The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2017 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2018 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2018 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.
This is the third installment, containing players 80-71.
80. William Jackson III, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
2017 stats: 25 total tackles, 1 interception, 13 passes defended, 1 sack
Jackson sat out his first season due to a torn pectoral in 2016. In 2017, he proved why he was worthy of the Bengals’ first-round selection. Not only was he one of the best defensive players in Cincinnati last season, he was one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
In 2018, more will be expected of Jackson, as Adam Jones was not retained. He figures to start a full season for the first time in his career.
Comments: “Fans of the Bengals are always wary of rookies who get hurt and miss a lot of time becuase of their history of drafting injury-prone players in the 1990s. Jackson though, sat out his rookie year and used it to learn, making him a top 10 corner in the league last season.” -Joe DiTullio
79. Telvin Smith, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
2017 stats: 102 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 5 passes defended, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries
The defensive backs and defensive line get a lot of the publicity, but Smith is one of the best linebackers in the league. Without him, the defense isn’t nearly as good. Smith helped lead one of the best defenses that have been seen in recent years and will be tasked with trying to help the Jaguars get to the Super Bowl.
Comments: “Telvin Smith is an athletic playmaker with great football instincts. He just always seems to be at the right place at the right time to make plays. After breaking out in 2017 and being named to the All-Pro team, he will take on an even bigger role next season with Paul Posluszny now retired.” -Pranay Malempati
78. Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
2017 stats: 31 total tackles, 7 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Garrett started the season injured, but ended up playing and starting 11 games last season. As soon as he got into the lineup he made an impact, as he got a sack on his first NFL snap. As the former number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the future looks bright for Garrett.
Comments: “Garrett’s production last season was limited due to injury, but the former No. 1 pick was still able to get seven sacks in 11 games as a rookie. He also finished in the top 20 in pass rush productivity among edge defenders. There is plenty more to come from the Texas A&M product.” -Josh Burris
77. Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins
2017 stats: 4,042 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions, 67.5% completion
For the Kansas City Chiefs last season, Smith had the best season of his career. Unfortunately for him, the Chiefs wanted to give Pat Mahomes the keys to the offense and shipped Smith over to Washington. Smith will fit with what Jay Gruden wants to do, but he will be without the dynamic playmakers he had in Kansas City.
Comments: “Alex Smith passed for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career last season. He is one of the league’s more underrated quarterbacks, but to say he is a top 100 player is a bit too generous. Quarterbacks get a lot of credit for team success and failure. He doesn’t have any postseason success and does more to help his team not lose than help them win.” -Josh Burris
76. Andrew Norwell, OG, Jacksonville Jaguars
2017 stats: 16 games started, 1 sack allowed
Norwell was the highest paid guard in the league for a short time before Dallas re-signed Zack Martin to a better deal. He is worthy of being paid that well, but will have a new home in Jacksonville this season. The Jaguars will hope he can help make the offense more dynamic with his great blocking.
Comments: “Norwell is a great pass protector who allowed no sacks last year and is just as great a run blocker. He was a great signing by Jacksonville and at only 26 years old, will help stabilize the Jags O-line for years to come.” -Pranay Malempati
75. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
2017 stats: 91 receptions, 1,276 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
HIs last two seasons in Minnesota have been great without having the greatest quarterback. Case Keenum had a magical season last year in Minnesota, but was not brought back because the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins. With a more consistent quarterback, Thielen could reap a lot of benefits and praise.
Comments: “A very good slot receiver. If not for his production, certainly worth a look just based on his story. For an undrafted practice squad player to make it to where he has is nothing short of impressive. Good route runners will always be welcome in the nfl and Theilan is certainly welcome” -Jay Louden
“Thielen has an all-around skillset. He has a knack for making possession catches right at the sticks, but can also take a slant and go 50 yards. Surprisingly, he caught 19 of his 27 targets more than 15 yards downfield, which made him the most efficient deep threat in the league. Adam Thielen should definitely be higher on this list.” -Pranay Malempati
74. Alex Mack, C, Atlanta Falcons
2017 stats: 16 games started, 1 sack allowed
Mack is one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. The 32-year-old spent most of his career in Cleveland, but has helped the Falcons win a lot of games in his two seasons in Atlanta. While he is aging, his level of play hasn’t dipped yet.
Comments: “Mack’s value largely goes unrecognized as the center of the Falcons, but his impact is vast. Without him, the Falcons’ offense woulndn’t be as good.” -Joe DiTullio
73. Deion Jones, LB, Atlanta Falcons
2017 stats: 138 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defended, 1 sack
Before 2016, Atlanta needed a defense. In the 2016 season, though, Jones and several other Falcons players stepped up and helped them get to the Super Bowl. His progression has continued as he had a great 2017. Fans of the Falcons and Jones have to be excited about what is to come.
Comments: “Jones is one of the best young linebackers in the game and with another good season, will be much higher on this list come next season.” -Joe DiTullio
72. Marshall Yanda, OG, Baltimore Ravens
2017 stats: 2 games started, 0 sacks allowed
Yanda injured his ankle early last season and was only able to play in two games. He is still one of the best linemen in the NFL and if he rebounds well from his injury, will be a key part of the Ravens’ quest to make the playoffs again.
Comments: “Yanda should be ranked much higher, but offensive lineman are almost always undervalued. In the 31 games he has played since the start of the 2015 season, Yanda has allowed just one sack. He only saw action in two games last year due to injury, but Yanda will be back and ready to show why he deserves a higher ranking in the 2018 season.” -Josh Burris
71. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
2017 stats: 4,251 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 64.2% completion
Pittsburgh’s offense has been great over the last several years due to the “Killer B’s” of Ben, Brown and Bell. Roethlisberger had another solid season last year and will be expected to lead the Steelers back to the playoffs for another season. Father time and injury may catch up to him, but it hasn’t quite gotten to Roethlisberger yet.
Comments: “Big Ben benefits from playing with some of the best weapons in the game in Bell and Brown, but he is still a good quarterback. He has some left in the tank and if he can stay healthy, can help operate one of the best offenses in the NFL.” -Joe DiTullio