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Top 100 Players of 2022, Nos. 40-31: Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson latest QBs to join list

It's that time of year again, when NFL players cast their votes to identify the best in the league heading into the 2022 NFL season. Check out the results of this year's voting to see where your favorite players rank.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · QB

Herbert’s Chargers just missed the playoffs in 2021, but it was in no way the direct result of the quarterback's play. Herbert, the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, has only gotten better and more comfortable with his team. Even with a new coach calling plays, Herbert had the second-most completions and passing yards of any quarterback last year, behind only Tom Brady in both categories. By the numbers, arguably no QB has ever been as good as Herbert this early in their career, as he holds the record for passing yards (9,350), passing TDs (69) and games with 300+ yards (17) for quarterbacks over their first two seasons. He led the Chargers to a 9-8 record and was a timeout away from the playoffs, so with another year under his belt, one can only guess how much he’ll continue to improve.

Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs · DE

Jones earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod and led the Chiefs in QB hits (17) and sacks (9.0) in 2021, with the latter double any of his teammates. He also recorded 34 QB pressures and 16 QB hurries last season. Jones has been a solid veteran presence for a Chiefs defense that is still relatively young, and as Kansas City tries to continue its recent run of postseason success, Jones’ ability to pressure quarterbacks in the pocket will continue to be essential.

Joe Mixon
Cincinnati Bengals · RB

Mixon makes his first appearance on the Top 100 list as the leading rusher on a Bengals team that made the Super Bowl, and as one of the top running backs in the league as a whole in 2021. Mixon had 1,205 rushing yards (his third 1,000+ yard season), and had more than twice the number of rushing attempts of the rest of the Bengals combined. Establishing himself as the workhouse for Cincinnati out of the backfield, Mixon finished in the top three in the NFL in rushing attempts (292) and yards, and in the top five in rushing TDs (13) and first downs (60). He even tacked on a career-high 314 yards receiving and his first career pass attempt, a six-yard TD throw in the Super Bowl. All this earned him his first Pro Bowl nod and a spot on the Top 100 list.

DeAndre Hopkins
Arizona Cardinals · WR

Hopkins was rated the No. 8 player on this list the past two years, and arguably the main reason he’s dropped 29 places is just because he was injured for almost half the season in 2021. Between the hamstring injury that kept him out of three games and the season-ending MCL tear suffered in Week 14, Hopkins only played in a career-low 10 games. But in his limited time, Hopkins recorded 42 receptions for 572 yards and eight TDs, averaging 13.6 yards per catch. If you extrapolated these numbers over a full 17-game slate, he would have recorded just under 1,000 receiving yards, which isn’t too shabby and definitely makes him still worth a spot on this list. It’s not a coincidence that, with Hopkins, the Cardinals were 8-2, and only 3-5 without him.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · QB

While it’s true that Jackson hasn't quite replicated his 2019 MVP season, as indicated in his slightly lowered ranking, he’s still one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and proved it in a 2021 season where injuries ran rampant through the Baltimore roster. Jackson missed five games, including the final four due to an ankle injury, and he also had to contend with multiple injuries throughout the rest of the roster. Nevertheless, Jackson still threw for 2,882 yards, only 245 yards short of his MVP campaign total, and rushed for 767 yards, the second-most by a QB in 2021. While this might not have been Lamar’s best season as indicated by the team’s finish, it’s still a testament to his toughness in the face of adversity, and his importance to the Ravens’ success. With Jackson playing, Baltimore was 7-5, and without him only 1-4.

Keenan Allen
Los Angeles Chargers · WR

Allen continues to be the workhorse receiver for the Chargers, collecting his fifth straight year as the team leader in receptions (106), recording 100+ in four of those seasons. In that span, Allen was selected to the Pro Bowl all five years and has had four seasons with at least 1,100 yards receiving (he had 992 in 2019 when he missed a couple of games). Essentially, since returning from a 2016 ACL tear that took him out in Week 1, Allen has been the most consistent receiver on the Chargers’ roster, and his continued excellence at the position is why he’s ranked so high on this list.

Kevin Byard
Tennessee Titans · FS

The Titans’ defense in 2021 was a big reason the team finished 12-5 and made it to the playoffs, and Byard’s talent for coverage was essential to that effort. Byard was the fifth-best coverage player in the league last year, per Next Gen Stats, and he was the only safety on the list, making him the best at his position by those metrics. He tied for most interceptions by a safety with five, and had a league-best 25.5% ballhawk rate. All together, his targeted expected points added was -21, putting a number on how important Byard was to the Tennessee defense. Without Byard in the secondary, the Titans would have had a much harder time of it in 2021, and that makes him worthy of the No. 34 spot.

Nick Chubb
Cleveland Browns · RB

Chubb makes his third-straight appearance on this list, to go along with his third-straight season collecting at least 1,000 rushing yards. The only one of Chubb’s four seasons in which he didn’t hit that mark was his rookie year when Chubb fell just four yards short, and since then he’s just continued to crank out top-notch numbers. Chubb was second in the league in rushing yards (1,259), third in rushing yards per game (89.9), and also sat in the top-10 in touchdowns, first downs and attempts in 2021, earning him his third-straight Pro Bowl selection. This was all despite Chubb missing three games due to injuries, so one can only guess how much higher those numbers could have been if he was fully healthy.

Mark Andrews
Baltimore Ravens · TE

For a Ravens team hampered by injuries in almost every area of the game, Andrews’ season was a bright spot. He played in all 17 games and was named first-team All-Pro for the first time. Andrews also was selected to his second Pro Bowl as he put up career-best numbers in multiple categories. With his 107 receptions and 1,361 receiving yards, Andrews broke Baltimore’s single-season record in both categories, also leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. It was a breakout season for Andrews, and puts him at No. 32 on this list.

Dalvin Cook
Minnesota Vikings · RB

Though he did drop a bit in his stats and his Top 100 ranking from his career-best 2020 season, Cook still was one of the best running backs in the game in 2021. This drop can be partially attributed to him missing four games throughout the season. When he was on the field, however, Cook was still an elite running back, showcasing the talent that has made him a consistent force out of the backfield since his breakout 2019 season. Cook collected his third-straight year of 1,100+ yards rushing, the longest active streak in the league, and made the Pro Bowl for the third time. In addition, he’s collected 36 scrimmage touchdowns since 2019, which is third-best in the league over that three-year span.

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