Josh Allen is the lone Bills player to crack CBS Sports' Top 100 NFL players list

Josh Allen is the only Buffalo Bills player ranked in CBS Sports' recent list of the Top 100 players in the NFL. We highlight a few omissions.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs off the field after a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs off the field after a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round. / Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and

The Buffalo Bills occupy a strange space in the NFL zeitgeist; they’re good, this demonstrated by their five consecutive postseason berths and four straight AFC East titles, and most agree that they’re good, yet several of their players are often overlooked in national discourse regarding the best players in the league at their respective positions.

Buffalo is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a one-man show centered around star quarterback Josh Allen, and while the team is very much built around the world-beater signal-caller, he’s far from its only elite talent. Linebacker Matt Milano, defensive tackle Ed Oliver, and nickel cornerback Taron Johnson are all among the best players in the league at their respective positions, yet they rarely receive their respective flowers in national conversations.

This overarching sentiment is reflected in CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco’s recent ranking of the top 100 players in the NFL entering the 2024 NFL season; Allen slots in at No. 6 on the list (the second-highest quarterback behind only Patrick Mahomes), but he’s the only Buffalo player present.

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“He led the NFL in total yards and touchdowns (44) when combining his passing and rushing touchdowns, yet the perception was he didn't play well,” Prisco wrote. “Yes, he turns the ball over too much, but he was a legitimate MVP candidate last year and will be again this season.”

It’s a generally fair ranking with fair analysis, even if it does see Allen fall four overall spots from a season ago. He’s still ranked as the second-best quarterback in the NFL, fitting for a signal-caller who is coming off a season in which he became the first player in league history to total over 40 touchdowns in four consecutive campaigns.

Where we take issue with Prisco’s ranking is his omission of players like Milano, Oliver, and Johnson—though none are particularly egregious oversights, all three of these players deserve mention in any conversation about the top 100 players in football. Milano is the only other Buffalo player whom Prisco gives an honorable mention, and he’s perhaps the most justifiable omission; though he’s demonstrably one of the best linebackers in the NFL when healthy (earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2022), he missed the vast majority of the 2023 campaign after fracturing his tibia in Week 5. It’s fair to not rank him amongst the top 100 players in the league entering 2024 given that we’re not sure how he’ll recover from his significant ailment.

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Neither Oliver nor Johnson appear on the list or receive honorable mentions. Oliver is coming off a breakout 2023 campaign in which he tallied 9.5 sacks and 51 total tackles, finishing fourth among all interior defenders in total quarterback pressures with 72, per PFF. Only Chris Jones, Aaron Donald, and Justin Madubuike finished the campaign with more total pressures; Chris Jones slots in at No. 14 on Prisco's list while Madubuike comes in at No. 46 (Donald retired in the 2024 offseason and, thus, doesn’t appear). 

Johnson also doesn’t appear despite earning second-team All-Pro honors last season. The defender has been one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league throughout the past several campaigns, notching 98 total tackles, eight pass deflections, and three forced fumbles a season ago. One could hypothesize that Johnson’s omission is due to his still-relatively niche position and role, but Kansas City Chiefs slot cornerback Trent McDuffie and Seattle Seahawks defender Devon Witherspoon slot in at No. 30 and No. 74, respectively.

Despite the perceived snubs, it’s nice to see Allen (rightfully) discussed alongside some of the best players in the NFL. Names to watch out for on next year’s rendition of the ranking include the aforementioned Milano, Oliver, and Johnson in addition to tight end Dalton Kincaid and linebacker Terrel Bernard.

Kyle Silagyi