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NFL's top 10 players list sparks debate about Mahomes, Rodgers and Brady

FOXSports.com 30 August, 2021 - 03:34pm

The NFL polled a group of its players and asked them to vote on the top 100 players in the league heading into the 2021 season, and the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback took the top spot for the first time as he heads into the fifth season of his career. 

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald came in at No. 2, followed by Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in third. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce rounded out the top five, in that order.

Packers WR Davante Adams clocked in at No. 6, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB ⁠— and reigning Super Bowl MVP ⁠— Tom Brady taking seventh. Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins, Pittsburgh Steelers pass-rusher T.J. Watt and Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen were voted eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Mahomes took the top spot after finishing fourth in back-to-back polls, something he took note of when last year's rankings came out.

Now, the 25-year-old QB is the top dog. He got there with another sensational season, going 14-1 in the regular season and taking the Chiefs to a second straight Super Bowl, which they lost to Brady and the Bucs.

In the 2020 regular season, Mahomes completed a career-high 66.3% of his passes for 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns and six interceptions. His average of 316.0 passing yards per game led the league during the regular season.

Mahomes initially seemed surprised to receive a trophy with a No. 1 on it. Whether that reaction was to being voted No. 1 or to the fact that the trophy had a big numeral 1 on it isn't definitive, but Mahomes certainly was pleased.

"Oh, it's a 1?" Mahomes asked, before beaming and saying, "Nice!"

Nick Wright of "First Things First" also delighted in the news that Mahomes was voted No. 1.

"Our long national nightmare is finally over," Wright said. "… Patrick Mahomes has taken his rightful spot at No. 1, and I imagine he will stay there for the next, conservatively, 12 to 18 years."

Despite Wright's and Mahomes' collective excitement at the honor, which the QB credited to a team effort, not everyone was so sold on the billing.

Shannon Sharpe of "Undisputed" put forth Rodgers, this year's third-ranked player and the reigning league MVP, as the rightful No. 1.

"I'm surprised that they had Mahomes No. 1," Sharpe said. "I actually thought that they would have Aaron Rodgers one, Patrick Mahomes two, Aaron Donald three. … For me, this is not about what you've done in the past or what you might do in the future. This is last year. And I thought Aaron Rodgers had a better season than Patrick Mahomes. … I don't think they got this right."

Last season, Rodgers completed 70.7% of his passes in the regular season for 48 touchdowns and a 121.5 passer rating, all of which topped the league. He amassed 4,299 passing yards with just five interceptions en route to a 13-3 record.

In the playoffs, the Packers fell to the eventual champions, the Buccaneers, in the conference championship.

Speaking of which, Chris Broussard had an issue with where Brady fell on the pecking order on "First Things First." In Broussard's mind, the Super Bowl MVP should have ranked ahead of the season MVP.

Clearly, these rankings are a source of plenty of debate, even though any team would likely be more than happy to have any of these three quarterbacks under center.

And guess what? The NFL will run the poll again this season, opening up a whole new can of worms around this time a year from now.

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