With a new season right around the corner, it’s time to rank the best NFL players in 2022, at least before the start of the season.
Admittedly, the top NFL players in 2022 will surely change during the course of the season. But there’s nothing wrong with preseason NFL player rankings just to see where the best NFL players right now stack up before the new campaign gets underway.
Best NFL players 2022
Naturally, ranking the top NFL players right now isn’t easy.
It starts with ranking the best NFL players by position and then comparing one position to another. But while the challenge is great, we wanted to share our NFL player rankings for 2022 ahead of the season.
Even if you respectfully disagree, here is a look at our list of the 25 best NFL players in 2022.
25. J.J. Watt
A shoulder injury limited J.J. Watt to just seven games last season, but we’re not ready to throw in the towel on him just yet. He’s come back from injuries before and had strong seasons. Even at age 33, few players are going to work harder than Watt to be in the best playing shape possible.
He’s still someone who’s worth the benefit of the doubt, so a bounce-back season could still be in the cards.
24. George Kittle
It’s been a couple of years since George Kittle reached 1,000 yards receiving in a season. However, he’s still not someone you want to forget about.
After all, the impact he makes on the field extends beyond his abilities as a pass-catcher. Of course, 71 catches for 910 yards and six touchdowns over 14 games isn’t too shabby. Kittle is still at the age where he can still get back to the form he had a few years ago and play like the best tight end in the league.
23. J.C. Jackson
Even with a new team, the results shouldn’t be any different for J.C. Jackson. Over the last two years, he’s amassed 17 interceptions and 37 defended passes.
Cornerback stats can often fluctuate from one year to the next, but Jackson has stayed consistent, separating himself from the other corners in the league and making him one of the best NFL players in 2022.
22. Ja’Marr Chase
It took just one season for Ja’Marr Chase to put himself among the elite wide receivers in the NFL. Frankly, it took less than one season, but his Week 17 performance sealed the deal while his postseason production was the icing on the cake.
It certainly helped that Chase already had a rapport with Joe Burrow, but that’s not the only reason Chase had such a sensational rookie season. He’s a special talent and should have no problem avoiding a sophomore slump.
21. Quenton Nelson
Quenton Nelson is the first offensive linemen on our list but he won’t be the last. This is a position that shouldn’t be overlooked and Nelson is undoubtedly among the best.
He was only a Second-Team All-Pro this past season but a First-Teamer in each of his first three seasons. In just four seasons, Nelson has established himself as one of the best in the league and made the Indy offensive line among the NFL’s best.
He’s already started 61 games in those four years and is an absolute force in the trenches.
20. Joe Burrow
With the way he finished last season, Joe Burrow can surely be considered among the best players in the NFL. While he was good early in the season, something seemed to click late and take Burrow to another level.
Ultimately, he was able to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl despite having a terrible offensive line in front of him. The fact that Burrow was able to overcome such a massive shortcoming on Cincinnati’s roster tells you everything that you need to know about him and his future in the NFL.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Burrow take another big step forward in 2022 and permanently place himself among the top 5-10 quarterbacks in the NFL.
19. Zack Martin
Even if offensive linemen get overlooked, it’s impossible not to include Zack Martin on this list.
Outside of his injury-plagued 2020 season, he’s been a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in every season since coming into the league in 2014. Martin is remarkably consistent and always reliable, which is exactly what you want from an offensive lineman.
18. Jonathan Taylor
As the NFL’s leading rusher in just his second season in the league, it’s clear that the Colts have something special on their hands. After all, Jonathan Taylor rushed for over 1,100 yards and averaged five yards per carry as a rookie, so last year’s numbers weren’t a huge surprise.
Taylor also showed impressive abilities as a pass-catcher last season in addition to racking up over 1,800 yards and a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns. He’s poised to be something special for many years to come, which is why he’s the only running back worthy of being among the 25 best NFL players right now.
17. Deebo Samuel
Questions about his future in San Francisco aside, Deebo Samuel is still among the elite wide receivers in the NFL heading into 2022. He’s part wide receiver and part running back in a way the league hasn’t seen in a long time.
How many players can seriously average over 18 yards per catch and over six yards per carry the way Samuel did last year? He’s a unicorn who can line up anywhere on the field and be dangerous, which isn’t something you can say for everybody.
16. Travis Kelce
There should be no question that Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL right now. He’s now had six straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards, including his record-setting season in 2020.
Kelce has also led all tight ends in receiving touchdowns in back-to-back seasons and continues to be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. No team has been able to keep Kelce contained for any significant amount of time, making him an omnipresent threat on one of the best offensive teams in football.
15. Tyreek Hill
Just because he changed teams doesn’t mean we should expect anything less from Tyreek Hill in 2022.
He still has blazing speed and the skills to be one of the most dynamic receivers in the league. Of course, it’d be foolish not to think that things could be a little different with Tua Tagovailoa as opposed to Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. But Hill will still demand the same kind of attention from defensive backs and will still make plays that few receivers in the league can even dream about making.
14. Justin Herbert
He may not be among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL just yet, but Justin Herbert is close. He set the rookie record for touchdown passes in 2020 and showed even more progress last season, making the Pro Bowl after throwing for over 5,000 yards.
Granted, Herbert needs to get his turnovers under control and take his team to the playoffs. But after two seasons in the NFL, it’s safe to say that Herbert is the real deal and that his star is going to continue to shine in 2022 and long into the future.
13. Davante Adams
There might be a tinge of skepticism surrounding Davante Adams heading into 2022. It’s not about him, it’s just that Aaron Rodgers can make a lot of wide receivers look good. But Adams has been a Pro Bowler in five straight seasons, so it’s not just Rodgers who has made him successful.
Even if there is a slight adjustment period, Adams should be among the best wide receivers in the NFL this season, making an immediate impact with his new team.
12. Trent Williams
It’s not always easy to put an offensive lineman in the same category as quarterbacks and offensive playmakers, but Trent Williams surely deserves to be considered among the best of the best.
He missed the Pro Bowl just once over the last decade and was a First-Team All-Pro selection last year. Williams made a massive difference for the 49ers last season and is worth every dollar of the extension he signed before the 2021 season.
11. Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons has to be one of the most exciting players in the NFL heading into the 2022 season. Not only did he take home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last season but he was also a First-Team All-Pro after collecting 64 solo tackles and 13 sacks.
If that was the first impression he gave the league, there’s no telling what he could do for an encore, which is why he could potentially establish himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL this season.
10. Justin Jefferson
It’s official, nothing about Justin Jefferson’s brilliant rookie season was an aberration. He actually managed to improve his numbers during his sophomore season, clearly making him one of the top NFL players right now regardless of position.
In just two seasons, Jefferson has over 3,000 career receiving yards and 17 touchdowns while also making the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. It’ll be difficult, but Jefferson has a chance to be even better in 2022.
9. Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey continues to prove that his distinction as the highest-paid defensive back in the league is fully warranted. He doesn’t always put up the best numbers because quarterbacks know to stay away from him. But his mere presence on the field has an impact on the game.
He’s been a First-Team All-Pro selection in back-to-back seasons and was a big reason why the Rams won the Super Bowl last season. Plus, he’s only 27 and very much in his prime right now.
8. Myles Garrett
It took a few years but Myles Garrett is finally living up to the hype of being the top overall pick in the 2017 draft. He’s developed into one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers, amassing 28 sacks over the past two seasons, earning First-Team All-Pro honors in both seasons.
For what it’s worth, he earned a 99 rating on Madden last season, which is a sign that he’s an impact player who could still get even better in 2022 and beyond.
7. Nick Bosa
The younger Nick Bosa brother is undoubtedly the biggest star of the two, although Joey is having one heck of a career as well. But remember that Nick played just two games in 2020 because of an injury. He then bounced back last year with 15.5 sacks and a league-high 21 tackles for loss.
Even though Joey has been more consistent over more years, the younger Bosa has made the bigger impact in his first two full NFL seasons. Plus, he’s still just 24, so the sky is the limit in 2022 and beyond.
6. Cooper Kupp
There’s no arguing with what Cooper Kupp accomplished last year, leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. It was the first time since 2005 that anyone won the Triple Crown for wide receivers.
It’s not as if he wasn’t a marked man, yet he still found a way to get open and make plays after the catch. The obvious caveat is that it’ll be hard for Kupp to replicate what he accomplished in 2021 and put up comparable numbers in 2022. However, Kupp is only 29 and is surely in the prime of his career, so it’ll take something drastic for him to not be the best receiver in the NFL this year or one of the best NFL players in 2022.
5. Josh Allen
By this point, Josh Allen has certainly done enough to warrant inclusion among the best NFL players for 2022. His combination of arm strength and athleticism is unique from just about every other quarterback in the league.
He’s elevated the Bills to the level of preseason Super Bowl contender and still has a chance to get better. Allen’s accomplishments may still pale in comparison to the NFL’s other elite players, but his upside heading into 2022 is sky high.
4. Aaron Donald
Now that Aaron Donald has won a Super Bowl with the Rams and signed an extension that pays him an average of over $30 million per season, he can fully focus on football and doing what he does best in 2022.
Of course, the thing Donald does best is terrorizing quarterbacks and giving offensive linemen nightmares. He’s been a Pro Bowler in every season of his career and has won Defensive Player of the Year honors in three of the last five seasons.
When Donald is at his best, there can be no stopping him. He’s easily the most impactful non-quarterback in the NFL and is undoubtedly among the best NFL players in 2022.
3. Tom Brady
He’ll be 45 by the time Week 1 kicks off, but Tom Brady is still one of the best NFL players right now. He wasn’t fooling anyone with that brief retirement, especially after leading the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns last season.
Mentally, Brady is always a step ahead of the defense, and at the same time, he’s still capable of playing at a high level physically. It seems crazy to think that a meaningful drop-off in his performance has to happen at some point. But we’ve yet to see any clear signs that will happen, and so Brady remains among the best of the best.
2. Aaron Rodgers
Much like Brady, Aaron Rodgers is proving that age is merely a number. He’ll be 38 heading into the 2022 season but is still the two-time defending MVP and a four-time MVP overall Playoff shortcomings aside, Rodgers is still the best in the NFL at limiting his turnovers and making passes with pinpoint accuracy.
While there is some question about how he’ll fare without Davante Adams this season, given his performance over the last two seasons, there is no reason to expect any significant drop-off from Rodgers this year, keeping him on the shortlist of the best NFL players right now.
1. Patrick Mahomes
Let’s not act like the torch hasn’t been passed to Patrick Mahomes as the best player in the league right now. He’s the scariest person to see taking snaps if he’s facing your favorite team, which surely makes him the best player.
The guy had 50 touchdown passes in his first full season as a starter and Mahomes has only gotten better since then.
Granted, the supporting cast around him might not be the same in 2022. But that doesn’t make Mahomes any less of a player. In fact, he’s going to make the players around him better and continue to cause trouble for opposing teams, especially as he enters what should be the best years of his career.