NFL News & Analysis

PFF50: The 50 best players in the NFL right now

The 2023 NFL season is fast approaching. We are only weeks away from seeing the best football players on the planet take the field once more.

At its heart, PFF is a player evaluation company that quantifies hundreds of data points on any given play in an effort to identify the best players and use that information to create insights that cannot be found anywhere else.

This is a list of the best 50 players in the NFL entering the 2023 season. No single number or grade dictates this list, but the grading — along with PFF's wins above replacement (WAR) metric — has been used as a foundation while leaning toward the most recent season.

1. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes is the best player in the NFL and finished the season with his version of the Jordan Flu Game as he battled through the playoffs on an ankle injury that would have sidelined most quarterbacks. Across three playoff games, Mahomes was able to post an 85.1 PFF grade, recording seven touchdowns and no interceptions with just one turnover-worthy play despite barely being able to run on his injured ankle. We already knew he had a highlight reel that surpasses any quarterback in the game, but last season we got a glimpse into his grit and determination, which proved equally impressive.

2. DI Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Reports of Donald's demise have been greatly exaggerated. For the first time in his NFL career, he dealt with a significant injury, limiting him to just 11 games. Despite that, he still finished 2022 with a 90.5 PFF grade and 40 total pressures. When you turn on the tape, you see him also the total focus of the opposing offense, dedicating an absurd amount of extra attention to him or simply trying to eliminate him as a factor with play calls of quick passing or moving pockets. Last year was maybe the worst season we have seen from Donald in the NFL, and it was still elite.

3. OT Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Williams keeps creating an endless teaching tape of highlight-reel blocks destroying defenders. In a league full of super strength, he is able to ragdoll incredibly stout and established defenders. His 91.7 overall PFF grade was the best in the league, and he posted a grade of at least 88.3 in both run blocking and pass protection. Williams allowed 19 total pressures in 17 games.

4. TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs traded away Tyreek Hill in the 2022 offseason, leaving Kelce as the only target defenses were focused on stopping in Kansas City's offense. He responded by posting more than 1,300 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season, adding to that total in the playoffs on the way to another Super Bowl win. Kelce’s 91.3 overall PFF grade trailed only Hill among all receivers, and no receiver in the game racked up as many first downs (92).

5. EDGE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

With less help around him than the other top edge rushers last season, Garrett led the league in PFF pass-rushing grade (93.5) and had the best pass-rush win rate (22.5%) of any rusher with over 200 reps. Just two of his 73 total pressures on the season were unblocked, and he went up against stiffer competition than Nick Bosa over the course of the year. Garrett is the pinnacle of edge rushers right now and could have his best season yet in 2023 with a better supporting cast around him.

6. EDGE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Ninety-eight total pressures, including the playoffs, and 19 sacks in 19 outings speaks for itself. Bosa completely took over games last season. He had three single-game performances with a 90.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grade and in two games had at least 10 pressures. Bosa is a problem for any team in the league to have to stop on the edge, and he can determine the outcome of a contest if you slip up blocking him once.

7. DI Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

Jones may not have surpassed Aaron Donald just yet, but he has successfully bridged the gap between Donald and actual human players at the same position. Over the past two seasons, Jones leads all interior linemen in total pressures, 23 more than anybody not named Donald. He trails only Donald in PFF pass-rushing grade despite spending a portion of that time playing as a true edge rusher before the Chiefs gave up on that concept, though not because Jones was ineffective out wide.

8. WR Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

The world is declaring Justin Jefferson to be the best wide receiver in the NFL, and while he may have ascended to join Adams atop the mountain, it’s hard to definitively say he has surpassed him. Adams still has the superior PFF grade and yards per route run figure over any period of time Jefferson has been in the league. And he just showed he can do it without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. The king of receivers still has his crown.

9. EDGE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Now a full-time edge rusher, Parsons remains as devastating as he was when he was splitting time or just moonlighting in that spot due to injury. He led the NFL in total pressures last season, with 106 including the playoffs, and did so despite playing more than 200 snaps away from the line of scrimmage. Parsons is a special talent and still only developing in his new role.

10. QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Burrow has finished each of the past two seasons leading the league or tied for the lead in overall PFF grade. His 91.0 PFF passing grade in 2022 was the best mark in the game, and he has consistently shown the kind of clutch performance that has allowed the Bengals to generate as much success as they have seen since the 1980s. Burrow is one of only a couple of quarterbacks who have the capacity to take it to Patrick Mahomes in any given week and expect to match him.

11. WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

A newly minted member of the Madden 99 club, Jefferson has been nothing short of unstoppable since entering the NFL. Over the last three years, he leads the league in receiving yards (4,825) and explosive plays (126) and trails only Davante Adams in yards per route run (2.62). He wins at all areas of the field from all alignments, and there’s no reason to believe he has finished getting better.

12. QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

At his best, Josh Allen has shown he can go toe to toe with Patrick Mahomes on the biggest stage. The only real difference is the number of critical mistakes over a season. Allen's 4.2% turnover-worthy play rate was twice as high as Joe Burrow‘s and Mahomes' last season. As physically gifted as any quarterback in the game, Allen also produced a league-best 7.6% big-time throw rate and is a formidable rushing threat.

13. EDGE T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

Injuries limited T.J. Watt to 10 games in 2022, so it's easy for people to overlook him, especially as multiple other elite edge rushers dominated during the full season. But that would be a big mistake. Watt had earned three consecutive 90.0-plus pass-rushing grades before injury took him down, and he has a massive 23 forced fumbles in his six-year career.

14. LB Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

Warner’s excellence is displayed simply through the assignments he draws within the 49ers defense, which asks him to play a bigger role than most other players at the position. Warner responded with an 85.7 overall grade and earned good grades in every facet of play PFF measures. He allowed an 88.8 passer rating into his coverage, more than 15 points lower than the average at the position.

15. T Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

Few tackles are given as little help as Lane Johnson, who dominates on an island and didn’t allow a sack or a knockdown last season, including the team’s run to the Super Bowl. Johnson surrendered just 11 total pressures across 651 pass-blocking snaps and was also excellent in the run game. He is as good as it gets at the position.

16. WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

Perhaps the single most dangerous playmaker in the NFL, Tyreek Hill possesses instant acceleration and blazing speed that terrifies defenses and can change the coverage on any snap he plays. He moved from Kansas City to Miami last offseason and transformed the Dolphins offense, averaging an absurd 3.2 yards per route run to lead the league.

17. S Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

Don’t look now, but we’ve finally had a run of relatively healthy Derwin James after injuries threatened to completely derail his career and limited him to just 299 snaps in two years. He has played over 800 snaps in each of the last two and consistently posted excellent PFF grades in all facets of the game. He can do everything in the secondary for the Chargers and even has 44 total pressures and 11 sacks in the equivalent of three full seasons of play.

18. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

After his rookie season, the only thing stopping Sauce Gardner from clearly being the best cornerback in the league is the fear that he might not back it up. In Year 1, he ranked first at the position in PFF grade (87.9) and coverage grade (90.0) and allowed just 45.9% of passes thrown his way to be caught as he racked up 14 pass breakups and two picks. Gardner was as good as it gets right out of the box, and if he backs that up in his second season, he will propel himself into the top 10 of this list.

19. EDGE Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

When Maxx Crosby led the league in pressures in 2021, a critical eye couldn’t help but notice the quality of offensive tackles he went up against and wonder if he could do that against a better slate of opponents. But then last season saw him rack up another 81 pressures against some much better opponents. Crosby has developed into one of the most destructive edge defenders in football.

20. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase showed that his rookie season was no fluke, backing up that performance with another 1,000-yard season despite being limited to just 12 games in the regular season due to injury. He also led all receivers in the playoffs in targets (28), catches (22) and yards (220) despite the Bengals coming up just short of making the Super Bowl. He has no weaknesses in his game and is pretty dominant in most areas.

21. CB Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Already in the argument for the best cornerback in the game, Surtain is one of the smoothest corners in the league and is rarely panicked by anything on the field. Only Sauce Gardner earned a better overall grade than Surtain’s 86.8 last season, and he allowed 25 or fewer receiving yards in 12 games.

22. WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

In a world of “What have you done for me lately?” it’s important to remember that Kupp is a year removed from arguably the greatest receiving season in NFL history. Passes thrown his way have generated a passer rating of 116.3 over his career, and he is averaging a very healthy 2.34 yards per route run. If the Rams can get the offense back on track, Kupp can get back to dominance.

23. CB Jalen Ramsey, Miami Dolphins

Few cornerbacks in today’s NFL have shown the kind of versatility Jalen Ramsey has, playing in multiple defenses and multiple positions within them. This year in Miami under Vic Fangio could bring out the very best of Ramsey, who is as good as it gets in zone coverage and probably the best corner in the game against the run.

24. WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

One of the best route runners in the game and a receiver with no real weakness, Stefon Diggs continues to play like one of the best in the league. He averaged 2.49 yards per route run last season, good for the fifth-best mark at the position. And as a smaller receiver, he caught 50.0% of contested targets, the same percentage as Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown.

25. WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

Brown had already proved that he owned elite skills against pretty much every variety of coverage while he was in Tennessee. His first season in Philadelphia showed the transformative effect he could have on an entire offense, contributing to career years from DeVonta Smith and Jalen Hurts as the team pushed to the Super Bowl. He is an elite receiver in every way.

26. T Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

One of the best tackles in football from the moment he stepped foot on the field at this level, Wirfs will now get the opportunity to prove he can also do it on the left side as he swaps to left tackle for the 2023 season. He gave up an absurd five total pressures in 13 games last season and has allowed the lowest pressure rate since entering the NFL, aided by Tom Brady’s league-quickest average time to throw.

27. DI Quinnen Williams, New York Jets

Just days removed from signing his new monster contract, Williams will look to back up a career year with another. Last season, he took over several games before an injury dampened a true Defensive Player of the Year kind of season. He finished the year with 52 total pressures, 32 defensive stops and a 90.1 overall grade.

28. CB Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers

The 2021 injury seems to have led to Jaire Alexander being something of a forgotten man when it comes to the NFL’s elite cornerbacks, but last season he had a very impressive bounce-back year, allowing just a 66.2 passer rating into his coverage and only two touchdowns all season. At his best, Alexander is a ballhawk in the secondary with the coverage chops to stick to any receiver. And at 26 years old, there’s no reason we can’t see his best again next year.

29. DI Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants

Lawrence became one of the most unstoppable defensive linemen in the game last season. His 92.0 overall grade tied with Chris Jones for the best among interior linemen in the regular season, and he finished with 63 total pressures. Unlike most pass-rushing interior linemen, Lawrence still spent over 500 snaps lined up in the A-gaps as a true nose tackle at over 340 pounds.

30. EDGE Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

Injuries have knocked Joey Bosa down this list, but he is still one of the most destructive defensive linemen in the game when he is healthy. The Chargers star played just six games in 2022 but earned three consecutive 90.0-plus pass-rushing grades before that. His younger brother, Nick, is now drawing all the attention, but Joey is still a force in his own right.

31. DI Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Simmons is one of a number of elite young interior defenders to enter the NFL in recent seasons, each with the capacity to take over games. Simmons showed that in his first game at this level after recovering from a knee injury and has consistently demonstrated that ability. In 2022, he generated 53 total pressures and 27 defensive stops. The only thing separating him from the likes of Chris Jones is consistency and doing it every game and every week.

32. T Andrew Thomas, New York Giants

The 2022 season marked the arrival of Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas as one of the very best in the game. Thomas has consistently improved after an ugly start to his rookie year, and last year he was a dominant force. He allowed just 23 total pressures across 18 games and earned an 81.0 run-blocking grade, making him one of just three tackles to grade above 80.0 in both facets of play.

33. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

Humphrey has been playing at an All-Pro level from the minute he stepped foot on an NFL field. He backed up his outstanding rookie campaign with another one in Year 2, finishing the season without allowing a sack. Humphrey also earned a 91.0 run-blocking grade, his second single-season mark above 90.0.

34. G Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

It was far from a vintage year for Zack Martin, yet he was still able to come out of it without allowing a sack, with just one penalty to his name and an 82.2 pass-blocking grade that was good for fifth in the league. Martin’s consistency at the top of his position since entering the NFL has been remarkable, and at 32 years old, he should still have excellent years in front of him.

35. QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Any analysis of how good Justin Herbert is needs to factor in the rib injury he played through for most of last season. Torn rib cartilage is the type of injury that would keep normal people sidelined from an ordinary job, yet Herbert passed for over 5,000 yards, including the playoffs, while gutting it out. He has now had the lowest turnover-worthy play rate (1.6%) in each of the past two seasons, and the Chargers have brought in new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to try and tap into his full potential in 2023.

36. DI Jonathan Allen, Washington Commanders

Criminally underrated by league execs, Allen is a disruptive force on the interior for Washington and has posted an 80.0-plus pass-rushing grade for three consecutive seasons. He has averaged 55 total pressures over that time, and he racked up 43 defensive stops in 2022.

37. RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Chubb is undeniably special with the ball in his hands. Aided by an excellent Browns offensive line, Chubb finished third in the league in rushing last season, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt and breaking 83 tackles along the way. For his career, he is averaging 3.9 yards after contact per carry and shows no signs of slowing down.

38. T Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans

Tunsil had a career year in 2022 as the rest of the Texans struggled. His 91.7 pass-blocking grade ranked first among all tackles, and he surrendered just 17 total pressures in 17 games over the season. Tunsil didn’t have a single bad game of pass protection all season and had six perfect games in that area.

39. TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Kittle would likely be even higher on this list if the 49ers didn’t keep adding other athletic freakshows to steal his spotlight. Kittle is the one tight end in the league who can rival Travis Kelce as a receiver — and he’s a better blocker than Kelce, too — but the limelight is shared around in San Francisco far more than in Kansas City. Last year, passes thrown Kittle’s way generated a passer rating of 140.0.

40. G Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

A former second-round draft pick, Bitonio has always flown a little under the radar compared to other top guards at the position, but his play matches the elite at the position over the last few years. Bitonio earned an 87.5 overall grade last season and allowed 20 total pressures over 17 games. He was one of only two guards to have a grade above 80.0 as both a run-blocker and pass-protector.

41. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Injuries in each of the last two seasons keep him this low on the list, but a healthy Lamar is still one of the league’s most dominant weapons. He was in the middle of his best-graded season since his unanimous MVP year when injury took him down last season, and now we get to see what he can achieve in an offense that will be more prepared to let him spread the ball around in the passing game.

42. RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

It says something about Henry’s level of play that a relatively down year for him still saw him rack up 1,257 yards after contact behind the worst offensive line in football. He broke 69 tackles last season and has now rushed for over 7,000 yards after contact in his NFL career, averaging 3.7 yards after contact per attempt.

43. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers

Fitzpatrick's six interceptions tied for the league lead among safeties last season, and he recorded four pass breakups and 17 defensive stops to go along with those turnovers. He earned one of the position's highest coverage grades (83.3) and is one of the best ballhawks when playing deep in the middle of the field.

44. RB Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

What happens when one of the most exciting running backs in football is traded to a team coached by one of the best offensive minds in the game? He ends up leading the league in PFF receiving grade at the position (92.4) and looking virtually unstoppable within the offense. McCaffrey's second year in San Francisco could be even more exciting than the first.

45. QB Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets

Rodgers is just a year removed from back-to-back MVP seasons, but at his age, any downtick in performance immediately gets people predicting a decline, even if the demise of his receiving corps was a very valid excuse for it. This season with the Jets has the potential to bring out the very best of Rodgers once again.

46. C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

Kelce is still as good a run-blocker as any center in football, as he posted a 90.0 PFF grade in that area last season in his run to the Super Bowl. He allowed just 11 total pressures in 20 games in pass protection but didn't give up a single sack or hit over the year.

47. DI Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

Heyward has had the four best seasons of his NFL career since turning 30, last season notching 58 total pressures that included 12 sacks. He also recorded 43 defensive stops, the third time in four seasons that he topped 40.

48. G Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Nelson is coming off his worst season in the NFL, as he allowed more sacks in one year than he had in his four-year NFL career combined up to that point.

Still, at 27 years old, he should be just entering his prime, and he was the single most valuable offensive lineman in the game over the first three seasons he spent in the professional ranks. He is overdue a bounceback, and we know he has the talent to be one of the best in the game.

49. TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

With little in the way of elite wide receivers in Baltimore over the past few seasons, Mark Andrews has been the team’s No. 1 receiver and excelled in that role. Travis Kelce is the only tight end in football with more targets, catches, yards and touchdowns over the last three seasons.

50. WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

Samuel is one of one. A unique player, he has also found the perfect coach to maximize his talents. Ostensibly a wide receiver, Samuel has also lined up in the backfield over 100 times in each of the last two seasons. He broke 36 tackles in 2023 to lead all receivers.

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