Three former Sooners land on ‘101 best players in the NFL’ list

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

There is no exact science when digging into the NFL’s biggest playmakers. Household names or the highest-paid are not always the most productive on the field. Difference makers come at every position and as the 2021 NFL season approaches, Touchdown Wire compiled a ranking of the top 101 players in the NFL today. For the list, they stuck to players mentioned on previous listings to avoid loading up on skill position players.

Three former Oklahoma Sooners landed on the compilation: offensive tackle Trent Willaims at No. 18, quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 30, and tight end Mark Andrews at No. 84. Here is a breakdown of the elite Oklahoma products.

No. 18: Trent Willaims, San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Not a bad situation for the 49ers — just as former franchise left tackle Joe Staley was announcing his retirement, Kyle Shanahan’s team was able to trade a couple of mid-round picks to the then-Redskins for Williams’ services. Williams sat out the entire 2019 season due to friction between himself and his former team, but it didn’t take him long to hit the ground running in his new home. Williams allowed three sacks in his first four games back in action, but gave up just one after that, along with three quarterback hits and nine quarterback hurries from Week 5 on. Williams has been a superlative pass-protector for years, but what sets him apart is his movement skills and commitment to demolition in the open field.

Trent Williams will remain a key anchor for the San Francisco 49ers for the foreseeable future. Before the eight-time pro bowl left tackle officially hit the NFL free-agent market, the 49ers made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in league history. The lucrative deal includes $138.06 million over six seasons with $55.1 million guaranteed. He received a $30.1 million signing bonus and will earn $23.01 million annually. The future Hall of Famer was top on San Francisco’s priority list and his record-breaking deal was well deserved.

Willaims returned to the field in 2020 and once again hit elite status after a one-year hiatus. He notched a 91.8 PFF grade, leading all offensive tackles. Although his pass protection is superb, his run-blocking in Shanahan’s wide zone attack is rare. Many teams were willing to take part in a bidding battle for his services but the 49ers prevailed. Williams is a cornerstone player and top-level talent.

No. 30: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns also assembled an impressive offensive line, and when coupled with their stable of running backs, Stefanski was able to dial up shot plays downfield out of heavy personnel packages.

That put Mayfield in advantageous situations, and the result was the kind of season Browns fans were hoping for when the organization drafted him first overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Mayfield completed 62.8% of his passes for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns against just eight interceptions, and the Browns won a playoff game for the first time in over 20 years.

In 2020, Baker Mayfield thrived in Kevin Stefanski’s system. Stefanski carried over the scheme he ran with the Minnesota Vikings as offensive coordinator. With Mayfield’s mobility factor, Stefanski took advantage with a heavy play-action attack and motion pre-snap with fakes and bootlegs to open up shots downfield. Like the system Mayfield played in at Oklahoma under Lincoln Riley, the running game sets up the passing attack-RPO and play-action. Stefanski stayed with the wide zone concepts implemented by the Vikings and utilized many with the Browns. Similar to the wide zone-blocking used for Dalvin Cook with Minnesota, Stefanski used with Nick Chubb in Cleveland.

All worked to build a quarterback-friendly system and helped elevate Baker Mayfield in 2020. With their signal-caller, the Browns are poised to once again contend for the AFC North title and make a splash in the playoffs.

No. 84: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens are one of the teams in the league that relies the most on multipe-TE packages, running 22 offensive personnel (two tight ends) on 16% of their snaps, the highest percentage in the league. That tasks Andrews with not only being a factor in the passing game but also handling the variety of blocking assignments in Baltimore’s offense.

The hybrid not only creates a receiving threat for Lamar Jackson but assists in pass protection. He is a willing in-line blocker that helps clear the pocket. Andrews is a versatile weapon in Baltimore. With the league becoming more pass-oriented and defenses employing more nickel packages, that creates mismatches with tight ends in one-on-one situations against smaller defensive backs and slower, less agile linebackers.

Last season, Andrews accumulated 58 receptions (team-high) for 701 yards, a 12.1 average after the catch, and seven touchdowns. He has been one of the team’s most productive players since arriving in 2018 and became Jackson’s go-to reliable target. As a fluid route runner with lethal quick footwork in the end zone, Andrews is poised for a stellar season.