Just months away from the 2017 NFL Season, NFL Network has been rolling out the Top 100 Players of 2017 over the past several weeks. Counting down from 100, over 900 players voted in this year’s poll — surpassing voter counts for previous years. The results show that some of the players expected to have the best 2017 seasons are straight out of Ohio State, and go a long way to making Buckeye Nation look good on Sundays.
7. Ezekiel Elliott
Mere spots away from NFL legends like Tom Brady and Julio Jones, it only took one season for Zeke’s peers to consider him a Top 10 talent among the entire league. It’s something Urban Meyer foresaw in the young man from St. Louis, and promised the Elliott family that coming to Ohio State would prepare the running back for success.
It’s no surprise that the Buckeye would rank highly heading into his second year. He broke both franchise and league records throughout the season, was voted to the Pro Bowl, made a run in the playoffs, and was runner up to teammate Dak Prescott for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He didn’t come away with a Super Bowl ring just yet, but he and Dak are building something special in Dallas, and Zeke is hungry for another championship opportunity.
Elliott is fun. Whether he’s wearing a crop top shirt to the NFL Draft, or jumping into the Salvation Army cauldron to celebrate a touchdown, Zeke is quickly becoming a fan favorite. His jersey sales are among the most popular in the league, and with his current momentum, he could have a career that lands him in the NFL Hall of Fame when his career is over.
#FEEDZEKE #FEEDZEKE #FEEDZEKE #FEEDZEKE— NFL (@NFL) December 19, 2016
TOUCHDOWN, @ezekielelliott! #DallasCowboys https://t.co/xGqO4TGHe6
90. Malcolm Jenkins
The Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary is one of the younger position groups on the team, but with Jenkins in the locker room, they have one of the most respected leaders showing them the way. Jenkins had a career-best season, during his eighth year in the league, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down -- in fact, he just keeps getting better.
There were talks during free agency that the Eagles were looking to trade Jenkins for a wide receiver. General Manager Howie Roseman addressed the rumors, claiming the team dutifully listens to any offer presented, but that the team ultimately wouldn’t make a trade that would hurt the team. Jenkins has become an interception magnet, but better yet, is returning them for touchdowns. He’s had more Pick 6s (4) during his three years with the Eagles than he did in five seasons with the Saints (2).
Malcolm Jenkins : 6 tackles & a 64-yard pick 6 (7th career pick 6) pic.twitter.com/Uq5SwAeM63— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) October 16, 2016
In addition to what he’s brought to the field and in the locker room, Jenkins has been a pillar in the community. He, along with other NFL players, met with leaders in Washington to discuss criminal justice reform and stepped in to help a youth league that got cancelled when they stood up for social justice.
100. Joey Bosa
Barely breaking onto the list is the first Buckeye drafted in 2016 at No. 3. Bosa’s beginning with the Los Angeles Chargers was tense, thanks to contract negotiations played out in the media, but, with just a few games under his belt, fans quickly bought in.
Some of Bosa’s teammates were surprised that he barely cracked the list, with cornerback Jason Verrett saying, “He balled out and was obviously the rookie of the year. I think he should have been higher, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to be more motivated. But he’s a rookie. Not many rookies get that kind of (respect) to be on the list at all. I salute him. I have much respect for him.”
The former Buckeye finished the season tied for No. 13 in sacks in the league, leading all other rookies by more than 2.5, and was ceremoniously voted Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa claimed 48 total tackles, 45 pressures, 19 tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, two passes defensed and one forced fumble in his rookie season.
He gave a big nod to Ohio State during the Chargers game in Cleveland, throwing up the O-H-I-O following a big hit on quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Joey Bosa throws up O-H-I-O after second sack against the Browns!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/vyleFdLEgx— Ohio State Daily (@OhioStateDaily) December 24, 2016
Heading into his second year, he ruffled a few feathers early on by skipping voluntary workouts, instead working out with his own set of trainers. Fans were slow to give him grief given the immense leg up he gives the Chargers’ defense; plus, the Buckeye was committed to participating in minicamp and OTAs just weeks later.
And even though it’s nice to see a few Buckeyes in the Top 100 ahead of the season, even current players aren’t too affected by being on, or being left off, the list. League and fan favorite J.J. Watt was voted in at No. 35 heading into the season, and didn’t exactly agree with the placement since he spent last season on IR.
I played 3 games... this list is a joke. https://t.co/KnKDX1p816— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 6, 2017