News & Analysis

2021 Free Agency: Ranking the NFL's top 50 free agents

It's almost team-building season, so let's get our first look at the 2021 free agent class.

The PFF free agent list is based upon our player evaluations and positional value, and it's a fluid list as the 2020 season is still unfolding. We will continue to update this list as we head toward the March free agency period. 

1. QB Dak Prescott

The prize of the free agent market, Prescott went down with an unfortunate injury after just four-plus games in 2020. With four full seasons under his belt, Prescott has finished in the top 10 of PFF grades twice while ranking closer to 20th in the other two seasons. However, Prescott’s 85.2 PFF grade this season would’ve been a career-best, and his 2019 and 2020 work is the most productive of his career.

From a macro view, Prescott’s play dipped as his supporting cast took a step back, but a revamped receiving corps has had Dallas’ offense moving the ball efficiently with Prescott at the helm. With solid accuracy, decision making and mobility, he has proven capable of putting up high-end production, and he appeared on his way to establishing himself as an annual “top-eight” quarterback prior to his injury.

Contract Analysis: A second franchise tag would be valued at $37.7 million for Prescott, so the two sides finally agree to a long-term extension just below that on an annual basis.

Prediction: Cowboys sign Prescott for four years, $150 million ($37.5M APY): $115M total guaranteed, $75 million fully guaranteed at signing.

2. WR Chris Godwin

The 2019 season showed the ceiling that Chris Godwin can reach. He finished the year with a 90.7 overall PFF grade and was one of the very best receivers in football. Given his impressive grades over the first two seasons of his NFL career before that, it seemed like a natural breakout point. Yet, injury has prevented him from backing it up in 2020 thus far.

Godwin is an exceptionally talented and versatile receiver who has great hands — dropping just four passes in his first three seasons— and he has excelled from both an outside and slot alignment. Godwin’s projection will likely depend on what the second half of the 2020 season holds for him. If he can get back to the form he showed in 2019, he may be one of the best receiver free agents to hit the open market in years.

Contract Analysis: Godwin was eligible for an extension after 2019, and Tampa Bay probably would’ve (should’ve) given him one if it didn’t land Tom Brady for a Super Bowl push. Godwin was also apparently on-board with adding Antonio Brown, so he’s clearly a team-first player.

Prediction: Buccaneers franchise tag Godwin for 2021, and a deal is not reached before the season starts.

Otherwise: Buccaneers sign Godwin for five years, $110 million ($22 million APY): $65 million total guaranteed, $45 million fully guaranteed at signing.

3. WR Allen Robinson II

It’s impossible not to feel a little bit sorry for Allen Robinson II given the quarterback situations he has dealt with dating back to at least high school. He may have chosen his latest nightmare in Chicago, but the combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles did not encourage much success, yet Robinson continually excels.

Robinson hasn’t had an overall PFF grade lower than 69.0 in his career or lower than 75.0 since the 2018 season, his first in Chicago. He consistently showcases excellent hands and contested-catch skills, dropping no more than three passes in a season since his time in Jacksonville. Robinson consistently grades out as a borderline top-10 receiver with one of the worst quarterback situations in the league, and he is still just 27 years old. His ceiling with a high-end quarterback could be special.

Contract Analysis: Robinson could close his eyes and throw a dart at a U.S. map, and he’ll end up with a better quarterback at his new destination. He’s another franchise tag candidate, but Chicago’s current salary cap nightmare could make fitting $18 million (what Robinson’s tag would be) in 2021 borderline impossible.

Prediction: Dolphins sign Robinson for four years, $80 million ($20M APY). $50 million total guaranteed, $35 million fully guaranteed at signing.

4. WR Kenny Golladay

There may be no better endorsement of a top receiver than the difference it makes to his quarterback when he is on the field. Matthew Stafford is a different player when Golladay is on the field, and the wideout clearly has confidence in his ability to go up and get the football in tough spots. Against Atlanta this season, he caught six contested targets, racking up over 110 yards from incredible receptions alone.

Golladay has the size and athleticism required to be a big target on the outside, along with that contested-catch prowess, but he also possesses enough nuance in his route running to function well in any system. The NFC North has featured some great receivers in recent seasons, and Golladay is up there with the best of them.

Contract Analysis: Golladay is probably the most likely franchise tag recipient in the NFL at this point. We don’t think the rumors of him to the Giants through trade were by accident; Golladay’s representation was probably trying to help him land on a team more interested in giving him the long-term contract he deserves.

Prediction: Lions franchise tag Kenny Golladay for 2021, and a deal is not reached before the season starts.

Otherwise: Giants sign Golladay for four years, $85 million ($21.25M APY): $57.5 million total guaranteed, $37.5 million fully guaranteed.

Nov 29, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. T Trent Williams

After not playing a snap in 2019, Williams is back in his rightful place as one of the league’s best offensive tackles. He can play in any scheme, moving defenders at the point of attack or cutting them off on the backside of zone plays, while linebackers must keep their head on a swivel because he attacks the second level with a vengeance.

Williams has basically never had a bad season in the NFL, with his rookie year being by far the lowest overall PFF grade he has posted (63.4). He hit at least a 75.6 mark in every other season. He has shown elite-level play in multiple schemes and now multiple cities, and he looks capable of being the next great left tackle to play well into their 30s at a high level.

Contract Analysis: Williams quietly has regained his All-Pro form in San Francisco following a lengthy holdout with the Washington Football Team. He’s been as patient as an individual can be, and he’ll finally be cashing out as a reward.

Prediction: 49ers sign Williams for four years, $80 million ($20M APY): $62.5 million total guaranteed, $45 million fully guaranteed at signing.

6. S Anthony Harris

Anthony Harris has been one of the best safeties in football for the past few seasons, steadily earning himself increased playing time in Minnesota. He put together an All-Pro caliber season in 2019 before taking a step back this year along with the rest of the Vikings’ defense. Harris earned a 91.1 overall PFF grade a season ago, which came hot on the heels of the 89.0 mark he posted the year before that when he played 624 snaps and started half the season due to injury. He has been a perfect free safety within Mike Zimmer’s defense, which employs a lot of split-safety looks and has been particularly adept at making plays on the football, with coverage being by far his biggest asset.

Harris has shown the ability to read route concepts and quarterbacks at the same time, putting himself in position to make plays. He should be primed for a big deal.

Minnesota has a huge decision to make at safety, with the anchor of their defense in Harrison Smith entering the final year of his deal in 2021, as well. Harris’ emergence opposite Smith has been a welcome development, and although he’s the younger player, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings letting Smith play a single snap outside of Minnesota before his potentially Hall of Fame career is over.

Prediction: Football Team signs Harris for four years, $60 million ($15M APY): $30 million total guaranteed, $18 million fully guaranteed at signing.

7. S Justin Simmons

After a few solid seasons to begin his career, Justin Simmons has blossomed into one of the game’s best safeties. Simmons had a 90.7 overall PFF grade in 2019, with four picks and 11 pass breakups to his name. He was a rare free safety who was also extremely active against the run and in the box, notching 28 defensive stops over the season. So far this year, he hasn’t quite backed up that phenomenal performance, but has a better grade than in any of his previous NFL campaigns, proving that last year wasn’t a complete outlier.

Simmons has not only the range to impact plays in coverage, but he also possesses the ability to read and diagnose plays quickly enough to support against the run or on shorter passes over the middle in a way a lot of free safeties simply don’t.

Contract Analysis: Vic Fangio coached Bears safety Eddie Jackson into the biggest safety contract in the NFL at the time of signing, and the same thing could happen with Simmons this offseason.

Prediction: Broncos sign Simmons for five years, $82.5 million ($16.5M APY). $45 million total guaranteed, $22.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

8. LB Lavonte David

One of the best linebackers of his generation, Lavonte David is still playing at an incredibly high level past the age of 30. In many ways, he has been the archetype for the modern linebacker that counters the league’s shift in offensive philosophy away from smash-mouth football and toward speed and efficiency. David has been able to counter that with speed and efficiency of his own, in addition to exceptional coverage skills. He has four seasons in his career with a PFF coverage grade above 85.0 and has never graded lower than 64.6 in that area.

Those coverage skills will be what teams covet most because even if he begins to lose half a step as he ages, his ability to read the game and be in the right place at the right time will stand the test of time.

Contract Analysis: David represents half of the NFL’s most formidable inside linebacker duo alongside 2019 No. 5 overall pick Devin White. Already 30 years old, David has shown no signs of slowing down, but Tampa Bay may have to lean on White going forward to spend at other positions.

Prediction: Buccaneers sign David for three years, $40 million ($13.33M APY): $23.5 million total guaranteed, $17.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

9. WR Will Fuller V

Will Fuller has the all-important “speed you can’t teach,” which will always elevate him beyond where his production would otherwise rank him. It was clear even when the Texans had DeAndre Hopkins as their No. 1 receiver that Fuller made a material difference to the offense just by being on the field. Defenses needed to respect that deep threat on every single snap. He has yet to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season and has missed a lot of time with injuries throughout his career, but he will still be in his mid-20s when free agency rolls around. And his speed threat is transformative for an offense that doesn’t have it.

For a player who struggled badly with drops in college, Fuller has largely kept those under control at the NFL level, with just 18 total in his career — 14 of which came in two separate seasons.

Contract Analysis: Houston seemingly put itself in a precarious position by not trading Fuller to the Packers at the deadline. Fuller was having a career year and seemed destined to command top dollar in a crowded wide receiver free agent class, but a six-game suspension for PEDs cut his 2020 season short. In situations like this, the range for the next contract is very wide.

Prediction: Packers sign Fuller for five years, $87.5 million ($17.5M APY): $25 million signing bonus (generally all the Packers guarantee).

10. EDGE Shaquil Barrett

One of the more efficient pass-rushers in the league over the past few years, Barrett has put up solid production whether in a part-time or full-time role. He’s graded “in the green” as both a run defender and as a pass-rusher in all five years of his career, as he sets a hard edge in the run game and wins with good hands and a variety of moves when attacking the pocket.

Barrett had a 20-sack season in 2019, but don’t be fooled by the gaudy total — he was only slightly more effective that year than previous seasons. He’s spent most of his career playing in more of a classic 3-4 outside linebacker role, dropping into coverage at least 50 times a year and playing mostly from a standup role. Barrett’s best bet is in a similar system, as that’s what he’s been most familiar with in his six years in the league.

Contract Analysis: What a remarkable ascension for Barrett, who turned a one-year, $4 million deal with the Buccaneers into a one-year franchise tag worth four times that amount ($15.8M). With another strong campaign in 2020, next up is a multi-year deal good for over $16 million on an annual basis.

Prediction: Bucs sign Barrett for four years, $68 million ($17M APY): $40 million total guaranteed, $20 million fully guaranteed at signing.

11. G Brandon Scherff

One of the most dependable guards in the league, Scherff has never posted a PFF grade below 72.5 in his six-year NFL career.  Over the last three seasons, Scherff ranks among the league’s best guards in nearly every key metric, including a 97th percentile ranking on true pass sets and 92nd percentile ranking in percentage of positively graded plays. Both numbers are among the most important when projecting interior offensive linemen from year to year.

In the run game, Scherff can do it all, showing the power at the point of attack and the quickness to make any block in space. He’s also one of the most polished pass protectors in the league, and he stands out as the best interior offensive lineman in this free agent class.

Contract Analysis: The NFC East currently has the NFL’s No. 1, 2, and 3 highest-paid right guards on an annual basis in Brandon Brooks (Eagles), Zack Martin (Cowboys), and Kevin Zeitler (Giants). Scherff’s 2020 franchise tag amount of just above $15M will likely serve as the floor for what he’s looking for on an annual basis in an extension, which would make him the highest-paid guard in the NFC East (and NFL).

Prediction: Washington signs Scherff for four-years, $60M ($15M APY): $37.5M total guaranteed, $25M fully guaranteed at signing.

12. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Juju Smith-Schuster is going to hit free agency having just turned 24 years old because of how young he was when he entered the NFL before the 2017 season. His exact role and ceiling is still something of an open question. His best season came working predominantly inside and when Antonio Brown was the primary threat for the Steelers. Injury robbed us of the chance to see if he could step into Brown’s role and replace that production before the team decided – aided by the emergence of Diontae Johnson among others – to move him back to the slot for most of his snaps.

There is a lot to like about his game. He is clearly smart, understands coverages and can exploit both man and zone defenses from the slot, as well as having good size, but his projection as a full-time perimeter receiver involved more guesswork, and that’s his biggest battle heading to the negotiating table.

Contract Analysis: Even before the 2020 season began, pundits predicted that Smith-Schuster would be playing his final season in Pittsburgh. With the emergence of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, that’s now even more of a safe bet.

Prediction: Jets sign Smith-Schuster for four-years, $68 million ($17M APY): $35M total guaranteed, $22M fully guaranteed at signing.

13. TE Hunter Henry

At the beginning of his career, it looked as though Hunter Henry was set to become the league’s next great tight end. His first two seasons in the league featured overall PFF grades of 83.0 and then 87.2, but then injuries really began to bite. He missed almost the entirety of 2018, and though he has returned to be a productive player, has never quite recaptured that initial form.

There is still plenty of time for that to happen, however, and even if his ceiling has been reset to the level he has played at over the last couple of seasons, he is a productive and capable tight end with plenty of tools to be an excellent receiver in any offense. Henry has the size to box defenders out underneath, the savvy to find holes in a defense and enough route-running skills to separate over the middle.

Contract Analysis: Henry battled back from a torn ACL suffered in 2018 to regain most of his form before hitting free agency. The optics coming off a $10.6M 2020 franchise tag should boost his value as well.

Prediction: Chargers sign Henry for four-years, $44 million ($11M APY): $22M total guaranteed, $16.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

14. QB Philip Rivers

The home stretch of Rivers’ career has been a roller coaster ride as he ranked 15th in PFF grades in 2015, 20th in 2016, ninth in 2017, sixth in 2018 and 18th in 2019. The 2020 season has seen him land right in the middle of the pack, as he’s mixed high-end games with multiple poor outings. The poor ones tend to bring up the questions about Rivers losing it and declining physically, but he’s been playing well despite less-than-stellar arm strength for a few years now. The issue is the tighter margin of error that Rivers has now compared to earlier in his career, but he gets by with solid accuracy and anticipation. Going to the Colts and playing in an indoor environment is a good strategy for late-career Rivers, and if he’s back in 2021, that may be the type of situation that works best at this point in his career.

Rivers ended an impressive 16-year run with the San Diego (when he arrived) and now Los Angeles Chargers, signing a one-year deal to potentially make a final Super Bowl run in 2020. The wheels have not completely fallen off for Rivers, but Father Time is certainly making his presence felt. Nevertheless, Rivers at worst provides an exception bridge quarterback to a young player if/when Indianapolis brings in their franchise quarterback of the future.

Prediction: Colts sign Rivers to another one-year, fully guaranteed $25 million contract.

Nov 15, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes the ball during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

15. QB Cam Newton

Outside of Newton’s 2015 MVP season in which he graded at 86.5 overall, he’s been a mid-level passer with the added upside of what he brings to the run game. Newton is a monster in short yardage, and an effective offense can be built around that skillset. However, the 2015 season is far more of an outlier than the norm at this point, and Newton’s accuracy and decision making limit his potential in the passing game. He has two top-10 finishes in PFF quarterback rankings in his 10 years in the league.

Newton was available for the entirety of the 2020 offseason until the Patriots swooped in at the last moment to offer him a one-year deal with a base value of just $1.75 million. Newton’s injuries were the primary obstacle keeping teams at bay, and although his 2020 campaign has been far from perfect, he’s third among all quarterbacks with 94 rushing attempts through Week 12 (trailing only Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray).

He may not be the MVP-caliber quarterback he once was, but he’s made it clear he still deserves to start in this league. There have been some rough outings, but given his circumstances (new team, truncated offseason, worst WR/TE group in the NFL, and contracting COVID-19) he has also performed admirably for stretches of games.

Prediction: Bengals sign Newton to a fully guaranteed one-year, $20 million contract.

16. Edge Jadeveon Clowney

Just like any free agent signing, the key is understanding what a player is bringing to the table. Clowney has elite tools, but he’s never been an elite pass-rusher, as he has posted a pass-rushing grade in the 70s in each of the last four years. The sack totals will fluctuate from year to year, so don’t let that change the narrative: Clowney is a good, not great, pass-rusher. He does his best work in the run game, using those elite tools and heavy hands to win at the point of attack. Since entering the league, Clowney is a 95th percentile run defender and a 77th percentile pass-rusher, so his future team should expect similar snap-to-snap production at this point.

Clowney’s offseason rollercoaster was a lot more interesting than anything he’s done during the season so far, and it looks like we may once again be in for a prolonged saga awaiting his team for 2021. There’s probably a decent chance that once again a wide chasm exists between what Clowney thinks he’s worth and what NFL teams think he’s worth, but he did have at least four suitors we know about the last time around, so there’s always a market for the former No. 1 overall pick.

Prediction: Titans sign Clowney for one-year, $13 million, fully guaranteed at signing

17. T Taylor Moton

Moton has been the model of consistency over the last three years, grading “in the green” every year as a starter. He performs well in the parts of offensive line play that translate well moving forward, including ranking among the league’s best in PFF pass-blocking grade on true pass sets since 2018. As a run blocker, Moton is scheme diverse. He can move defenders at the point of attack as well as making the necessary backside cutoffs in a zone-heavy scheme. He ranks well above average at avoiding negatively graded plays in the run game, another one of the more stable measures of offensive tackle play. Dependability is the name of the game for Moton, who has quietly been one of the most valuable tackles in the league since 2018.

Contract Analysis: Carolina traded their former right guard Trai Turner this past offseason to the Los Angeles Chargers for left tackle Russell Okung, yet Taylor Moton’s play has improved from 2019 after losing a high-quality player next to him on the offensive line. That trade ultimately should clear the way for a nice extension in Carolina for Moton.

Prediction: Panthers sign Moton for five-years, $82.5 million ($16.5M APY): $45M total guaranteed at signing, $30M fully guaranteed at signing.

18. QB Jameis Winston

While Winston has been a backup this season, he still has starter potential. He’s graded between 67.0 and 74.0 in every year as a starter, but it’s a roller coaster of emotions that leads to that false sense of consistency. Winston’s volatility is legendary, but that’s the exact type of style that leads to high-end seasons if a team is willing to buy in. At worst, he’s one of the league’s best backups a year from now, but Winston’s aggressive playing style is worth another look to see if that top-end year is in there.

Winston was another free agent quarterback that lasted all the way through the 2020 offseason, even coming off a season in which he led the NFL in passing yards by over 200 yards with 5,109. Volume stats are of course not everything, and Winston had 30 interceptions to go along with his 30 touchdowns, but the former No. 1 overall pick signed a deal with the New Orleans Saints for a base value of just $1.1 million. 2019’s passing leader is now sitting behind Taysom Hill, who had 78 passing yards against the Broncos this past Sunday.

Prediction: Colts sign Winston for one-year, $5 million.

19. G Joe Thuney

A starter from Day 1 as a rookie, Thuney has yet to miss a game in his five-year career while showing continual improvement. He transitioned smoothly from college offensive tackle to left guard, showing well in New England’s versatile run scheme. In pass protection, Thuney struggled with power players early in his career, but he’s improved every season and his 88.0 pass-blocking grade ranked third among guards in 2019. Thuney ranks in the 86th percentile in overall pass-blocking grade since entering the league, though that drops to the 70th percentile when isolated to true pass sets, showing that there has been some protection for him in the New England scheme. Regardless, Thuney has developed into one of the best guards in the game and should fit in well in any system.

Contract Analysis: With the gift of hindsight, the Patriots probably trade Thuney before the 2020 season. New England’s 6th round draft pick, Michigan G/T Michael Onwenu, is PFF’s second-highest graded guard in the entire NFL through Week 9.

Prediction: Cardinals sign Thuney for four-years, $57 million ($14.25M APY): $35M total guaranteed, $20M fully guaranteed at signing.

Nov 22, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) intercepts a pass at the end of the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

20. S Marcus Williams

Since entering the league in 2017, Williams has ranked near the top of the league in every significant category for safeties. He has a coverage grade that ranks in the 90th percentile to go with the second-highest rate of forced incompletions. Williams is also a solid run defender and with the skills to fit as a free safety in any scheme.

Williams is infamous for the Minneapolis Miracle, which is a shame because he’s been a great player for the Saints on the back end. New Orleans brought their 2009 first-round pick, Malcolm Jenkins, back to the bayou this offseason, which could be a sign of them preparing ahead of time for the departure of Williams.

Prediction: Jaguars sign Williams for four-years, $52M ($13M APY). $25M total guaranteed, $16M fully guaranteed at signing.

21. CB Richard Sherman

One of the best cornerbacks of his generation, Richard Sherman is still playing the game at a high level, but his age and relative lack of scheme diversity will scare a lot of potential suitors off.

Last year, once fully recovered from an Achilles injury, Sherman had one of the best seasons of his entire career, allowing just 227 receiving yards all season long. He surrendered a passer rating of just 46.8 before things came unglued a little in the Super Bowl loss to Kansas City.

Sherman’s intelligence and tape study gives him a mental edge over most offenses he faces, and that more than makes up for less than stellar straight-line speed. In the kind of defense he plays in San Francisco, he can remain a valuable player even at his age and could be an attractive short-term option for a number of teams in need of a quick fix.

Contract Analysis: Sherman is at the “mercenary” stage of his career where he can sign short-term deals with contenders until he decides to hang up his cleats, much like Darrelle Revis in 2014 when he signed a one-year, $12M deal with the Patriots that included a $20M option for 2015 (the option was declined and Revis returned to the Jets).

Prediction: 49ers sign Sherman for two-years, $28 million ($14M APY): $18M total guaranteed, $14M fully guaranteed at signing.

22. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

After one of the most volatile careers in recent history, Fitzpatrick has played the best football of his career since 2018 as he’s posted three of his four best PFF grades. His aggressiveness allows playmakers to create chunk plays down the field, but it also allows the defense to make just as many plays on the ball. Still, that style works well with the right supporting cast, and Fitzpatrick has actually done a fine job of maximizing his group of playmakers and subpar offensive line in Miami.

The Fitzmagic rolls on for another season, as the journeyman QB seems to age like a rich Bordeaux. Miami made it clear this past offseason that retaining Ryan Fitzpatrick was a priority, even with clear plans to draft Tua Tagovailoa. The 38-year-old had an $8 million base salary for 2020 with no other compensation left on his deal, and teams were reportedly sending trade offers. Miami’s decision to keep one of the great “bridge” quarterbacks around has been a win-win for both parties, and there will be several suitors for Fitzpatrick’s services again in 2021.

Prediction: Patriots sign Ryan Fitzpatrick for one-year, $10 million ($10 million APY): $10M total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.

23. CB William Jackson III

Jackson was the Bengals’ first-round pick in 2016 and is playing in 2020 on a $9.6 million fifth-year option. After tearing his pectoral and being lost for the year before his rookie campaign even kicked off, Jackson responded with a 90.2 defensive grade in his (redshirt) sophomore season – the sixth-best defensive grade for a cornerback in their second season since 2011. The players ahead of him feature a slate of all-pros. We expected Jackson to become one of the game’s best corners after that season and it never happened. He hasn’t had a season within 15 grading points of that year since, and while he allowed a passer rating of 36.1 when targeted in that great year, he has allowed one of at least 94 in each subsequent season. The situation in Cincinnati has been ugly, but the prospect that Jackson will become the great player he threatened to be is getting less and less likely.

The Bengals invested big money in former Vikings CB Trae Waynes this past offseason, signing him to a three-year, $42 million deal ($14M APY). He, unfortunately, suffered a similar fate to Jackson, with a pectoral injury keeping him out for the entire 2020 season.

Prediction:  Bengals sign Jackson for three-years, $40 million ($13.33M APY): $22.5 million total guaranteed, $18 million fully guaranteed at signing

24. CB Desmond King II

The jury is still out on exactly how good Desmond King is and can be going forward. Since coming into the NFL, King is still – just about – the best-graded slot defender in football, but that is all built on his play over the first two seasons of play for the Chargers. He posted back to back overall PFF grades of 85.7 and then 88.6 before coming off the boil and failing to find that same production since.

He was ultimately shipped out of Los Angeles for close to nothing, suggesting that the team either didn’t believe in him or had bigger concerns about his presence in the locker room, and we have yet to see much sign that his peak play will return in Tennessee. King is still young and has shown the ability to be good at every part of defending the slot in today’s NFL, but his elite tape is getting further in the rear-view mirror.

Following a deadline trade from the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2021 6th round pick, King will now look to cash in with the Tennessee Titans after a likely playoff run. In King’s first game with his new team, he returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown en route to a 24-17 win over Chicago.

Prediction: Titans sign King for three-years, $17.5M ($5.83M APY). $10M total guaranteed, $7.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

Oct 18, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen (8) scrambles as New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) pursues during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

25. DI Leonard Williams

One of the surest bets in the class, Williams has graded between 70.0 and 82.0 in all six years of his career. Run defense is his calling card, as he ranks in the 86th percentile in PFF run-defense grade since entering the league and with his best work coming as a B and C gap defender. Williams is an average pass-rusher and even with increased sack totals this season, he’s yet to break a 72.0 pass-rush grade for his career. Still, Williams has been one of the most valuable interior defensive linemen in the league since 2015, and his level of consistency is a plus for potential suitors.

Contract Analysis: Williams was traded from the New York Jets to the New York Giants in 2019 and had to move his locker across Metlife Stadium. He may be moving much further than that after the 2020 season unless he can agree to a long-term extension with the Giants coming off the franchise tag.

Prediction: Panthers sign Williams for four-years, $72 million ($18M APY): $37.5M total guaranteed, $27.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

26. C Corey Linsley

Linsley is the best center on the market. He’s been one of the most dependable pivot men in the league since 2014, and he’s been at his best in 2020.

Linsley has been outstanding in pass protection this season, allowing just two pressures before having to battle injuries in the middle of the year. He is also a strong run-blocker, ranking in the 84th percentile in the percentage of positively graded blocks and the 85th percentile when it comes to avoiding negatives.

The Packers made left tackle David Bakhtiari the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history in the middle of the 2020 season, and that probably closed the book on any Linsley extension in Green Bay. However, PFF’s top-ranked center could be a highly sought-after free agent for teams who want a veteran player to step in and take some of the pressure off a young, developing quarterback.

Prediction: Chargers sign Linsley for three-years, $33M ($11M APY): $16.5M total guaranteed, $10M fully guaranteed at signing.

27. S John Johnson III

Johnson has fallen off the free-agent radar a bit after an injury-plagued 2019 season, but make no mistake, he’s an elite safety when healthy. His greatest contribution is also the most important one, as he’s a truly dominant cover safety when called upon. His 85.1 coverage grade through Week 12 would be his third in four seasons at or above 84.9 if it held up through the end of the campaign.

Now that new Rams DC Brandon Staley has gotten his defensive identity established, Johnson is on a tear to close his contract year. Since Week 7, Johnson is PFF’s second-highest-graded safety, with a 90.2 defensive grade.

The Rams have signaled rather strongly that although Johnson is a special player, they know they can’t afford to keep him around long-term. L.A. drafted two safeties in this year’s draft, both capable of playing free or strong safety, just like Johnson. Third-round pick Terrell Burgess primarily played strong safety at Utah opposite Indianapolis Colts rookie standout Julian Blackmon, but he has experience at both spots. And the Rams’ sixth-round pick out of Ohio State, safety Jordan Fuller, has also spent time at both spots. These picks are in addition to 2019 second-round pick Taylor Rapp, yet another versatile safety who can play down in the box or covering the deep-third if necessary. Long story short, the writing may be on the wall for a cap-strapped Rams team.

Prediction: Rams sign Johnson for four years, $50M ($12.5M APY): $24M total guaranteed, $15.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

28. S Marcus Maye

Maye has played multiple roles for the New York Jets defense since entering the league in 2017, including lining up for at least 400 snaps at free safety, 200 snaps in the box and 125 snaps at slot corner in each of the last two seasons.

Maye played a more traditional free safety role when the Jets had Jamal Adams on the roster, but he’s even stepped into an Adams-caliber versatile role this season. He can make plays at the catch point, ranking among the league’s best at breaking up passes when targeted, and he’s been solid against the run. Maye does his best work as a traditional free safety, capable of playing both single- and two-high looks, though he is versatile enough to line up all over the defense, making him one of the most coveted safeties on the market.

The Jets shipped Adams off to the Seattle Seahawks for multiple first-round picks, and the play of Marcus Maye was a big reason why they felt comfortable doing so. Maye doesn’t have the ceiling Adams has, but he’s a similarly versatile and talented player, logging snaps all over the defense.

Prediction: Jets sign Maye for four-years, $55M ($13.75M APY): $28M total guaranteed, $18M fully guaranteed at signing.

29. CB Mike Hilton

Hilton epitomizes the do-it-all slot corner who can cover in both man and zone, play the run and blitz effectively. The Steelers' scheme allows him to show off all of those skills, and he’s quietly been one of the most valuable corners in the league since 2017.

Hilton has only played a handful of snaps on the outside since entering the league, so expect him to play in the slot no matter where he lands. However, given the difficult nature of that position, he should be coveted on the open market. Even at just 184 pounds, Hilton is annually among the top corners in defensive stops, highlighting his willingness to stick his nose in against the run as well as his proficiency as a blitzer.

Hilton scrapped his way into significant playing time with the Steelers after starting his career by bouncing around practice squads. He’s become a quality cover corner in the slot with the ability to affect the passer on the occasional pass-rush snap. As evidenced by the predictions for all slot cornerbacks, the market didn’t materialize in 2020, and it’s hard to imagine it will now in 2021.

Prediction: Steelers sign Hilton for three-years, $12M ($4M APY): $4M total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing (signing bonus, Steelers don’t guarantee otherwise).

30. Edge Bud Dupree

Dupree broke out with a 77.7 overall grade in 2019, good for 23rd among edge rushers. That marked trampled his previous performances, ranging from 44.4 (2015) to 62.6 (2016) overall, and he’s come back down to Earth here in 2020.

The key with Dupree is not to get caught up in the sack totals, particularly this season, as most of his sacks have come down to quarterbacks holding the ball way too long. Dupree does play hard, and his high motor allows him to get in several hustle plays and clean-up sacks, but high-end pass-rushers should be winning one-on-one against offensive tackles far more often than Dupree has shown over his career.

Given Pittsburgh’s blitz-happy scheme and supporting talent combined with Dupree’s mediocre career grades, he’s a buyer-beware candidate on the open market.

Contract Analysis: Pittsburgh chose to let Bud Dupree walk in free agency the minute they extended defensive lineman Cameron Heyward before the 2020 season. Furthermore, T.J. Watt could soon enough be looking for the first $30M APY contract for a defensive player in NFL history, and the odds are that he’ll be worth it.

Prediction: Colts sign Dupree for five-years, $90 million ($18M APY): $50M total guaranteed, $35M fully guaranteed at signing.

31. CB Chidobe Awuzie

After earning a coverage grade that ranks right in the middle of the league’s corners since 2017, Awuzie epitomizes the league-average cornerback. He’s done his best work in zone coverage, ranking in the 61st percentile in PFF grade, but he’s in just the 35th percentile in single coverage. That matches our scouting report of Awuzie coming out of college, where he looked like an excellent fit in a zone scheme, and that’s likely his best bet once again as he hits free agency.

The Cowboys prioritized Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen and Gerald McCoy over retaining CB Byron Jones this past offseason. All three players are no longer on the roster, and Dallas has one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Dallas must now realize they have to invest in coverage to get this unit back on track, just like Miami did with Byron Jones.

Prediction: Cowboys sign Awuzie for five-years, $55M ($11M APY): $30.5M total guaranteed, $20M fully guaranteed at signing.

32. TE Jonnu Smith

Smith’s calling card in the NFL has been his work after the catch, where he has averaged more than 7.0 yards after the catch per reception over his career.

In 2019, he broke 14 tackles on just 41 receptions to average 7.5 yards after the catch per reception as part of the vastly improved Titans offense with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. His threat is less of a secret to NFL teams in 2020, and he has found it a little more difficult to escape for big plays, but he remains on track for his second consecutive career-high in PFF grade.

Smith has yet to be a high-volume target in the offense — his career-high in targets over a season, including the playoffs, is still just 52. He should comfortably eclipse that mark in 2020, but 15 tight ends saw more targets than he did over the first half of the season, even if far fewer than that earned a higher grade.

Smith will be an enticing prospect for a team with a major need at tight end that will look to scale up his opportunity and see a corresponding jump in his impact on the offense. Smith’s blocking is the weaker area of his game, but that has become less of an issue for the position as the years have gone by.

Contract Analysis: Smith will be a valuable commodity this offseason, as the 2020 campaign illustrated just how hard it is to find a dynamic athlete at tight end. Tennessee will want to retain him, but they’re going to have a very difficult time doing so.

Prediction: Jaguars sign Smith for four-years, $38 million ($9.5M APY): $20.5M total guaranteed, $15M fully guaranteed at signing.

33. T Russell Okung

The former No. 6 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks has more than lived up to the billing. Now in his eleventh season and on his fourth team, Okung hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down when healthy. Over the last three years, Okung ranks as a slightly above-average pass-blocker and an above-average run-blocker, and he remains a valuable player at an important position.

Okung was traded from the Los Angeles Chargers to the Carolina Panthers before the 2020 season and has filled in seamlessly when he’s been available.

The veteran has earned a pass-blocking grade above 70.0 — with five grades above 75.0 — in each of the six games he has started in 2020. Coincidentally, he’s also recorded a pass-blocking grade of 71.0 or higher — with five grades above 75.0 — over his last six seasons.

Okung is now 33 but appears to be one of the many recent stalwart pass-protecting tackles who age very well and play long into their 30s if desired. He was one of the original players in recent years to negotiate his own contract (with help from advisors), so a perhaps unorthodox structure wouldn’t be surprising as his career winds down.

Prediction: Panthers sign Okung for three-years, $50 million. ($16.67M APY): $32.5M total guaranteed, $22.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

34. T Alejandro Villanueva

There’s immense value in solid, mid-tier offensive linemen, and that’s exactly what Villanueva has been throughout his career. He’s graded between 74.0 and 82.0 in each of his last five seasons; he ranks in the 54th percentile in PFF pass-blocking grade and the 46th percentile in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets during that time.

There’s a similar level of dependability to Villanueva’s game as a run-blocker. He ranks in the 74th percentile at avoiding negatively graded plays but just the 23rd percentile in positively graded plays. NFL teams must avoid having disastrous options at offensive tackle, and Villanueva’s profile makes him a valuable asset.

Contract Analysis: Villanueva has had a remarkable NFL career after serving in the U.S. military, going undrafted and then working his way to becoming one of the league’s best left tackles. Nevertheless, the Steelers will have a very tough time retaining Villanueva after pushing all their chips in on 2020. We wouldn’t be surprised if Villanueva, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree are all playing elsewhere in 2021, purely for salary cap reasons.

Prediction: Chargers sign Villanueva for three-years, $45 million ($15M APY): $30M total guaranteed, $20M fully guaranteed at signing.

Dallas Cowboys safety Xavier Woods (25) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) celebrate a sack in the second half. The Dallas Cowboys defeat the New York Giants, 37-18, on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in East Rutherford. Credit: Imagn

35. CB Xavier Woods

Woods entered the league as a versatile safety with slot coverage skills and a sixth-round draft steal as he’s developed into a solid free safety. He ranks in the middle of the pack from a coverage standpoint when lined up deep, but he’s been excellent when lined up closer to the line of scrimmage, making him a good fit for teams that play with interchangeable safeties. He can still dabble in the slot at times, and the Cowboys are doing more of that in 2020, but it hasn’t been Woods’ strong suit to this point in his NFL career.

This much talent at one position could have the effect of suppressing contracts for everyone. Or, particularly because of the salary cap situation in 2021, it could have the effect of eroding the middle-tier market. Teams may decide that unless they can land a premier free safety who is an impact player, they might as well just go to the bargain bin and sign a cheap veteran. For this reason, Woods’ next contract could truly fall within a very wide spectrum.

Prediction: Cowboys sign Woods to four-year, $25 million extension ($6.25M APY).

36. Edge Melvin Ingram III

Ingram’s second contract went a lot better than his first in terms of his level of play. Once seen as a first-round disappointment, Ingram blossomed into an extremely effective NFL pass-rusher, only enhanced by the arrival of Joey Bosa to the Chargers‘ defensive front.

Ingram had three straight seasons with 70 or more total pressures before injury broke that streak, and his play in 2020 so far is on course for the best PFF pass-rushing grade he has posted since 2017, even if the sacks have yet to materialize.

Ingram is a productive pass-rusher, but at this point in his career, he isn’t going to be the primary source of pass rush for anything other than a bad pass-rushing football team. Teams that already have that primary stud up front could dramatically improve their front with the addition of Ingram as a second threat, however.

Contract Analysis: Ingram briefly held out of training camp before the season, presumably looking for an extension of some kind. But after making Joey Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, the Chargers were only willing to guarantee Ingram’s 2020 salary and not add any years onto his deal.

Prediction: Lions sign Ingram for three-years, $45M ($15M APY): $24M total guaranteed, $16M fully guaranteed at signing.

37. Shaquill Griffin

A former third-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, Shaquill Griffin has been a starter for the Seahawks pretty much from Day 1, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the team really started to see plus play from him. That year, he posted a PFF grade of 78.0, and though he didn’t have any interceptions, he did record 13 pass breakups. He hasn’t managed to replicate that level of play this season, but he has been dealing with injuries and has still flashed high-end play, like against Miami where he didn’t allow a single reception all game long.

Griffin is one of two Seattle cornerbacks set to hit free agency (Quinton Dunbar), and both have dealt with injury issues for most of the year. After a 2019 season in which Griffin registered a 77.0 defensive grade and 76.0 coverage grade, he’s slid to 61.6 and 59.3, respectively, so far in 2020.

Healthy once again and with playoff football on the horizon, perhaps Shaquill Griffin can turn things around before free agency. He got off to a good start in that regard with a solid performance against the Eagles in Week 12; more of the same could change the narrative in a hurry before the season is over.

Prediction: Seahawks sign Griffin for three-years, $30 million ($10M APY): $19.5M total guaranteed, $10M fully guaranteed at signing.

38. CB Quinton Dunbar

Following a trade from the Washington Football Team this past offseason, Dunbar was hoping to repeat a dominant 2019 on a more competitive team and cash in big time in 2021. The former wide receiver turned cornerback has gotten off to a tough start in Seattle, but in his defense, he has been dealing with nagging injuries all season until he was finally placed on IR in Week 11.

All of that said, Dunbar still has time to get healthy for the stretch run of the season and try to shut down opposing wide receivers in his first playoff appearance since his rookie season in 2015. Even though he’s missed half of Seattle’s 12 games this season, his 397 snaps are already the second-most in a season in his career. Every game is magnified for Dunbar as he hopes to capitalize on his two-year window as a starter before hitting unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career.

Prediction: Seahawks sign Dunbar for two-years, $12 million ($6M APY): $9.5M total guaranteed, $7.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

39. WR Corey Davis

While Davis may never live up to his No. 5 overall draft status, he has become a reliable No. 2 receiver. His four-year body of work puts him slightly above average when measured by PFF receiving grade, receiving grade against single coverage and yards per route run.

Davis pairs one of the lowest drop rates in the league with one of the lowest catchable-target rates — his 2020 breakout may be more than a mirage. Davis looked the part of a high-volume possession receiver coming out of college, but he works best on the outside running the vertical route tree, and he’s been better than expected at winning in contested situations at the catch point.

Davis may never develop into an all-around route-runner or a dynamic threat after the catch, but if expectations are properly set, he fills the role of a dependable complementary receiver on the outside.

Davis was supposed to be the high draft pick breakout wide receiver in Tennessee, but A.J. Brown burst onto the scene in 2019 and isn’t looking back. Tennessee will have a hard time retaining Davis, who has earned a solid contract, and whose status as the No. 5 overall pick will artificially inflate the value of that contract even further.

Prediction: Football Team signs Davis for four-years, $65M ($16.25M APY): $32M total guaranteed, $20M fully guaranteed at signing.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Jayon Brown (55) breaks up a pass intended for Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines (21) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

40. LB Jayon Brown

Another undersized, modern-day linebacker, Brown has the 10th-best coverage grade in the league since 2018. His profile is eerily similar to Matt Milano — they're plus coverage players, below-average run defenders and both have a fifth-round pedigree. The one difference is stylistic, as Milano has done his best work when lined up in single coverage while Brown has performed best in zone. Brown also has the fourth-best forced incompletion percentage since 2017, so he will get his hands on the ball in the middle of the field.

Tennessee also has to make a decision on the fifth-year option for 2018 first-round LB Rashaan Evans this offseason, which may influence whether or not the Titans keep Brown around. Brown is a bright spot on a defense that struggles mightily in coverage. But, unfortunately, a dislocated and fractured elbow suffered in Week 11 against the Baltimore Ravens could impact his negotiations. While no two players are the same, Chicago Bears LB Danny Trevathan suffered the same injury to the same elbow in Week 10 of 2019 and he was ready to go by Week 1 of 2020 with a new contract extension of his own.

Prediction: Titans sign Brown for four-years, $47.5M ($11.875M APY): $22.5M total guaranteed, $17.5M fully guaranteed at signing.

41. LB Matt Milano

Milano has developed into a modern-day linebacker. He has the 11th-best coverage grade among linebackers since 2018, he’s been excellent matching up with running backs in single coverage and he’s held his own when asked to line up over the slot.

Milano’s tackling has been an issue, as he missed 36 over 2018 and 2019, and that adds up to a below-average run defender since entering the league. However, the coverage value makes Milano an intriguing option given the importance of being able to match up with opposing offensive weapons.

Contract Analysis: Milano showed he can be one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL in 2018 and 2019, and his skill set fits well alongside 2018 first-round LB Tremaine Edmunds — a rangier, sideline-to-sideline linebacker with pass-rush ability. Injuries have limited Milano in 2020 so far, but his absence has also perhaps exposed a leaky Bills defense when he’s not available.

Prediction: Bills sign Milano for four-years, $45 million ($11.25M APY): $20M total guaranteed, $15M fully guaranteed at signing.

42. RB Aaron Jones

Jones is one of the league’s best running backs, but like all backs, he is heavily dependent on the environment in which they have been placed. Jones has been running behind an impressive offensive line and catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, neither of which may be true with his next team.

Before 2020, he had three straight seasons with a PFF rushing grade of 79.9 or higher. He ranks fourth in receiving grade among running backs since the start of the 2019 season, behind only Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, each of whom has had a big payday in large part because of that skill.

Jones is a well-rounded threat at the position and a player with little in the way of weaknesses. He has also been kept relatively fresh by Green Bay’s use of a committee approach to their backfield, so should still have tread left on the tires.

Contract Analysis: Jones watched this offseason as fellow 2017 draftees Joe Mixon ($12M APY), Dalvin Cook ($12.6M APY), Alvin Kamara ($15M APY) and Christian McCaffrey ($16M APY) signed huge deals. Green Bay was smart to hold off, and we’d be surprised if Jones is a Packer in 2021.

Prediction: Dolphins sign Jones for 4-years, $45 million ($11.25M APY): $25M total guaranteed, $15 million fully guaranteed at signing.

43. CB Troy Hill

A player who has earned impressive PFF grades dating back to his college career, Troy Hill displayed versatility in 2020 by moving inside to cover the slot after previously playing primarily on the outside. Hill has high-end play under his belt at the NFL level, but he plays at his best when protected from the most physically imposing receivers in the league — something the Rams have been equipped to do since acquiring Jalen Ramsey. A move to the slot also better facilitates that. Hill can be a solid No. 2 or 3 cornerback.

Hill’s 374 snaps in the slot through Week 12 are more than he played in five seasons from 2015-19 combined. His versatility could be appealing to a handful of teams looking for a solid veteran piece in the secondary.

Prediction: Rams sign Hill for two years, $10.5 million ($5.25M APY): $7.25 million total guaranteed, $5.25 million fully guaranteed at signing.

44. WR Marvin Jones Jr.

Kenny Golladay is not the only Lions wide receiver headed to free agency, but the team won’t be as hard pressed to retain Jones, who will be 31 years old before the 2021 league year begins on March 17. Jones has been the de facto No. 1 wide receiver this year with Golladay missing much of the season, but he’s yet to reach 100 yards receiving in a game — even while commanding 6.3 targets per contest. Jones is still a capable Z wide receiver on the outside opposite a true X, but he has also seen his snaps from the slot increase steadily each season, which could perhaps make him more attractive to potential suitors if there are concerns about his game not aging well.

Jones has solid hands (only dropped more than four passes once in a season) and some juice after the catch. He should still be a capable addition to a lot of receiving corps in the league. He isn’t a true mismatch weapon or a No. 1 receiver, but he can still provide a lot of value.

Prediction: Browns sign Jones for three years, $25 million ($8.33M APY): $16 million total guaranteed, $12 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith (25) and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) in action during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

45. Edge Yannick Ngakoue

It’s all about setting proper expectations and carving out a role for Ngakoue, who has been a good, not great, pass-rusher throughout his career. He excels from wide alignments where he can threaten the edge and has the inside counters to keep offensive tackles off balance. Since 2017, Ngakoue has the eighth-best pass-rush grade in the league when rushing from wide alignments, at 89.1, but he grades out at just 68.3 from all other defensive line alignments. When combining that with a history of well below-average run-defense grades (he peaked with a 59.0 grade in 2018), Ngakoue has a limited skill set compared to other top edge defenders around the league.

Ngakoue’s best role is as a designated pass-rusher on a team with strong interior rushers and in a scheme where he can stay on the outside while limiting his work in the run game.

Contract Analysis: Eventually, a team that trades for Ngakoue has to pay him, right? Ngakoue shouldn’t be too confident in that happening, as Baltimore let Za’Darius Smith walk after 2018 and couldn’t come to terms with Matthew Judon this past offseason. They’re not afraid of losing edge rushers.

Prediction: Giants sign Ngakoue for four years, $70 million ($17.5M APY): $40 million total guaranteed, $30 million fully guaranteed at signing.

46. TE Gerald Everett

Gerald Everett is an athletic move tight end who has taken advantage of his role within the Rams’ offense to put up some solid numbers in a limited workload. He has never played more than 450 snaps in the regular season, and even including a postseason run that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance, the most snaps he has played in a single-season is 504. He has averaged more than 5 yards after the catch in his career and broken 28 tackles on 117 catches through Week 12 of 2020. Given his age and upside, as well as his relatively small workload throughout his NFL career, he could be an intriguing option for a team looking to get more athletic at the position and expand its passing game options.

Contract Analysis: The Rams extended tight end Tyler Higbee in 2019 before extending both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods this past offseason. Whatever Everett signs for, it’s doubtful the Rams will be the team offering.

Prediction: Bengals sign Everett for three years, $15 million ($5M APY).

47. CB Brian Poole

At 5-foot-9, Brian Poole very much fits the mold of a slot cornerback at the NFL level, and he has always been solid in that role. Since moving to the Jets, he has been better than solid, posting one of the highest PFF coverage grades from the slot over the past two seasons. He has allowed just one touchdown and a passer rating of under 70.0 when targeted over that stretch. There are more spectacular players around the NFL, but Poole has proven to be an impressively consistent and solid defender in one of the most undervalued positions in the league.

Contract Analysis: The Jets inking Poole to a one-year, $5 million contract for 2020 was one of the better value signings across the NFL, as he was playing some really good football before heading to injured reserve with shoulder and knee ailments. Following consecutive one-year flier deals from the Jets, Poole will look to cash in on a multi-year extension.

Prediction: Jets sign Poole for three years, $18 million ($6M APY): $11.5 million total guaranteed, $7 million fully guaranteed at signing.

48. EDGE Matthew Judon

There’s an element to Judon’s game that screams “buyer beware,” as he has had high sack totals and good — not great — pass-rush grades over the past three seasons. The Ravens’ blitz-happy scheme certainly helps create mismatches and unblocked pressures, but even with those factored in, Judon has an above-average pass-rush grade over the past three years. The caveat is the expectation that he’ll become a “10-sack guy” in any system. Judon fits best as a situational rusher who can take advantage of mismatches and be used as a pass-rush/spy weapon against athletic quarterbacks.

Contract Analysis: It appears Judon is facing the same fate as former Ravens edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, especially after Baltimore doled out huge extensions to cornerback Marlon Humphrey and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson is eligible for an extension after the season, as well.

Prediction: Jets sign Judon for four years, $64 million ($16M APY): $33 million total guaranteed, $21 million fully guaranteed at signing.

49. LB K.J. Wright

Wright has been one of the most consistent linebackers over his NFL career, and as he gets toward the end of it, he still provides a lot of value as a solid all-around player at the position.

The Seahawks had their annual shock pick in the first round of the NFL draft when they took Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks at 27th overall. Though he’s slowly coming along in a Will linebacker role, which has been Wright’s spot in Seattle for nearly a decade, his presence may not necessarily mean Wright is on the way out.

Wright has been solid after transitioning into the strongside linebacker role following Bruce Irvin’s season-ending injury, and it suits him as he gets a bit older. His 59.9 coverage grade in 2019 was his worst since his rookie season in 2011, so playing closer to the line and setting the edge in run defense works for him at this stage of his career. Irvin is also a free agent after the season but is two years older and will be coming off a torn ACL, so perhaps Wright carves out a role in Seattle because he can contribute at either spot going forward.

Prediction: Seattle signs Wright for two years, $12 million ($6M APY). $6 million total guaranteed, $5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

50. DI Dalvin Tomlinson

Tomlinson has a distinct profile as an above-average run defender and a below-average pass-rusher. He ranks in the 82nd percentile in PFF run-defense grade since 2017, and he knows how to finish plays — generating one of the best run stop percentages in the league. As a pass-rusher, Tomlinson has never graded above 62.3, though he’s trending in the right direction with a low-70.0s grade so far in 2020. He can play all over the defensive interior and represents one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in this class.

Contract Analysis: The Green Bay Packers were reportedly sending offers for Tomlinson at the trade deadline, but the Giants didn’t want to part ways with a player they envision as an important part of their future. Tomlinson and 2019 first-round pick Dexter Lawrence could form a formidable tandem on the defensive interior for years to come.

Prediction: Giants sign Tomlinson for four years, $52.5 million ($13.125M APY): $26.5 million total guaranteed, $16.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

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