One of my favorite signs that the NFL season is upon us, aside from the obvious one that training camp begins on Thursday across the street from NRG Stadium, is the annual reveal of the NFL's annual list of the Top 100 players for the upcoming season, as voted upon by a sizable chunk of the NFL player population. It's the very creatively titled NFL Top 100, and as of this morning, we are two days into the ten day process of revealing the entire list.
The list is revealed in 10-player segments in reverse order, so we know who players 100 through 81 are. We have yet to see a Houston Texan revealed, and I fully expect to see at least four, maybe five, named as part of this list. Last season, there were four total Texans that made the Top 100 cut — defensive end J.J. Watt, quarterback Deshaun Watson, outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Ultimately, I see all four of them making it again, but let's try to forecast exactly WHEN we will hear their names called. So, without further ado, here are my Texan forecasts for the NFL Top 100:
DeANDRE HOPKINS, WR (2018 RANK: 13th)
Hopkins had, by far, his highest finish of his career in last year's Top 100, finishing 13th overall. After a season in which many believe he ascended to the top of the mountain for receivers in the NFL, Hopkins is poised to become the fourth Texan (Watt, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster) to finish in the Top 10.
OVER/UNDER NFL TOP 100 RANK: 7.5
J.J. WATT, DE (2018 RANK: 84th)
Watt had, by far, his lowest finish in the Top 100 since he began appearing in it regularly after the 2012 season. Two seasons with just eight games played will do that. Actually, Watt's finishing 84th was, in a way, a sign of respect, proof that his peers still believed in him despite the two year run of debilitating injuries. After a first team All Pro return in 2018, Watt skyrockets back into the top 20.
OVER/UNDER NFL TOP 100 RANK: 13.5
JADEVEON CLOWNEY, OLB/DE (2018 RANK: 32nd)
Clowney's 32nd place finish in last year's list was a mild surprise, and proof that Clowney's peers may value him more than the NFL's media, and possibly his own employer, who has him on the franchise tag right now. Clowney's 2018 season shouldn't dampen the spirits of his backers around the league.
OVER/UNDER NFL TOP 100 RANK: 29.5
DESHAUN WATSON, QB (2018 RANK: 50th)
I have no idea what to make of Watson's stock around the NFL on lists like this. Last year, I was convinced that his six game tour de force as a rookie was enough to put him in the top 30. He finished 50th. Now, subjective lists like this seem to be slow playing Watson, what with Patrick Mahomes' rise to league MVP and the flavor du jour that is Baker Mayfield. Still, I think Watson did enough to ascend from last year's finish.
OVER/UNDER NFL TOP 100 RANK: 43.5
BERNARDRICK McKINNEY, ILB (2018 RANK: N/R)
This is my Texans wild card. In the 2018 season, after getting one of the top deals in the market for an inside linebacker, McKinney made the Pro Bowl, and has begun receiving recognition on various offseason lists as one of the top ten inside linebackers in the league. I'll take a wild stab that he may show up here.
OVER/UNDER NFL TOP 100 RANK: 78.5
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.