In 2020, the Washington Football Team had zero representatives on the annual NFL Top 100, a list NFL Network compiles each year that takes votes solely from players in ranking the league's best players entering the season.
In this year's version, Washington has two players on the list, a solid improvement from the year prior. All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff checked in at No. 98, while reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young, was ranked No. 61.
But today, we're not talking about Scherff or Young, both of whom should have been ranked higher than their actual spot. This is about Washington's standout wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was left off the NFL Top 100 entirely with multiple less-talented pass-catchers coming in ahead of him.
Let's be clear: we're not saying that McLaurin should be the top wideout ranked on this list. In fact, even putting him in the Top 10 could be a bit much. But, there are a handful of wideouts on the backend of the Top 100 that McLaurin significantly outperformed last season.
Let's start with the lowest-ranked wideout on the list: Cole Beasley. The Buffalo Bills slot specialist came in at No. 96 on the Top 100 after turning in the best season of his career.
Beasley's 2020 season was undoubtedly his best as a pro, as he set career highs in receptions (82) and receiving yards (967). Yet neither of those numbers top what McLaurin totaled in 2020, as the Washington wideout finished with five more receptions (87 total) and 151 yards more (1,118) than Beasley did. It's also worth mentioning that Beasley had Pro Bowler Josh Allen throwing him the football, while McLaurin caught passes from four different signal-callers last season.
Next on the list was Browns pass-catcher Jarvis Landry, who checked in two spots above Beasley at No. 94 on the list. Landry has made the list for a sixth-straight year, which isn't much of a surprise considering the league-wide respect he's earned. But after a down season statistically in 2020 -- one he finished with a career-low in receptions and touchdowns -- there's little reasoning that he should have finished above McLaurin.
The last wideout McLaurin should have been undoubtedly listed above was former Titans wideout Corey Davis, who checked in at No. 91 overall on the Top 100. Like Beasley, Davis is coming off the best season of his career, a campaign he set career-highs in yards and touchdowns.
Yet, despite having his best year as a pro, the rising fifth-year wideout still finished with 22 fewer receptions than McLaurin and 134 fewer yards. That's a significant difference. Plus, like Beasley, Davis also had the benefit catching passes from an established, Pro Bowl-caliber QB in Ryan Tannehill. McLaurin has yet to play with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in his career.
It's also worth noting that all three of those receivers were not asked to play the No. 1 wideout role the entire season. Davis had rising star A.J. Brown opposite him, while Beasley benefitted from Stefon Diggs on the outside. Landry became Cleveland's top wideout once Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL, but he never became the top offensive option in a run-first offense.
Sure, one could make the claim that those wideouts put up exceptional stats as No.2's, but they didn't have to deal with the constant double- and sometimes triple-teaming McLaurin did. Washington's offense lacked playmakers in 2020 and had zero stability at quarterback, the sport's most important position. The fact that McLaurin was still able to produce over 1,100 yards and nearly 90 catches in last year's offense is simply remarkable.
After Beasley, Landry and Davis, the next tier of wideouts is one McLaurin should have fallen in the middle of. Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Adam Thielen and Tyler Lockett were all ranked between No. 75 and No. 87 on the NFL Top 100. Those four pass-catchers have similar resumes to McLaurin, with all of them a notch above the trio of Beasley, Landry and Davis.
In total, 19 different wideouts made the list. That's nearly one-fifth of the entire Top 100 comprised to one position. It's a testament to how talented of a pass-catching group there is in today's NFL.
What's different about the NFL Top 100 list, though, is that it is compiled from only player votes. No media members are involved in the specific order of the list. Usually, players like McLaurin -- those that fly under the national radar -- are accurately ranked in player-only votes like this. In actuality, it's pretty surprising that McLaurin was left off the list.
Since he was drafted in the third round in 2019, McLaurin has turned in two of the best seasons by a Washington wide receiver in recent memory. In order to make the NFL Top 100 next season, he'll have to replicate that production once again. And in Washington's revamped offense, he should have plenty of chances to do so.