How do you define an NFL playmaker? There isn’t a strict definition, but for us, we’re talking about players who can do the remarkable any time they’re on the field. It can be a quarterback who can improvise or uncork a 50-yard touchdown in the blink of an eye. It can be a running back who can use power, speed, or elusiveness to create something out of nothing. It can be a wide receiver who does the seemingly impossible while making a catch. It can even be a defensive player capable of that game-changing strip sack or a defensive back who can end an opposing possession just like that. These are the biggest game-changers, the guys who can make the biggest plays.
Here are the 20 best playmakers in the NFL.
20) Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
The only thing that has held Zeke back has been his suspension. Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards per game for the second consecutive season, though his mark of 98.3 was lower than his stellar 108.7 yards per game as a rookie in 2016. He has 12 career 100-yard rushing games and is very often rushing for at least 80 yards in a game. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie and had a big play of 60 yards. Expect him to continue breaking big plays and consistently ranking among the league’s best rushers in 2018.
DeMarcus Ware has looked into the future and thinks that he sees big things for the Denver Broncos.
The retired linebacker spent the final three seasons of his career with the Broncos, combining with Von Miller to give Denver an awesome pass rush. Ware thinks that No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb will be able to team with Miller to do the same thing.
The Broncos were said to be eyeing a quarterback in the draft, but when Chubb fell to them, they felt they couldn’t pass him up. John Elway called Chubb the “best defensive player in the draft.”
Elway has focused on building an excellent defense during his time in charge of the Broncos. That theme continued this year.
Von Miller probably didn’t enjoy the five-win season he and his Denver Broncos teammates put together in 2017, but it looks like the offseason is treating the star pass-rusher just fine.
Miller went on a fishing trip with some friends off the coast of Miami this week, and let’s just say the venture was a success. The crew hooked and reeled in a hammerhead shark that was nearly 10 feet in length.
Miller shared a bunch of footage from the big catch on his Instagram story, and the captain of the charter said the shark was the biggest one he had seen all season.
Who says MLB players are the ones that catch the biggest fish? That shark will be hard to top.
If a potential future teammate publicly confessing his love is a factor in Kirk Cousins’ free agency decision, you have to think the Denver Broncos have a good shot at landing the star quarterback.
Since it became clear that the Washington Redskins were parting ways with Cousins, no player has been more outspoken in trying to bring Cousins to his team than Von Miller. That continued on Saturday.
“I’m all in 100 percent,” Miller told James Palmer of NFL.com. “This is a big time for Denver and a big time for the National Football League. You don’t really have, especially quarterbacks, become free like that. So it’s an exciting time in the National Football League.
“It’s kind of like college again. You got an athlete coming to your school and you want to try your best to get them there. And that’s the same thing with us. We would really like to have Kirk. I think him and his personality and the things that he brings to the table fits in with Denver. But there are a lot of great teams out there with large pocket books. So we’ll have to just wait and see. But I’ll have to give him the ultimate spiel on why Denver is special to me.”
Miller, who has never been one to lack confidence, feels his presence alone should sway Cousins.
“That’s one thing that these other markets are just not going to have. They’re not going to have a guy like me on the other side that’s going to be with him for the duration of his career, so hopefully that will be enough,” he added. “I know it won’t, but I’m here all in for the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes.”
While the Broncos are one of a handful of teams that makes sense for Cousins, Las Vegas oddsmakers have already labeled one team the overwhelming favorite to sign him. Miller isn’t the only player on the Broncos who has tried to recruit Cousins, but the QB has probably received nonstop text messages and phone calls from players who want to be teammates with him.
It’s safe to say Von Miller wants to see Kirk Cousins join him on the Denver Broncos.
The Denver Broncos linebacker appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and said the soon-to-be free agent quarterback “could take us over the edge.”
“I’ve talked to him before. He knows exactly how I feel about Kirk Cousins and what he would mean to our team, and what he would mean to a lot of teams,” Miller told The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday. “He’s the hot quarterback on the market. We need Kirk. I would like to have Kirk. We have great quarterbacks now. Kirk could take us over the edge.”
The Broncos would surely face stiff competition for Cousins if they decide to go after him, as there are a number of teams that would have good reason to pursue him. It’s still a question whether Denver would even go for Cousins, or whether they’d prefer to wait and use their No. 5 pick on a quarterback instead.
It’s not often that an offensive lineman gets the best of Von Miller, but Lane Johnson managed to on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles right tackle was especially impressive on one particular play where he tossed a spinning Miller to the ground while facing the Denver Broncos star. Take a look:
Nice move by Johnson, right? Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland apparently said that Johnson executed the technique “to perfection.”
It’s easy to see why. Just one well-timed shove to an off-balanced Miller sent him falling to the ground. You can’t do much better than that.
There can only be one NFL MVP, but each team can claim their own most valuable player, no matter how good or bad the franchise’s season goes. Sometimes the team’s MVP is an elite defender, a star quarterback, or a remarkable playmaker, or even a special teams player, if the rest of the team is struggling a lot.
Here’s a look at each NFL team’s MVP so far in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals — Chandler Jones, LB
The former New England Patriot is once again proving to be the defensive rock for the Cardinals, setting records along the way. He has picked up eight sacks in just seven games thus far in 2017, and is proving to be a nightmarish foe for opposing blockers and quarterbacks. The gaudy numbers are great, but Jones has also been valuable in other ways. He’s good against the run and has put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even when he doesn’t get the sack.
Atlanta Falcons — Devonta Freeman, RB
In what has been a disappointing year for the Atlanta offense, Freeman has continued to stand out and produce no matter what is happening around him. His 2017 thus far has been every bit as solid as his 2016 was. Freeman is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has piled up five rushing touchdowns in six games. As Matt Ryan and his fellow offensive players have failed to hit the heights that they did in 2016, Freeman has simply been steady and reliable.
Halloween is still a week away, but it is going to be difficult for anyone to top the costume that Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall came up with at a party Monday night.
As he proudly revealed on his Snapchat account, Marshall went to a Halloween party dressed as Von Miller. But Marshall didn’t focus on the Miller who terrorizes opposing quarterbacks on the football field. Instead, he mocked his teammate for appearing in Old Spice commercials and finding himself wrapped up in a sex tape scandal.
Game, set, match.
If you remember, Miller claimed he was extorted last year by a woman with whom he made a sex tape while on vacation. The stunning Instagram model behind the tape later admitted that she wanted to keep a copy of it for her own personal pleasure, but a judge eventually ordered her to turn it over.
Marshall’s costume was as cold-hearted as it gets, but it’s a good bet that even Miller found it funny.
Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, several popular names still lead the fray when it comes to defensive production. However, key injuries to superstars like J.J. Watt have created a void that has been filled by some surprising players, many of whom are having career years.
Here’s a look at each NFL team’s best defensive player so far in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals — Tyvon Branch, S
There are a lot of talented defenders on Arizona’s roster, but through six weeks, it’s hard to argue that Tyvon Branch — who has been called a “wolverine” complement to the “honey badger” — isn’t the very best. He not only leads the team and is tied for the league lead with 55 tackles, but he’s also defended four passes, forced a fumble and was named to the Pro Football Focus First Quarter All-Pro Team. Branch getting the nod says a lot about his impact this season when you consider Arizona also has Chandler Jones and his six sacks.
Atlanta Falcons — Deion Jones, LB
Deion Jones has filled out the box score this year, leading the Falcons with 38 tackles. He’s also recorded a sack, three passes defended and an interception. Jones is also among Pro Football Focus’ top 15 graded linebackers this season, alongside teammate De’Vondre Campbell, who has also landed very high grades for Atlanta. Jones is blossoming well for Atlanta in his second NFL season.
If Odell Beckham Jr. decides to have Von Miller represent him in the star wide receiver’s contract negotiations with the New York Giants, making progress could be quite difficult.
Questions about Beckham’s ability to stay healthy have become more valid in the wake of his season-ending ankle injury, but Miller does not think that should have any impact on OBJ’s contract situation. Over the summer, Miller said he believes Beckham deserves to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. The Denver Broncos linebacker reiterated that stance on Wednesday.
“Odell should be the highest-paid player ever in the National Football League,” Miller told reporters, via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. “He should be the highest-paid player ever, regardless of position. That’s just the type of player he is. It doesn’t matter if it’s quarterback, offensive line, receiver. It doesn’t matter. The type of impact that he has on the globe, the type of viewers that he brings — just him as a player. That makes up for him not playing quarterback. So, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. Definitely deserving.
Beckham was hobbled by an ankle injury during the preseason that forced him to miss Week 1. He then suffered an ankle fracture in last week’s game and underwent season-ended surgery. Miller doesn’t think the Giants should be concerned about that.
“There’s no reason that he won’t come back and be the same type of player,” Miller added. “That’s just one of the guys that you invest in. When you get a guy like that, that’s the guy that you invest in, that you want to keep around for his whole career.”
Miller, who is close friends with Beckham, signed a six-year deal with the Broncos last year that included a record $70 million guaranteed. Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins signed a five-year deal this past offseason that included around $62 million guaranteed, so Beckham will likely use that contract as a baseline.
Beckham was reportedly considering taking out a massive insurance policy after injuring his ankle in the preseason, though it’s unknown if he ended up doing it.