NFL News & Analysis

PFF50: 10 players who just missed out

2KP2BCA Philadelphia, United States. 27th Nov, 2022. Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts throws a pass in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers in week 12 of the NFL season at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday, November 27, 2022 Photo by John Angelillo/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

• Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts: If he backs up his 2022 season with another impressive performance, he vaults his way not just onto this list, but a long way up it.

• Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb: The embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position in today’s NFL pushed Lamb just outside of the top 50.

• Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Lavonte David: David has put together a Hall-of-Fame resume and continues to add to it each season despite his age.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The 2023 PFF50 is up, highlighting the best players in the NFL heading into the 2023 regular season. But, inevitably, the focus is often drawn to players who missed the list.

There are thousands of players who record NFL snaps every season, so drawing up a list of the best 50 is going to leave some outstanding players off.

Here are 10 such players who almost made the list.

QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Based on last season’s performance alone, Hurts belongs on this list. He came in at No. 24 on the PFF Top 101, which ranks the best individual seasons from the season that just took place, but when projecting ahead we have to ask whether Hurts has truly arrived at an MVP candidate level of play or if he simply hit those heights last season. If he backs it up again, he vaults his way not just onto this list, but a long way up it.

Until then, he is going up against players with significantly better resumes, albeit not necessarily in the most recent games. We know enough about performance volatility to not just assume Hurts will pick up where he left off, and the same goes for players coming off relatively down years.

CB Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

Halfway through the 2022 season, Slay was on track to back up his exceptional 2021 campaign with another and was on his way to appearing on this list. From Week 10 onward, however, he didn’t have a single PFF game grade above 72.7 and recorded six below-average performances including the playoffs.

Slay allowed five touchdowns all year, and four of them came in that second-half stretch and into the postseason. Overall, he still had an excellent year, finishing with a 77.3 PFF coverage grade, but that drop-off was enough to take him just outside of the top 50 players.

WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

There is an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position in today’s NFL. The explosion of passing at all levels of football means there have never been more capable receivers in the game. Lamb racked up more than 1,500 yards last season including the playoffs, scored 10 times and averaged 2.39 yards per route run. Passes thrown his way generated a 108.5 passer rating. With Brandin Cooks on the team this season, Lamb could have even more success as coverage is kept honest.

OT Christian Darrisaw, Minnesota Vikings

A true breakout star in 2022, Darrisaw ended the season with a 90.4 overall PFF grade, second only to Trent Williams. He allowed 23 total pressures across 15 games after missing time with back-to-back concussions in quick succession. His 90.6 run-blocking grade made him one of only three tackles to finish above 90.0. If Darrisaw backs up that performance in 2023, he will easily make the list in a year’s time.

K Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

You can construct a case that Tucker is one of the best five players in football, but we tend not to because of the can of worms that opens up for somebody who was on the field only 168 times in 2022.

Tucker is as good as it gets at his position — and has been for years. The gap between him and the next-best kicker over any extended period of time is as large as it is at any other position, but it’s hard to put a player whose role is so limited on a list as exclusive as this over excellent players who log more than five times as many snaps over the season.

OT Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

Injury prevented us from seeing if Slater could back up his outstanding rookie season with a second year just as good. He played in three games before being lost for the season, posting an 84.0 PFF grade across 175 snaps and allowing three total pressures on 113 pass-blocking reps. The chances are that Slater belongs on the list, but we need to see the evidence of that to jump him ahead of some excellent players who don’t have that question mark.

WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders

Few players better illustrate the difficulty of cracking the top 50 players in the NFL like McLaurin, an outstanding receiver who has dealt with sub-standard quarterback play for most of his NFL career and, yet, continues to produce. McLaurin had his third straight 1,000-yard season in 2022, averaging 2.04 yards per route run and dropping only three passes. Passes thrown his way generated a 108.3 passer rating for a team that didn’t have a quarterback finish the season with a rating above 90.0 on all passes thrown.

LB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Somehow still crushing it as one of the best linebackers in the game, David was very close to making the list, potentially missing out due to the assumption that at his age (34 during this season) he must surely start to decline. His 85.1 overall PFF grade in 2022 was his best mark since 2019, and his 88.0 coverage grade ranked second among off-ball linebackers. David has put together a Hall-of-Fame resume and continues to add to it each season.

LB Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints

Since coming to New Orleans, Davis has put together a remarkable run of impressive and consistent play. His 82.7 overall PFF grade was his second-best mark over that time span, as was his 79.8 PFF coverage grade. Davis is excellent in all areas of the game, and he racked up 43 defensive stops last season despite an uptick in missed tackles (17).

S Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans

One of the best safeties in the game, Byard still had an excellent year even if it was a step back from his performance in 2021. His overall PFF grade dropped to 79.5 and his coverage grade to 81.0, but he was still well above average in every key area and was flagged only one time for a penalty across more than 1,100 snaps of action.

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protect your family with fast, free will.

NFL Featured Tools


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit