DTR 100: Ranking the Top 100 NFL Players Going Into 2019

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79. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Last year: NR)

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Antonio Brown got his wish and was traded away from the Pittsburgh Steelers, LeVeon Bell signed with the New York Jets and Ben Roethlisberger is getting up there in age. That leaves former second-round pick out of USC, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the odds on favorite to become the fan-favorite and the future of the franchise. Smith-Schuster has a very happy-go-lucky and vibrant personality off the field. However, when he’s on it, he’s one of the most dangerous young wideouts in the league. The sky is certainly the limit for JuJu.

78. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Last year: NR)

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Who could forget about Stefon Diggs and the catch he made to send his Minnesota Vikings to the NFC title game over the Saints. Regardless of all you watch is that catch or not, Diggs is much more than just a miraculous catch. Diggs is a triumphant story of a fifth-round pick out of Maryland that found his way and went from a training camp star to an NFL star.

77. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams (Last year: 87th)

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Three of the last four years in the NFL career of Brandin Cooks have been insane. Not many, if any, receivers can claim they started for three different teams in three straight years while going over 1,000 receiving yards in each of those years. Brandin Cooks, however, can. Why didn’t he move up from last year’s ranking? I like to call him a player that is ultra-consistent. Did he get a little better or did he have a better role and overall fit with the Rams? This upcoming season we will find out.

76. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Last year: NR)

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After starting his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Amari Cooper somehow went stale in Oakland. The Raiders traded him for a first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys and Cooper’s season took off following that trade. It’s not to say Dak Prescott is a better quarterback than Derek Carr but the fact is Cooper needed a change of scenery. Cooper went over the 1,000-yard mark last year and hauled in seven touchdowns in a resurgent 2018 NFL season that put him right back onto the DTR 100.

75. Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys (Last year: NR)

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Byron Jones started his career as a physical specimen out of Connecticut. The former safety found immediate success but then the Cowboys decided to switch Jones over to cornerback. That is when everything changed. Jones became one of the top lockdown corners in the NFL. He’s not a ballhawk by any means, but you cannot discount Jones’ ability to shut a receiver completely down. He did that a ton last season and that is why he fell here on the DTR 100.

74. Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Dallas Cowboys (Last year: NR)

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In only 11 starts his rookie year, Leighton Vander Esch had some calling him the best linebacker in the game. Vander Esch finished the year with 140 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. The former Boise State product displayed athleticism and his overall skills all over the field last year. The former rookie has a good running mate in Jaylon Smith but Vander Esch should be one of the premier linebackers in the NFL for a long time.

73. Trey Flowers, DE, Detroit Lions (Last year: NR)

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The New England Patriots fourth-round pick turned into a star over time. Trey Flowers was a key piece in the New England defense that helped the Patriots win Super Bowl LIII. Now, Flowers has since vacated New England to play with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in Detroit. Flowers has amassed 21 sacks and 164 tackles in his young career. The 25-year-old is likely going to get better in Patricia’s defense and next to the likes of Damon Harrison, Mike Daniels, A’Shawn Robinson, and Da’Shawn Hand.

72. Darius Leonard, ILB, Indianapolis Colts (Last year: NR)

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The Colts surprised some people last year in the draft when they took Darius Leonard in the second round. For people that paid attention throughout the pre-draft process, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Leonard finished his rookie season with an  NFL All-Pro honor, seven sacks, two interceptions, eight pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 163 total tackles. That’s what you call a player that has a nose for the football. Leonard became the face of the Indianapolis Colts resurgent defense overnight.

71. Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (Last year: NR)

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In my mind, Jaire Alexander was the best cornerback in the 2018 NFL Draft, I’m pretty sure he backed that statement up well in his rookie year. Alexander wasn’t the ballhawk that Denzel Ward was but he locked down just about every receiver he came across. Alexander had 11 pass breakups, an interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 66 tackles. The Louisville product is going to one day have an argument as the best cornerback in the league. He’s not yet, but he’s off to an amazing start to his young career.

70. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (Last year: NR)

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Nobody likes a holdout, but Melvin Gordon is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He’s a top ten back and his improvement from 2017 to 2018 was very noticeable. For the first time in Gordon’s career, he averaged over five yards per carry. He finished with 1,375 yards from scrimmage and due to injury Gordon only played in 12 games. Gordon has 38 total touchdowns over the last three years and is vying to become the best in the league at his position. He also wants to get paid like it, whether or not the Chargers pay him with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson in the backfield remains to be seen.

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don jenkins

how can you leave off Leveon Bell ??? (as well as many others)

he’s likely going to be a top 20 player, regardless of last season ??