Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Named 18th Best Player in NFL Top 100

Deshaun Watson was named the 18th best player for an upcoming season in which he may not play.
Deshaun Watson was named the 18th best player for an upcoming season in which he may not play. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As we outlined last week, somewhat depressingly, the reveal of the NFL's annual list of Top 100 players, as voted on by the players themselves, is not quite as much fun nor met with as much anticipation here in Houston because of the talent drain executed by Bill O'Brien in his time as GM here. O'Brien seemed to be allergic to talented players, and had an addiction for undersized, under-gifted young men with compelling backstories.

That's a recipe for 4-12, and it's also a recipe to landing just two players in the NFL Top 100, unfortunately. Even worse, the second of those two players (Laremy Tunsil was the first, coming in at number 75), doesn't want to be a Texan anymore. Even super duper worse, said player is being sued by 22 women and can't be traded right now.

Yes, indeed, Deshaun Watson's place in the NFL's Top 100 has been revealed, and he comes in at No. 18, up two spots from last season. Watson making a list of top players should be no surprise, but the intrigue is in how the NFL would pay tribute to him in video form, as they do with the other 99 players in the countdown.

Well, if I can sum up their tribute in one word — AWKWARD. Awkward as hell.


Go click these videos and tell me this year's Top 100 wasn't the strangest production meeting ever regarding Watson
For copyright purposes, the NFL doesn't allow embedding of their content on non-NFL websites, so I'll have to ask you to go watch both of these videos, and promise me to read the rest of this post. Here is Deshaun Watson's tribute video for the 2020 Top 100, and here is the video released this weekend announcing his 2021 finish. The 2020 video is a celebration of Deshaun! His peers were gushing with praise, and everything about the video screams "JUBILATION!" The 2021 video begins with an ominous disclaimer from the narrator —  "Nobody knows when Deshaun Watson will take the field again. His future is uncertain." From there, it's just a short, sterile recitation of stats and figures, with an equally ominous concluding line — "The skill is no mystery. Almost everything else, is." Yikes.

Where might Watson have finished without all the legal drama?
Honestly, if we are factoring in the legal drama and its effect on Deshaun's 2021 season (and keep in mind, this is a list for the upcoming season), you could argue that he shouldn't even be on this Top 100 list, because it's more likely than not that he will miss the season. As for his talent and production, I believe he is one of the 10 best players in football, but a 4-12 season in 2020 probably had the biggest effect on his ranking, more so than his legal trouble.

In case you're wondering, here are the top 10 players in the league
The order will be revealed this weekend on the NFL Network, but for now, the process of elimination leaves us with these ten players, in alphabetical order:

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams (2020 ranking, No. 57)
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen (No. 87)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (No. 14)
Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (No. 3)
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry (No. 10)
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (No. 8)
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (No. 18)
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (No. 4)
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 16)
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt (No. 25)
My prediction for the number one overall player? Tom Brady. even though Mahomes seems to be the consensus best player in the league, and Rodgers is the reigning MVP, we need to remember that these are PLAYERS voting on this. That Super Bowl win last season might have been the most legacy-impacting victory for a QB ever, and Brady's legacy was ALREADY "greatest of all time."

Are any Texans likely to make the NFL Top 100 list in 2022?
The easy answer is, if Tunsil has another Pro Bowl season in 2021, he should come in somewhere in the back half again. Watson is obviously either gone, or won't play this season. Among the remainder of the roster, in an improved defense, linebacker Zach Cunningham would certainly be someone with the ability to crack the Top 100, or perhaps safety Justin Reid, if he regains his 2018 and 2019 form. If the turnovers the Texans are generating in the preseason carry over into the regular season, maybe Bradley Roby finally has the type of campaign that's been forecasted for him since he was a first round pick out of Ohio State. I can't envision anybody on the offense (other than Tunsil) making the list. That's where we are right now with this team.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast