Mahomes has new incentive for 2020

By Steve Sell
July 31, 2020

I know better than anyone that “list stories” evoke a cascade of reaction, or in some cases, an overreaction.

Wanna get people riled up? Run a “list story.” I have been raked over the coals more times than I can count on my “list stories.”

But today’s list isn’t mine. It’s the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2020” and it certainly has caused plenty of people to sit up and take notice.

One of those is Kansas City wunderkind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who surprisingly to many was just the No. 4 player on the list despite the fact he willed the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years. Mahomes posted a cryptic message that gave the impression he’s “taking notes.”

Mahomes also was rewarded with by far the largest contract in NFL history as the Chiefs locked him up for what they hope to be the rest of his career.

Tops on the list is Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore quarterback and reigning MVP. Now it’s tough to argue his selection as he had an incredible season last year, only to see it somewhat sullied by a disappointing early exit from the postseason.

NFL Network is banking that Jackson not only will approach his 2019 standards, but improve on them. He’s still not a polished passer, but is getting better. He is this era’s version of Michael Vick as he does more damage with his legs than his arm.

I believe Jackson’s ranking also has to do with the Ravens upgrading the talent around him. From top to bottom, Baltimore has the most talented and deepest roster in the NFL. But Jackson needs a championship for his validation.

Also ahead of Mahomes are Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

Wilson has far exceeded expectations as a pro. He has kept the Seahawks among the NFL’s elite since entering the league and has a Super Bowl ring. But to put him ahead of Mahomes, it’s one I have to question.

No doubt Donald is a powerhouse and the best in the NFL at his position. But he plays an underappreciated position and I still think he won’t make the impact of Mahomes.

After Mahomes at No. 4, New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas rounds out the Top 5.

The remaining Top 10 includes Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey at 6, San Francisco tight end George Kittle at 7, new Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins at 8, New England corner Stephone Gilmore at 9 and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry at 10.

The biggest reach for me is Kittle at No. 7. He came out of nowhere last year, but I would have Henry in that spot.

McCaffrey, to me, could have been in the Top 5 as while Thomas puts up All-World numbers for the Saints, he picks up a lot of cheap yards on short outs that are nothing more than long handoffs.

Other Kansas City Chiefs in the Top 100 include tight end Travis Kelce (No. 17), receiver Tyreek Hill (22), safety Tyrann Mathieu (39), defensive tackle Chris Jones (52) and defensive end Frank Clark (95).

When looking at the NFL list, my two biggest dissents are Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 24 and New York running back Saquon Barkley at No. 31. I know the running back position has been devalued in this pass-happy era, but both backs are such catalysts in their offenses. Are we really to believe Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook is going to have a bigger year than Elliott and Barkley? I know Barkley plays for a wretched team, but he’s an incredible talent.

One other player I believe is too high is San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 43. Yes, he did lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl and played three good quarters against the Chiefs. But he hasn’t proven he can put a team on his back.

Here is the list and I’ll let you ponder the picks:

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

2. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

3. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams

4. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

5. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

6. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

7. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

9. Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots

10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

12. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

13. Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle Seahawks

14. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

15. Chandler Jones, OLB, Arizona Cardinals

16. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers    

17. Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

18. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

19. Khalil Mack, OLB, Chicago Bears

20. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

21. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings    

22. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

23. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints

24. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

25. T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

26. Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

27. Jamal Adams, S, Seattle Seahawks

28. Richard Sherman, CB, San Francisco 49ers

29. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts

30. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

31. Saquon Barkley , RB, New York Giants    

32. Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

33. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

34. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers    

35. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers

36. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

37. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams

38. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

39. Tyrann Mathieu, S, Kansas City Chiefs

40. Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota Vikings

41. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Seattle Seahawks (2020 free agent)

42. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

43. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

44. Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

45. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

46. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

47. Tre'Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills

48. Za'Darius Smith, OLB, Green Bay Packers

49. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys    

50. Darius Leonard, OLB, Indianapolis Colts    

51. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams    

52. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

53. Marcus Peters, CB, Baltimore Ravens

54. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

55. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

56. DeForest Buckner, DT, Indianapolis Colts

57. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

58. Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

59. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

60. Logan Ryan, CB, Tennessee Titans

61. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

62. David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers

63. Preston Smith, OLB, Green Bay Packers

64. Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings

65. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

66. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Houston Texans    

67. Demario Davis, OLB, New Orleans Saints

68. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

69. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

70. Fred Warner, MLB, San Francisco 49ers

71. Jurrell Casey, DT, Denver Broncos

72. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

73. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

74. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens

75. Earl Thomas, S, Baltimore Ravens

76. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints

77. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

78. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys

79. Calais Campbell, DE, Baltimore Ravens

80. Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns

81. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

82. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints

83. Eric Kendricks, MLB, Minnesota Vikings

84. Cameron Heyward, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers

85. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

86. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens

87. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

88. Jaylon Smith, MLB, Dallas Cowboys    

89. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

90. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

91. Grady Jarrett, DT, Atlanta Falcons

92. Darius Slay, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

93. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears    

94. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles    

95. Frank Clark, DE, Kansas City Chiefs

96. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

97. Budda Baker, S, Arizona Cardinals

98. Brandon Brooks, OG, Philadelphia Eagles

99. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

100. Lavonte David, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previous No. 1 picks:

2019: Aaron Donald

2018: Tom Brady

2017: Tom Brady

2016: Cam Newton

2015: J.J. Watt

2014: Peyton Manning

2013: Adrian Peterson

2012: Aaron Rodgers

2011: Tom Brady