With the 2017 NFL season right around the corner, ESPN put out their prediction of how the NFL Top 100 will stack up this season. To their credit, I suppose, they didn’t do like NFL media and trickle out the list ten players at a time a week apart over the length of the offseason. They just laid it on us all at once.
There are some major variations from the NFL media 2016 version with regard to where they predict Raiders players will land on the list. In the end it’s still the same four players who show up. It’s simply where they think they will land in the order.
Here is the order of the ESPN list with the NFL.com ranking in parenthesis for comparison.
7. Khalil Mack (5)
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack still tops the list, but two spots lower. On the NFL media list, the only pass rusher ahead of him was Von Miller. ESPN puts Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald (3) ahead of both Miller (4) and Mack.
37. Kelechi Osemele (93)
We go another 30 spots before another Raiders player shows up. Quite different from the NFL media list which had Derek Carr come in at number 11. But putting Osemele at 37 is some 56 spots higher than NFL media placed him last season. This is actually more accurate for where the All Pro left guard should be right now. He is the best lineman on arguably the league’s best offensive line. But as it often goes, Olinemen must prove their worth over many seasons before they get proper recognition.
42. Amari Cooper (53)
Coop jumps up 11 spots in the ESPN ranking from the NFL media version. Not a major difference here and seems about right. If the 2-time Pro Bowler continues to up his game, a rise in the rankings like this or better is sure to come.
70. Derek Carr (11)
Easily the most major difference in ranking is Carr’s Granted it’s not the 113 spot difference Sports Illustrated gave him, but it’s still quite a fall. Carr was the 4th ranked QB in the NFL Top 100 for 2016 behind Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan. ESPN thinks the newly minted NFL’s highest paid player will be the 7th ranked QB in 2017 behind Brady (1), Rodgers (2), Ryan (23), Drew Brees (30), Ben Roethlisberger (39), and Russell Wilson (47).
Last season Carr earned his 11 spot in the Top 100 by leading the Raiders to 7 game-winning drives with 5 game-winning touchdown passes. He was in the MVP conversation until late in the season and had already led the Raiders to a playoff berth when he went down with his ankle injury in week 16.
His lower ranking here is a bit of a mystery considering he has the same offensive line in front of him, the same receiving corps, and added weapons in tight end Jared Cook and running back Marshawn Lynch.