Pete Prisco's Top 100 NFL Players of 2020: Patrick Mahomes takes top spot, Lamar Jackson cracks top 10

It's amazing how quickly things change in the NFL.

See Lamar Jackson.

He wasn't on anybody's Top 100 list a year ago -- quit lying if you say he was on yours -- and yet he won the MVP award and had an amazing season in 2019. So where is he now on my Top 100 list? 

He's at No. 7, one of four quarterbacks in the top 11. Jackson was a highlight-reel player every Sunday last season, which few could have imagined after his woeful showing during the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in January 2019.

His rocket ascension is the type of thing that makes doing top-100 lists so challenging. 

Yet here I am – another year of putting my top-100 list together. In the beginning, it was a top 50, but now it has morphed into a longer version that makes it even more challenging.

My top 10 has changed in a big way from a year ago, with only three returners to the top 10, one of those being a player many will question.

The easiest player to slot was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He is the top player in the league after leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl victory over San Francisco.

After that, the list is challenging. Where do you spot good players who had bad seasons? Where do you place injured players coming back or young players on the move?

There are over 1,500 players in the NFL. Pete Prisco narrowed them down to his annual list of the Top 100, with plenty of surprises! Listen below.

But it's guys like Jackson that make the lists maddening a year later. 

So eat this list up. I know you will.

1
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
This was an easy choice. He missed time last season, which hurt his MVP chances, but he will be right back in the race this year. He's the best player in the league.
2
Aaron Donald Los Angeles Rams DE
He continues to be a force on the inside of the Rams defense, a pocket-pushing power player who makes it tough on offenses. His sack numbers went down last year, but his play wasn't far off.
3
Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
He was outstanding last season and was in the MVP conversation. If only the Seahawks let him throw a little more than he does, which is what they should do.
4
Michael Thomas New Orleans Saints WR
He had a record-breaking season in 2019 with 149 catches, with little help from the other side. Thomas had 91 of those catches go for a first down. He's the league's best receiver.
5
Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB
It's tough for me to put a back up this high, but his ability to catch the football better than all the others makes him a dual-threat player, going over 1,000 in both rushing and receiving yards.
6
Stephon Gilmore New England Patriots CB
He was the league's Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. He's a lockdown corner who was a big reason why the Pats defense was so good for much of the season, tying for the league lead in interceptions with six.
7
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
He won the league MVP last season with his dynamic play and his ability to create something out of nothing. As he grows as a passer – and he will – he will stay up this high on the list – and probably push even higher.
8
Chandler Jones Arizona Cardinals LB
He's had five consecutive double-digit sack seasons, getting 19 last season to finish a half-sack from leading the league. He has 32 sacks the past two seasons, second to Aaron Donald for the most of any player in the league.
9
Khalil Mack Chicago Bears OLB
For the first time since his rookie season of 2014, he didn't get double-digit sacks last season. He had 8.5, but he was still a force off the edge for the Bears. By his standards, his season was subpar. By the rest of the league's standards, he's still a force who has to be accounted for by an offense.
10
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
Some will frown at him being this high, since he had a good, not great year in 2019. Even so, he remains one of the game's best quarterbacks. Watch out in his second season in Matt LaFleur's offense.
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Drew Brees Graphic by Mike Meredith
11
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
He missed five games last season, but he was still able to throw 27 touchdown passes and just four picks. He came back for another year to try and get a second Super Bowl as he continues to play at a high level.
12
Cameron Jordan New Orleans Saints DE
He had a career-best 15.5 sacks last season as the Saints best defensive player. But he's also a force in the run game, which is why he's so high on this list.
13
Joey Bosa Los Angeles Chargers DE
He continues to be one of the best edge rushers in the league, getting 11.5 sacks and a ton of pressures. He has to keep pushing forward because little brother, Nick, is coming up this list after an impressive rookie season.
14
Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons WR
He had 99 catches for 1,394 yards – second only to Michael Thomas in yards – and he also caught six touchdowns. At the age of 31, he isn't slowing down.
15
Quenton Nelson Indianapolis Colts G
He is now clearly the league's best guard. He is a mauler in the run game and has improved in pass protection. Philip Rivers will love him.
16
T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers OLB
He played so well last season that he is higher than brother, J.J., on this list. Watt had 14.5 sacks and two picks last season and was a force against the run.
17
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys RB
He had another impressive season after signing a big contract, rushing for 1,357 with 14 touchdowns. He remains a top-level back, but his 20-plus runs were down from 11 to 4 from the previous season.
18
George Kittle San Francisco 49ers TE
He emerged as a star last season, catching 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. His run blocking is a big reason why the 49ers had such an impressive rushing game.
19
Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
By his standards, his numbers were pedestrian last season with the Patriots. But he had little help from his skill group, which will change in Tampa. His numbers should go way up this season.
20
Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs TE
He led all tight ends with 95 catches and with 1,229 yards. He also had five touchdowns and 65 catches that went for first downs. His blocking isn't as good as Kittle's, which is why he's behind him.
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Von Miller Graphic by Mike Meredith
21
Von Miller Denver Broncos OLB
He didn't play up to his usual standards, which would put him in the top-10 of this list. He had a career-low eight sacks in his first season in Vic Fangio's defense. Even so, he has the tools to get that back up near 14 this season. But at 31 is age becoming an issue?
22
Grady Jarrett Atlanta Falcons DT
He had a career-best 7.5 sacks last season as he continued to be a pocket pusher from the inside. He's also good against the run, but he does need more help around him.
23
Ryan Ramczyk New Orleans Saints T
On a good offensive line, he was the best player and was the best right tackle in the league last season. He is outstanding in the run game, but he's improved greatly in pass protection.
24
Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE
He had nine sacks as a rookie, but really showed up in the 49ers postseason run, getting four sacks in three games. He was dominant in the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. If he plays like that this season, this will be way too low for him in 2021.
25
Danielle Hunter Minnesota Vikings DE
This 25-year-old had 14.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons to establish himself as one of the best edge players in the league. He can rush with speed or power.
26
Jalen Ramsey Los Angeles Rams CB
He has the talent to be much higher on this list, but a bad situation in Jacksonville – some of it self-inflicted – led to a trade to the Rams during the 2019 season, which led to some adjusting on his part. I expect him to bounce back and play like a top 2 or 3 corner this season.
27
Ronnie Stanley Baltimore Ravens T
In his fourth season, he emerged as a star at left tackle. His pass protection is outstanding, but he's improved as run blocker as well, which is a must in the Ravens offense.
28
Za'Darius Smith Green Bay Packers OLB
He showed off his versatility in his first season with the Packers, rushing both from the inside and outside. He proved to be an outstanding free-agent signing by Green Bay.
29
Chris Godwin Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
He had his breakout season in 2020, catching 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the NFL with 25 catches of 20 yards or more. He just turned 24 in February.
30
Lane Johnson Philadelphia Eagles T
He missed four games last season, and the Eagles offense struggled without him. He's a really good run blocker, but he's also good in pass protection.
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Saquon Barkley Graphic by Mike Meredith
31
DeAndre Hopkins Arizona Cardinals WR
He had another big year with 104 catches and seven touchdowns, but his yards per catch went down over two yards from the previous season. Aberration or a concern?
32
J.J. Watt Houston Texans DE
It's a little strange to see him this low on the list, but he is coming off a season where he played just eight games because of injury and had just four sacks. This will be his 10th season in the league, but he's played 16 games just once since 2015. Can he stay healthy?
33
Cameron Heyward Pittsburgh Steelers DE
He is a top-level player against the run and has improved greatly as a pass rusher. He had nine sacks from his down spot last season to show his growth in that area.
34
Tyrann Mathieu Kansas City Chiefs FS
He started slowly last season, but by the end of the season and into the playoffs he was playing at a Defensive Player of the Year level. His versatility is a big part of the Kansas City defense.
35
Saquon Barkley New York Giants RB
He was limited to 13 games last season because of injuries, which hurt his numbers. He still rushed for 1,003 yards and caught 52 passes. With an improved line in front of him, his numbers will go up this season.
36
Chris Jones Kansas City Chiefs DE
The postseason, even battling through injuries, showed what a force he could be. The Chiefs did the wise thing to put the franchise tag on him this season.
37
Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings FS
He should have been on the All-Decade team at safety with his range and his ability to do so many things as a big part of the Vikings defense. His play slipped a little last season, but he's still a top-tier safety.
38
Bobby Wagner Seattle Seahawks MLB
His play declined last season as the Seattle defense wasn't as dominant. He still remains one of the better inside/middle linebackers, but he was off last season.
39
Calais Campbell Baltimore Ravens DE
The 33-year-old Campbell is still playing at a high level, even if his sack numbers fell from 10.5 to 6.5 last season. The Ravens acquired him in a trade from the Jaguars and he gives them a big, physical presence on their line.
40
Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints RB
He's another dual threat back who is outstanding in the passing game. He only rushed for 797 yards in 2019, but he caught 81 passes for 533 yards. One has to wonder what he could do with more carries after getting under 200 in each of his three seasons.
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Tyreek Hill Graphic by Mike Meredith
41
Mitchell Schwartz Kansas City Chiefs T
He's consistently been one of the best right tackles in the league and the best of the Chiefs offensive linemen. He excels in pass protection, but he's also good in the run game.
42
Jamal Adams New York Jets SS
His play tailed off some from the previous season, but he's still a tone-setter on the Jets defense. He is good in coverage and against the run.
43
Tyreek Hill Kansas City Chiefs WR
He was limited to 12 games last season because of injury, but he remains one of the scariest down-field threats in the game. See the Super Bowl. He averaged 14.8 yards per catch last season, but wasn't healthy until the playoffs.
44
Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings RB
He missed two games and still rushed for 1,135 yards and a 4.5 yards per-rush average. He also had 13 rushing touchdowns. His next hurdle is playing all 16 games.
45
Mike Evans Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
For the second-consecutive season, he averaged over 17 yards per catch at 17.3. His catches were down, but he had eight touchdown receptions like he had in 2018.
46
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
He threw for nearly 5,000 yards, with an average per attempt of 8.2, with 30 touchdown passes. He was outstanding in 2019, but now the pressure is on to do it again – especially if he's playing under the franchise tag.
47
Myles Garrett Cleveland Browns DE
He had 10 sacks in 10 games and was on his way to a big season before his helmet-swinging incident against the Steelers forced him to be suspended. He is an explosive force coming off the edge.
48
Davante Adams Green Bay Packers WR
Injuries limited him to 12 games last season, and his numbers fell. He had 83 catches after having 111 the year before. It would be nice if he had more help from the other side.
49
Derwin James Los Angeles Chargers FS
He was limited to five games last season because of a foot injury suffered in the preseason. When he returned, he showed off his ability to be a disrupter in a lot of ways on the defense.
50
Zack Martin Dallas Cowboys G
He continues to be a dominant inside player. The Cowboys are able to do a lot of things on offense because of his ability to excel in the run game and as a pass protector.
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Richard Sherman Graphic by Mike Meredith
51
Demario Davis New Orleans Saints OLB
What can't he do? Last summer, Cam Jordan told me Davis was one of the best in the NFL. He was right as last season Davis showed up all over the field for the New Orleans defense.
52
Tre'Davious White Buffalo Bills CB
After a so-so 2018 season, he bounced back last season to play at a high level on the corner. He's a good man cover player who is ascending.
53
Geno Atkins Cincinnati Bengals DT
His sack numbers were down to 4.5 last season, the fewest he's had since 2014. He's still capable of doing more than sacking the quarterback, but is age (32) starting to slow him down?
54
Fletcher Cox Philadelphia Eagles DT
His sack numbers fell from 10.5 in 2019 to 3.5 last season, as his play fell off from his dominant 2018 season. Even so, he remains one of the better interior pass rushers.
55
Brandon Brooks Philadelphia Eagles G
This 31-year-old is a perfect fit for the Eagles run scheme. He can push big people, but he's also athletic.
56
DeForest Buckner Indianapolis Colts DT
He is a power player, which is why the Colts traded the 13th overall pick to land him. He will give them a player who can anchor in for the run, but can still push the pocket.
57
Richard Sherman San Francisco 49ers CB
When will he slow down? He continues to be a top-level corner at the age of 32 and was a big reason why the 49ers got to the Super Bowl.
58
Demarcus Lawrence Dallas Cowboys DE
After getting a combined 24.5 sacks in 2017 and 2018, Lawrence had just five last season. That followed his getting a mega-deal from the Cowboys, but he still was a good player despite the sack numbers declining.
59
Marlon Humphrey Baltimore Ravens CB
He's become and top-level cover player in the Ravens defense. He isn't great against the run, but he's a smooth cover corner.
60
Bud Dupree Pittsburgh Steelers OLB
He had his breakout season in 2019, getting 11.5 sacks and becoming a force in the run game. There's a reason why the Steelers put the franchise tag on him.
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Deshaun Watson Graphic by Mike Meredith
61
Eric Kendricks Minnesota Vikings MLB
He is coming off his best season – by far. He was always good against the pass, but he improved greatly last season as a run player.
62
Deshaun Watson Houston Texans QB
You wonder what he'd be like with more help in terms of an offensive line. He threw 26 touchdown passes and 12 picks last season, which isn't great.
63
A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals WR
He sat out the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury, so he's a tough one to slot. But I still think at the age of 31, he can still be a No. 1 receiver. Health is the key.
64
Odell Beckham Cleveland Browns WR
He had 74 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn't quite what the Browns had to be expecting when they traded to get him. Even so, the talent is still there to be so much more.
65
Joe Thuney New England Patriots G
On a bad offensive line last season, he was clearly the bright spot. That's why the Patriots put the franchise tag on him to keep him.
66
Keenan Allen Los Angeles Chargers WR
For the second time in three seasons, he had over 100 catches with 104 for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns. He is a consistently one of the best in the NFL.
67
Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers OLB
As an off-the-ball linebacker, he doesn't get the due he deserves. But he is mainstay on the Tampa Bay defense.
68
Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles TE
In 15 games, he had 88 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns – even though he battled a late-season injury. He's never been a great run blocker, which drops him down some here.
69
Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans RB
He led the NFL in rushing and then was dominant in the postseason. He is a bruising back who keys the Tennessee offense.
70
Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
He took a beating last season, but still put up solid numbers for the Falcons. His protection has to be better to get him back playing close to his MVP numbers of a few years ago.
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Nick Chubb Graphic by Mike Meredith
71
Nick Chubb Cleveland Browns RB
With much of the talk about the Browns passing game coming into the season, it was Chubb who was the best offensive player. He was second in the league in rushing with 1,494 yards and also caught 36 passes. He averaged 5.0 yards per rush.
72
Carlos Dunlap Cincinnati Bengals DE
He's had eight or more sacks in six consecutive seasons, getting nine last season. He is also a good run player who plays as a power end.
73
Joe Mixon Cincinnati Bengals RB
He finished with 1,139 yards, but most of that came in the second half of the season when the Bengals wisely started to feed him the ball. He had four games over 100 yards in the final eight after getting none in the first eight.
74
Melvin Ingram Los Angeles Chargers DE
He was limited to 13 games in 2019 because of injuries and he had just seven sacks. He's a better edge rusher than those numbers, which is why he's on this list. He's also stout in the run game.
75
Patrick Peterson Arizona Cardinals CB
After being suspended for the first four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, he didn't look like the same elite player we had seen for much of his career. But he bounced back down the stretch to play to that level.
76
Jason Kelce Philadelphia Eagles C
He isn't big or powerful, but he's smart and athletic, which is perfect for the Eagles offense. He can move for a center and that helps him to stay near the top of the center rankings.
77
La'el Collins Dallas Cowboys T
This right tackle is coming off his best season, one in which he was dominant at times. He is one of the best in the run game from that position.
78
Justin Simmons Denver Broncos FS
He is a young, rangy safety who covers a lot of ground for the Broncos. That ability makes him valuable, which is why the Broncos put the franchise tag on him this year.
79
Darren Waller Las Vegas Raiders TE
He came into last season with 18 career catches, but had 90 last season to emerge as a real pass-catching threat. His ability to run like a receiver is why he's able to catch so many passes.
80
Tyron Smith Dallas Cowboys T
He would be much higher on this list, but health issues have limited him the past four seasons. His pass blocking hasn't been as good lately, and that has to do with the injuries.
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Amari Cooper Graphic by Mike Meredith
81
Amari Cooper Dallas Cowboys WR
He had 79 catches for a 15.1 average, which is impressive. The concern is how he vanished in some big games and wasn't as good on the road, catching just 27 passes away from home.
82
Shaquil Barrett Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB
He's a tough player to grade since he had his breakout season in 2019. He led the league in sacks with 19.5, which is more than the 14 he had in his previous five seasons.
83
Casey Hayward Los Angeles Chargers CB
He continues to be one of the most underrated players in the league. He's an outstanding cover player who gives them a nice No. 1 corner.
84
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers WR
Without Ben Roethlisberger, coupled with missing four games, his numbers plummeted last season. His catches fell from 111 to 42. With Roethlisberger back, watch his numbers go way up this year.
85
David Bakhtiari Green Bay Packers T
He's consistently been one of the better pass-protecting tackles in the league. His play did slip a little last season, which is why he's down this far on the list.
86
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
He had another good season for the Vikings, leading them to the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs. He threw 26 touchdown passes and six picks.
87
Ryan Jensen Tampa Bay Buccaneers C
You might be surprised to see his name here, but he was really good in his second season with Tampa Bay in 2019. His pass blocking inside will be big for Tom Brady.
88
Josh Allen Jacksonville Jaguars LB
This is an emerging player who should be higher on this list next year. As a rookie, he had 10.5 sacks to lead all rookies.
89
Preston Smith Green Bay Packers OLB
After signing as a free agent last season in Green Bay, he provided a nice 1-2 punch with Za'Darius Smith. Preston Smith had a career-high 12 sacks.
90
Arik Armstead San Francisco 49ers DE
He didn't always get the due he deserved on a good line last year, but he was outstanding in 2019. He has always been good as a run player, but amped it up in a big way as a pass rusher last season.
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Mark Andrews Graphic by Mike Meredith
91
Stefon Diggs Buffalo Bills WR
He had 63 catches for the Vikings last season, but eight were for 40 yards or more. That's big-play ability. He will add a lot to the Bills offense.
92
Kenny Clark Green Bay Packers NT
He is a power player who has emerged as a pretty good pass rusher to go with his ability to stop the run. He didn't play the run as well last season, but his sack numbers remained steady with six.
93
Jimmie Ward San Francisco 49ers CB
This former corner has developed into a nice ball-hawking safety. His range is a big part of the 49ers defense and they were wise to keep him, rather than let him hit the market this year.
94
Kevin Byard Tennessee Titans FS
His play slipped a little from 2018, but he's established himself as one of the better young safeties in the game.
95
Aaron Jones Green Bay Packers RB
He went over 1,000 yards rushing, but also caught 49 passes and totaled 19 touchdowns. He is a big-play threat.
96
Darius Slay Philadelphia Eagles CB
He wasn't as good as his reputation for the Lions last season, but he still has the talent to be a top-tier corner. That's why the Eagles made the move to get him.
97
Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams WR
He came back from a major knee injury in 2018 to catch 94 passes with 10 touchdowns.
98
D.J. Chark Jacksonville Jaguars WR
In his second season, he emerged as a big-play threat outside for the Jaguars. He had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. As the offense improves, his numbers will go up.
99
Darius Leonard Indianapolis Colts OLB
He is one of those prototypical inside linebackers in today's game. He can cover and he can play the run, but he's also a capable blitzer as his 12 sacks in two seasons show.
100
Mark Andrews Baltimore Ravens TE
He emerged as the go-to player for Lamar Jackson, catching 64 passes with 10 touchdowns. He's also a solid in-line blocker.

JUST MISSED: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers; Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers; Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles; Brandon Scherff, G, Washington Redskins; Matt Judon, OLB, Baltimore Ravens; Jarvis Landry, WR Cleveland Browns; D.J. Reader, DT, Cincinnati Bengals; Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars; Trent Williams, T, San Francisco 49ers; Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots; Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers; Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Eddie Jackson, S, Chicago Bears; Anthony Harris, S, Minnesota Vikings; Terron Armstead, T, Saints; Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans; David DeCastro, G, Pittsburgh Steelers; Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots; Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Chris Harris, CB, Los Angeles Chargers; Byron Jones, CB, Miami Dolphins; Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos; Kyle Van Noy, LB, Miami Dolphins; Dante Fowler, EDGE, Atlanta Falcons; DeVante Parker WR, Miami Dolphins; Marcus Peters, CB, Baltimore Ravens; Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions; Alexander Johnson, LB, Denver Broncos; Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears; Zach Cunningham, LB, Houston Texans; Marcus Williams, S, Saints; A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans; Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams; and D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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