Similar to the Top-100 list which aired on NFL Network and is constructed by league media using input from active players, this list looks to compile the top echelon of football talent.
The difference with ESPN’s list is, the panel is made of ‘experts’, not players. And this is intended to be a projection of what’s to come in the 2021 NFL season compared to the other Top-100 mostly aimed at what’s been accomplished already.
Eight Bucs made NFL Network’s list, and the same number made this list as well. But they aren’t the same names.
Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tristan Wirfs, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and Devin White all made both lists. But Jason Pierre-Paul is noticeably absent from the ESPN list, while Vita Vea makes his appearance ranked as the 66th player in the league for 2021.
Jenna Laine of ESPN wrote analytical paragraphs for each member of Tampa Bay’s squad on the list.
“Vea overcame a broken leg in Week 5 to return for the NFC Championship Game, which dramatically impacted the Bucs’ defense,” Laine wrote about defensive tackle Vita Vea. “...and he then made it particularly difficult for Patrick Mahomes to step into his throws in Super Bowl LV. He plays an integral role in Todd Bowles’ A-gap blitzes. Many assume that at 347 pounds, he is merely a space-eater up front, but Vea moves extremely well for his size and gets into the backfield. In fact, at one point during training camp, Vea actually chased down running back Ronald Jones II.”
While Brady came in seventh on the NFL Network Top-100, he comes in No. 20 on this list, suggesting he may have a drop-off in production this season. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Here is where the rest of the Buccaneers on the list ranked, according to ESPN’s panel of experts.
Mike Evans - 43
Shaq Barrett - 44
Devin White - 75
Chris Godwin - 77
Lavonte David - 87
Tristan Wirfs - 96