Houston Texans Likely to Have Several NFL Top 100 Players

Houston Texans Likely to Have Several NFL Top 100 Players

Little known fact — I am a complete mark for the annual NFL Top 100 Players poll, which is usually revealed in bite-sized chunks on the NFL Network beginning later this month. Supposedly, this poll is voted on by the players, although I’ve never met a player who claims to have voted in it. Still, it’s widely accepted as some form of honor, enough so to where Pro Football Reference recognizes it as an “award” in a player’s profile.

In the last few years, the reveal has been somewhat boring, if you’re a Texans fan, with left tackle Laremy Tunsil the only Texan to get recognized for Top 100 performance since 2021. Tunsil was rated the 75th best player heading into the 2021 season, and 85th heading into last season. Needless to say, when the list comes out, Tunsil will have a lot more company this season.

I believe the Houston Texans will have at least four, and as many as seven total players named in the NFL Top 100. Seven would easily be a team record. Here are my predictions on those players and where they will be ranked:

DEREK STINGLEY, Jr., CB (2023 ranking — N/A)
Stingley returned from injury midway through the season to notch five interceptions and finish 9th out of 126 cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus’ positional rankings. He has the buzz of being a top pick from LSU, plus whatever buzz the Texans have right now to buoy his candidacy. The truncated season hurts him, but I have a hunch he sneaks in.

WILL ANDERSON, Jr., EDGE (2023 ranking — N/A)
Like Stingley, Anderson did a lot of his high-level damage in the second half of last season, notching six of his 7.5 sack total after Week 8. Anderson’s season was good enough to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and that will resonate with Anderson’s peers.

LAREMY TUNSIL, LT (2023 ranking — 85th)
Tunsil has made the list three times — 66th in 2020, 75th in 2021, and 85th in 2023. Last season, he returned from an early season knee injury to make his fourth Pro Bowl. He finished 20th out of 81 tackles on PFF’s scoring system.
PREDICTION: 75th overall

STEFON DIGGS, WR (2023 ranking — 18th)
Diggs’ ranking will be very interesting. Even before being traded from Minnesota to Buffalo prior to the 2020 season, Diggs has been a fixture in the NFL Top 100, with the following yearly rankings —

2018 NFL Top 100 (#65)
2019 NFL Top 100 (#73)
2020 NFL Top 100 (#54)
2021 NFL Top 100 (#11)
2022 NFL Top 100 (#26)
2023 NFL Top 100 (#16)

As you can see, he went from really good to elite around 2021. How do his peers view last season, when he was leading the league in nearly every receiving category halfway through the season, and then was nearly invisible in the second half?
PREDICTION: 61st overall

NICO COLLINS, WR (2023 ranking — N/A)
2023 was Collins’ breakout season, with 80 catches for nearly 1,300 yards. I don’t know how his peers feel about him, but the Texans really like Collins, as evidenced by his shiny, new four-year, $72 million contract extension. Collins is a star.
PREDICTION: 60th overall

DANIELLE HUNTER, EDGE (2023 ranking — N/A)
I was shocked to see that a guy as consistent as Hunter, who entered the league in 2015, and has averaged double digit sacks throughout his career, has only made the list twice — 2019 (57th) and 2020 (40th). Last season, at age 29, he had a career high 16.5 sacks. The buzz around the Texans’ signing of Hunter would indicate that he may return to the roster this season.
PREDICTION: 44th overall

CJ STROUD, QB (2023 ranking — N/A)
The highest ranked player for the Texans will be their most high profile player. Stroud had one of the greatest rookie seasons in league history, becoming just the third player to lead the league in passing yards per game and TD to INT ratio in the same season. The other two were Joe Montana in his 12th season and Tom Brady in his 7th season.

Here are the quarterbacks who made the NFL Top 100 following their rookie seasons and where they landed (NFL Top 100 year in parentheses):

Cam Newton, 40th (2012)
Robert Griffin III, 15th (2013)
Andrew Luck, 23rd (2013)
Deshaun Watson, 50th (2018)
Baker Mayfield, 50th (2019)
Kyler Murray, 90th (2020)
Justin Herbert, 56th (2021)

I’ll put Stroud somewhere between the two best rankings above.
PREDICTION: 20th overall

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