by Patrick Kidd
The 2020 NFL season was one which played out uniquely. Taking place in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, players were made to play under strict regulations and in empty stadiums. Some players saw the consistency of their excellence, many enjoyed the best form of their careers, few managed to bounce back from dips in quality. Despite their success prior to the 2020 season, 10 stars soared above their colleagues.
5. Xavien Howard, Cornerback, Miami Dolphins
10 Interceptions; 20 Passes Defended; 1 Forced Fumble
Miami Dolphins lockdown cornerback Xavien Howard stood out as the best in the NFL at his position. With a league leading 10 interceptions and a defensive completion rate of 51,5% he was a nightmare for quarterbacks across the league. When a defensive back can eliminate half of the field’s offensive outlets on his own, it’s no wonder that the Dolphins defense stood out as one of the best in the league. Howard’s excellence was rewarded with selections to both the Pro Bowl and Associated Press (AP) First Team All-Pro Team.
4. Davante Adams, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
115 Receptions; 1 374 Receiving Yards; 98,1 Yards per Game; 18 Touchdowns
Another Pro Bowler and AP All-Pro, Davante Adams was head and shoulders above the NFL’s pool of wide receivers. Despite missing two games to injury, Adams led the league in receiving touchdowns and was Aaron Rodgers’ primary option during an MVP campaign for the quarterback. Adams’ route-running ability and speed off the line of scrimmage is unlike any receiver in the league and it’s unsurprising that the formerly overlooked receiver is being touted as one of the best in the game. If Green Bay are to continue pushing for a Super Bowl, Davante Adams is a cog in the system that cannot be replaced.
3. T.J. Watt, Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
15 Sacks; 55 Tackles; 23 Tackles for Loss; 1 Interception
T.J. Watt was the NFL’s best defensive player in 2020. In his fourth year in the NFL, the explosive linebacker solidified his position as the best edge rusher in the league. To lead the league in sacks - competing against the likes of Aaron Donald, Za’Darius Smith and Myles Garrett – was no easy feat. It’s no wonder the mammoth Wisconsinite was selected as a first team All-Pro. Unfortunately, Watt was snubbed of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, as Aaron Donald went home with the accolade. But his numbers speak for themselves, no one was better on the defensive side of the ball than T.J. Watt in 2020.
2. Derrick Henry, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
2 027 Rushing Yards; 126,7 Rushing Yards per Game; 17 Touchdowns
Recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year Award, Derrick Henry was simply unstoppable in 2020. With 2000 rushing yards on the season including three games of 200 yards, Henry enjoyed one of the greatest running back seasons of all time. The 6’3” colossus was the forefront of the Titans’ ground-and-pound offense and singlehandedly took them to the playoffs. Given how historic his season was, it’s of no surprise that Henry was highly relevant in the MVP debate. Sadly for Henry, he lost out to the number 1 player on this list, but his production in 2020 is not to be taken lightly.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
4 299 Passing Yards; 70,7% Pass Completion; 51 Touchdowns; 121,5 Passer Rating
Prior to the beginning of the NFL season, Rodgers’ name was already rife in the “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time) chatter, and miraculously he managed still to have the best season of his career in 2020. Rodgers led the league with 48 passing touchdowns and guided the Green Bay Packers to the number 1 seed in the NFC as well as the NFC Championship. Unfortunately it was not to be for the Wisconsin franchise as they succumbed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it was still a triumphant year of individual accolades for Rodgers.
Rodgers was selected to the Pro Bowl and the AP All-Pro first team, and walked home from the NFL Honours with his third MVP Award of his career. Rodgers’ natural quarterback talent was so obviously palpable even at 36 years old and it’s no wonder why some think he’s the best to ever play game. The ease at which he reads defences, the accuracy with which he passes and his confidence in the pocket made him the outstanding player in the 2020 NFL Season. There’s no doubt he can continue with the same precision in 2021 and if he does, he might just wind up back at the top.