29. Akiem Hicks, DT, Chicago Bears (Last year: NR)
The elite run defender was another vital cog in the Chicago Bears number one ranked defense. Hicks added seven and a half sacks last year, but his game has always been to plug up the holes and maul down the ball-carrier. Hicks has always excelled in that area, but the 29-year-old appears to be getting better as he gets older.
28. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Last year: 33rd)
A.J. Green just turned 31 years old today and unfortunately he’s spending his birthday injured. That’s beside the point. A.J. Green is a star receiver that unfortunately has only ever caught passes from the likes of Andy Dalton. Green has had six 1,000-yard seasons but he recently had a bout versus the injury bug and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that said injury bug is going to leave Green alone as he will enter the 2019 season injured again. Still, Green is an elite receiver that has hauled in 63 touchdowns in his career.
27. Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns (Last year: 89th)
The Cleveland Browns former first-overall pick out of Texas A&M is quickly becoming one of the freakiest pass rushers in football. To no surprise, Myles Garrett officially panned out and has been a star since joining the NFL back in 2017. The 23-year-old has a bevy of pass-rushing maneuvers in his arsenal and is becoming a complete edge defender. He finished 2018 with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s getting there; it won’t be long until Garrett is a top 15 player in the league.
26. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs (Last year: NR)
Chris Jones always had the potential, but in the 2018 season, he took a good player overnight and made himself great. Jones played in all 16 games and finished with 15.5 sacks on the year to go along with two forced fumble, 40 tackles and 19 tackles for a loss. Jones emerged this year and on a team that was one of the best. When your team is winning, you receive recognition, any football fan paying attention to the game would have been able to tell you that Jones was turning it on last year, but this year Jones became a bit of a household name.
25. David Bakhtiari, LT, Green Bay Packers (Last year: 44th)
The 27-year-old blindside protector for Aaron Rodgers has been the best-left tackle in the business for the last couple of years. He’s started 90 games in his career and has ascended into a fantastic pass protector. David Bakhtiari was finally recognized as such this past season after receiving his first-team All-Pro honors. Rodgers has had a hard time staying healthy and away from hits. That fault does not lie at all with Bakhtiari, who has been an absolute wall.
24. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (Last year: 76th)
The younger brother of Jason Kelce is one of the absolute best tight ends in the league. The 29-year-old has had three-straight seasons with 1,000 yards receiving and last year he went over the century mark for receptions which is something he had never done before. Kelce has hauled in 32 touchdowns throughout his career.
With the loss of Kareem Hunt, Kelce had to take over an even more significant role in the Chiefs offense. I’m sure this year will remain quite the same for the Cincinnati product.
23. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Last year: 8th)
All Jalen Ramsey wants right now is to be paid like the top cornerback in the league. There is a good reason for that, though. Jalen Ramsey is the premier cornerback in the league. He’s played in all 48 games since entering the league in 2016. Ramsey has nine interceptions during that time including one pick-six. Ramsey has added 44 pass breakups and 193 tackles to his credit for his career.
It was a rough go in the 2018 season as the Jaguars and Ramsey accomplished nothing near to the AFC Championship berth they had the year prior. Ramsey at just 24 years old is looking for an extension and a Super Bowl.
22. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (Last year: 37th)
Michael Thomas has been in the league three years so far. In those three years, Thomas has caught 321 balls for 3,787 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s been the elite receiver that Drew Brees has been looking for since Jimmy Graham was traded for center Max Unger. Thomas led the league in receptions with 125 last year and finished the season with an outstanding 85 percent catch rate.
21. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (Last year: 14th)
The Atlanta Falcons star receiver Julio Jones led the NFL in receiving yards this past season. Jones has 51 touchdowns, 698 receptions and has six 1,000-yard receiving seasons for his career. Jones is considered even sometimes as the best receiver in the league. His 6-foot-3 frame allows him to dominate the catch radius but once he has the ball in space he’s just about impossible to tackle.
20. Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders (Last year: 7th)
The former Steeler forced his way out of Pittsburgh and into the waiting arms of Jon Gruden, Derek Carr, and the Oakland Raiders. The 31-year-old wideout has put together six-straight 1,000-yard seasons and seven total. He’s also added more 74 total touchdowns and 837 career receptions. He’s one of the best in the game at what he does.
It will certainly be interesting how Brown does with Carr and the Gruden. Brown is arguably leaving a better offense that was tailored to his style of play and a quarterback that always threw where he anticipated Brown would be. Now, it’s unknown what kind of season Brown will be in for, but it sure will be fun to watch.