NFL News & Analysis

Highest-graded player at every position after the 2022 NFL regular season

Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks of the field after fumbling the snap that turned into a Vikings touchdown.

• Josh Allen leads the way at QB: The Bills' star signal-caller barely beat out Patrick Mahomes after an impressive performance in Week 18.

• Browns' Myles Garrett paces edge defender position: Garrett earned a career-high 93.5 pass-rush grade in 2022 to continue what has been a stellar career.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins

It is with great aplomb that we present the top-graded players at each position in the NFL now that the book is closed on the 2022 regular season.

There are some regulars on the list, including Bobby Wagner taking the top linebacker spot, Trent Williams placing first at offensive tackle and Travis Kelce leading the way at tight end.

There were also some breakout stars and one rookie. Ryan Neal, Chris Lindstrom and Dexter Lawrence came out of nowhere to lead their position groups. At running back, Raiders standout Josh Jacobs will assuredly look for a big contract this offseason after the Raiders did not pick up his fifth-year option.


Offense

Quarterback: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (91.6)

Allen pipped Patrick Mahomes by .3 grading points to take the top spot this season after a classic Week 18 performance en route to a 93.5 game grade against the Patriots. Allen had at times not looked like himself after suffering an elbow injury, making some uncharacteristic red-zone mistakes, but still put together seven single games graded above 80.0 and four above 90.0. His 3.76 WAR ranked third among quarterbacks this season — his highest-ever WAR total in a season. His 43 big-time throws also led the league by 10.


Running Back: Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (91.6)

The Raiders did not pick up Josh Jacobs' fifth-year option coming into the season, and now they must be kicking themselves. Jacobs led the league with 90 forced missed tackles for an average of 0.26 per run, which ranked fourth. He converted a rush into a first down or touchdown 27.7% of the time, which was fourth in the league, as well. Jacobs was particularly dominant on runs to the Raiders' right side, where he finished with an incredible 6.3 yards per carry and 24 runs of 10-plus yards. 


Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins (92.1)

The NFL produced another truly scintillating season of receiver play, but Tyreek Hill proved he might be a class above. Hill absolutely blew away the competition with a staggering 3.20 yards per route run, dwarfing second-place Justin Jefferson (2.62). He also led the league in catches of over 15 yards, with 48. He did this, of course, going from Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback in Kansas City to the trio of Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson in Miami. His talent is simply impervious to quarterback play.


Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (91.1)

Kelce turned 33 in the middle of this season and still continued to play at a high level. Last season, he graded out to 85.0, which was his lowest mark in a season with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. There could have been inklings about him starting an age-related decline. Instead, he led all tight ends in touchdowns, receiving first downs and catches of 15-plus yards while ranking second in yards per route run. Already a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Kelce may end up with the greatest tight end career of all time if he is going to age as gracefully as he showed this season. 


Offensive Tackle: Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers (93.0)

Duh. Williams had probably gone under the radar while playing in Washington but is finally getting his due on the West Coast. Williams graded out exceptionally well in all areas that we can measure. His pass-blocking grade on “rue pass sets — where we remove screens, RPOs and other such plays — was 85.0, which ranked sixth best. He allowed no sacks and earned a positive grade on 20.8% of his run-blocking snaps, which was the best mark in the league. He was the second-highest-graded offensive tackle on zone runs (95.8).


Offensive Guard: Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons (95.0)

Out of absolutely nowhere, Lindstrom is PFF's top-graded guard for 2022. We had seen improvement from Lindstrom over his first three seasons in the league, with his grade going from 66.6 to 77.1 to 83.7 last season, but no one could have predicted as big of a jump to 95.0.

Importantly, this does not look like a flash-in-the-pan season for him. Lindstrom's grade ranks in aspects of offensive line play that are generally stable year to year are outstanding. He finished above the 96th percentile in pass-blocking grade, true pass-blocking grade, pass-blocking grade without play action, pass-blocking grade on five- and seven-step concepts, run-blocking grade on zone runs and positively graded run plays. 

Center: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs (90.0)

Only in his second season, Humphrey has already put together two years of elite center play. After earning a 91.8 grade as a rookie, Humphrey hovered around the same mark this season and, like Lindstrom, profiles well when looking at the stable metrics among centers. He placed in the 93rd percentile this season in pass-blocking grade, 95th in pass-blocking grade without play action and 98th in positively graded run plays. He also did not allow a sack. 


Defense

Edge Defender: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns (92.6)

An already special talent who just had his best season to date, Garrett earned a career-high 93.5 pass-rush grade in 2022. His 25.6% pass-rush win rate was second in the league, behind only Bryce Huff, who played almost 300 fewer pass-rush snaps than Garrett. He converted those wins into 16 sacks, tied for second in the league.

While Garrett got to the quarterback in many different ways, his 34.8% pass-rush win rate when he rounded the corner and tried to beat the offensive lineman to the outside was the best in the league. 


Interior Defensive Lineman: Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (92.0)

Early in his career, it looked like Lawrence was going to end up a solid above-average defender. But after rookie and sophomore seasons that ended with 76.2 and 79.7 grades, respectively, all seemed lost after a 68.7 grade in his third NFL season. His emergence as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL this season is truly stunning. He was dominant both as a pass rusher — a 19.1% pass-rush win rate put him second in the league — and as a run defender — an 81.9 run-defense grade puts him fifth in the league.

Deployed almost exclusively on the left side of the defensive line in 2021, Lawrence lined up on both sides of the line and at nose tackle more regularly under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale in 2022, and the results were incredible. 


Linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams (90.7)

Simply put, Wagner has continued to build his case as a first-ballot Hall of Famer with continued excellent play well into his 30s now. His .57 WAR this season ranked first among linebackers. A sterling 2.9% missed tackle rate placed third among his position group, and he continued to be a great coverage linebacker, ranking 13th in coverage grade. His overall grade this year rivals that of his two best seasons in Seattle — 2017 and 2018 — where he graded out to 91.4 and 91.7, respectively. He’s graded above 80.0 in six of his 11 NFL seasons, a remarkable achievement. 


Cornerback: Sauce Gardner, New York Jets (88.5)

Gardner put together one of the best-ever seasons by a rookie cornerback. He finished first in overall grade and WAR, and he recorded the fifth-best coverage grade in single coverage (85.2). A lot of that had to do with how fantastic he was with the ball in the air. He forced 20 incompletions, which ranked first. He’s also a willing run defender and will get his nose dirty down in the box if need be. While he snagged just two interceptions this season, expect that number to rise if teams keep trying to test him through the air.   

Safety: Ryan Neal, Seattle Seahawks (85.6)

It was a breakout 2022 season for Neal, who had come to Seattle in 2019 but didn’t find his game until this year as the weak safety in the Seahawks' defense. He's an impressive tackler when nestled down in the box and is also good at carrying routes. Neal is a true jack-of-all-trades type of player. The Seahawks will have a glut of safety talent with Jamal Adams back in the mix next season. 

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