rewarded with a big contract this year because of it. (Last season: No. 83)
Roquan Smith Baltimore Ravens ILB
Since coming over to the Ravens in a trade from Chicago in 2022, he has become a big-time playmaker on their defense. He can really run, which shows up on tape. He's also a good blitzer. (Last season: No. 76)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
He was limited to 13 games because of an injury last season, which saw his numbers at the lowest of his four-year career. He still remains one of the best passers in the game, but he has to start winning playoff games to truly up his reputation. (Last season: No. 22)
Jaylen Waddle Miami Dolphins WR
He caught 72 passes for a 14.1 average and four touchdowns last season, all numbers that were down some from previous years. But coach Mike McDaniel said he was better last season. He did battle through some injuries that kept him out of three games. (Last season: No. 62)
Jalen Ramsey Miami Dolphins CB
Ramsey missed the first seven games with a knee injury, and when he returned he wasn't happy with the way he was used in Vic Fangio's scheme. But that will change this season with new coordinator Anthony Weaver, who will play to Ramsey's strengths of being able to match up in coverage. (Last season: No. 14)
Jessie Bates III Atlanta Falcons FS
After signing with the Falcons, Bates was an impact player on the Atlanta defense. He is good against the run, but is more than capable in coverage as evidenced by his six picks last season. (Last season: NR)
Brandon Aiyuk San Francisco 49ers WR
He had 75 catches with seven touchdowns, but his big-play ability was key to the 49ers' passing game. He averaged 17.9 yards per catch, which was the best in the league for players with 70 or more catches. (Last season: NR)
Justin Madubuike Baltimore Ravens DT
He had his breakout season playing inside for the Ravens, emerging as a dominant force on their defense with 13 sacks and showing off his ability to take over games. (Last season: NR)
Aidan Hutchinson Detroit Lions DE
In his second season, he continued to show that he is a dominant pass rusher. He had 11 1/2 sacks, but he was among the league's best in terms of pressures. He has to get better against the run. (Last season: NR)
Creed Humphrey Kansas City Chiefs C
He remains one of the league's best centers, although his play was off a bit last season. He is good in both the run game and in pass protection, helping form one of the best inside trios in the league. (Last season: No. 40)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
For all the criticism he gets, he led the league in touchdown passes last season with 36. The knock on him is his postseason play, which is valid, but he's still a good quarterback, one the Cowboys need to sign to an extension. (Last season: NR)
Demario Davis New Orleans Saints OLB
He is one of the leaders of their defense and one of the more underrated players in the league. He excels in both pass coverage and the run game. The only issue is his age at 35. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
L'Jarius Sneed Tennessee Titans SAF
After four seasons with the Chiefs, he was traded to the Titans this spring. He is a good man-cover player who often takes on the opposition's best receiver. He didn't give up a touchdown during the regular season. (Last season: NR)
Lane Johnson Philadelphia Eagles OT
He is getting up in the years at the age of 34, but he remains in the conversation as the best right tackle in the game. With Jason Kelce retired, he is the leader of the Eagles line now. (Last season: No. 18)
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
After a breakout season in 2022, when he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, he regressed some in 2023. The worst past of his game was his interception number going from six in 2022 to 15 last season. Even so, he still put up some good numbers both running it and throwing it. (Last season: No. 31)
Christian Darrisaw Minnesota Vikings OT
His play slipped a little last season from 2022, but he still remains one of the better left tackles in the league. He is outstanding in pass protection, but needs to improve in the run game. (Last season: No. 56)
DeMarcus Lawrence Dallas Cowboys DE
He is one of those players who is clearly better than his sack numbers would indicate. He had just four last season and 10 the past two years, but he piles up pressures and he excels in the run game. (Last season: NR)
Frank Ragnow Detroit Lions C
The veteran center is coming off his best season in the middle of their outstanding line. He is impressive in the run game, but more than holds up in pass protection. (Last season: NR)
Laremy Tunsil Houston Texans OT
He is one of the best in the league in pass protection, which is great news for C.J. Stroud. His ability to hold up in one-on-one situations is key to their offense. (Last season: No. 50)
Sam LaPorta Detroit Lions TE
As a rookie, he established himself as one of the best receiving tight ends in the league with 86 catches and 10 touchdown receptions. He is just scratching the surface of what he can do as a receiver, which is scary for opposing defenses. (Last season: NR)
Derrick Brown Carolina Panthers DT
When he came out of Auburn, he looked like a future star. He hasn't been as good rushing the passer as I thought he would be, but he is outstanding against the run. Maybe a change in defensive schemes will help improve his pass-rush numbers this season. (Last season: No. 82)
Charvarius Ward San Francisco 49ers CB
In his time with the 49ers, he has developed into an outstanding cornerback who somehow doesn't get the due he deserves. He knows how to get the job done and plays the position with a feisty attitude that shows up on game days. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Mark Andrews Baltimore Ravens TE
He was limited to 10 games last season because of a serious ankle injury suffered against the Bengals on a hip-drop tackle. He caught 45 passes in those games with six touchdowns. (Last season: No. 53)
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
His 2023 season was a disappointment for a lot of reasons, including injury. He threw 21 touchdown passes and 14 picks as he pressed at times. I think he bounces back -- with a hefty new contract -- and has an MVP-type of season that will vault him up this list. (Last season: No. 23)
Jevon Holland Miami Dolphins SAF
He battled through some injuries last season and never looked comfortable in the Vic Fangio scheme. But this is a talented player who will play a feature role under new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver. (Last season: NR)
Jaire Alexander Green Bay Packers CB
Injuries are the only thing that keep holding him back. He needs to stay on the field because when he does he can lock up any receiver in the league. The talent is certainly there to be a top-tier corner year in and year out. (Last season: No. 21)
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
He had an impressive 2023 season, throwing 29 touchdown passes and averaging 8.3 yards per pass attempt. But he has to be better in the big games going forward to ease some of the questions about him. (Last season: NR)
Puka Nacua Los Angeles Rams WR
He surprised a lot of people with his impressive rookie season, catching 105 passes with six touchdowns. He averaged 14.2 yards per catch, disputing the notion that he isn't a big-play receiver. (Last season: NR)
T.J. Hockenson Minnesota Vikings TE
Playing in an offense that had quarterback struggles for much of the season in 2023, he still caught 95 passes in 15 games with five touchdowns. He should be a nice asset again this year to whomever starts at quarterback for the Vikings. But he is coming off a torn ACL. (Last season: NR)
George Pickens Pittsburgh Steelers WR
He had 63 catches in an offense that struggled to get good quarterback play last season. But the most impressive number was his 18.1 yards-per-catch average. He is a big-play threat any time he is on the field and improved quarterback play will help him. (Last season: NR)
Rashawn Slater Los Angeles Chargers OT
He is outstanding in pass protection, which is key for Justin Herbert. He does need to improve some in the run game, but that will come with Jim Harbaugh as coach. (Last season: No. 51)
Christian Barmore New England Patriots DT
On a bad team, he was a real bright spot last season. He is on the verge of becoming a dominant defensive lineman. The Patriots were smart to lock him up with a new contract. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Minkah Fitzpatrick Pittsburgh Steelers FS
With little help from the second level last season, Fitzpatrick wasn't as good on the back end as in recent years. He was also limited by injury. At his best, he is a game changer who can cover a lot of ground. (Last season: No. 41)
Garrett Wilson New York Jets WR
After Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 1, the Jets offense was filled with awful quarterback play. Yet Wilson still managed to catch 95 passes. With Rodgers back, look for his numbers to rise a lot this season. (Last season: No. 63)
Montez Sweat Chicago Bears DE
He had a career-best 12 1/2 sacks last season playing for the Commanders and Bears. He was traded midway through the season from Washington to Chicago and quickly established himself as the top edge player on the Chicago defense. (Last season: NR)
Devon Witherspoon Seattle Seahawks CB
As a rookie last season, he stepped in and was an immediate impact player. He played mostly in the slot and quickly established himself as a physical presence who could cover. It will be interesting to see how new coach Mike Macdonald uses him this season in the new defense. (Last season: NR)
Tyler Smith Dallas Cowboys OT
If you are looking for a young, rising star on the offensive line, Smith is it. He has settled in nicely at left guard and should get better in his second full season starting there. (Last season: NR)
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
He threw 30 touchdown passes and 12 picks in leading the Lions to the NFC Championship game. Goff has quieted a lot of critics with his play in Detroit and earned himself a big contract earlier this year from the team. (Last season: NR)
Nico Collins Houston Texans WR
After having 70 catches in his first two seasons, he had his breakout season in 2023 with 80 catches and a 16.2 yard-per-catch average. He is truly a big-play threat who should continue to grow with quarterback C.J. Stroud. (Last season: NR)
Christian Wilkins Las Vegas Raiders DT
He is a disruptive inside player who signed with the Raiders after five impressive seasons with the Dolphins. He has the ability to pressure inside, while also being good against the run. (Last season: No. 74)
Khalil Mack Los Angeles Chargers OLB
After a few down seasons in terms of sack numbers, he had a career-best 17 in 2023. At 33, age is starting to be a concern, but he can still impact the passing game for the defense. (Last season: NR)
Derek Stingley Jr. Houston Texans CB
After a disappointing 2022 rookie season, he flashed star potential last year for the Texans. He is a long corner who is capable of matching up in coverage with the game's best receivers. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Deebo Samuel San Francisco 49ers WR
He is a pure football player who can do a lot of things for the 49ers offense. His toughness is a big part of their identity. He had 60 catches with seven going for touchdowns, and also rushed for five scores and 225 yards. (Last season: No. 57)
DeVonta Smith Philadelphia Eagles WR
He followed up his 95-catch season in 2022 with 81 catches last season. Smith is sometimes overlooked in the Eagles offense because of A.J. Brown, but he shouldn't be. (Last season: No. 69)
Trey McBride Arizona Cardinals TE
In his second season, McBride emerged as a big-time pass catcher for Kyler Murray. He had 81 catches for a 10.2 average and three touchdowns. He had two 10-catch games and two 100-yard games. (Last season: NR)
DJ Moore Chicago Bears WR
He had a career-best 96 catches in his first season with the Bears. But the best thing about him is his big-play ability that is evident by his 14.2 yards-per-catch average. (Last season: NR)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
He excels in the 49ers offense, putting to rest any talk that he couldn't do it again after his rookie season in 2022. He came back to throw 31 touchdown passes in 2023 and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He is perfect for what they do on offense and he averaged 9.6 per pass attempt to lead the league. (Last season: NR)
Joe Thuney Kansas City Chiefs OG
As part of the best interior-line group in the league, he excels in pass protection. He did miss time last season and in the playoffs, which is concerning since he turns 32 in November. (Last season: No. 80)
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
In his first full season as a starter, he showed he can be the Packers' long-term quarterback. He threw 32 touchdown passes and 11 picks in leading the Packers to the playoffs. The best is yet to come for him. (Last season: NR)
Mike Evans Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
The Bucs re-signed the veteran receiver in large part because he continues to be a big-play threat in their offense. He had 13 touchdown catches and averaged 15.9 yards per catch in his 10th season. He's gone over 1,000 yards receiving in each of his 10 seasons. (Last season: NR)
Alim McNeill Detroit Lions DT
He had his breakout season in 2023, flashing ability as a run stopper but also as a player who could push the pocket inside. He had five sacks, but I expect that number to be higher this season. (Last season: NR)
Trey Smith Kansas City Chiefs OG
He is a mauler in the run game who has improved in pass protection, which is a must in their offense. He helps form one of the best inside trios in the league with Joe Thuney and Creed Humphrey. (Last season: NR)
Hailey Meuchel, CBS Sports design
Derrick Henry Baltimore Ravens RB
A new team should help give him a new start. Playing with Lamar Jackson will help his numbers. He was second in the league in rushing last year but this yards-per-carry average was down to 4.2. (Last season: No. 30)
Tyrann Mathieu New Orleans Saints FS
Even at the age of 32, he continues to be a playmaker on defense. He has a knack for the ball and can do a lot of things. He can play near the line of scrimmage and also excel on the back end. (Last season: No. 81)
Jalen Carter Philadelphia Eagles DT
He started the 2023 season as a player who could dominate the minute he stepped onto the field as a rookie. But he tailed off some in the second half, which was a concern. He can be a dominant inside player and one of the best in the game if focused. (Last season: NR)
Zack Martin Dallas Cowboys OG
His play has declined the past few seasons, especially in the run game, but he is still one of the better guards in the league. He's just not the same player he was earlier in his career. (Last season: No. 25)
Jeffery Simmons Tennessee Titans DT
Last season was a down one for Simmons, and it ended in Week 12 with a knee injury, but his talent remains among the best in the league. Look for a bounce-back season for Simmons in 2024. (Last season: No. 43)
Brian Burns New York Giants LB
He has 20 1/2 sacks the past two seasons, but this is a big year for him to prove he can be one of the league's best. The Giants traded a lot to get him to pair with Kayvon Thibodeaux, so he has to produce. (Last season: No. 67)
Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers OLB
At 34, he is back with Tampa Bay for another season and will again be counted on to be the leader of the defense. He might not run like he once did, but he can make up for it with his football acumen now. (Last season: No. 71)
Kirk Cousins Atlanta Falcons QB
He signed a free agent deal with the Falcons in March after seven seasons in Minnesota. He started just eight games last season because of a torn Achilles tendon. When he went out, he had 18 touchdown passes to lead the league at the time. (Last season: NR)
Will Anderson Jr. Houston Texans DE
He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year after getting seven sacks. But he was much more than those sack numbers and his talent shows a player who can take a big jump to 12-15 sacks this season. (Last season: NR)
Tyler Linderbaum Baltimore Ravens C
In his second season, he emerged as one of the league's best centers. He is good in both the run game and pass protection, which helps key the offense. (Last season: NR)

HONORABLE MENTION: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts; Dre Greenlaw, LB, 49ersEvan Engram, TE, JaguarsTee Higgins, WR, BengalsTyron Smith, T, JetsAndrew Thomas, T, GiantsJahmyr Gibbs, RB, LionsQuenton Nelson, G, Colts;  Terry McLaurin, WR, CommandersBrian Branch, DB, Lions; Kobie Turner, DT, RamsQuincy Williams, LB, Jets; Calvin Ridley, WR, TitansPaulson Adebo, CB, SaintsAlex Highsmith, EDGE, SteelersMatthew Stafford, QB, Rams; David Njoku, TE, BrownsQuinn Meinerz, G, BroncosJaycee Horn, CB, PanthersCooper Kupp, WR, Rams,; Xavier McKinney, S, PackersPatrick Queen, LB, Steelers; Saquon Barkley, RB, EaglesJoey Bosa, EDGE, ChargersJonathan Allen, DT, Commanders; Aaron Jones, RB, VikingsBijan Robinson, RB, FalconsTravis Etienne, RB, Jaguars; Kyren Williams, RB, Rams; Joel Bitonio, G, Browns; C.J. Mosley, LB, Jets; Landon Dickerson, G, Eagles; Foye Oluokun, LB, Jaguars; Keenan Allen, WR, BearsKyle Dugger, S, New England PatriotsMichael Pittman, WR, Colts; Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, DolphinsMatt Milano, LB, BillsCameron Heyward, DT, Steelers; Bobby Okereke, LB Giants; Javon Hargrave, DT, 49ers; Derwin James, S, Chargers, DeForest Buckner, DT, Colts; Amari Cooper, WR, Browns; Robert Hunt, G, Panthers; DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Titans; Rashan Gary, EDGE, Packers; Denzel Ward, CB, Browns; Raheem Mostert, RB, Dolphins; DaRon Bland, CB, Cowboys