Let’s play a game of underrated or overrated. The NFL Network’s top 100 players list for 2020 is out and the Bucs are represented by five players.
We’ll start — as the list does — at No. 100 with linebacker Lavonte David. The ninth-year veteran has consistently been one of the top players at his position. But despite 1,008 career tackles, 21 forced fumbles, 22.5 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries and 116 tackles for loss, David is consistently overlooked.
David has only one Pro Bowl appearance (2015) and was named All Pro once (2013). Ranking him No. 100 is only further evidence of how grossly underrated he is as a player, even among his peers. The biggest reason for that is the Bucs’ lack of success during his pro career. David has never appeared in the postseason and the Bucs rarely have been on national television in games of consequence.
Receiver Chris Godwin is ranked No. 38. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after leading the Bucs with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine interceptions.
Linebacker Shaquil Barrett is on the list at No. 32 after leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019. Barrett is the Bucs’ franchise player who will earn $15.8 million this season. The ranking seems about right. Only five edge rushers are ranked higher this year.
Receiver Mike Evans arrives at No. 30. Evans has six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, including 2019, when he missed four games. This puts Evans in the top five among receivers.
And new Bucs quarterback Tom Brady lands at No. 14, outside of the top 10, which will be revealed tonight. Brady drops eight spots from last season, which had been his low-water mark since the rankings debuted in 2011.
In 2010 and 2009, Brady was the highest-ranked payer in the NFL, and the only player to hold the No. 1 spot multiple times. He will turn 43 next month, but Brady arguably has the best supporting cast of his career with Evans, Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.
Of course, these rankings reflect more on the performance of the previous season than projection of the current one.
“The way Brady played last year certainly does not warrant a ranking this high,” Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin tweeted.
At least four quarterbacks from last year’s list figure to rank higher: the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the Saints’ Drew Brees.