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.
A team change worked wonders for Conner in 2021. After four seasons with both diminishing returns and health in Pittsburgh, Conner’s first year on the Cardinals resulted in his second overall appearance on the Top 100 list and first since 2019. Conner rewarded Arizona’s faith in him by becoming the thunder to the now-departed Chase Edmonds’ lightning and emerging as one of the league’s premier goal-line options. Conner finished the season with 15 rushing scores, tied for second-most behind Jonathan Taylor.
The Chargers have found an unquestioned cornerstone of the franchise in Slater. The 2021 No. 13 overall pick immediately stepped in and reached the Pro Bowl as Justin Herbert’s blindside protector. Slater allowed only five sacks and committed six penalties during his rookie campaign. His PFF pass-blocking grade (80.3) was almost identical to his grade as a run blocker (80.2), providing the perfect balance to a Los Angeles offense built around one of the league’s most dangerous QB-RB duos.
If Joe Burrow is the heartbeat of the Bengals offense, then Hendrickson is the steady pulse on the opposite side. The former Saint, who Bucky Brooks ranked as 2021’s top free-agent signing, contributed a team-high 14 sacks to a unit that ranked third overall last season with 55. Hendrickson was a constant menace in the opposing backfield, and he added another 3.5 sacks during Cincinnati’s stunning postseason run to become the AFC’s Super Bowl representative.
“Big Play” Slay lived up to the moniker in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles, adding three defensive touchdowns -- one pick-six and two fumble recoveries -- to a nine-year career that previously only had one end zone trip on the résumé. At 31, Slay fulfills the role of elder statesman in a Philly secondary bolstered by offseason additions like James Bradberry. His veteran leadership will be counted on once again to guide a team with surging expectations.
Burns finally received national recognition last year with his first Pro Bowl nod. More widespread awareness of the rangy defender’s proclivity for impact plays has been hampered by Carolina’s struggles as a whole, but the Florida State product has been a model of consistency, posting nine sacks in each of the last two seasons following a 7.5-sack rookie campaign. Now entering his prime, Burns is the unquestioned anchor of a unit that ranked second in yards allowed in 2021.
After starting every game as a rookie in a Super Bowl-winning year, Winfield elevated himself to being a Pro Bowl-caliber player as an encore. The secret to his success lies in a leaps-and-bounds improvement in pass coverage. Winfield Jr. played 62.4% of his snaps in coverage in 2021 compared to 58.1% the year prior, and earned a PFF coverage grade of 87.6 -- a 30.4-point improvement from 2020. The safety had a reputation coming into the NFL as a stout run defender. Now, he's the total package.
If Davis lost a step in his 10th season, it only barely registered on the stat sheet. The Saints’ quarterback on defense posted his fifth-straight year with over 100 tackles and double-digit tackles for loss. The off-ball linebacker possesses savvy matched by a precious few, and his marriage with New Orleans has proven to be heaven-made since he joined the team in 2018. Whatever the 33-year-old has left in the tank, it’ll likely be more than enough to propel the Saints’ defense to a third-straight top-five year.
Patterson has been a weapon since he entered the NFL. Last year, he became the weapon for the Atlanta Falcons. In his fifth home -- the fourth in five seasons -- Patterson finally sparkled as more than just a game-breaking returner. Patterson scored a third of his 15 career receiving touchdowns and nearly half (six) of his career rushing TD total (14). He was seemingly everywhere defenders weren’t, and he earned every bit of a second contract with Atlanta as it braves the post-Matt Ryan era.
The first member of last year’s Top 100 thus far to improve upon his ranking in the 2022 list, Diggs has taken his game to a new level since being shipped midseason to Seattle as a casualty of Detroit’s Matt Patricia era. A Pro Bowler in each of his two full seasons with the Seahawks, the safety has meshed seamlessly with fellow trade acquisition Jamal Adams. Diggs will look to fully bounce back from injury in the coming season after suffering a dislocated ankle and broken fibula in Week 18 of last year.
Kelce may have handpicked his successor in April’s draft, but the second-ranked center on this year’s list is still plugging away on the gridiron. Kelce hasn’t missed a game for Philadelphia since 2014 and has earned All-Pro honors in four of the last five seasons. There are few players who embody the franchise they play for more than the 34-year-old Kelce, whose boisterous personality is surpassed only by the tenacity with which he defends his quarterbacks.