Two Ex-Cal Stars Among Top 100 NFL Players; It Should Be Three

Aaron Rodgers moves up from last year on CBS Sports’ rankings, even though he’s coming off a serious injury
Wide receiver Keenan Allen while with the Chargers in 2023
Wide receiver Keenan Allen while with the Chargers in 2023 / Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever a reputable site comes up with player rankings, it leads to debate about who was included and who was left off. So of course we have qualms with the list of the top 100 NFL players for 2024 published this week by CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco.

Two former Cal players are on this top-100 list, but one former Golden Bears is mysteriously left off. We’ll get to that omission in a moment, but first let’s talk about the two ex-Cal quarterbacks who did make the list.

At No. 20 is Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with this comment:

He is coming off a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Week 1 last season, which ended his first year with the Jets. Now he's back healthy, which makes the Jets a contender. When on the field, he is still a big-time thrower of the football at the age of 40. (Last season: No. 29)

No quarrel with Rodgers’ No. 20 ranking, but there is a factor that makes us question the reliability of these rankings.  Last year Rodgers was ranked No. 29. So after missing virtually the entire 2023 second with a serious injury that sometimes ends careers (torn Achilles) and is now a year older at age 40, he moves up nine spots?

We move on.

At No. 76 is Lions quarterback Jared Goff, a star at Cal from 2013 through 2015.  This comment is included:

He threw 30 touchdown passes and 12 picks in leading the Lions to the NFC Championship game. Goff has quieted a lot of critics with his play in Detroit and earned himself a big contract earlier this year from the team. (Last season: NR)

I’d put Goff higher on this list based on what he did in the last half of the 2022 season and the entire 2023 season. Goff should have been among the contenders for the NFL MVP award last season – not that he should have won it, but it’s hard to believe he didn’t get a single vote. Ten players received MVP votes, including C.J. Stroud, who has an outstanding rookie season, but Goff led his team to the NFC championship game and to the brink of a Super Bowl berth.  Detroit fans were chanting his name at a Red Wings NHL game before the NFC title game against the 49ers.

Some have suggested Goff is a preseason MVP candidate this year.

However, at least he was included in the top 100. For some reasons, Chicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen was not.

Maybe it’s because the Bears will have an unproven rookie (Caleb Williams) as their starting quarterback.  Maybe it’s because Allen has had injury issues the past few years.  Maybe it’s because he’s 32 years old. Maybe it’s because he was traded by the Chargers and no longer has Justin Herbert throwing him the ball.

But, my goodness, look at the numbers he put up last season. Despite missing four games he had more than 1,000 receiving yards for the sixth time in his career. He led the NFL in receptions per game (8.31) and was fourth in the NFL in receiving yards per game (95.6). Allen was named to the Pro Bowl last season for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.

Seventeen wide receivers were placed on the CBS Sports’ top 100 list, and there is no room for Allen?  He was No. 65 on CBS Sports’ list of the top 100 players two years ago, and he had the best season of his career in 2023.

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Jake Curtis


Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.