30. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs scored big when they drafted Travis Kelce in the 3rd round in 2013. Kelce is easily one of the best tight ends in the game and has improved each season he has played. His career did get off to a rough start when he had a microfracture procedure on his knee, which would cause Kelce to miss his rookie campaign.
However, the talented tight end has played in every single game since and is set to start his 5th season with Kansas City. During his time with the organization, Kelce has accumulated 224 receptions, 2,862 yards with 14 touchdowns. He lead all tight ends in yards last season with 1,125, was second in receptions with 85, and first in yards per game with an average of 70.3. He definitely has an exceptional ability to create space over the course of the game. Teams fear him and fantasy owners love him, which speaks volumes about his status as one of the best TE’s on this list. –– Milo Hay
29. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
The 2012 first overall pick was the most complete quarterback prospect coming out of college in the past decade and has turned himself into a borderline top 5 NFL quarterback. Luck had big shoes to fill in taking over Peyton Manning’s old post, but proved himself a worthy successor, taking the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. Injuries derailed the sixth-year pro’s past two seasons, but he still threw for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. It’s a shame that the Colts’ front office has been unable to assemble a defense to support him, as I have no doubt that Luck is the type of quarterback who can lead his team to the Super Bowl. At this rate, Luck’s career might turn out to be similar to Drew Brees‘; that of a great quarterback stuck on a mediocre team. If new general manager Chris Ballard can build his team a better defense, however, he might be viewed in a similar manner as Ben Roethlisberger is now when all is said and done. I just hope that the Colts don’t end up wasting the three time Pro Bowler’s career. –– Will LaFiandra
28. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys
Since being selected 16th overall by the Cowboys in 2014, (ahead of Johnny Manziel), left guard Zack Martin has been among the top at his position since the beginning of his rookie season. Now heading into his fourth pro season, a case can be made that Martin is in fact the best offensive guard in the game. An integral part of the dominant force that is the Cowboys offensive line alongside other beasts such as Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and La’el Collins, the group headlined in part by Martin may be the best overall offensive line in the league.
As an individual, where it’s more difficult to offer numbers for an offensive lineman, Martin just simply does not have a weak part to his game. He does everything extremely well at his position, from his speed and impact on screens to his ability to get people off the ball in the zone schemes. Martin is also freakishly strong and is rarely ever pushed back into his quarterback. He consistently brings the punch to the defensive line. He is not really a flashy player, but he dominates the line of scrimmage with the rest of his teammates on the offensive line. It’s scary to think that he can still continue to grow and become a better player. Getting past number 28 on our list is definitely not out of the question. –– Ben Barclay
27. Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Ever since he entered the league as a first round draft pick in 2015, Marcus Peters has been an absolute ball hawk. In his first ever career snap in the NFL, Peters intercepted then Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer. The second quarterback he picked off? That would be future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. Peters ended his rookie season that year starting all 16 games and tallying eight interceptions (tied for most in the league) with two of them being returned for touchdowns, one forced fumble, 26 passes defended, and 60 tackles. All of those stats served him well as he was one of three rookies to make the Pro Bowl, while also being named second team All-Pro and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. After such a good rookie year, Peters did not suffer through a sophomore slump. He tacked on another six interceptions, 45 tackles, another forced fumble, and twenty more passes defended. Peters was named to his second career Pro Bowl and was also named a first team All-Pro. All of these stats (and not to mention his fantastic coverage) has made Marcus Peters one of the better cornerbacks in the league and lands him at number 27 on our list. –– Brett Batchelor
26. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
At 26 on our list we have Richard Sherman, the outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback who has been considered one of the best in the league at his position for the past half-decade. Drafted out of Stanford in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Sherman is one of the top draft steals in recent memory, as 24 cornerbacks were taken ahead of him. The self-proclaimed “best corner in the league” combines his elite cover skills with his athletic ability and intelligence to form the total package. Sherman is a former high school track and field star that also excelled academically. He graduated as his high school’s salutatorian (the second highest GPA in the class). Known to be a trash talker and “loudmouth,” Sherman claims to be completely calculated in everything he does. He once told Sports Illustrated in an interview:
“Things I do probably look like madness, like I’m totally out of control, but there’s always a plan. It’s part of a greater scheme to get some eyes, to grow the market, to grow Seattle.”
Sherman led the NFL in interceptions in 2013 with eight, the same season his Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. Sherman is a four time Pro Bowler, and has also been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team a whopping four times during his six-year NFL career. Look for Sherman to continue to attract plenty of attention in 2017, whether it’s with his comments to the media or by his play on the field. –– Erik Drew
25. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks
When talking of the top defenses in the league, the Seahawks are always in the conversation. Sure, the Texans and the Broncos may come up as well, but there is only one Legion of Boom. Headlining the Legion of Boom is the “undersized” free safety Earl Thomas III. Undersized is in quotes because there is nothing undersized about his game. Thomas stands at 5 foot 10 inches and may not be the punisher that teammate Kam Chancellor is known to be, but Earl can definitely dish it out. Even against a monster like Rob Gronkowski, Thomas shows no fear. Last season, the “undersized” safety leveled Gronk on what would have been a huge play. Later on Gronk was quoted by CBSSports.com as saying that the hit was “probably one of the hardest I’ve got hit in my career.” Sideline to sideline, there is not a better defensive back than Earl Thomas, and especially not one more versatile. Thomas can do it all: play zone, play man, ball hawk, diagnose plays, and force turnovers. A leg injury limited Thomas to 11 games in 2016, but look for Thomas to make a comeback in the near future. –– Daniel Neira
24. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos
It wasn’t too long ago that it looked like Aqib Talib had flamed out in Tampa Bay and was on the downside of his career. Fast forward five years and he’s coming off his fourth straight Pro Bowl and his first first team All-Pro nod. Talib has become one of the best press corners of the 21st century, using his 6-1 frame, long arms, and physicality to bully receivers. He’s the prototypical outside press corner beloved for matching up with some of the most physical receivers in the NFL. In 2016, Talib had 43 tackles, 12 passes defensed, and three interceptions on his way to being one of the best five cover corners in the league, and the best predominately outside cover man. Unlike many of the top NFL cornerbacks, Talib is extremely effective as a run defender thanks to his physicality and demeanor. He’s a top five run defending cornerback and a top five coverage cornerback, which is a rare combination to find. The former Kansas Jayhawk isn’t any slouch when it comes to ball skills either. He is fourth among active players in career interceptions with 33 and has 111 passes defensed in nine seasons. Talib also plays with the swagger that has become crucial to being a number one cornerback in the NFL. He has the attitude to jaw jack with the best of them and is even willing to rip chains off opposing receivers necks to get the job done. –– Rob Paul
23. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans is one of the best receivers in the entire league. He has all the tools to be the number one target on any offense, and with the weapons beside him now, look out. Defenses can no longer focus entirely on Evans, making him an even bigger threat than ever before. At 6-foot-5, he’s a go-up-and-get-it receiver with remarkable playmaking ability. For a guy with 446 career targets through just three seasons, he has stayed healthy, missing just two games in his career. He has eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of those three seasons as well.
In 2016, Evans hauled in 96 catches for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tampa Bay should push the ball down the field more in 2017 with their new targets in DeSean Jackson and OJ Howard. Not to mention Doug Martin will serve a suspension to start the season, which will make the Buccaneers rely on the passing game even more. Mike Evans is about to go off even more in 2017. Another 1,000 yard, 10+ touchdown season should push Tampa Bay over the hump and into the playoffs. –– Luke Parrish
22. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns
Earlier in this article I wrote about how I believe that Andrew Luck is an elite quarterback whose talents are potentially being wasted with the Colts. However, his situation is nothing compared to Joe Thomas’. Drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2007, this extremely talented left tackle has been one of the lone bright spots for the organization in the past decade. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl every year he has been in the league, and has been named a second team All-Pro twice while being named a first-team All-Pro a whopping six times. (He was named to an All-Pro team every year except his rookie season and this past season.) Despite Thomas’ excellent play, the Browns’ lone winning season during his career came during Thomas’ rookie season in 2007, where Derek Anderson had a Pro Bowl season and led the Browns to a 10-6 record while ultimately missing the playoffs. Despite all of this, however, Thomas appears to still have a lighthearted demeanor, as often displayed on his Twitter account and in various videos he’s featured in. My two wishes for Thomas are that he gets a Super Bowl ring before he retires and that he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when all is said and done. –– Will LaFiandra
21. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
Tyron Smith is a mutant. He stands at 6’5” and weighs 312 pounds, but moves with the fluidity and power of a tight end. His athleticism and footwork are unparalleled among offensive linemen. Smith anchors Dallas’ powerful offensive line, protecting Dak Prescott’s blind side and opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott. His fellow linemen revere his natural gifts.
“Any tackle in the league would kill for that body”– Andrew Whitworth
Following the 2016 season, Smith was recognized as the best left tackle in football after being voted first team All-Pro. At only 26, Smith is in the prime of his career. With continued focus on his technique, Smith could go down as a Hall of Famer, or even as the best left tackle ever. –– Grant Baker