There is something to be said for earning the respect of your peers, and Leonard Williams has it.
For the 11th consecutive year, current players voted to determine the Top 100 players in the NFL. With the votes tallied, NFL Network started to unveil the 2021 edition on Sunday, and the Giants' defensive tackle, who is coming off the best season of his career, was ranked No. 84.
Williams' career-high 11.5 sacks in 2020 were the most by a Giants' player since Jason Pierre-Paul's 14.5 in 2014. He also ranked third in the NFL last season with 30 quarterback hits and was tied for sixth with 14 tackles for loss. The performance helped the 27-year-old land a lucrative new contract with the Giants this offseason.
"I think I'm still in the middle of my prime, and I think I have a lot of game left in this league, obviously," said Williams, who was traded to the Giants in the middle of the 2019 season. "I have a lot of personal goals. I'm not trying to reach any specific stat line or anything like that, but I want to just give it my best and keep playing like the player I am and just keep bringing my best to the table."
Originally selected sixth overall by the Jets in the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams has played in 95 games with 87 starts. His career numbers include 29.0 sacks, 131 quarterback hits, 48 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles.
"They've had great defensive linemen come through here for years now," Williams said of the team history. "Hopefully, I'm going to be a part of that tradition for a longer time now. I've been able to talk with Justin Tuck and guys like Michael Strahan and those guys. We've obviously had a great defense with the Giants for a long time now, so we'll continue to build on that."
View photos of defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
Here are Giants representatives in the "Top 100" over the years:
2021: DT Leonard Williams (No. 84)
2020: RB Saquon Barkley (No. 31)
2019: RB Saquon Barkley (No. 16)
2018: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 77), S Landon Collins (No. 92)
2017: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 8), S Landon Collins (No. 28), CB Janoris Jenkins (No. 54), DT Damon Harrison (No. 96)
2016: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 10), QB Eli Manning (No. 47)
2015: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 32)
2014: S Antrel Rolle (No. 72)
2013: QB Eli Manning (No. 43), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 55), WR Victor Cruz (No. 58)
2012: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 24), QB Eli Manning (No. 31), WR Victor Cruz (No. 39), DE Justin Tuck (No. 62), WR Hakeem Nicks (No. 90)
2011: DE Justin Tuck (No. 60), S Antrel Rolle (No. 68), G Chris Snee (No. 77)
Take a look through Giants in the "Top 100 Players" over the years.