50 most dominant NFL players of 2023, Nos. 25-1

50 most dominant NFL players of 2023, Nos. 25-1

Who are the most dominant players in the NFL today? The answers may vary depending on who you ask.

Some will list quarterbacks, as it’s the most important position. Others will include the defenders responsible for containing them. Then there are the players who straight up are the best at their respective position. But one thing is for certain, the NFL is littered with dominant players across the board.

Our NFL Wires editors submitted their picks for the most dominant players in the game right now, and we tabulated the results to determine a top 50. Our list consists of players who dominate at their respective positions, so there’s a nice mix of different position groups (even though quarterbacks and skill position players are well represented).

There were 24 NFL teams represented in our list, where several teams had multiple players. The Eagles and 49ers tied for the most appearances with five each, and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs weren’t far behind.

After unveiling Nos. 50 through 26, we’re taking a look at Nos. 25 through 1, which include the league’s top quarterbacks and the best players to play their respective positions.

All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus, Sports Info Solutions, and Pro Football Reference unless otherwise indicated.

Breakdown: Martin is the physical manifestation of the Spongebob “He don’t miss!” meme. Year after year, the top 2-3 guards in the league rotate in and out and Martin is the sole constant among his peers. A sure-fire Hall of Fame player, his professionalism is matched by his ability and mean streak. He eats up DTs whole. — K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Advanced Metrics: Martin has allowed just 11 sacks on 5,557 pass-blocking snaps in his nine-year NFL career. He didn’t allow a single quarterback takedown in the 2022 season (706 pass-blocking snaps), the second time in the last four years (2019 as well) that no defensive player has gotten past him for a sack in an entire season. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Surtain has quickly emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL after just two seasons in the league. The 23-year-old CB already has a Pro Bowl nod and an All-Pro selection on his resume. “PS2” has totaled 24 pass breakups and six interceptions through his first 33 games in the NFL. — Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

Advanced Metrics: New Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph might want to draw up more man coverage concepts than did former DC Ejiro Evero in 2022. In 2021, Surtain’s rookie season under head coach Vic Fangio, Surtain had 230 coverage snaps in man, and 163 in zone. In 2022 under Evero, he had 136 coverage snaps in man, and 391 in zone. As a result, Surtain, who has been a dead-red man defender since his days at Alabama, saw his opponent passer rating allowed rise from 69.7 to 84.0. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: There is not a box that Nick Chubb does not check. From contact balance, to his eyes, to how light and agile he is on his feet, to even his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, Chubb has his claim as the best running back in the NFL. He will never have the workload of a Derrick Henry or Josh Jacobs, but it’s fin to imagine what he could do with that number of carries. — Cory Kinnan, Browns Wire

Advanced Metrics: The Browns selected Chubb in the second round of the 2018 draft, and while there are those who will tell you that it’s too high to draft any back, that doesn’t reconcile with Chubb’s value as a runner after defenders try to get their hands on him. Since his rookie season, only Derrick Henry has more total yards after contact (3,983) than Chubb’s 3,378. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Every team looking to dominate the middle of the field is looking for a Fred Warner. There’s not a player on the field he can’t carry in coverage, but his biggest highlight reel plays come with his sideline-to-sideline speed that allows him to be a force against the run. — Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Advanced Metrics: Warner is the NFL’s best linebacker for a multitude of reasons; here, we’ll focus on his ability to prevent positive plays. Last season, only Foyesade Oluokun of the Jaguars had more stops (84) than Warner’s 72. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Some say that Ramsey has lost a step, as he’s entering his ninth season in the NFL. However, he’s still riding an impressive six-season Pro Bowl streak that shows the type of respect he still garners from fans, coaches and the media. Whether it’s been in Jacksonville or Los Angeles, the former Florida State Seminole has been a lockdown defender, and he’s looking to continue that in Miami playing opposite Xavien Howard. — Mike Masala, Dolphins Wire

Advanced Metrics: Ramsey should be an ideal fit for new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s zone-based coverage schemes. In Ramsey’s 2022 season with the Rams, he allowed an opponent passer rating of 71.3 when in zone coverage… and 149.1 when playing man coverage. Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Pro Football Focus asked for an NFL comparison to Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. McCaffrey might be the closest thing to a correct answer. If he wasn’t one of the best running backs in the league, he could be one of the best slot receivers. — Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Advanced Metrics: At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, McCaffrey doesn’t look like a power runner, but the metrics tell a different tale. Last season, only Derrick Henry (who very much looks like a power runner) had more rushing yards after contact (490) than McCaffrey’s 376. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Jackson has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, making incredible plays both with his arm and with his legs. While season-ending injuries in back-to-back years have soured his last two seasons, he still is one of the hardest players to game-plan for when on the field. — Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire

Advanced Metrics: Maybe new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken will use RPOs more in the passing game to Lamar Jackson’s benefit, because former OC Greg Roman didn’t seem to want it to be part of the plan. Roman’s Ravens ran RPOs on just 6% of their offensive snaps in 2022, but Jackson completed 21 of 23 passes for 169 yards, ninth-most in the NFL. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: The Eagles rarely lose with Johnson in the lineup, as the NFL’s top right guard has gone nearly three years without allowing a quarterback sack or hit. Johnson signed an extension and should anchor the offensive line for years. — Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Advanced Metrics: Johnson is on a Hall of Fame track in his career, and his ability to keep his quarterback clean is a major part of that. Last season, Johnson allowed no sacks, no quarterback hits, and 11 quarterback hurries in 651 pass-blocking reps. Johnson hasn’t given up a quarterback hit since Week 7 of the 2021 season,and he hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 11 of the 2020 campaign. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Chase was one of the closest to hit Randy Moss’ orbit as a rookie on his way to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, breaking Bengals records in the process with that 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns (18.0 average) over 17 games and breaking Torry Holt’s 1999 record of postseason receiving yards as a rookie (368) en route to a Super Bowl. Over just 12 games as a sophomore, he caught 87 passes for 1,046 yards and nine more scores. He’s still improving little things like nuanced route-running and seeing an uptick of usage in the slot, making him even more difficult for defenses to handle. — Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Advanced Metrics: Receivers who can work well in schemes with complicated route combinations are great, but sometimes, you just need an alpha dog who can scald cornerbacks on vertical one-on-ones. Chase is just such a receiver – last season on go routes, he caught 10 passes on 26 targets for 219 yards and three touchdowns. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: The All-Pro and MVP runner-up will look to join an elite company after signing a five-year, $255M contract extension. With the NFL’s top offensive line and a top three-skill position group, Hurts should be an MVP front-runner and one of the top signal-callers in football. — Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Advanced Metrics: Hurts wasn’t just a great quarterback in 2022; he was also a highly productive runner. And he wasn’t just a highly productive runner; he was also a scoring machine against loaded boxes – mostly in the red zone. When facing seven or more defenders in the box, Hurts had 13 rushing touchdowns. Only Jamaal Williams of the Lions (15) had more at any position. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: All he did as a rookie was less the league in passes defended, get right in the face of an opposing team’s No. 1 option and be named First Team All-Pro. Many already consider him the best cornerback in the league. That’s pretty dominant. — Billy Riccette, Jets Wire

Advanced Metrics: It didn’t take too long for Gardner, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, to get the hang of the NFL. After a Week 2 game against the Browns in which Amari Cooper zapped him for four receptions, Gardner put everything on lock for the rest of his rookie campaign. He finished that first season with 34 catches allowed on 74 targets for 361 yards, 105 yards after the catch, one touchdown, two interceptions, 12 pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 53.9 – third-best in the NFL among cornerbacks who played at least 50% of their teams’ defensive snaps. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Adams proved in 2022 that he wasn’t just a product of Aaron Rodgers. In his first year away from Aaron Rodgers, he posted a 1,500 yard season with 14 touchdowns as he was a voted a first-team All-Pro selection for the third-time in his career. — Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

Advanced Metrics: If Adams was catching a deep pass in the 2022 season, a touchdown was the likely result. With Derek Carr as his primary quarterback, Adams caught 15 passes of 20 or more air yards on 38 attempts for 593 yards… and a league-high nine touchdowns. We’ll see if Jimmy Garoppolo (who’s never been known as a great deep passer) can help Adams match that total in 2023. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: 2022 was a forgettable season for T.J. Watt because of an injury but all missing seven games will do is motivate Watt to return to his DPOY form. When healthy, no player in the league is as disruptive off the edge, whether it is sacks, pressures or forced fumbles. — Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire

Advanced Metrics: Since Trent Jordan Watt, younger brother of Justin James Watt, came into the NFL as the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2017, no edge defender has amassed more total pressures than the younger Watt’s 241 – and that’s with him missing seven games due to injury in the 2022 season. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: The lynchpin of the Chiefs’ defense under Steve Spagnuolo, Jones is easily the most dominant three-technique in the league. His blend of power and quickness makes him a handful, even when he’s double-teamed by some of the best interior offensive linemen in the league. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Advanced Metrics: There’s a lot of value in a pass-rusher who can get to the quarterback without blitz help, and no interior defensive lineman was more productive than Jones last season in such situations. With three or four pass-rushers on the line of scrimmage last season, Jones amassed 15 sacks – the most for any IDL. He also had 70 total pressures without a blitz – only Micah Parsons of the Cowboys (72) had more from any position on the line. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Hill, coming off his first season in South Florida, proved a lot of people in 2022 by setting career highs in receptions (119) and yards (1,710) while earning All-Pro honors for the fourth time in his career. The most impressive part is that he accomplished all of that despite playing some games with Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson under center. Between his speed and his route running, lining up against him is a nightmare for opposing cornerbacks. — Mike Masala, Dolphins Wire

Advanced Metrics: Death, taxes, and Tyreek Hill scorching enemy defenses for big plays. Some things you can just rely on. Last season, no receiver had more catches on passes of 20 or more air yards than Hill’s 19 on 39 attempts, which he turned into 669 yards and five touchdowns. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Allen ranks among the most-dominating players in the NFL for good reason. He’s everything a general manager in the league sees and hopes they can mold… the raw skill was always there but the Bills (and Allen himself) actually managed to make it happen. A freak in size, Allen’s play comes with a playmaking arm that can make all the throws and powerful running style. — Nick Wojton, Bills Wire

Advanced Metrics: Allen was the NFL”s most prolific deep passer in the 2022 season – he completed a league-high 41 passes of 20 or more air yards on a league-high 104 attempts for 1,386 yards, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a passer rating of 97.4. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Burrow’s dominance is impressive beyond the usual considering he had the COVID-derailed rookie summer, spent his second summer recovering from season-ending knee surgery and the third spoiled late in camp due to a burst appendix and significant weight loss. And yet, he counteracted opposing defense’s shifts to Cover 2 to the point of being one of the league’s best against the coverage, has gradually assumed more control of the offense and led the lowly Bengals to two straight AFC title games and one Super Bowl while seeming unfazed by that task or any tense on-field moment (never mind the 11,774 yards and 82 scores against 31 picks on a 68.2 completion percentage while suffering 124 sacks over 42 games). — Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Advanced Metrics: With Burrow at quarterback, the Bengals have been known to feature a quick-game passing offense. That’s true to a point, but Burrow was also highly efficient last season on longer-developing plays. On plays in which he spent 2.5 seconds or more in the pocket, Burrow completed 165 of 252 passes for 2,101 yards, 16 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 104.3. Only Geno Smith (106.0) had a higher passer rating while spending that much time in the pocket. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: The reigning Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t have a ton of weaknesses. His pass rush arsenal is as good as any and his ability to set the edge against the run is key for the 49ers’ No. 1 defense. — Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Advanced Metrics: Some pass-rushers need more than the straight four-on-the-floor defensive line to succeed. Bosa isn’t one of those guys. The 49ers blitzed on just 22% of their snaps, which ranked 18th in the league. And with just four linemen up front, Bosa was the NFL’s most productive pass-rusher with 15 solo sacks, 42 quarterback hits, and 33 quarterback hurries. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: There’s no better example of a prototypical modern left tackle than Williams. He’s an elite pass blocker, elite run blocker, and might just be the best player in football. — Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Advanced Metrics: Williams has been widely regarded as the NFL’s best offensive tackle over the last couple seasons, and there are a lot of reasons for that. He’s an utterly dominant run-blocker, and over the last two seasons combined, he’s allowed just two sacks, eight quarterback hits, and 32 quarterback hurries – in 1,145 pass-blocking snaps. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: There are no doubting the traits of Garrett. Dudes as big as him should not be able to move and bend the way he does. Despite a lack of attention taken away from him across the Cleveland defensive line, Garrett has still managed back-to-back seasons with 16 sacks. And now with Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator and with talent around him in the defensive trenches in 2023, Garrett may finally see a decline in double-teams as he pursues his first Defensive Player of the Year award. — Cory Kinnan, Browns Wire

Advanced Metrics: In 2022, Garrett had 18 sacks, eight quarterback hits, 47 quarterback hurries, and 39 stops. He did that for a defense in which he was responsible for 48.7% of the team’s 37 sacks, 34.8% of the team’s 23 quarterback hits, and 40% of the team’s 118 quarterback hurries.No top-tier edge defender did more with less around him. Pretty terrifying to consider when the Browns added a ton of talent to that line in the offseason. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Parsons might not only be the most dominant at his position as an edge rushing linebacker, he could be the most dominant non-QB in the entire league. Primed to contend for an MVP this season, his arsenal of moves combined with surreal athletic ability make him a menace to offensive coordinators league-wide. — K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Advanced Metrics: With his 106 total pressures in the 2022 season, Parsons was the only pass-rusher to break double-digits. He did that with 15 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, and a league-high 74 quarterback hurries – by far the NFL’s most (Za’Darius Smith finished second with 55). Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Kelce has put up consistent numbers like no other tight end in NFL history. His ability to act as a traditional tight end, but also an elite receiver is unmatched. Last season alone, he had 24 more receptions and over 400 more yards than the next closest player at the position. His 12 touchdowns in 2022 led the league at the tight end position and were the second-most among all skill positions. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Advanced Metrics: Kelce has always been an amazing player against zone coverage, because he has a sixth sense of defensive openings, and where to sit within them. Last season, no receiver at any position had more catches (48), targets (64), and touchdowns (10) against zone coverage than Kelce. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: After being labeled as a slot only player coming out of LSU, Justin Jefferson has proven to be much more than that. The best overall wide receiver and route runner in the league, the 24 year old has already set multiple records and is primed to set more this year and beyond. — Tyler Forness, Vikings Wire

Advanced Metrics: Only Tyreek Hill of the Dolphins (19) had more catches of 20 or more air yards last season than Jefferson’s 17. Jefferson’s ability to beat you on straight vertical routes is especially dangerous, because it opens up every other route for him. Defenders are so afraid to get soaked by the go ball, they’ll give up everything short and intermediate along the way. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Even after a down year in 2022, Donald remains one of the most feared and dominant players in the NFL. There isn’t a player in the league who guards lose more sleep over and his sheer dominance is why opponents double-team him so often by sliding either the center or tackle his way. — Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

Advanced Metrics: Injuries robbed Donald of his last six games of the 2022 season, but the best defensive player of his era was as productive as he could possibly be with those limited reps – in just 396 pass-rushing snaps, he totaled five sacks, seven quarterback hits, and 28 quarterback hurries. Not bad for a guy who’s been double-teamed as the default mechanism throughout his career. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Breakdown: Not only does he have all the accolades, but Mahomes embodies what it means to be dominant on the football field. He’s an elite competitor, who is always one step ahead of his opponent. He has all of the answers to the test, whether he’s executing a play as intended or forced to make the right decision when a play breaks down. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Advanced Metrics: If you’re a defensive coordinator, and you’re of a mind to blitz Patrick Mahomes, maybe you should sit down until that idea goes away. Last season, against five or more pass-rushers, Mahomes completed 120 of 181 passes for 1,312 yards, 539 air yards, 20 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 119.8. — Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

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