When I was asked to rank the Top 10 playmakers in the NFL, it gave me pause to look at what was being asked. These aren’t the fastest or best players in the NFL.
No, the term playmaker is one, to me, that is very subjective. To me a playmaker is someone who you don’t want to miss when they get their hands on the ball. The kind of player who can take it to the house at any given time.
To me, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith weren’t playmakers (although 2 of the best at their positions of all time), no Barry Sanders and Bo Jackson were the greatest playmakers of all time. So who are the Top 10 currently?
Starting with the Honorable Mentions: Brandin Cooks (Saints), Cody Lattimer (Lions), John Brown (Cardinals), Josh Gordon (Browns; caveat being Gordon in this Top 10 if he is not suspended for the season.
10.) Deandre Hopkins – WR, Houston Texans: The man slated to take over for the man (Andre Johnson) in Houston. He has all the tools to be even better than Johnson was in Houston except one thing, it is Brian Hoyer (and maybe Ryan Mallet) throwing him the ball. Last year, his first as the feature receiver, Hopkins caught 76 passes for over 1200 yards and 6 TD’s. Expect those numbers to rise this year as he and Hoyer start to build chemistry.
9.) Sammy Watkins – WR, Buffalo Bills One of the many of rookie wide outs to make a splash last season, Sammy Watkins appears to be the real deal. Without a great QB throwing him the ball, Watkins made the most of it last season, with 65 receptions for almost 1000 yards and six scores. With Tyrod Taylor now the Bills QB, expect Sammy to run a lot more go routes and become a giant thorn in the side of opposing defenses.
8.) T.Y. Hilton – WR, Indianapolis Colts T.Y. Hilton burst onto the scene in 2012 averaging over 17 yards per catch. As Andrew Luck has grown as a QB, Hilton has quickly emerged as his “go to” guy. In that offense in Indianapolis, that means big things for Hilton and with his speed and hands, being a Playmaker is an almost obvious statement.
7.) Martavius Bryant – WR Pittsburgh Steelers Had he not been suspended to for 4 games to open the season due to marijuana use, Bryant would have become a household name. With Big Ben tossing the rock around, and Antonio Brown just sitting there as a possession receiver (and oh so much more) the door was wide open for Bryant to become this stud of a receiver. With his combination of size and speed, it was all there for him, and it still will be after week 5, but because of that suspension, he is only #7.
6.) Calvin Johnson – WR Detroit Lions It is almost hard to believe that I am about to say this, but Calvin Johnson has become the forgotten man when it comes to receivers. He used to be the hands down number 1 receiver off the board, and that was just 2 years ago. Now Johnson is no better than the 4th or 5th guy off the board, and I tell you, selling him short will be your downfall. He still has the size, speed and hands to be a top guy and still has a gun slinging QB in Matt Stafford that will allow him to just go up and get it an awful lot.
5.) Randall Cobb – WR Green Bay Packers With or without Jordy Nelson, I think Randall Cobb’s spot on this list is safe. He lines up all over the field, and believe it or not, some DB’s actually lose track of him. Cobb even played QB at Kentucky, but realized at the next level his greatest success would come as a wide out. Playing in the same offense as Aaron Rodgers is enough to make anyone a playmaker, but add in his speed and soft hands, and Cobb is a great playmaker.
4.) Percy Harvin – WR Buffalo Bills If it weren’t for the injury bug, Harvin would be #1 on this list without question. He touches the ball at most 5 or 6 times a game, and those times are always can’t miss football. Anytime he is on the field he has to be accounted for, usually by two defenders. His game breaking speed is a thing of beauty to watch and whether it is on punt returns, lined up as a wide receiver or coming out of the backfield, Harvin is the very definition of the word playmaker.
3.) Julio Jones – WR, Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones has proved all the doubters wrong. He came out of a program at Alabama that wasn’t really known for airing it out, and yet he was traded up for by the Falcons, and he has proved worth it totally. Paired with a QB like Matt Ryan, and a burner (well he used to be a burner) in Roddy White on the other side, Jones fit in perfectly. But he is so much more than just a deep threat. He has soft hands, and is not afraid to go over the middle. Every time he makes a catch you think, he could take this one to the house!!!
2.) Jamaal Charles – RB, Kansas City Chiefs When Jamaal Charles came out of Texas, everyone knew he was a special talent. His moves may be the closest we have seen to those of Barry Sanders that we have seen. He has the rare combo of power and speed, that can get him to the corner, and then he is gone like he was shot out of a cannon. The only perceived weakness in his game is that he can be viewed as a little fragile, but with Andy Reid as his head coach, Charles usage rates are pretty low and his production is still pretty high. He is the greatest playmaker in the NFL today from the RB slot.
1.) Dez Bryant – WR, Dallas Cowboys this was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Bryant takes over from where Megatron left off a couple of years ago. Tony Romo knows If Dez is in the area, all he has to do is throw it up and chances are it will be caught.
Dez has that kind of talent, but it is not just his hands, he has blazing speed and always has a knack for getting to the ball. There is no question that Dez is the #1 playmaker in the NFL right now, and the scary thought is, he is only going to get better.
So there you have it, from 10 –to – 1 the top playmakers in the NFL this season. Could someone else emerge and find themselves on this list? Sure they can, but they will have to make one hell of a play to do it.