The folks at Pro Football Focus published their annual "Top 50" rankings this week - assembling a list of who they believe to be the best 50 players in the NFL heading into the 2021 campaign - and several members of the Kansas City Chiefs earned spots near the top.
Unsurprisingly, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the top signal-caller on the list and the No. 2 player overall, trailing only Los Angeles Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Here's a portion of what PFF had to say about Mahomes:
"Mahomes is just different. He attempts and completes passes that no other quarterback in the game can even think about, and he regularly adds even more freakish plays to that repertoire. Including the postseason, Mahomes has compiled the highest PFF passing grade of any quarterback since he became the starter in Kansas City, and nobody has more than the 137 big-time throws the Chiefs superstar has recorded over that span."
Already a league MVP and Super Bowl MVP prior to his fourth year as a starter, Mahomes is a mainstay at the top of virtually every list like this. He's off to the greatest start for any quarterback in NFL history, and at just 25 years old, Mahomes is the consensus top signal caller in all of football.
Immediately following Mahomes in PFF's rankings is tight end Travis Kelce, who checks in at No. 3 as the second-best offensive player in the game behind only his quarterback. Here's what PFF wrote about Kansas City's All-Pro pass-catcher:
"Kelce was nigh-on impossible to cover last season, finishing just short of the league lead in receiving yards regardless of position during the regular season. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end then set about laying waste to all in his path during a postseason where opposing defenses lined up every possible player to cover him, with even elite cover corners like Denzel Ward ending up on the turf as Kelce glided into the end zone for a touchdown. He is one of the most unguardable players in the game at any position, a true matchup nightmare for opposing defenses."
Kelce has been doing this for a while now, as he's the first tight end in NFL history to compile five-straight 1,000-yard seasons, and he's finally beginning to garner the recognition he deserves as not only the best tight end in the NFL, but also as simply one of the best pass-catchers in the league overall.
In fact, since 2018, Kelce has the second-most receiving yards (3,981) and receiving first downs (213) in the NFL behind only Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. His 111 "explosive catches," which are grabs that gain at least 15 yards, are the second-most during that span behind only Tennessee Titans' wide receiver Julio Jones.
He's established himself as one of the top weapons in the game, and if you ask PFF, he's now the best skill position player that the league has to offer.
Moving down the list, wide receiver Tyreek Hill checks in at No. 18 overall and as the fifth-best pass-catcher in the league, trailing only Kelce, Green Bay Packers' wide receiver Davante Adams (No. 5), San Francisco 49ers' tight end George Kittle (No. 9) and Hopkins (No. 17).
The speedy Hill has also piled up the stats over the years, racking up a league-leading 45 catches of at least 25 yards since 2018. His 34 receiving touchdowns during that span are the second-most in the NFL, trailing only Adams, and his 3,615 receiving yards rank seventh.
Here's what PFF wrote about Hill:
"There may not be a more dangerous playmaker in football than Hill, a player with an unrivaled combination of speed and quickness. The Chiefs wideout is a threat to break off a big play and score a touchdown every single time he lines up on offense, and he changes games whether the ball comes his way on the play or not. Hill led all receivers last season with eight touchdown catches on deep (20-plus air yards) targets, two more than any other wideout."
Rounding out the Chiefs' representatives in the rankings is defensive tackle Chris Jones, who appears just one spot later at No. 19 overall. According to the list, PFF views Jones as the seventh-best defensive player in the NFL behind only Donald (No. 1), Chicago Bears' edge rusher Khalil Mack (No. 6), Seattle Seahawks' linebacker Bobby Wagner (No. 8), Pittsburgh Steelers' edge rusher T.J. Watt (No. 11), Green Bay Packers' cornerback Jaire Alexander (No. 14) and Los Angeles Rams' cornerback Jalen Ramsey (No. 16).
Jones has tallied 32 sacks over the last three seasons – the second-most among all interior defensive linemen during that span and the seventh-most overall – with 77 quarterback hits.
Here's PFF's analysis of Jones:
"…Over the last three seasons, Jones has the second-best PFF pass-rushing grade at the position (trailing Donald) and is just two total pressures behind Fletcher Cox for second-best. Jones has also had some of his best games on the biggest stage, including the Super Bowl."
Overall, the Chiefs accounted for nearly a quarter of the top 20 players in the league. Only Green Bay (who also featured exactly four players in the top 20) was as well represented at the top.
It just serves as a reminder that Kansas City has some of the best playmakers in the NFL on both sides of the ball, and with training camp just about a month away, all four players have their sights set on a third-consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
To check out the rest of the rankings, click here.