Every year, the NFL releases a ‘Top 100 players’ list voted by the players. It’s a switch up from the media-driven rankings and analyses that are featured on talk shows. Some put more stake into it since the players are voting on it; some put less.
One thing is clear: the list generates some conversations about player status. This year is no different. While Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller made the NFL’s 2021 Top Players list, there is one notable omission. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr did not make the list. The anchor of a top-10 offense wasn’t enough to make the cut? Here’s why that is a glaring mistake.
Carr was better in 2020 than 2017 for the Raiders
Carr made the Top 100 List in 2017 at No. 60. It was the last time he saw ranking on the annual event. Jon Gruden’s hire and rebuild of the franchise forced Carr to play without the offensive weapons he usually enjoyed. I get his omission prior to 2021’s list.
Carr played better this year than he did in 2017 though, and the inconsistency is a problem.
Look across the board. He threw five more touchdowns in 2020 compared to 2017. He had four fewer interceptions, over 600 more yards passing, threw for 7.9 yards/attempt (6.8 in 2017), and more importantly: he won more games!
The Raiders were 6-10 in 2017, 8-8 in 2020. His stats were better, he won more, and he looked much sharper in the offense. There is a glaring inconsistency here. He wasn’t a fringe player in 2017 either. No. 60 out of 100 makes it a pretty big leap to fall off the list completely. Carr will have to make his stamp on 2021 and leave no doubt in players’ minds for 2022.
It feels like Carr isn’t getting the respect he deserves from the media, as well as the players.
Carr produced a Top-10 NFL offense
In addition to having a stellar year, Carr directed one of the better offenses in the NFL. The Raiders won eight games but were largely outscored by means of a leaky defense.
The Raiders were top eight in yards, top seven in rushing touchdowns, top 11 in passing touchdowns, and top eight in yards per play. It was a showcase of offensive excellence in a COVID-plagued season. For better or worse, the quarterback does get a lot of credit for how offenses perform. Especially playing for Gruden, who is famous for asking passers to make checks at the line.
Waller and Jacobs had a lot to do with the offense as well. But they made the list. It’s not fair to say that Carr alone deserves to make the list as a Raider; he just deserved to make it alongside his skill position players.
Not making the playoffs probably hurt Carr the most. Regardless, he had his best year since 2016 and looked comfortable in Gruden’s offense. You would think the quarterback of a top 10 offense would get a spot. Even if it was in the number 80-90 range.
There aren’t 100 players better than Carr
A quarterback-only debate might make it tricky for Carr to crack the list. The signal-caller with the lowest ranking on the list is Ryan Tannehill. He’s about the same player Carr is. He’s right around the “Baker Mayfield/Ryan Tannehill” type of player.
Those quarterbacks aren’t elite, but they can win games. So it’s understandable that Carr might not be on the list over them. The same can’t be said for other non-quarterbacks on this list.
Cole Beasley made the list at No. 96. There is no doubt he had a great year. He isn’t a better overall player than Carr is.
Michael Thomas made the list, and he barely played last season. He’s a better player than Carr sure, but if you coast on past greatness, how can you take a spot on a list that takes only this year into account?
Jacobs (rightfully) ranked in the Top 100. I would argue that Carr is more important to the Raiders offense than Josh as great as he was. The quarterback usually is, it’s just the weight of the position. They should have been partners on this list.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports