Tom Brady, Aaron Donald highlight the most frightening NFL players originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The month of October is always accompanied by some of the most frightening scenes one can imagine. From skeletons and goblins to ghosts and monsters, Halloween brings out the scares in all of us. This year, the holiday falls on a Sunday, making it perfect for watching some of the most dominant players in the NFL terrorize opponents on the field.
The NFL has had a number of bone-chilling and bone-crushing moments, but who ranks as the most frightening players in the NFL today?
Here’s a look at the top players in the league who have given opponents chills every Sunday.
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Jalen Ramsey is a wide receiver's worst nightmare. While many receivers might not openly admit it, they likely dread going up against Ramsey for 60 minutes.
The All-Pro cornerback established himself as the best cornerback in the NFL long before he joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2019.
His versatility and physicality at the line of scrimmage are what sets him apart from every other corner in the league. He’s the type of player that opposing teams must make a specific game plan for. It is easy to forget Ramsey is on the field the way he makes a team’s No. 1 receiving option disappear like a ghost.
Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff learned the hard way last Sunday. After years of going up against Ramsey in practices with the Rams, Goff made the mistake of throwing in his direction in the fourth quarter and was immediately picked off by the shutdown corner.
Ramsey doesn’t have many interceptions, mostly because opponents don't dare to throw his way very often. If they do, they are certain to risk Ramsey making them pay.
Aaron Donald is arguably the best defensive player of his generation and has a case for being the best of all time. It's been nearly half a decade since another player has been in the discussion of being better than Donald.
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been a disruptive force since he entered the league in 2014. He became the Rams’ all-time leader in sacks in Week 5 of this season. Donald is a certified game-wrecker that opposing offensive coordinators have to plan for. He consistently wins one-on-one battles against offensive linemen and demands double teams.
In just seven games this season, Donald already has 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. Donald is a force to be reckoned with each weekend and someone quarterbacks especially fear getting sacked by.
Derrick Henry is built like a linebacker but is the best ball carrier in the league.
Running backs nowadays are seen as a commodity that teams use on a year-to-year basis. The fact that Henry is the centerpiece of a Tennessee Titans offense that has two dynamic receivers in Julio Jones and A.J. Brown is extraordinary. Henry is well on his way to becoming one of the best running backs in history.
He’s on pace to break the NFL single-season rushing record and had a streak of five consecutive 100-plus rushing yard games before facing the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. As a two-time Pro Bowler, it's clear that Henry is the type of back that must be the focal point for the defensive coordinator each and every week.
He also appears to get stronger as the game goes on, comfortable with two- and three-yard gains in the first half, only to bust a big run for a 10- or 20-yard gain in the second half.
Those traits make him a nightmare for opposing teams and the most feared running back in the league.
Tom Brady is widely considered the most revered quarterback in the NFL, especially as this season unfolds. With seven Super Bowls under his belt, his resume alone is downright scary. But Brady appears to be most feared in big games.
It’s hard to play against a quarterback that was born with the clutch gene. So far this season, Brady has been on a tear at the age of 44. He currently leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns, throwing for 2,275 yards and 21 TDs in just seven games.
Brady continues to break records each time he steps on the field. He became the first player in NFL history to throw 600 career touchdown passes last week and is on pace to break even more records in 2021.
In his fifth year as a pro, Myles Garrett is one of the best players in the NFL. His raw, undeniable talent was identified by the Cleveland Browns from the minute they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Garrett consistently feasts on opposing QBs each week and is currently leading the Defensive Player of the Year race this year.
He was a first-team All-Pro in 2020 with 12 sacks and 48 tackles on the year and already has 9.5 sacks and 27 tackles through seven games this season. Garrett even built a graveyard of NFL quarterbacks he’s sacked in his yard for Halloween.
There are few quarterbacks around the league who are more intimidating to opposing defenses than Aaron Rodgers. Despite the countless game-winning drives he’s led over the course of his career, Rodgers’ killer instinct and ability to play a step ahead of his opponents make him frightening.
When the 16-year pro notices a weakness in the defense, he attacks it viciously. Rodgers won the MVP award in 2020, throwing for 4299 yards, 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also been off to a great start this season tallying 1894 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions through eight games.
Rodgers proved in the Week 8 victory over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals that even without his best weapons, he can still find a way to lead the Packers to victory. And while the faces he makes while playing might be scary, it’s his ability to dissect opponents year in and year out makes him even more frightening.
Much of Rodgers’ success of the past couple of seasons has been due to his reliable No.1 receiver, Davante Adams.
Adams quickly emerged as a lethal receiving threat for the Packers last season, exploding for 1,374 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns on his way to earning first-team All-Pro honors.
Adams’ combination of crisp route running and speed make him nearly unguardable and has resulted in some monster games so far this season. He caught 11 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s Week 6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and has two more games with over 100 receiving yards.
While DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Tyreek Hill could also make their claims to be included in the NFL’s Mount Rushmore of active wide receivers, Adams has risen to the top of the list and might not be slowing down any time soon.
Quenton Nelson might be one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the league.
While he doesn’t get many highlight-reel plays at guard, Nelson is the perfect gritty, no-nonsense NFL pro that has helped transform the Indianapolis Colts offensive line into one of the most dominant front fives in the league.
Since being selected by the Colts out of Notre Dame in the 2018 NFL Draft, Nelson has earned three straight first-team All-Pro selections to start his career, tying Barry Sanders as the only other NFL player to accomplish that feat.
Just like "Halloween Kills," speed kills in the NFL, and there might not be a wide receiver playing in the NFL today that is faster than Hill.
The Chiefs wideout has made a living off of burning opposing NFL cornerbacks, utilizing his sub 4.29 speed to create separation from defenders and score touchdowns. Hill, nicknamed “Cheetah,” is a terrible matchup for almost any member of a secondary.
It helps that Hill has a rocket-armed QB like Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball every week. The two Chiefs stars have combined to form one of the most deadly QB-WR duos in the league. Hill has been clocked at running up to 22.6 mph on a football field and has compared himself to Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. Hill has even gone as far as challenging Bolt to a race for the title of fastest man in the world.
Of course, the NFL has its fair share of speed demons at the position including Henry Ruggs, Marquise Brown, DK Metcalf, Will Fuller V and Marquise Goodwin, but Hill most likely beats them all.
Hill’s speed demands extra attention from defenders and often means defensive coordinators will have to double team him and provide extra help to cornerbacks. He’s fast enough to outrun zone coverage but will also run right past any corner trying to cover him one-on-one. The only way to stop a player that is scary might be just to catch him while you can and only a few teams have been able to do that so far this season.
The NFL has never seen a dynamic athlete that transcends the quarterback position like Lamar Jackson. When the 24-year-old entered the league in 2018, there were many questions about his passing ability, accuracy and poise in the pocket. Most of those questions were answered after his MVP season in 2019.
While Jackson’s running ability at the QB position is reminiscent of other dual-threat QBs in the league’s past like Michael Vick and Randal Cunningham, no one is as dangerous when out in the open field. Jackson truly scares opposing defenses, breaking down defenders and making them look silly.
In the passing game, Jackson’s accuracy questions are a thing of the past. He made history in the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 5 OT victory over the Colts throwing for 442 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 86% of his passes.
Jackson became the first player in NFL history to finish with 400 yards passing, four touchdown passes, no interceptions and 50 yards rushing in a game