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Six Chiefs make NFL Top 100 — and other fun facts about the annual list

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Amazingly enough, the Chiefs have had more players on the list than they do this year

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, NFL Network finished its day-by-day reveal of the NFL’s Top 100 players. The annual list — which started in 2011 — is voted on by NFL players.

Each night for the past 10 days, the network revealed the names of 10 players who made the list for 2019. Here at Arrowhead Pride, we’ve been following along as six Kansas City Chiefs players were named:

On our Wednesday night tailgate, we gave our readers a chance to vote on where Mahomes would land on the list. Unsurprisingly, 51% of them thought Mahomes — the reigning NFL MVP — would be ranked first. Just 4% thought he would come in at fourth.

As it turned out, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald topped the list, followed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack in third. Rams running back Todd Gurley rounded out the top five behind Mahomes.

It wasn’t just Chiefs fans who thought an injustice had been done. NFL.com writer Jeremy Bergman suspected that some NFL players might have voted before the end of the 2018 season.

I can understand the potential reasoning behind voting Brees ahead of Mahomes. Players of all ages, rookies and veterans, usually defer to guys who, over time, have displayed excellence and continue to do so deep into their careers. That benefits Brees. A 39-year-old in the MVP conversation leading one of the league’s most high-octane offenses toward home-field advantage? Crown him!

Bergman pointed out that while both quarterbacks lost their conference championship games, Brees threw an an interception in the opening drive of overtime that gave the Rams the game — while Mahomes cooly led his team 48 yards in 21 seconds to set up the game-tying field goal. It wasn’t Mahomes’ fault, Bergman reasoned, that Mahomes never got a shot to win in overtime.

The player who watched all seven hours of that special Sunday would have had no choice but to place Mahomes ahead of Brees, as the reporters did at “NFL Honors” when they named the Chiefs QB the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Of course, Bergman got part of that wrong. NFL writers who vote for the league’s most valuable player do so before any postseason games are played — specifically so the award is only about the regular season.

But as our Robert Rimpson noted Wednesday night, Chiefs fans have no reason to hang their heads.

It is hard to imagine that a player would even be ranked in the top five after his first year as a starter to begin with, so there isn’t much reason to complain about Mahomes’ ranking. But after another year like the one he just had, NFL players would be hard pressed not to surrender that number one spot to Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes.

In fact, Mahomes debut on the list at fourth was almost the highest-ever. J.J. Watt broke in at fifth in 2013 and Ezekiel Elliott debuted at seventh in 2017. Only Carson Wentz — who entered the list at third in 2018 — has debuted higher. But Wentz dropped to 96th in 2019. I’ll eat my favorite NASA hat if that happens to Mahomes in 2020.

Considering that the Chiefs are coming off what arguably their best season in a quarter-century, it’s surprising that 2019 isn’t the year they’ve put the most players on the list. In 2016, the Chiefs had nine players make the Top 100: Justin Houston (26th), Eric Berry (55th), Marcus Peters (65th), Jamaal Charles (75th), Derrick Johnson (80th), Alex Smith (81st), Tamba Hali (84th), Travis Kelce (91st) and Jeremy Maclin (93rd).

Just one other team — the 2013 San Francisco 49ers — has ever had nine players on the Top 100. That season, they lost the NFC Championship to the Seattle Seahawks, so don’t feel bad that the Pittsburgh Steelers knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs in 2016. (Whom am I kidding? I know I can’t stop you from feeling bad about that. Sorry). But more to the point, if you see any Dallas Cowboys fans crowing about the eight players they put on the Top 100 for 2019, just remind them that pride goeth before the fall.

The Cowboys are the only team to put more players on the 2019 list than the Chiefs. The Los Angeles teams — the Rams and Chargers — both have six players this year. The Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings have five.

It’s probably a mistake to get too worked up about how many players your team puts on the Top 100 every year. Just limiting yourself to what the Chiefs have done over the nine years the list has been published, you can see that it isn’t very predictive. Last season, the team had just three players on the list before they went to the AFC Championship. But in 2012 — when they were headed toward a 2-14 season — they had four.

Nor does it make sense to put too much stock in the fact that the Chiefs have four offensive players and two defensive players on this year’s list. To be sure, the Chiefs were an unbalanced team in 2018. But Top 100 voting tends to skew towards offense anyway; any team is likely to have more offensive than defensive players. As many as 59 offensive players have been on the nine Top 100 lists, but there have never been fewer than 53.

It’s actually kind of interesting to see how NFL players choose their best. You might expect fans who vote for the Pro Bowl to only be familiar with offensive skill players and disruptive defensive players — but the players are a bit guilty of that, too.

NFL Top 100 By Position

PosGrp Avg 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 PosGrp
OL 8.8 13 10 6 10 6 9 9 8 8 OL
TE 5.3 5 5 8 5 6 5 5 5 4 TE
RB 10.9 11 17 12 9 11 9 9 10 10 RB
WR 16.1 18 14 18 14 19 14 14 14 20 WR
QB 14.3 12 13 14 15 12 16 16 16 15 QB
DL 16.8 17 14 13 16 17 18 18 20 18 DL
LB 13.6 13 16 16 17 16 12 12 8 12 LB
DB 14.1 11 11 13 14 12 17 17 19 13 DB
K 0.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 K
P 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 P
LS 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 LS
R 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 R

Without looking it up, can you name the one pure special teams player who cracked the Top 100? It was Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri, who was ranked 98th in 2015. No other specialist has ever been voted in. But some players — such as Tyreek Hill, who was ranked 40th as a wide receiver in 2016 — have obviously been honored specifically because of their abilities on special teams.

In the final analysis, being named to the Top 100 doesn’t mean that much. Most fans care more about championships than they do about these kinds of lists. Still... as a player, you’d rather be on the list than off it — and many fans feel the same way about their favorite players.