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.
Los Angeles Chargers · LB
The former AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has been a solid presence on the Chargers’ defense for over six years now, and 2021 was no different. After missing a bit of time in 2020 due to injuries, Bosa started 16 games and was all over the place disrupting opposing offenses, recording a career-high seven forced fumbles and 10.5 sacks. His efforts earned him a fourth Pro Bowl nod, joining Hall of Famer Junior Seau as the only Chargers named to four Pro Bowls in their first five seasons.
Wagner is an all-time Seahawks great and was one of the last players remaining on the roster from Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl victory. At age 32, Wagner is still a top player at his position and has continued to produce consistently great seasons even as he gets into the later stages of his career. 2021 was his 10th season, and Wagner celebrated a decade in the league by racking up a career-high 170 tackles (his 10th straight season with at least 100 tackles) and earning his eighth straight Pro Bowl nod, an incredible feat. Wagner’s consistency was rewarded in the offseason when he signed a five-year, $50 million deal to join the rival Rams.
Offensive linemen don’t always get the flashy stats, but nevertheless Nelson has made a name for himself in only four years in the league. He’s been named first-team All-Pro three times and earned his fourth Pro Bowl nod in 2021 because he’s just a wall on the offensive line. Nelson played 767 snaps in 2021 and gave up just one sack the entire season. Over his career, which has consisted of 4,029 snaps over four years, he’s given up just four sacks. Those numbers are just insane. You can already put Nelson in the conversation as one of the best guards in the history of the Colts. At the very least, those numbers give him the No. 28 spot on this list as the highest-ranked guard in the league this year.
After a dozen fruitless years with the Lions, Stafford made the move to Los Angeles in 2021 to join the Rams, a decision that obviously paid off. Stafford led the Rams to their first Super Bowl win since 1999, and their first victory while in Los Angeles. During that campaign, Stafford recorded the third-most passing yards in the league with 4,886, and led the Rams to a 12-5 record and wins over Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Joe Burrow in the postseason on the way to the ultimate victory. For all that, of course he’s this high on the list.
Since coming to Buffalo two years ago, Diggs has established himself as the No. 1 receiver on the Bills, the favorite target of Josh Allen and one of the best receivers in the game. He led the NFL in 2020 in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535), and in 2021, he was close to those numbers with 1,225 yards on 103 catches. Both years he was named to the Pro Bowl. Diggs can play at all three levels and against any coverage, making him difficult for defenses to contend with without leaving other players open. The Bills recognized Diggs’ talent and rewarded him this offseason with a four-year, $96 million contract extension that’ll keep him in Buffalo through 2027.
Bosa started his career by winning AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019, but couldn’t follow up that with a strong sophomore campaign because of a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 of the 2020 season. But third time’s the charm, because in Bosa’s third year, he came back strong and exceeded his production from his first season. Starting all 20 games during San Francisco’s run to the NFC title game, Bosa broke his career-high in sacks with 15.5 (fourth in the league) — adding four more in the playoffs — and tied AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt for the most tackles for loss in the NFL (21). With Bosa only three years into his career, it’ll be interesting to see how high he can climb up the Top 100 in the coming seasons.
Quite simply, in 2021, Chase was one of the best rookie wide receivers in history. His first year was a revelation, a No. 5 overall pick well spent by Cincinnati. In addition to playing a big role in the Bengals’ run to the Super Bowl, Chase broke multiple records, including Cincy’s marks for most receiving yards in a game (266) and most receiving yards in a season (1,455). He also smashed the NFL’s rookie receiver records, collecting the most receiving yards by a rookie in a game, in a postseason (368), and in a season overall. His 1,455 receiving yards were also fourth in the league amongst all players. Needless to say, Chase was awarded with a Pro Bowl nod and AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors at season’s end. What else could you do when he’s playing at the level of some of the best veterans in his first year as a pro?
Quite simply, Diggs is this high on the list because in a league where teams often thrive in the passing game, he is a player that is well-equipped to stop it in its tracks. Diggs is only in his second season with the Cowboys, but the young stud is already making a name for himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the game. He recorded 11 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns last season, both best in the league, and the first of those statistics is what really makes him special. The last time any player had at least 11 interceptions was in 1981, making Diggs’ performance in 2021 truly once in a generation.
For five years, Kittle has been a consistent leadership presence in the 49ers’ locker room and continues to put out quality seasons on the field, as well. Kittle was the third-best player at his position in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus, and in addition to his usual dominance as a blocking tight end, Kittle also recorded the fourth-most receiving yards by a tight end in 2021 with 910. That all-around talent and leadership is definitely worth his No. 22 ranking and fourth consecutive appearance on this list.
Burrow took his team further in 2021 than Cincinnati had been in over 30 years, and it was just his second season. With Burrow taking snaps, the Bengals won their first playoff game since the 1990 season, and then made it all the way to their first Super Bowl since the 1988 campaign. He outdueled Derek Carr and the Raiders, Ryan Tannehill and the Titans, and finally Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in overtime to make it to the big game. Along the way, he posted the second-highest passer rating in the NFL at 108.3, trailing only Aaron Rodgers. This finish was made all the more impressive considering he was coming back from significant knee surgery after the 2020 season, a feat which earned him the AP Comeback Player of the Year award for 2021.