ESPN polled a panel that included more than 40 of the World Wide Leader’s experts to rank the NFL’s 100 best players entering the 2019 season. The idea behind the poll was simple enough: Put aside past performance and positional value, then predict which players will be the best this season.
As expected, this guy ranked pretty high on the list:
Khalil Mack checked in as the third best player entering the 2019 season. Only Aaron Donald and Patrick Mahomes ranked ahead of Mack, who transformed the Bears from a team that kinda sorta was on the fringes of being a team on the rise into a Super Bowl contender upon arrival.
Last year, Mack racked up 12.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 10 tackles-for-loss while tacking on six forced fumbles (two recoveries) and an interception returned for a touchdown for good measure. High praise is nothing new for Mack, who was voted by his peers as the league’s third-best player earlier in August, earned exclusive membership in the Madden “99 Club” back in July, headlined a wave of Bears defenders on PFF’s top-101 list, and still has the hunger to be the B.O.A.T. when it’s all said and done. No wonder ESPN’s panel of judges think so highly of him.
Mack isn’t alone in cracking ESPN’s top-100. Defensive end Akiem Hicks (49th), safety Eddie Jackson (63rd), cornerback Kyle Fuller (81st), and Roquan Smith (82nd) all landed in the top-100. No wonder Mack doesn’t want to hear whispers of this defense getting hit with the regression stick. This unit has five top-100 players, each still in their respective primes and at the peak of their powers.
Sure, it would be nice if the Bears had a representative on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe that can happen next year if quarterback Mitch Trubisky takes another impressive step in his development. Otherwise, Bears fans are going to be left wondering about what could have been had the team selected Mahomes (2nd) or Deshaun Watson (47th) in the 2017 NFL Draft.