The NFL’s two starting quarterbacks from Cal are faltering in the eyes of their peers.
Aaron Rodgers, who was rated no lower than the 11th-best player in the league the previous nine years in the NFL Network’s annual Top-100 poll of and by its players, has tumbled to No. 16 in this year’s survey. Rodgers was No. 8 a year ago and was judged the NFL’s No. 1 player in 2012.
Jared Goff, who helped guide the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl just two years ago, is found nowhere in the NFL Network’s Top 100. Goff was No. 32 last season, No. 38 in 2018.
The NFL Network unveiled picks 11 through 40 on Tuesday night, and former Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan checked in at No. 23 — his highest-ever rating.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen was previously announced at No. 77. No other other former Cal players made the list, including Kansas City offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who was a second-team All-Pro selection last season while contributing to the Chiefs' Super Bowl championship run.
The network also released its top-10 picks, although not in ranked order. That will be unveiled Wednesday night.
Among the final 10 are three quarterbacks — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. Few will be surprised if the 24-year-old Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl triumph last season, emerges at No. 1.
Other players who will hold down top-10 spots (listed alphabetically): Aaron Donald, Rams DE; Stephon Gilmore, Patriots, CB; Derrick Henry, Titans RB; DeAndre Hopkins, Texans WR; George Kittle, 49ers TE; Christian McCaffrey, Panthers RB; Michael Thomas, Saints WR..
The biggest revelation in Tuesday’s rollout was the drop from the top-10 of three Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks.
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, No. 2 on the list a year ago, plummeted to No. 12.
Tom Brady, who jumped from New England to Tampa Bay this offseason, fell to No. 14 after residing at No. 6 overall a year ago. From 2011 through ’18, Brady was never lower than No. 4 and occupied the top spot in 2011, ’17 and ’18.
Rodgers, the NFL career leader in passer rating, dropped the farthest among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. Here’s how the former Cal great rated the previous nine seasons:
2019: No. 9
2018: No. 10
2017: No. 6
2016: No. 6
2015: No. 2
2014: No. 11
2013: No. 6
2012: No. 1
2011: No. 11
With the exact rankings of Mahomes, Russell and Jackson to be announced, Rodgers sits sixth among NFL quarterbacks, as judged by the players. It’s not like he fell off a cliff last season, when he passed for 4,002 yards with 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Over the past nine seasons, while generally not surrounded by the most complete offensive supporting cast, Rodgers has thrown 277 TDs and just 52 picks.
Raiders safety Damarious Randall told the NFL Network Rodgers is tops among quarterbacks in his mind.
“I was teammates with him for three years (2015-17) and his throws that he’s made in practice … people have never seen that like I’ve seen. They don’t even know what he’s capable of,” Randall said.
Others praised Rodgers’ ability to buy time in the pocket and still deliver accurate passes.
Safety Johnathan Cyprien, who split time with Philadelphia and Atlanta last season, cites Rodgers’ quick release: “And the guy has the arm strength to throw the ball freaking 70 yards off his back foot,” Cyprien said.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Stephen Weatherly said Rodgers’ “improvisation skills are off the charts. Roll out, then throw it off-balance 40 yards to the wide receiver.”
Thirteen quarterbacks appear on the NFL Network list, including the 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 43 and the Arizona Cardinal's Kyler Murray at No, 90. But Goff is dropped from the Top 100.
Entering his fifth NFL season, Goff went from the Super Bowl in 2018 to leading a Rams team that staggered through a 9-7 regular season last fall. His personal numbers also fell, from 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2018 to 22 and 16 a year ago.
But Goff has plenty of time to turn things around. At just 25, he passed for more than 13,000 yards the past three seasons and helped the Rams to a 33-14 record over that span.
Jordan, 31 and beginning his 10th pro season, piled up a career-best 15 1/2 sacks last season. He has been a rock on the D-line for the Saints, starting 143 of 144 career games and totaling 87 sacks since 2011.
Jordan was No. 41 on the NFL Network's ratings last year after being ranked No. 26 in 2018.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott gave Jordan high marks as an all-around defender.
“I like Cam Jordan. He’s going to play the run as well as he’s going to play the pass,” Elliott said. “A lot of D-ends, they get paid to make sacks. So sometimes they’re not that interested when you run the ball. But he’s one of those guys, you know, who’s going to play the run.”
Jordan was asked on the NFL Network video to name his top player.
“They asked for No. 1 . . . I put down the first name that came through my mind,” he said. “I looked in the mirror and thought it was me.”
Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith, shown watching Jordan race past a tackle to get the sack, said, “That’s some legendary stuff.”
Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett saw too much of Jordan in their Thanksgiving Day matchup last season. “He took us for four (sacks) in one game . . . . So he’s a beast, man.”
Jordan enjoyed reliving that game. “It’s a beautiful thing when you’re able to not only end the game with a sack, but end a Falcons game with a sack. Those good ol’ dirty birds, they won’t be rising up this year.”
*** A new NFL position in 2020: The Quarantine Quarterback? Check it out:
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