28Big name players in surprising positions…
#90. Kendall Fuller, cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs
Fuller is set to step into an expanded role in Kansas City after being the third cornerback in Washington the past two seasons. He’s already one of the league’s best slot specialists, and now he’ll get to test his mettle on the outside as well. Last year he came up with four interceptions and 10 passes defended.
#89. Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Whenever he decides to retire, Fitzgerald will have to wait just five years to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — he’s a shoo-in first-ballot star. Even without the benefit of steady quarterback play last season, Fitzgerald came up with 107 catches for 1,023 yards and six touchdowns.
#88. Kevin Byard, safety, Tennessee Titans
The 2017 season was Byard’s coming-out party. He made his first Pro Bowl, earned First-team All-Pro honors and was tied for the league lead with eight interceptions. He also was part of one of the funniest offseason stories. Now entering his third season, this former third-round pick out of Middle Tennessee is going to have to step up even more due to the season-ending injury of strong safety Johnathan Cyprien.
#87. Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans
Lewan’s history-making new contract speaks for itself. He’s one of the best left tackles in the NFL right now and helps comprise one of the league’s top overall offensive lines. In his first four seasons, he’s allowed just 15.5 sacks in 58 games while incurring just nine holding penalties.
#86. Alex Smith, quarterback, Washington Redskins
It’s pretty crazy how little respect Smith gets nationally. He’s clearly one of the best quarterbacks in the league, even if he doesn’t have the strongest arm. Since the 2011 season, when the 49ers finally got good under Jim Harbaugh, Smith has compiled a record of 79-31 while throwing 132 touchdowns and just 43 interceptions. Washington’s offense is going to thrive with him under center.
#85. Golden Tate, wide receiver, Detroit Lions
The league’s grand master when it comes to yards after the catch, Tate has been nothing if not consistently awesome the past four seasons in Detroit. Since the 2014 season, he’s averaged 93 catches, 1,056 yards and just under five touchdowns per season.
#84. Alex Mack, center, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s offense went to another level once Mack came on board in 2016. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler who is quite simply an elite offensive lineman who excels in the run and pass game. He’s piled up 133 starts since the 2009 season and has been remarkably healthy throughout his career (minus a broken leg in 2014).
#83. Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
An up and coming star, Adams has emerged as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to touchdown maker the past two seasons in Green Bay. Originally second-round pick out of Fresno State, he has hauled in 149 receptions for 1,882 yards and 22 touchdowns the past two seasons. Adams’ progression is also a big reason why Jordy Nelson was seen as expendable this offseason.
#82. Leonard Fournette, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars
If Fournette can stay healthy (a big “if”) he has a chance to become one of the best running backs of his generation. Blessed with both raw speed (here he is getting shot out of a cannon) and power, Fournette had a strong rookie season, rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, despite missing three games due to injury.
#81. Kawann Short, defensive tackle, Carolina Panthers
Over the past three years, Short has become one of the most dominant 4-3 defensive tackles in the league. Since the 2015 season, he’s tallied 24.5 sacks, and he’s a devastating run defender. The Panthers rewarded Short with a massive long-term contract before last season, and hasn’t done anything to make them regret it since.
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