The 2023 NFL season will kick off Sept. 7, and that means it’s time for our annual ranking of the league’s top 100 players. What can we expect from the game’s best this season? And how do they stack up against each other?
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To create our list, we asked a panel of dozens of ESPN NFL experts to rate players based on performance expectations for the 2023 season as compared with their peers. Emphasis was placed solely on the upcoming season and predicting potential greatness, rather than past performance, career résumé or positional value. That means long-term injuries and suspensions played a part, which is why Jalen Ramsey, for instance, is missing (out with a left meniscus injury). And from those ratings, we were able to rank the best of the best, 1 to 100.
The San Francisco 49ers lead this year with eight players on the list. Thirty-one franchises are represented in all, with just the Arizona Cardinals coming up short. Two-thirds of last year’s top 100 returned for another appearance. In terms of positions, wide receiver dominated (again), with 21 making the list. Quarterbacks (12) and edge defenders (14) also were well represented. Six players entering their Year 2 season cracked the list, and the average age of the players featured is 27. And the person who made the biggest jump from last year? It’s a running back at No. 10 overall.
For each player, our NFL Nation reporters weighed in with a 2023 outlook then asked a player, coach or executive from around the league what makes the player so dominant. ESPN Stats & Information also provided a signature statistic to know, and fantasy analyst Mike Clay projected a stat line for this upcoming season. Here’s the full list, starting with the Chiefs’ star signal-caller, who’s on top for a fourth straight season.
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QB | Chiefs
2022 rank: 1
Yes, this is Mahomes’ fourth straight year being ranked No. 1 in this poll. In 2022, he led the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl win in the past four seasons, and he became the first player to win league MVP and a Super Bowl in the same season since Kurt Warner in 1999. This year, Mahomes is tasked with a new offensive coordinator (Matt Nagy) and overcoming the departure of the team’s top wide receiver (JuJu Smith-Schuster) — again. But neither has been a problem for him before. He won MVP awards the last time the Chiefs changed coordinators (2018) and after trading Tyreek Hill (2022). — Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Mahomes led the NFL in passing yards (5,250), touchdown passes (41) and Total QBR (78) en route to winning his second NFL MVP. He is the first player to lead in all three categories in a season since Peyton Manning in 2013.
What they are saying: “I don’t know that there’s really a way to quantify [Mahomes’ skill set] financially, and no matter what he makes over his career, I’m sure one way or another he’ll be underpaid.” — Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt
2023 projection: 4,688 passing yards, 39 TDs, 11 INTs (333 yards/3 TDs rushing)
WR | Vikings
2022 rank: 7
Jefferson has surpassed a significant statistical milestone in each of his first three NFL seasons, moving from 1,400 receiving yards to 1,600 to 1,800. That makes his 2023 goal clear and within reach. If he hits 2,000 receiving yards, he’ll break the NFL regular-season record held by Calvin Johnson (1,964). — Kevin Seifert
Signature stat: Jefferson has the most receiving yards (4,825) by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history. Randy Moss (4,163) is second.
What they are saying: “There’s certain types of players you want around. Players who love football, are great at football, make their teammates better, have that winning spirit. I’ll never forget when I first talked to him, when I first met him; he just talked about winning, and that’s all you want around you.” — Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
2023 projection: 116 receptions, 1,498 yards, 9 TDs (23 yards rushing)
QB | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Coach Nick Sirianni said he has seen Hurts take his game to another level this offseason, specifically with his accuracy and decision-making. That seems hard to believe at first glance considering Hurts is coming off an MVP-caliber campaign in which he established a new franchise record with 4,461 total yards. But greater familiarity with the offensive system and the playmakers around him, led by wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, could mean even bigger things for Hurts in 2023. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Hurts is the only quarterback in NFL history with multiple seasons of at least 10 rushing touchdowns and 750 rushing yards. And in 2022, his 10 touchdowns on passes of 25-plus yards downfield tied for the second most in a season since 2006, when ESPN began tracking air yards. The only player with more is Drew Brees in 2013 (13).
What they are saying: “The first couple days [of camp], I definitely felt like he was on another level … making it look easy. Of course, I’d love to see him take another step because that means we all take another step.” — Brown
2023 projection: 3,511 passing yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs (670 yards/12 TDs rushing)
QB | Bengals
2022 rank: 26
Burrow’s game has made huge leaps over the course of his first three NFL seasons. Last year, he finished a career-high 10th in Total QBR. While he has dealt with a strained right calf during the preseason, the Bengals believe Burrow will continue to ascend and keep Cincinnati in Super Bowl contention. — Ben Baby
Signature stat: Burrow’s 68.2% career completion rate is the best by any player in his first three seasons in NFL history (minimum 500 attempts). He also has 12 touchdowns of 50-plus yards, which is tied with Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton for the most all time in a player’s first three seasons.
What they are saying: “He continues to grow. With experience comes wisdom. I think you see those things growing in him. It’s always a balance between a hyper-competitive guy who wants to play every play like the Super Bowl depends on it and being able to take a step back and see the bigger picture.” — Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher
2023 projection: 4,503 passing yards, 33 TDs, 12 INTs (255 yards/5 TDs rushing)
WR | Bengals
2022 rank: 14
Chase has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first two campaigns. Teams sought to double-team him last year and tilt coverage toward stopping Chase, so expect the Bengals to get the ball to Chase out of various formations and alignments and take advantage of the speed and power that makes him one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. — Ben Baby
Signature stat: Even after missing five games last season with a hip injury, Chase still managed to record his second straight 1,000-yard season, bringing his career receiving yards total to 2,501. Chase became the fifth player in NFL history to record 2,500 receiving yards in the first two seasons of a career — joining Justin Jefferson (3,016), Odell Beckham Jr. (2,755), Randy Moss (2,726) and Bill Groman (2,648).
What they are saying: “When he gets the ball, his run after the catch is like nothing I’ve ever seen. That and how he high points the ball over any type of defender. Anybody that lines up against him, I got my money on Chase.” — Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins
2023 projection: 102 receptions, 1,454 yards, 11 TDs (21 yards rushing)
EDGE | Cowboys
2022 rank: 12
Parsons has finished as the runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting in each of his first two seasons, and there is nothing to say he won’t be even better in 2023. He has been unblockable during training camp, giving future Hall of Famer Tyron Smith fits in practice. While Parsons is predominantly an edge player, the Cowboys will continue to move him around the defense to create matchups and keep offenses guessing. — Todd Archer
Signature stat: Parsons has nine multiple-sack games through his first two seasons in the NFL, which is tied for the most by any player since individual sacks became an official stat in 1982. He is one of three players with at least 13.0 sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons over that span, alongside Aldon Smith and Reggie White.
What they are saying: “His skill has gotten better and stronger, which is now going to allow him to make more plays. So the physical gifts have always been there to beat somebody inside or beat them off the edge, but now we’re adding the skill part of it. That’s how you level up — and how do you go from being an excellent player to the very best player? That’s the margin to break through to the next ceiling.” — Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn
2023 projection: 11 sacks, 61 tackles, 2 forced fumbles
QB | Bills
2022 rank: 5
Allen enters his second season under offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey with some new additions to the offense, including rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid. Last season, Allen became the first player in NFL history to reach 25 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons, a trend that should continue despite Allen trying to limit the hits he takes. — Alaina Getzenberg
Signature stat: Allen has a combined 176 passing and rushing touchdowns since entering the league in 2018, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (206) over that span. A big reason for that is his success running the ball; Allen has 38 career rushing touchdowns, tied for the ninth most in the NFL over that time — and first among QBs.
What they are saying: “He, I think, really enjoys and is undervalued for the mental side of the game because everybody sees the physical traits. So I think just that mental piece for him is something that we value a lot and we want to see continue to grow.” — Dorsey
2023 projection: 4,182 passing yards, 31 TDs, 13 INTs (628 yards/6 TDs rushing)
DT | Rams
2022 rank: 2
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is facing a challenge in his 10th campaign, as he prepares to anchor a defense of newcomers. Coming off season-ending ankle surgery, Donald — who last season boasted a 20.3% pass rush win rate (PRWR) versus double-teams (ranked fourth) — must prepare to again become the focal point of opponents’ game plans. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Donald has been double-teamed 1,797 times since the start of 2017, more than any other player, according to ESPN’s metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. He still managed 75.0 sacks in that span, second to only T.J. Watt, who had 2.5 more sacks despite being double-teamed roughly one-sixth of the time Donald was over that span (338 times).
What they are saying: “The great ones never get complacent. There’s always things that you can look at. Nobody has higher standards for Aaron than he does of himself. And I think that’s a separator.” — Rams coach Sean McVay
2023 projection: 74 tackles, 10 sacks
EDGE | 49ers
2022 rank: 15
What can Bosa, who led the NFL with 18.5 sacks on his way to Defensive Player of the Year honors, do for an encore? It’s hard to imagine there are many ways for him to improve, but small details like hand placement and leveraging blocks can be the difference between 18.5 sacks and pushing for the single-season record of 22.5. Bosa is currently holding out for a new contract, but a deal is expected to get done. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Bosa is the only 49ers player with multiple 15-sack seasons since 1982, when the stat became official. Since his rookie season (2019), the 49ers’ defense has a 48% pass rush win rate with him on the field. With him off the field, the Niners’ defense has defeated its blocks within 2.5 seconds only 37% of the time.
What they are saying: “It’s the special individuals that are willing to do [the extra work] to get a small portion better, to take their game to the total next level. And then you’re talking about guys that enter the Hall of Fame. The guys that are willing to continuously, year in and year out, work your butt off day in and day out to just get a small portion better. And that’s where Bosa’s at right now.” — 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek
2023 projection: 61 tackles, 13 sacks
RB | 49ers
2022 rank: 71
When McCaffrey stepped into the 49ers’ starting lineup in Week 8 after being acquired from Carolina, the Niners’ offense took off. With McCaffrey as the focal point, San Francisco was third in scoring and expected points added and seventh in yards per game, going 12-1 with him in the backfield. Now he gets a full offseason to absorb coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and the Niners will be able to dream up new ways to use McCaffrey. That combination, fueled by McCaffrey’s relentless approach, has him positioned for another big season, if not his best yet. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Since his debut in 2017, McCaffrey has averaged 113.1 scrimmage yards per game, the most in the NFL. Only three other players have an average over 100 in that span (Jonathan Taylor, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry).
What they are saying: “Being here for a year, you can’t help but to get better when you are as intentional and deliberate as he is. … I would never put a ceiling on what he can do. I think you can always get better, but he is trending in the right direction.” — 49ers assistant coach Anthony Lynn
2023 projection: 873 rushing yards, 7 TDs (547 yards/3 TDs receiving)
QB | Chargers
2022 rank: 11
With a blockbuster five-year, $262.5 million extension in hand, Herbert is continuing to grow into a leadership position as the franchise quarterback. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is intent on creating an explosive offense that exploits Herbert’s arm strength and the plethora of playmakers surrounding him. With the signal-caller entering his fourth season, teammates say Herbert is taking greater command of his unit and is quicker to read and dissect a defense. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Herbert’s 14,089 passing yards are the most through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history. And his 94 passing touchdowns in those first three seasons rank second most in NFL history, behind only Dan Marino (98).
What they are saying: “He is way more comfortable. He’s changing plays at the line of scrimmage, putting guys in spots, he’s vocal. This guy’s comfortable.” — Chargers wideout Keenan Allen
2023 projection: 4,305 passing yards, 30 TDs, 11 INTs (202 yards/1 TD rushing)
TE | Chiefs
2022 rank: 17
Kelce had one of his best seasons in 2022, and he has a championship to show for it. His game is based more on instincts than speed, so if anyone can play well into his 30s, it’s Kelce. He led the tight end position in catches (110), yards (1,338) and TDs (12) last season. — Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Kelce is a four-time first-team All-Pro selection. He has the most seasons with 1,000 receiving yards by a tight end (seven), and no other player at that position in NFL history has more than four such seasons.
What they are saying: “He’s just smarter as a player. He’s just continued to evolve and be even better as a tight end.” — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
2023 projection: 101 receptions, 1,145 yards, 10 TDs
EDGE | Browns
2022 rank: 9
New coordinator Jim Schwartz is revamping the Browns’ defense. He has already said he’ll be bringing a minimum of five pass-rushers on every down, and that could create more playmaking opportunities for Garrett, who has had to face the highest double-team rate (25.3%) of any edge rusher over the past three seasons. — Jake Trotter
Signature stat: In 2022, Garrett’s 16 sacks were tied with Haason Reddick for second most in the NFL — trailing only Nick Bosa (18.5). Garrett also had 16 sacks in 2021, making him the second player in the past 30 years to have 16-plus sacks in back-to-back seasons (J.J. Watt, 2014-15).
What they are saying: “The defensive line in [Schwartz’s] system, they’re the engine. … It starts with the D-line wreaking havoc with a premium on pass-rush ability, and that fits Myles to a T. We think we have the best pass-rusher in the league. This is tailor-made … a match made in heaven.” — Browns general manager Andrew Berry
2023 projection: 61 tackles, 13 sacks
CB | Jets
2022 rank: NR
Gardner’s 2022 season was historic, as he became the first rookie corner to make first-team All-Pro since Ronnie Lott in 1981. Oh, yeah, he won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year too. Gardner added muscle to his 6-foot-3 frame, which should enable him to be more physical in the run game. He also wants to improve his takeaway skills, as he only had two interceptions in his debut campaign. — Rich Cimini
Signature stat: Gardner is one of six rookies to defend 20 passes in a single season over the past 20 years.
What they are saying: “He’s a guy that’s even more hungry to learn every release, every tendency, by every formation, every pre-snap indicator. He’s a guy that has this insane athletic profile. [He’s] not only long but fast and quick … and now his brain is starting to catch up with his athleticism, and that’s a scary combination.” — Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich
2023 projection: 74 tackles, 3 sacks
EDGE | Steelers
2022 rank: 6
A pectoral injury in the first game of the 2022 season sidelined Watt for seven contests and limited his production to 5.5 sacks after a Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2021, but Watt is healthy and back to his usual form entering his seventh season. The Steelers’ pass rush recorded just eight sacks in seven games without Watt last season. Once he returned, they racked up 28 over the final nine games. — Brooke Pryor
Signature stat: Watt has amassed 77.5 sacks since entering the NFL in 2017, the most by any player over that span. He also has the fifth-highest pass rush win rate among edge rushers since the metric was introduced in 2017, defeating his blocks within 2.5 seconds 25% of the time.
What they are saying: “It’s his IQ of the game. Of course, he’s a freak athlete and all the physical traits you can have, but he just has such a smart IQ of the game that helps him make the plays that others can’t make.” — Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith
2023 projection: 68 tackles, 11 sacks
WR | Dolphins
2022 rank: 24
Hill set career highs in catches (119) and receiving yards (1,710) in his first season in Miami. Remarkably, Hill said he didn’t even fully grasp the Dolphins’ offense last season, getting by mainly on instinct, route-running ability and speed. He is aiming for 2,000 yards in 2023, and if everyone remains healthy, it might not be so outlandish of a goal. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Hill led the league with 3.3 yards per route last season. He was the only player over 3 yards.
What they are saying: “He’s definitely one of the most athletic athletes in the whole world. Everyday going against him is going to make everybody better.” — Dolphins cornerback Eli Apple
2023 projection: 104 receptions, 1,346 yards, 8 TDs (49 yards/1 TD rushing)
EDGE | Chargers
2022 rank: 19
After spending 12 games on injured reserve recovering from groin surgery then turning in a disappointing performance in a playoff loss, Bosa is fiercely motivated to prove that he should remain among the league’s most feared pass-rushers. Bosa, playing opposite Khalil Mack, will strive to top the 10.5 sacks he produced in 2021. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Since entering the league in 2017, Bosa’s 24.3% pass rush win rate is the fourth best among edge rushers over that span. Those pass rush wins have created 13 interceptions, tied for the second most over that span, per ESPN Analytics/NFL Next Gen Stats.
What they are saying: “He has some of the best hands in the NFL, which is kind of what he’s famous for; but to set those hands up, you have to really establish power. It’s going to help you in the run game and in the pass game. He’s feeling as good as he ever has.” — Chargers coach Brandon Staley
2023 projection: 58 tackles, 11 sacks
OT | 49ers
2022 rank: 16
At 35, Williams doesn’t seem to be slowing down. He earned a second consecutive All-Pro bid and his 10th Pro Bowl nod in 2022, finishing 13th among tackles in pass block win rate. Despite that, Niners offensive line coach Chris Foerster believes there is still room for him to be even better in 2023, which is why he is pushing Williams to lean more on technique rather than pure talent. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Williams’ 10 Pro Bowl selections are tied for the most among active players with Aaron Rodgers and specialist Matthew Slater. Additionally, Williams has been named first-team All-Pro in each of the past two seasons and ranks ninth among qualified offensive tackles in pass block win rate (92.3%) over that span.
What they are saying: “He’s a big football junkie. He knows about all the players in the league, and he loves football. He loves this stuff. And that’s what’s helped him too, is he just wants to be really good. … He wants to do things well and in the right way, and he’s always looking at himself really critically to see how can I be a little bit better?” — Foerster
WR | Eagles
2022 rank: 44
Given the on-field chemistry between Brown and Jalen Hurts — who call each other best friends — it’s easy to forget they’ve only been teammates for a year. Despite that newness, Brown set personal bests in receptions (88) and receiving yards (1,496) while tying his career high in receiving touchdowns (11). The Hurts-Brown connection has been automatic this summer. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Brown leads the NFL in receiving yards per target since entering the league in 2019 (10.2). He has been outstanding on contested catches too; his 12 touchdowns on passes into tight windows since 2019 are the most in the NFL, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
What they are saying: “It’s hard to say he’s getting quicker, but he is. He’s in and out of his breaks quicker, which helps you create more separation, which is going to help you get more yards after the catch, which is going to help the quarterback throw you the ball more.” — Eagles coach Nick Sirianni
2023 projection: 74 receptions, 1,127 yards, 7 TDs
QB | Ravens
2022 rank: 42
Jackson has his best chance to return to his 2019 NFL MVP form with a new contract, a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken and a new wide receiver group, which features Odell Beckham Jr. Since 2018, the Ravens are 45-16 (.738) with Jackson as their starter and 8-13 (.380) when he hasn’t played. — Jamison Hensley
Signature stat: Jackson is the only player in NFL history to throw 25 touchdowns and rush for 1,000 yards in a season, doing so twice (2019, 2020).
What they are saying: “He wants to be great. He wants to be elite. I do not see a guy that signed a contract and said, ‘OK, I’ve arrived.'” — Monken
2023 projection: 3,358 passing yards, 25 TDs, 12 INTs (922 yards/5 TDs rushing)
WR | Bills
2022 rank: 22
As long as he remains the clear No. 1 receiver in the Bills’ offense, there’s little to stop Diggs from reaching a fourth straight season of at least 1,200 yards. After conversations with Josh Allen about the offense escalated during minicamp, Diggs and his QB now appear on the same page and ready for another big year. — Alaina Getzenberg
Signature stat: Diggs is one of five players in NFL history to record seasons with 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards with multiple franchises (Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams and Brandon Marshall).
What they are saying: “He’s got so much, like, route craft. He’s able to create space, able to get open. He has the ability to really do whatever he wants to do. So, I think that makes him a great receiver, because he’s just so crafty and he’s able to create space, he’s fast and he’s got great agility, as well.” — Bills cornerback Dane Jackson
2023 projection: 98 receptions, 1,206 yards, 8 TDs
WR | Raiders
2022 rank: 10
Adams is entering a transition year because he has had only two quarterbacks since graduating high school in 2011 (Derek Carr at Fresno State, Aaron Rodgers with the Packers and Carr again last season with Las Vegas). Hello, Jimmy Garoppolo, who is not especially known for deep passes, which could make it hard for Adams to replicate last season’s career-high average of 15.2 yards per catch. Still, the three-time first-team All-Pro wideout remains one of the biggest threats in the league and should be one of Garoppolo’s best friends under duress. — Paul Gutierrez
Signature stat: Adams has 87 career receiving touchdowns, more than any other player since he made his NFL debut in 2014. Last season, he had eight touchdown catches on passes 25-plus yards downfield, which is the most in a season since ESPN began tracking air yards in 2006.
What they are saying: “Tae is a unique receiver, how quick he is, how it gets in and out of things. And really, how he sees the game is pretty unique. So, we’re getting there. I think we’re off to a good start.” — Garoppolo
2023 projection: 96 receptions, 1,479 yards, 7 TDs (12 yards rushing)
LB | 49ers
2022 rank: 25
Warner returned to his All-Pro form in 2022 after a 2021 season that fell below the high standard he previously set for himself. But while he was consistently productive in coverage and tackling, his goal is to continue to add more splash plays to his résumé. He has a combined four interceptions and fumble recoveries over the past two seasons, so linebacker coach Johnny Holland has him juggling before each practice as a means to improve Warner’s hand-eye coordination and get his hands on more footballs in 2023. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Warner is one of two players with at least 110 tackles in each of the past five seasons (Bobby Wagner). In 2022, Warner held opposing quarterbacks to a 56% completion rate as the nearest defender in coverage, the third-best mark among linebackers with at least 20 targets (NFL Next Gen Stats).
What they are saying: “I call him artificial intelligence because he’s a machine. … I’ve got to be creative and figure out a way, how do I make Fred a better player? I have to be creative every day for him.” — Holland
2023 projection: 137 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT
CB | Packers
2022 rank: 34
Alexander is one of the most confident players in the NFL regardless of position. But when you put someone that confident at cornerback, it’s usually going to be a show. And this season, Alexander believes he’ll be assigned to cover No. 1 receivers more often than last season, when it took about half the campaign to convince defensive coordinator Joe Barry to use him that way. — Rob Demovsky
Signature stat: Alexander had five interceptions last season, doubling his career total. The mark is tied for the most in a season by a Packers player over the past 10 seasons.
What they are saying: “I think Ja sometimes says things just so he knows, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on this week.’ Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, God, I can’t believe he said that.’ But whatever guys need to get it going and crank it up. But I tell you what, he backed it up, and he’s been playing really good ball.” — Barry
2023 projection: 67 tackles, 3 INTs
WR | Rams
2022 rank: 4
Kupp spent the final eight games of the 2022 campaign sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a high ankle sprain and was slowed during the preseason because of a hamstring injury. However, the Rams remain optimistic that in his seventh NFL season, Kupp will return to form as one of the league’s top receivers. Kupp will lead a young position group and again be quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s go-to target. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Since entering the league in 2017, Kupp has 508 receptions in 80 career games. That’s the second-most receptions through the first 80 games of a career in NFL history (Michael Thomas, 526).
What they are saying: “Cooper is the ultimate professional. … Before every game, I’ve always talked to him because of the way we bonded there; and now, the chance to be around him, watch him lead and watch him conduct himself on a daily basis, it’s awesome. He’s had the production his whole career; it’s only gotten better.” — Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur
2023 projection: 122 receptions, 1,432 yards, 6 TDs (67 yards rushing)
RB | Browns
2022 rank: 47
The Browns are revamping their offense around quarterback Deshaun Watson, going from tight-end-heavy schemes to a more wide-open attack. That could create even more running lanes for Chubb, who averaged a whopping 6.1 yards per carry out of three-receiver sets last season (second best in the league among backs). Chubb also should get significantly more opportunities to catch passes out of the backfield. — Jake Trotter
Signature stat: Chubb has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the past four seasons, tied with Jim Brown for the longest streak in Browns history. Chubb’s career 5.2 yards per rush average is the second best in NFL history after Jamaal Charles’ 5.4 (minimum of 1,000 rushes).
What they are saying: “He’s a big part of this offense, and we know that. So, we’re going to continue to feature him and do what he’s great at. He’s going to embrace his role and be able to do everything, catch passes, run the ball and do things that he probably hasn’t done before.” — Watson
2023 projection: 1,238 rushing yards, 9 TDs (274 yards/1 TD receiving)
DT | Chiefs
2022 rank: 40
Jones’ training camp holdout clouds the outlook for realistic expectations this season. But there’s no mystery about his impact when he is in the lineup. His pass rush win rate of 21% was second among interior linemen last season. — Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Jones tied his career high with 15.5 sacks last season. He is the only primary defensive tackle to record multiple seasons with at least 15.0 sacks since the stat became official in 1982.
What they are saying: “He can make a big difference in a lot of things, and he can be disruptive in the run game too.” — Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
2023 projection: 48 tackles, 9 sacks
QB | Jaguars
2022 rank: NR
Lawrence is in his second season in coach Doug Pederson’s offense and has had more input this offseason in shaping how it looks. Not only does Lawrence have all his playmakers back from last season — when the unit ranked 10th in scoring and yards per game — but the Jaguars have added wide receiver Calvin Ridley. — Michael DiRocco
Signature stat: After completing less than 60% of his passes during his 2021 rookie campaign, Lawrence raised his completion rate to 66% last season. His 6.7-point increase in completion rate from 2021 to 2022 was the best in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 100 passes over both seasons.
What they are saying: “The biggest thing that I’ve seen with Trevor, now going on two years, from where we had him a year ago in the offseason to today, just his confidence is incredible. It’s off the charts.” — Pederson
2023 projection: 3,895 passing yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs (305 yards/4 TDs rushing)
QB | Jets
2022 rank: 3
He is 39 and coming off his worst statistical season, but Rodgers seems rejuvenated by his new team and new surroundings. He also is excited about being reunited with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett; Rodgers won his third and fourth MVP awards when Hackett was on the staff in Green Bay. Rodgers still throws a great ball, but the question is whether he still moves well enough to buy time. If everything clicks, he could be the Jets’ first 4,000-yard passer since Joe Namath in 1967. — Rich Cimini
Signature stat: Rodgers has logged five seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards and no more than five interceptions; all other players in NFL history have combined for three such seasons.
What they are saying: “He’s a coach that can still play football.” — Jets coach Robert Saleh
2023 projection: 4,016 passing yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs (110 yards/1 TD rushing)
TE | 49ers
2022 rank: 38
For the first time in years, Kittle entered the offseason not having to wait for an injury to heal or spend time recovering from some sort of minor procedure. It has allowed him to begin preparing to play without any sort of restriction, and Kittle said this is the best he has felt in a long time. What’s more, Kittle will have a chance to build on the chemistry he had with quarterback Brock Purdy down the stretch in 2022, when Kittle caught seven touchdown passes in the final four regular-season games. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Kittle leads all tight ends in regular-season games with multiple receiving touchdowns since 2021 at five. Since entering the NFL in 2017, 55% of Kittle’s receiving yards have come after the catch, the second-highest mark in the NFL among 84 tight ends and wide receivers with at least 200 catches over that span.
What they are saying: “I think [entering the offseason healthy] just means he can maximize his potential. I don’t know what the ceiling is. I’m excited to find out, but there are no limitations right now, which is exciting.” — 49ers tight ends coach Brian Fleury
2023 projection: 61 receptions, 716 yards, 5 TDs
G | Cowboys
2022 rank: 41
Martin will turn 33 in November and remains one of the best interior linemen — if not the best — in the game. He has as many Pro Bowl appearances as holding penalties in his career (eight). He has been named a first-team All-Pro six times, and only Hall of Famers Randy White and Bob Lilly have more such honors in team history. Martin has the strength to handle power rushers and the physical skills to manage quicker rushers with a balance that rarely sees him on the ground. After a brief holdout, Martin enters 2023 with a reworked contract. — Todd Archer
Signature stat: Martin finished 2022 with the third-highest pass block win rate among guards, sustaining his blocks for 2.5 seconds 96% of the time.
What they are saying: “You just look at the way he trains, the way he prepares, his training is top notch. He’s super consistent. How much he pays it forward, he helps the young guys. Has excellent relationships throughout the building. And other than that, when he puts his hand in the ground, he’s really good. He just does everything right.” — Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy
DT | 49ers
2022 rank: NR
In search of a way to return their defensive line to its 2019 level of dominance, the 49ers shocked the league by spending big on Hargrave in the opening minutes of free agency. Hargrave’s fit is obvious: He slots in alongside Nick Bosa to form one of the league’s best pass-rushing duos. In 2022, Niners defensive tackles generated a combined 59 pressures, fourth fewest in the league. Hargrave alone posted 53, and his nine sacks when lined up as a defensive tackle were the most in the league last season. With Bosa and Arik Armstead next to him, Hargrave should have plenty more chances to wreak havoc in 2023. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Hargrave defeated his block within 2.5 seconds 18% of the time when lined up as a defensive tackle, the second-highest mark in the NFL after Chris Jones (22%).
What they are saying: “People don’t really know how good he is overall. I feel he isn’t quite talked about in the Aaron Donald, top echelon, Chris Jones. But I feel he played like that last year and throughout his career. So having him and Arik inside should be pretty fun.” — Bosa
2023 projection: 57 tackles, 7 sacks
WR | Cowboys
2022 rank: 32
His receptions, yards and touchdowns have increased every season in his first three years, topping out at 107 catches for 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns in 2022. Only Michael Irvin (111) and Jason Witten (110) have had more receptions in a season for the Cowboys. Lamb has proved worthy of the famed Cowboys’ No. 88 and being called a No. 1 receiver, and he believes there is more for him to accomplish. “Expect a lot,” he said when asked about the numbers he can put up in 2023. — Todd Archer
Signature stat: Last season, Lamb accounted for 30% of Dallas’ receptions; only Tyreek Hill accounted for a higher team percentage (32% for the Dolphins).
What they are saying: “I think CeeDee in that first year may have had a couple of balls that got away from him, but other than that, I never had any doubts about him. I’ve seen a lot of greats go through. I’ve seen Jordy [Nelson], Greg Jennings, Davante Adams; it’s just a natural progression. … I think he has been very consistent in his climb.” — Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy
2023 projection: 97 receptions, 1,211 yards, 6 TDs (59 yards rushing)
CB | Broncos
2022 rank: 65
Surtain has the rare combination of size, length, speed and composure when he plays. He gives Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph plenty of options in coverage, and many DCs around the league believe having a player like Surtain at cornerback is the first building block to a great defense. — Jeff Legwold
Signature stat: Surtain is one of four players to have picked off Patrick Mahomes multiple times (including playoffs), along with Justin Simmons (three), Josey Jewell (two) and Tashaun Gipson Sr. (two).
What they are saying: “Pat has everything you want: speed, length, intelligence, physicality. And put that with his desire to get better, to study his craft and his approach to everything. That’s just special.” — Joseph
2023 projection: 63 tackles, 2 INTs
EDGE | Raiders
2022 rank: 67
This is Crosby’s team now. With nine-year starting quarterback Derek Carr gone, the relentless Crosby — who is coming off a career-high 12.5 sacks, a league-high 22 tackles for a loss and his second Pro Bowl — has become the Silver and Black’s headman, leading by example in training camp. Whether he was giving rookie tight end Michael Mayer a hard time in drills or exhorting the entire team in exhibition games from the sideline, Crosby said he is sick of losing and plans on being the best edge rusher in the game. — Paul Gutierrez
Signature stat: No player has pressured the quarterback more over the past three seasons than Crosby (177), not even Aaron Donald (149). Crosby’s 37.5 sacks are the most by a Raider through 66 career games since 1995.
What they are saying: “He’s a problem to deal with. He’s a menace. So, it’s fun actually being on the other side of the field, just hearing his motor, hearing him talk to people, and I’m just watching it.” — Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones
2023 projection: 81 tackles, 11 sacks
WR | Commanders
2022 rank: 48
McLaurin established himself as a top-10 receiver in 2022, ranking 10th in receiving yards (1,191) and sixth in yards per catch (15.5). He ranks 13th in receiving yards since entering the NFL in 2019, despite playing with 10 different starting quarterbacks. McLaurin did a lot of his damage in the second half of games last season when Washington needed him most: He was third in the NFL with 737 yards in the second half, and he caught three of his five touchdown passes and 43 of his 77 receptions after halftime. — John Keim
Signature stat: McLaurin is the first Washington player to record three consecutive seasons with 75 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards.
What they are saying: “I love Terry. He’s an awesome competitor. It’s just so much fun to go out there knowing I have a guy, no matter who’s covering him, he’s going to get open and he’s going to make a play. It makes my job so much easier.” — Commanders quarterback Sam Howell
2023 projection: 74 receptions, 997 yards, 4 TDs (25 yards rushing)
S | Steelers
2022 rank: 23
The top safety on the list, Fitzpatrick is a force in Pittsburgh’s secondary. A year ago, he recorded a career-best six interceptions, including a pick-six of Joe Burrow on the quarterback’s first pass attempt of the season. Steelers brass are hesitant to compare him to Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, but with Fitzpatrick’s quiet demeanor coupled with his game-changing talent, there are obvious parallels to one of the Steelers’ all-time greats. — Brooke Pryor
Signature stat: Fitzpatrick is tied for the fifth-most interceptions (19) and has the most defensive touchdowns (five) in the NFL since his debut in 2018.
What they are saying: “Everything that Minkah is right now is what I thought he would become. … Minkah’s just more quiet. Stephon Gilmore was that way. He and Minkah remind me of each other. They don’t talk a whole lot, lead by example.” — Steelers secondary coach Grady Brown
2023 projection: 105 tackles, 1 sack, 4 INTs
QB | Cowboys
2022 rank: 39
Prescott is entering his eighth season as the Cowboys’ starter and still has something to prove. Mostly, that he can deliver a Super Bowl, but now also proving that his 15 interceptions, tied for the league lead despite playing in just 12 games, were an anomaly in 2023. He will have a new playcaller (Mike McCarthy) and a tweaked system for the first time in his career. But for the first time since 2019, Prescott did not have to rehab from a postseason surgery, and he believes his body is at its peak at age 30. — Todd Archer
Signature stat: Prescott is the only quarterback in NFC East history to record 24,000 passing yards in the first seven years of his career.
What they are saying: “I’ll never get into comparing, but one thing I say about Dak is just the way he’s able to lead. I talked to some of the guys about that the other day. Leading, you just can’t fake it. And the way that he leads is so authentic. You’ll follow that man anywhere. So that alone right there is the No. 1 key, in my opinion, you got to have from a quarterback. He has that and more.” — Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks
2023 projection: 4,094 passing yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs (242 yards/3 TDs rushing)
RB | Giants
2022 rank: NR
Barkley was finally healthy last season, and he looks even better this summer. He also is motivated to produce while in search of a new contract. The bottom line is whenever he has been on the field in his career, he has produced. The Pro Bowler played 80.2% of the offensive snaps last season, most among running backs. — Jordan Raanan
Signature stat: Since entering the league in 2018, Barkley is the only player to record multiple seasons with 1,300 rush yards, 50 receptions and 10 scrimmage touchdowns.
What they are saying: “I mean, I think Christian McCaffrey is a great route runner, but I think Saquon might be the best. He’s got speed. He’s got shiftiness. His wiggle is really good. He’s just a dominant player.” — Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke
2023 projection: 1,006 rushing yards, 8 TDs (430 yards/2 TDs receiving)
DT | Jets
2022 rank: NR
Williams established himself as one of the premier interior defenders in the league last season, recording a career-high 12 sacks and making first-team All-Pro. He cashed in with a four-year, $96 million contract extension. Encore? Already an elite pass-rusher, Williams still has room to improve against the run. That means defeating a steady diet of double-teams. — Rich Cimini
Signature stat: Williams had 12.0 sacks last season after having 13.0 in his previous two seasons combined. And he led the NFL with 7.5 sacks while being double-teamed.
What they are saying: “He really wants to be considered the best tackle in the league, and I think he has an opportunity to do that.” — Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich
2023 projection: 59 tackles, 7 sacks
EDGE | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Reddick has set the personal goal of registering 20-plus sacks this season. It sounds seemingly far-fetched — until you consider he came up just a half-sack shy of that amount between the regular season (16) and playoffs (3.5) a season ago. Respect has been a long time coming, but he now has to be considered one of the elite edge rushers in the game entering the 2023 campaign. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Reddick’s 27.5% pass rush win rate last season was the second highest in the NFL.
What they are saying: “I really watch him in film, and now I’ve got an up close look and I’m watching his reps every day, just trying to make sure my reps match his reps.” — Eagles edge rusher Nolan Smith
2023 projection: 52 tackles, 10 sacks
OT | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Johnson hasn’t yielded a sack since Week 11 of the 2020 season. It’s hard to get more dominant than that. Fresh off his fourth Pro Bowl selection and recovered from surgery to repair a torn adductor, the 33-year-old has been locking down his side of the field all summer. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Johnson has led all qualified tackles in pass block win rate since the start of 2020 (94.8%).
What they are saying: “He frustrates you a lot because you think you know [what he’s going to do], and the next thing you know, he’ll switch it up on you. That’s what I can respect with Lane.” — Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham
WR | Jets
2022 rank: NR
Despite the team’s struggles at quarterback, Wilson had 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Imagine what he could do with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Wilson is a smooth route runner with elite body control and the ability to change direction on a dime. There’s really no weakness in his game. All he needs is more experience in reading coverage and defenders. — Rich Cimini
Signature stat: Wilson was one of two rookies with more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2022. He became the first Jets receiver with 1,000 receiving yards since 2015.
What they are saying: “I told him I used to have a rule with Davante [Adams], where I’d give Davante a little extra tick because I know if I did that, he’s going to get open. I have to give that to Garrett too.” — Rodgers
2023 projection: 83 receptions, 1,133 yards, 9 TDs (24 yards rushing)
WR | 49ers
2022 rank: 28
After dropping from 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns in 2021 to 864 and five, Samuel lamented his “awful” 2022 season, vowing to return to the All-Pro levels he reached two years ago. He spent the offseason cutting weight in hopes of returning faster and with more wiggle, as coach Kyle Shanahan noted that he had “never had grown man send me so many shirtless pictures.” Samuel is motivated, and there’s plenty of belief among the Niners that he will return to form in 2023 as opposing defenses pick their poison among San Francisco’s many targets. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Samuel is the only receiver in NFL history to record at least 10 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns within his first five seasons.
What they are saying: “His awful could be somebody else’s best. … Deebo expects more from himself, and he knows the type of player that he needs to be for us to have a successful year. From the moment he got back, he was ready to go, because he knows what time it is.” — 49ers wide receivers coach Leonard Hankerson
2023 projection: 61 receptions, 874 yards, 5 TDs (220 yards/2 TDs rushing)
QB | Dolphins
2022 rank: NR
Tagovailoa enters another season of uncertainty — but not because of his play. The fourth-year quarterback proved last season he can play at an MVP level in this offensive system. The only question remaining is whether he can hold up for a 17-game season, which he has been unable to do in his first three years with the Dolphins. He’s in the second year of the same offensive system for the first time in his career, dating back to high school, and his teammates say the difference in his command of the offense is noticeable. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Tagovailoa had the highest Total QBR (99) and completion percentage (54%) on passes of 20-plus yards downfield in 2022.
What they are saying: “Last year, he was a great leader. This year, you can just see the confidence keep growing. He’s just taking control of the whole offense, of the whole team. He’s making sure guys respect him, as we’ve been respecting him.” — Dolphins offensive lineman Robert Jones
2023 projection: 3,918 passing yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs (140 yards/2 TDs rushing)
CB | Dolphins
2022 rank: 29
Howard was a Pro Bowler again in 2022, although soft tissue injuries hampered his play. Now fully healthy, Howard is set to remind any non-believers that he is still a No. 1 cornerback in this league. The longest-tenured current Dolphins player will find himself in a familiar role during the first part of the season, with Jalen Ramsey sidelined and a rotation of corners on the other side of him. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Howard leads the NFL in interceptions since entering the league in 2016 (28).
What they are saying: “It didn’t take me long being here to understand what he means to the rest of the players. There’s something to be said about when you do something at an elite level, you get notoriety from it. And then you continue to do it, people don’t really … have the option to show up and [say], ‘Maybe I don’t feel like being good today.’ — Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel
2023 projection: 53 tackles, 2 INTs
TE | Ravens
2022 rank: 33
Even with the Ravens’ new wide receivers, Andrews will remain quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s go-to because of his ability to get open and his reliability. He’s the NFL’s second most productive tight end behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. Since 2019, Andrews ranks second only to Kelce in catches (258), receiving yards (3,238) and touchdown catches (26). — Jamison Hensley
Signature stat: Andrews has tallied 2,204 receiving yards over the past two seasons — that’s the most in a two-season span in Ravens franchise history.
What they are saying: “The physical talent is pretty clear, but what I see is the competitiveness. He’s a pit bull competitor. He really is, and that’s what I appreciate about him the most.” — Ravens coach John Harbaugh
2023 projection: 73 receptions, 866 yards, 7 TDs (18 yards rushing)
DT | Giants
2022 rank: NR
He was dominant last season after defensive line coach Andre Patterson and coordinator Wink Martindale decided to make him a nose tackle. Centers can’t guard him one-on-one. Hence the career high 7.5 sacks and his 28 quarterback hits (second among defensive linemen). The Giants signed him to a $90 million deal expecting even more in Year 2. — Jordan Raanan
Signature stat: The Giants allowed 4.9 yards per rush with Lawrence on the field last season. They allowed 6.2 yards per rush with him off the field.
What they are saying: “They have some studs on the inside. 97 is a premiere player and needs to probably get some more recognition for the ability that he has. Talking with our interior three, they think he’s one of the top guys in the league for sure. And he played really well for them.” — Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (last season)
2023 projection: 72 tackles, 6 sacks
OT | Texans
2022 rank: 75
Tunsil has been a Pro Bowler, has helped get teams to the playoffs, was drafted in the first round and became the highest-paid player at his position twice. But he hasn’t achieved All-Pro honors, which he wants badly. The missing accolade has him motivated for 2023. — DJ Bien-Aime
Signature stat: Tunsil played a full season for the first time in 2022. He was one of 17 players with over 1,000 snaps at tackle.
What they are saying: “If you want to be a great offense, you got to have a great protector at the left tackle position, and that’s what Laremy provides for us.” — Texans coach DeMeco Ryans
WR | Dolphins
2022 rank: 74
Waddle is nobody’s second option. He set career highs with 1,356 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season, marking two straight 1,000-yard seasons to begin his NFL career. Playing opposite Tyreek Hill opens things up for him, but make no mistake, Waddle is one of the better receivers in the league. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Waddle finished 10th among all players in yards after catch (537) in 2022, but was first in YAC over expectation (212).
What they are saying: “When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s gone. He’s got the mindset once he gets the ball in his hands to take it to the house. It’s something you see quite a bit. He’s done an amazing job across the board.” — Dolphins wide receivers coach Wes Welker
2023 projection: 83 receptions, 1,085 yards, 6 TDs (25 yards rushing)
OT | Buccaneers
2022 rank: 36
Wirfs has kicked off his career with bucket list accolades: a Super Bowl with Tom Brady his rookie season, first-team All-Pro in his second and second-team All-Pro in his third — along with two Pro Bowls. But now he moves to the starting left tackle position; he played there just four games at Iowa and has never played it as a pro. — Jenna Laine
Signature stat: Wirfs ranks in the top 10 in pass block win rate (91%) and run block win rate (74%) among linemen with at least 3,000 offensive snaps played since 2020.
What they are saying: “Coach Joe [Gilbert] told me, ‘I am not going to let you fail.’ It is great having him push me every step of the way. I try not to let anybody down and do the best I can. They trust me and they put me in this position. I want to go out there and do the best that I can and show that I can do it.” — Wirfs
WR | Seahawks
2022 rank: 51
After falling to pick No. 64 in 2019 because of questions about his health and route running, Metcalf hasn’t missed a game. Jaxon Smith-Njigba could cut into his targets in 2023, but he could also create more one-on-one matchups for the often double-teamed Metcalf. — Brady Henderson
Signature stat: Metcalf has 4,218 receiving yards through his first four seasons.
What they are saying: “He’s the best receiver I’ve ever been around that took the techniques from practice into the game. Like if we ran a stutter-hinge versus Patrick Peterson, how it looked in walk-through, how it looked in an individual period, how it looked in team is exactly how it looked against Arizona.” — Seahawks wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal
2023 projection: 78 receptions, 1,017 yards, 8 TDs
EDGE | Bengals
2022 rank: 72
While the sacks weren’t always there for Hendrickson in 2022, he was among the NFL’s best edge rushers when it came to pass rush win rate (24.1%). Cincinnati gave Hendrickson a one-year extension and believes that he will be capable of producing at an elite level for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s unit. — Ben Baby
Signature stat: Hendrickson is the only defensive lineman to record 20-plus QB hits in each of the past three seasons.
What they are saying: “I think he works at his craft. When you see Trey in the hallway, don’t reach out to shake his hand. He might cross-chop you. He might swipe your hands down. He always works at his craft. He has a good intensity about it.” — Bengals defensive line coach Marion Hobby
2023 projection: 32 tackles, 8 sacks
EDGE | Panthers
2022 rank: 94
Outside linebackers typically thrive in 3-4 schemes, particularly those involving senior defensive consultant Dom Capers. Burns had a career-high 12.5 sacks last season as an end, and his 38 career sacks are second only to Nick Bosa for players drafted since in 2019. Now he’s in a scheme where his ability to wreak havoc on quarterbacks will be at a premium. Playing for a new deal also is an incentive as he enters his fifth season. Despite ongoing negotiations, Burns never thought twice about sitting out, because he sees his potential in this defense. The cost of re-signing him will surely grow. — David Newton
What they are saying: “I kind of feel like what we’ve got going is bigger than — I don’t want to say it’s bigger than my individual goals, because those matter, of course — but I feel like what we’ve got building is bigger than that. … And I feel like I’m a key piece to what we need to get done.” — Burns
2023 projection: 63 tackles, 10 sacks
LB | Ravens
2022 rank: 97
He’s the Ravens’ best leader in the middle since Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. There’s a reason why team officials refer to him as “a force multiplier.” After acquiring Smith at midseason last year, the Ravens gave up the second-fewest points (14.6) and the third-fewest yards (288.8) for the rest of the season. — Jamison Hensley
Signature stat: Smith, who was traded from the Bears to the Ravens last season, is the only player in the past 30 years to make at least 80 tackles each for two different teams in the same season.
What they are saying: “He spearheads the charge. He picks up [the defense] very fast, he makes it seem very easy, and I think the guys follow that lead. If he’s going, and he’s rocking and rolling, then the guys fall in line, then things just happen a little more seamlessly.” — Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald
2023 projection: 167 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT
OT | Giants
2022 rank: NR
His pass block win rate has jumped dramatically every season, from 81.0% as a rookie to 92.6% in 2022 when he earned second-team All-Pro honors. Thomas has become a lockdown left tackle who will be protecting Daniel Jones for years to come now that he’s under contract for the next seven seasons. — Jordan Raanan
Signature stat: Thomas has a 78.8% run block win rate as a tackle since the start of 2020 — which is the seventh best in the NFL in that span.
What they are saying: “He’s a tremendous player. He goes about it the right way. He works his tail off. He’s prepared, super smart, knows exactly what to do and then brings other guys along with him. So, he’s a huge part of this offense, huge part of this team.” — Jones
WR | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Smith had a career high in receiving yards (1,196) while sharing targets with fellow standouts A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert. At 24 years old, Smith is just entering his prime and could be in line for a monster season. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Smith’s 95 catches in 2022 are the most in a season by an Eagles receiver in franchise history.
What they are saying: “He’s got all the tools, so I told him it ain’t going to be too much longer before we’re going to be saying Smitty is the best receiver in the league, for sure.” — Eagles cornerback Darius Slay
2023 projection: 79 receptions, 1,012 yards, 6 TDs
DT | Titans
2022 rank: 92
Simmons has been among the top interior defensive linemen, ranking top seven in pressures, sacks, run stop win rate and batted passes in the past two seasons. The return of Harold Landry III and free agent addition Arden Key should help reduce the number of double-teams Simmons faces when rushing the passer. — Turron Davenport
Signature stat: Simmons was double-teamed on 319 pass rushes last season, the second-most in the NFL. He has tallied 16.0 sacks over the past two seasons.
What they are saying: “That guy is just a complete player. He has a really powerful bull rush and his quickness will surprise you when blocking him.” — Titans right guard Daniel Brunskill
2023 projection: 62 tackles, 7 sacks
WR | Bengals
2022 rank: 84
Higgins took a big leap in 2022. He improved as a route runner and did a better job of setting up defenders in order to gain separation, according to teammate Ja’Marr Chase. Higgins has racked up more than 3,000 yards in his first three NFL seasons. The final year of his rookie deal could be his biggest yet. — Ben Baby
Signature stat: Higgins has three straight seasons with at least five receiving touchdowns, the longest Bengals streak since A.J. Green in 2015.
What they are saying: “It’s been good watching him grow, watching him get better at the things he wasn’t good at when I first came in and then watching him play to his strengths.” — Chase
2023 projection: 81 receptions, 1,048 yards, 7 TDs
S | Chargers
2022 rank: 43
A hard-hitting safety, James is a proven playmaker across the defense with the ability to line up in the secondary, in the box or even at the line of scrimmage. Watch for coach Brandon Staley to continue to trust James to make big plays when needed, which could allow him the opportunity to improve on his career-best four sacks from last season. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Among 50 defensive backs with at least 40 pass rushes over the past two seasons, James recorded the highest pressure percentage at 31.6% and was credited with a pressure on 18 of 57 pass rushes, per ESPN tracking.
What they are saying: “His instincts. He has something that you can’t coach. The way he plays, the way he thinks, he’s smart.” — Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson
2023 projection: 122 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs
WR | Lions
2022 rank: NR
Since entering the league in 2021, St. Brown has a 1% drop rate (three drops in 265 targets) which is the lowest among all players with 200-plus targets in that span. He’s back for Year 3 and hungrier than ever after making his first Pro Bowl appearance last season. Already viewed as one of the most reliable receivers in the league, St. Brown is looking to take his game to an even higher level in 2023. — Eric Woodyard
What they are saying: “You can see he’s a man on a mission with how he works. He’s coming for something this year.” — Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds
2023 projection: 95 receptions, 1,047 yards, 6 TDs (64 yards/1 TD rushing)
DT | Colts
2022 rank: 62
Buckner is the engine that drives the Colts’ defense, providing a rare combination of size, length and power that offensive fronts struggle to contend with. He also has proven to be one of the toughest players in the league, fighting through numerous painful injuries in his career to miss just one game due to injury in seven seasons. — Stephen Holder
Signature stat: Buckner has recorded 24.5 sacks in three seasons with the Colts. It’s the most sacks by a Colts player in a three-season span since Robert Mathis had 26.5 from 2013 to 2015.
What they are saying: “A lot of things he does, you can’t teach it. Just from his stature (6-foot-7) to his ability to overpower guys in front him, it’s a lot of respect to him because he gets a lot of double-teams. That’s something he fights through to still make plays.” — Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II
2023 projection: 69 tackles, 6 sacks
WR | Saints
2022 rank: NR
Olave hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark despite missing two games, and he did that with an uncertain quarterback situation last year. A healthy Michael Thomas could take away some targets, but the addition of veteran quarterback Derek Carr could make the two a formidable duo in Olave’s second season. — Katherine Terrell
Signature stat: In 2022, Olave became one of three Saints rookies with 1,000 receiving yards in franchise history.
What they are saying: “I’m just picking up on the lingo, not having to learn the playbook … just knowing everything inside and out on the offense. I feel like the game is coming easier to me.” — Olave
2023 projection: 77 receptions, 1,127 yards, 5 TDs
DT | Commanders
2022 rank: NR
Allen has become a strong leader on Washington’s defense and remains one of the Commanders’ best players. Ironically there were concerns before 2017 about his durability due to some shoulder issues, but he has played all but two games over the past four years. And over the past two years, he’s tied for first with 26 tackles for a loss — and it’s why he has made consecutive Pro Bowls. — John Keim
Signature stat: Allen applied the first pressure on 29 plays as tackle in 2022 — which tied for sixth most in the NFL.
What they are saying: “When you have guys like [Allen] who can be disruptive and get into those creases and get vertical quickly, it helps the rest of the pass rush. It helps the coverage and forces the quarterback to make some decisions a little bit sooner. It cleans up a lot of things for a lot of people.” — Commanders coach Ron Rivera
2023 projection: 72 tackles, 6 sacks
RB | Raiders
2022 rank: NR
Now that the Raiders’ first-team All-Pro running back is back in the fold after signing his adjusted franchise tag worth as much as $12 million with per-game bonuses, two questions remain. First, how long will it take Jacobs to get into football shape, and second, how happy is Jacobs with his reworked one-year deal? There is a thin line between rest and rust, and Jacobs — who sat out the entire offseason program, training camp and exhibition season — last took a hit Jan. 7. But whenever Jacobs is ready for a full workload, coach Josh McDaniels will be happy to ride his every-down back again. — Paul Gutierrez
Signature stat: Jacobs ran for 1,653 yards in 2022, the second most in a season in Raiders history (Marcus Allen had 1,759 in 1985).
What they are saying: “I don’t think anyone is like Josh in the league. I think Josh is one of a kind. … Josh can run you over or juke you out. … It’s cool playing for guys like that because you know if you open up a hole and he gets to the safety, nine times out of 10, he’s going to run him over and score.” — Raiders offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor
2023 projection: 1,159 rushing yards, 9 TDs (309 yards/1 TD receiving)
OT | Bengals
2022 rank: NR
Cincinnati didn’t blink when it had the chance to sign Brown to a four-year deal in free agency. He ranked 18th in pass block win rate as a tackle in 2022 (91.8%). The Bengals are confident the former Pro Bowler will be able to secure Joe Burrow‘s blindside. — Ben Baby
Signature stat: No offensive lineman has taken more snaps (4,819) over the past four seasons (including playoffs) than Brown.
What they are saying: “His size, number one, stands out to you. He’s got good athleticism, uses his length really well, but he’s a really smart player as well, so he’s got a lot of things going for him that I think have allowed him to be successful.” — Bengals coach Zac Taylor
EDGE | Lions
2022 rank: NR
Hutchinson is coming off a stellar rookie season in which he led all rookies with 9.5 sacks while also racking up 52 total tackles and three interceptions. He also tied for the most quarterback hurries (37) among rookies in 2022 with Kansas City’s George Karlaftis. — Eric Woodyard
Signature stat: Myles Garrett was the only edge rusher double-teamed at a higher rate than Hutchinson (29.6%) last season.
What they are saying: “My goals are if you think about the highest accolades you can get in football, that’s what I’m going for.” — Hutchinson
2023 projection: 55 tackles, 9 sacks
CB | Bills
2022 rank: 88
White has put together a full offseason of work and is over a year and a half removed from tearing the ACL in his left knee. After playing only six games last season, the 2019 All-Pro has put in significant work to try to regain his pre-injury form. He’s part of a Bills secondary with safety Micah Hyde also returning from a neck injury. — Alaina Getzenberg
Signature stat: Since entering the league in 2017, White has held opposing quarterbacks to a 65.3 passer rating as the nearest defender, which is the sixth-best mark among backs with 200 targets, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
What they are saying: “It’s a mental challenge, sometimes as much as a physical challenge [coming off a torn ACL] in terms of just the resiliency it takes to day after day after day, not only get yourself ready to play, but also continue to rehab your knee and he’s been steadfast in his approach.” — Bills coach Sean McDermott
2023 projection: 71 tackles, 2 INTs
S | Broncos
2022 rank: 57
Simmons has been a mainstay, playing 100% of the Denver defense’s snaps in four consecutive seasons. He is durable, productive, a three-time second-team All-Pro selection and a leader in the locker room and in the community. — Jeff Legwold
Signature stat: Simmons has 27 interceptions since entering the league in 2016, tied for the second most in the NFL — trailing only Xavien Howard (28).
What they are saying: “Great communicator, and he’s someone that is always in the right spot. He’s savvy and smart — his football IQ is pretty rare.” — Broncos coach Sean Payton
2023 projection: 93 tackles, 3 INTs
DT | Commanders
2022 rank: NR
Payne entered last season in the final year of his contract with many believing it was his last in Washington. Then he produced a huge year in 2022, and the Commanders rewarded him with an even bigger four-year contract with $45 million guaranteed. The 2018 first-round pick has combined with Jonathan Allen to form one of the best interior duos in the NFL. — John Keim
Signature stat: Payne had 11.5 sacks last season, twice as many as any other season in his career.
What they are saying: “I know they’re probably going to watch a whole bunch of film on me and try to lock up the things that I like to do well the most. But I got some new stuff that I’ve been working on and I also will rely on some of the old stuff that I was doing to help me make some plays. As long as I just bring the intensity and keep a high motor, I can still make a lot of plays.” — Payne
2023 projection: 66 tackles, 7 sacks
CB | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Slay was named to his fifth Pro Bowl last season and was voted team captain for the first time in his career while playing a key role for one of the most productive secondaries in football. Slay hinted that he might not play too much longer, but he continues to perform at a high level. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Since his rookie year in 2013, Slay has 133 passes defended, 22 more than anyone else in the NFL.
What they are saying: “He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. One of the best.” — Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox
2023 projection: 62 tackles, 2 INTs
OT | Lions
2022 rank: NR
There’s a reason the Lions selected Sewell as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 draft. Viewed as a foundational part of the offense, Sewell has lived up to the hype, surrendering only 1.5 sacks in 2022 en route to earning his first Pro Bowl selection. The 6-foot-5, 335-pound offensive tackle was part of an O-line that helped the Lions become a top-five offense last season. — Eric Woodyard
Signature stat: Sewell and Jake Matthews allowed the fewest sacks (three) among tackles with at least 1,000 snaps played last season.
What they are saying: “He’s our foundation. He’s one of those pillars that we talk about. But I mean he is something else. He’s a man on a mission. I feel like we’re a team on a mission, but he is a man on a mission, and you talk about being wired right, a guy that comes in every day, puts in the work and he’s got so much ability, but he’s got the right attitude too and I think that’s what makes him dangerous if you’re the opponent.” — Lions coach Dan Campbell
OT | Saints
2022 rank: 37
Ramczyk was an All-Pro in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but hasn’t made the list since knee problems limited him to 10 games in the 2021 season. Ramczyk played in 16 games last season, but the Saints have been cautious with him, giving him plenty of veteran rest days throughout the offseason. If he stays healthy, he’ll be the anchor on the Saints’ offensive line. — Katherine Terrell
Signature stat: Ramczyk allowed one sack in the final seven games of 2022. He led all tackles in pass block win rate in 2021 (95%).
What they are saying: “I’m on the same program as I was last year. I think what I did last year was beneficial. My knee felt good through the year. So I think if we can just stay on that course, it’ll be good. … I feel overall pretty good.” — Ramczyk
OT | Dolphins
2022 rank: 69
He immediately stabilized a middling offensive line en route to another Pro Bowl selection last season. Even a decade into his career, Armstead is clearly one of the best offensive linemen in the league when healthy. After offseason knee surgery kept him out of spring practices, Armstead injured his right leg during joint practices with the Texans this summer, but he plans on being ready for Week 1. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Armstead has reached four Pro Bowls over the past five seasons.
What they are saying: “He’s a vet. Every time he’s around, you feel his presence. He’s always talking. He’s always giving advice, and he’s another guy that if you need something and you ask him, he’s going to tell you and he’s going to be completely honest. He’s going to give you every tool that you need to be great because he’s a great player. He’s an awesome player.” — Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson Jr.
DT | 49ers
2022 rank: NR
After four straight healthy seasons, Armstead played only nine regular-season games in 2022 and didn’t have a single sack for the first time in his career. But Armstead is healthy again, and there’s reason to believe his production will be closer to what it was in 2019, when he had a career-best 10 sacks (eight of which came from playing inside). The Niners’ addition of Javon Hargrave gives Armstead the best interior running mate he has had since DeForest Buckner, and with Nick Bosa on the outside, Armstead should get more one-on-one opportunities. — Nick Wagoner
Signature stat: Armstead has 28.5 sacks since entering the league in 2015.
What they are saying: “Toward the end of the year he started to string enough healthy weeks together where he started to come and then the year was over. So the offseason he had, how he’s been in training camp so far, he looks healthy, looks good. And he’ll be Arik as long as this keeps continuing.” — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan
2023 projection: 45 tackles, 4 sacks
WR | Buccaneers
2022 rank: 31
For those concerned Evans may have a drop-off without Tom Brady: He has had nine 1,000-yard seasons with five different starting quarterbacks. The scheme under new offensive coordinator Dave Canales also has him moving around more than he ever has, and this system is more about the scheme getting guys open and less reliant on guys constantly having to win their one-on-one matchups. Even at 30, there has been zero indication of him slowing down this training camp. — Jenna Laine
Signature stat: Evans has never finished a season under 1,000 receiving yards in his career. His streak of nine straight is the longest active streak in the NFL.
What they are saying: “Just his body language at the top of his routes, how friendly it is. It is unlike any wide receiver I have ever played with. I am getting used to how friendly it is and just being able to trust and let it go earlier and earlier. It just speaks to how great he has been consistently year over year with whoever is throwing the ball to him. He is going to do his job. He is going to do it at a very high level. He is going to make plays for you.” — Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield
2023 projection: 73 receptions, 1,025 yards, 5 TDs
C | Eagles
2022 rank: NR
Kelce has started 139 consecutive games, which is the second-longest active streak in the NFL. The 35-year-old has contemplated retirement for several offseasons, but with no signs of drop-off in his game, he continues to suit up to the delight of his coaches and teammates. — Tim McManus
Signature stat: Kelce finished the 2022 season with the seventh-highest pass block win rate among offensive linemen with at least 400 snaps at center, sustaining his blocks for at least 2.5 seconds 96% of the time. He also had the third-highest run block win rate among the group (75%).
What they are saying: “He’s done so much for me already. I’m pumped he’s back. You can’t have a better locker room guy, a team leader than that.” — Eagles offensive lineman Cam Jurgens
CB | Saints
2022 rank: 27
Lattimore reminded everyone of his value when he had a game-clinching pick-six against the Super Bowl runner-up Eagles in Week 17 after missing 10 games last season. There’s no reason to believe he won’t pick up right where he left off as he slides back into a starting role this year. The one thing that could hold him back? A lack of pass rush up front. — Katherine Terrell
Signature stat: Lattimore has tallied 10-plus passes defended in five of the past six seasons, making him one of six players to do so in that span.
What they are saying: “Physical, being physical. I think that’s a big part of my game. Everybody can run. … But being physical is part of the game, tackling, just being physical with the receivers. That separates me.” — Lattimore
2023 projection: 70 tackles, 2 INTs
G | Browns
2022 rank: NR
Bitonio was sixth among guards in pass block win rate (95.0%) last season. Though Bitonio can also pave the way in the running game, the five-time Pro Bowler could thrive even more in Cleveland’s new offense — a wide-open passing attack centered around Deshaun Watson. — Jake Trotter
What they are saying: “Joel’s somebody that’s constantly — in games, in practice — doing it exactly the way you want it done. He’s a teach-tape player. He’s done it at a high level for a very long time. I don’t know that there’s many guards that have the combination of power, movement skills, the ability to pass protect. A very complete player and a great person off the field as well. A huge part of what we do. A huge leader for this football team.” — Browns coach Kevin Stefanski
C | Chiefs
2022 rank: 68
Humphrey was a standout from the time he joined the Chiefs in 2021, and this season he should only continue to improve. He is the youngest of the Chiefs’ starting offensive linemen, but it’s difficult to tell by watching him play. — Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Humphrey ranked second in the NFL with a 98.1% pass block win rate last season.
What they are saying: “Creed was a readymade center when he came in. That’s one of the reasons he was able to step in and do a good job. He operates like a veteran.” — Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck
EDGE | Vikings
2022 rank: NR
Hunter returned from two injury-filled years to dominate last season, earning a raise for 2023 and giving him a guaranteed path to free agency next spring if he wants it. He will be highly motivated this season and in a position to capitalize on the pass-rush creativity of new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. — Kevin Seifert
Signature stat: Hunter led the Vikings with 10.5 sacks last season.
What they are saying: “I see him fitting in as an every-down player. … He brings an element of, at least from a pass-rush standpoint, an element of, you know you feel good in one-on-one situations, and inevitably if we’re doing well in one-on-one situations, the hope is they add someone else. … But having a player like Danielle, no one’s upset about it.” — Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores
2023 projection: 63 tackles, 10 sacks
CB | Seahawks
2022 rank: NR
The 6-foot-4 Woolen ran a 4.26 in the 40-yard dash at the 2022 combine and burst onto the NFL scene just as quickly. As a fifth-round pick, he made the Pro Bowl after intercepting six passes to tie for the league lead. It was only his third full season at cornerback (former wide receiver), leaving plenty of room for growth in 2023. — Brady Henderson
Signature stat: Woolen’s six interceptions in 2022 were the most by a rookie since 2015.
What they are saying: “He’s such a talented athlete. It’s more than that, though. … His days as a receiver haven’t left him. He understands routes and he can feel the routes when they’re happening.” — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
2023 projection: 63 tackles, 2 INTs
CB | Falcons
2022 rank: 46
Terrell has been the Falcons’ top corner for years now and remains one of the league’s top defensive backs. He took a little dip last season, in part because he played a little more man coverage than he had in the past, combined with Atlanta’s continued pass-rushing struggles. — Michael Rothstein
Signature stat: Terrell allowed the lowest completion percentage (49%) among defensive backs over the past two seasons, according to NFL Next Gen Stats (minimum 100 targets).
What they are saying: “He’s an elite player. His physicality, speed, his hips. As a DB, you got to have good hips, and A.J. has great hips. He’s able to get out of breaks and impact the quarterback with throws and just crazy coverage, man. He’s different.” — Falcons cornerback Dee Alford
2023 projection: 70 tackles, 2 INTs
S | Dolphins
2022 rank: NR
Holland is one of those players who probably isn’t as widely known as he should be, but he could become a household name this season. Safeties have a history of making gains under Vic Fangio, including Justin Simmons and Eddie Jackson, and the ball-hawking Holland could be next in line. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
What they are saying: “He’s been very impressive. He’s another guy that I really liked in the draft the year he came out, and he hasn’t disappointed one bit. I think he’s a hell of a player and should just get better and better every day, every year.” — Fangio
2023 projection: 93 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs
LB | Bills
2022 rank: NR
Milano is coming off his first All-Pro season and signed a two-year extension in March to stay with the Bills through 2026. He’s part of a Bills defense that has led the NFL in yards per play allowed since 2018 (5.0). While there will be a new starting middle linebacker alongside him, Milano has remained a reliable and physical presence for the Buffalo defense. — Alaina Getzenberg
Signature stat: In 2022, Milano allowed a 68.8 passer rating as the nearest defender, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s the second lowest among linebackers (minimum 25 targets), trailing only C.J. Mosley.
What they are saying: “Guys want to be Matt Milano. They want to have the success that Matt’s had. So Matt’s success and the way he plays the game and the way he impacts the game in a positive way for us, really speaks louder than anything Matt could ever say.” — Bills linebackers coach Bobby Babich
2023 projection: 123 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs
EDGE | Giants
2022 rank: NR
His rookie season started slowly with an injury and he finished with 4.0 sacks. But the 2022 No. 5 pick still finished 16th among edge rushers with a 17.9% pass rush win rate. It’s easy to see the sack number jumping significantly with him in better shape and with more experience in his second season. — Jordan Raanan
Signature stat: Thibodeaux was the first Giants rookie with multiple fumbles forced and recovered in a single season since Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010.
What they are saying: “He has that drive to be great and it’s every single day the little details of the game that can make him great, he wants all of it. He wants to attack every single one of those areas.” — Giants outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins
2023 projection: 61 tackles, 7 sacks
OT | Chargers
2022 rank: 52
Slater expected to turn in a second-year encore coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season but instead spent 14 games in 2022 sidelined after rupturing his left biceps tendon. Healthy again, Slater is eager to return to left tackle, where in 2021 he played a key role in keeping Herbert upright, as he was sacked only 31 times (tied for the sixth-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL). — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Slater’s season ended after three games last season, but he left without giving up a sack in his last seven games dating back to 2021.
What they are saying: “He’s a great player. Strong hands and very disciplined with his outside hand and inside. It’s crazy how he uses his hands.” — Chargers outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu
RB | Chargers
2022 rank: NR
Ekeler bet on himself over the offseason, requesting permission to seek a trade to an organization that would sign him to a lucrative extension. However, no market materialized and Ekeler — the NFL’s defending touchdowns leader (18) — returns to L.A. in the final year of a four-year, $24.5 million contract motivated to prove he’s worthy of a big-time multiyear payday. — Lindsey Thiry
Signature stat: Over the past two seasons, Ekeler has scored an NFL-best 38 touchdowns. Ekeler ranks third in both catches (389) and receiving yards (3,448) among running backs since the start of 2017 — trailing Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in both categories.
What they are saying: “He’s got tremendous vision. He has a really cool way about him of finding the hole, finding the gap. He has great instincts and I think that’s going to go a long way.” — Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore
2023 projection: 836 rushing yards, 9 TDs (500 yards/3 TDs receiving)
WR | Jaguars
2022 rank: NR
Ridley used his season-long gambling suspension to heal up mentally and physically, and he was the most impressive offensive player in Jaguars training camp. He’ll be playing alongside the best group of playmakers (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram) of his career, and that should keep defenses from keying on him. — Michael DiRocco
Signature stat: Ridley was one of six pass-catchers with 3,000 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns between the 2018 and 2020 seasons.
What they are saying: “He just wants to prove that he belongs at the top of this group of receivers across the league. I think that’s important to him.” — Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor
2023 projection: 74 receptions, 918 yards, 6 TDs (25 yards rushing)
WR | Seahawks
2022 rank: NR
Is Lockett the NFL’s most underrated wide receiver? Over the past five seasons, his 5,284 receiving yards are eighth most at that position, while his 45 receiving touchdowns are tied for fourth. With four straight 1,000-yard seasons and only two missed games in that span, he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as he approaches his 31st birthday in September. — Brady Henderson
Signature stat: Since entering the NFL in 2015, Lockett has 18 touchdowns on passes thrown 30-plus yards downfield (five came last season) — which is second in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill (24).
What they are saying: “He came to camp in the best shape I’ve seen him in five, six years. I can’t remember a year, really, when he was in better condition or [had] better speed early in camp.” — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
2023 projection: 81 receptions, 876 yards, 5 TDs
QB | Lions
2022 rank: NR
Coming off one of his best seasons in 2022, Goff has a chance to secure a long-term future as the Lions’ franchise quarterback. He helped lead the Lions to eight victories over their last 10 games while spearheading a top-five offense last season. If he can perform at a high level again this season, the Lions have a chance to make the playoffs. — Eric Woodyard
Signature stat: Goff finished the 2022 season with 29 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions, making a TD/INT ratio of 4.1 — the best in the NFL and the best mark in a single season in Lions franchise history (min. 250 passes).
What they are saying: “I feel like he’s right on track. He’s in his second year in the offense and you know I feel like he’s right where he needs to be. He’s in good place, he’s making big throws. I feel like he’s on top of the protection, and yeah, I feel good, I mean there’s nothing that would tell me he’s not going to have another good year for us.” — Lions coach Dan Campbell
2023 projection: 3,933 passing yards, 24 TDs, 11 INTs (83 yards/2 TDs rushing)
RB | Titans
2022 rank: 61
Henry’s 125.7 yards from scrimmage per game over the past four seasons is the highest in the NFL, and his ability shows no signs of slowing down. Despite having the second-most rushing yards (1,538) last season, he could see fewer stacked boxes with the addition of veteran wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. — Turron Davenport
Signature stat: Henry has led the league in rush attempts in three of past four seasons, including 2022. The high workload is no aberration — Henry leads the league in rushing yards (8,335) and rushing touchdowns (78) since entering the league in 2016, and only Ezekiel Elliott (1,881) has more rushes than Henry (1,750) in that span.
What they are saying: “Defenders still hate tackling him. It’s the way he comes here and puts the work in every day. You see his workouts in the offseason too. Derrick is determined to show that he is still one of the best in the league.” — Titans safety Kevin Byard
2023 projection: 1,367 rushing yards, 9 TDs (285 yards/1 TD receiving)
CB | Ravens
2022 rank: 56
Humphrey continues to make the case for being the best all-around cornerback in franchise history. He is definitely the top playmaking one. He’s just one of three Ravens defenders to record double-digit interceptions (12) and forced fumbles (13) for a career, joining Hall of Fame players Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Unfortunately for the Ravens, Humphrey is sidelined after undergoing foot surgery, and the timetable for his return is uncertain — though Humphrey wants to be back for Week 1. — Jamison Hensley
What they are saying: “He’s an old school guy. He’s got that linebacker mentality. He’s coming up and wants to hit. He’s punching the ball out. You have to be on point wherever Marlon is at, because he’s a great blitzer. He’s the total package. He’s got the speed, power. He’s got all of that.” — Ravens secondary coach Chris Hewitt
2023 projection: 76 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT
QB | Vikings
2022 rank: 89
Unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension this spring, Cousins and the Vikings will head into a year of reckoning in 2023. Although he recorded a career-low 49.9 QBR last season, Cousins is far more comfortable now in coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense, where he has been encouraged to be aggressive and take more risks than in previous schemes. — Kevin Seifert
What they are saying: “The whole mission we’ve had since Day 1 with Kirk [is] to have him feel great and optimize his performance to see if he can reach his full potential and play as long as he wants to play. My goal is to make him feel younger every year versus what is typical of people, and that is feeling older each year. And we’ve had a lot of progress with that.” — Cousins’ personal performance coach Chad Cook
2023 projection: 4,491 passing yards, 28 TDs, 12 INTs (102 yards/2 TDs rushing)
G | Chiefs
2022 rank: 86
If Patrick Mahomes comes under pressure on a particular play this season, don’t blame Thuney. He had a pass block win rate of 98.9% last season to lead all NFL linemen. — Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Thuney has the NFL’s sixth highest pass block win rate since entering the league in 2016 (95.9%).
What they are saying: “He’s a super sharp guy. He’s not going to make many mistakes and if he does, he’s not going to make them twice.” — Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck
EDGE | Patriots
2022 rank: NR
Judon is the team’s best pass-rusher (28 sacks over the past two seasons) and has also improved as an edge-setter against the run — a key for any outside linebacker in the Patriots’ system. The engine that makes the Patriots’ defense go, teammates also feed off his energy. — Mike Reiss
Signature stat: Judon’s 15.5 sacks in 2022 were the most in a season by a Patriots player since Andre Tippett in 1985 (16.5).
What they are saying: “His motor, he’s always on 100 — every play and in the locker room. He has a mentality that nobody can mess with him. Any time he’s on the field, you know a sack is coming.” — Patriots safety Adrian Phillips
2023 projection: 55 tackles, 8 sacks
EDGE | Bills
2022 rank: 73
Despite playing in only 11 games last season, Miller led the Bills in pass rush win rate (23.6%) and tied for the team lead in sacks (eight). His return from ACL surgery to his right knee will be a boost as his impact on the rest of the Bills’ defense is significant both on and off the field. — Alaina Getzenberg
Signature stat: Miller’s 14.5% pressure percentage in 2022 was the fourth best in the NFL.
What they are saying: “He’s a guy that if you’re not trying to model your game after him, I don’t know what you’re doing.” — free agent edge rusher Shane Ray (who was with the Bills during camp)
2023 projection: 21 tackles, 5 sacks
DT | Dolphins
2022 rank: NR
The Dolphins’ captain is one of the league’s premier run defenders. His sack numbers leave a little something to be desired, but Wilkins has a nose for the ball and always seems to be in the vicinity when a play is made. He wants a new contract before the start of the season — and did not participate in team drills at camp in a hold-in attempt — so the ball is now in the Dolphins’ court. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Signature stat: Wilkins has a 40.8% run stop win rate since entering the NFL in 2019. That’s the highest among defensive lineman in that span.
What they are saying: “Christian’s a dawg. We need him. We need him to win. There’s no question. So he knows what he needs to be ready, to be prepared. He practices and plays harder than anybody I’ve ever seen. You never worry about a guy like him. We need him.” — Dolphins offensive tackle Terron Armstead
2023 projection: 88 tackles, 5 sacks
WR | Bears
2022 rank: 59
The Bears wouldn’t have traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers if they didn’t get Moore in the return package. Moore was brought to Chicago to help quarterback Justin Fields take the next step as a passer. He has shown he can adapt to just about any situation and still produce, having caught passes from eight different quarterbacks in Carolina and recording three straight 1,100-yard seasons. — Courtney Cronin
Signature stat: Moore is the only pass-catcher drafted in 2018 to eclipse 5,000 receiving yards. He also ranks top-10 among wideouts in yards after catch since entering the league (1,821).
What they are saying: “I just think when you add a playmaker like that to your football team, there’s excitement. Just automatic excitement in the whole building. It doesn’t matter what side you’re playing on because you know this guy is special and he can make a lot of things happen.” — Bears coach Matt Eberflus
2023 projection: 64 receptions, 928 yards, 7 TDs (57 yards rushing)
CB | Cowboys
2022 rank: 78
Since 2020, no cornerback has had more interceptions than Diggs’ 17. He has been to the Pro Bowl each of the past two years, and the Cowboys rewarded him with a $97 million extension to start the offseason. Ball skills cannot be taught. Diggs has them and is still growing at the position since he played wide receiver early in his college career at Alabama. He is a risk-taker, but the Cowboys are willing to live with some of it. With a fierce pass rush, they believe Diggs can have even more opportunities to take the ball away. — Todd Archer
Signature stat: Diggs is one of two players to have at least 15 interceptions and multiple defensive touchdowns over the past three seasons (Xavien Howard).
What they are saying: “I think the big thing is, you always talk about taking the next step and the definition of what the next step looks like. I think clearly when you look at our defense as a whole, when you lead the league in a category — particularly takeaways, as we have the last two years — when you look at the history of this league and what that represents, he’s a big part of it. It’s the ability to play with a higher level of discipline and know his opportunities are probably going to be less. How can he contribute in the other aspects of defense?” — Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy
2023 projection: 60 tackles, 2 INTs
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