Selecting 2020 NFL All-Pros after the Associated Press

Sam Teets' 2020 NFL All-Pros

ESPN’s Adam Schefter released the Associated Press’ NFL First-Team All-Pro selections on Jan. 8. While there are plenty of obvious choices, the voters whiffed on a few opportunities to reward players in smaller markets. Instead, the selected roster reads more like a Pro Bowl ballot. However, we are missing the Second-Team All-Pros, which could rectify the issues fans have with the current selections.

In this article, I’ll present my All-Pro teams for the 2020 NFL season. I’ve also included Second-Team All-Pros to give more context for my decisions.

Offense

Quarterback- Aaron Rodgers

Second Team- Josh Allen

Aaron Rodgers is my runaway vote for the league MVP. If you’ve read my quarterback power rankings, then you understand that he’s had this spot locked up for a while now. Rodgers leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.7%), passing touchdowns (48), and passer rating (121.5). He doesn’t scramble much anymore, but the 37-year-old also ran for three touchdowns this season.

The Second-Team All-Pro quarterback spot was hotly contested. Patrick Mahomes, who some people believe is the MVP, and Deshaun Watson both had good résumés. However, Allen lifted the Buffalo Bills to 13-3 by completing 69.2% of his throws for 37 touchdowns and ten interceptions. He finished fourth among qualified quarterbacks with a 107.2 passer rating, but his eight rushing touchdowns were the difference-maker.

Running back- Derrick Henry

Second Team- Dalvin Cook

After becoming only the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and the fifth most in a year (2,027), Henry is a fringe MVP candidate. He’s the heart and soul of one of the NFL’s best offenses. Henry led the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns this season, marking his second year in a row accomplishing the feat.

Cook’s 1,918 yards from scrimmage finished second in the NFL, only trailing Henry’s 2,141. The Minnesota Viking tied for second in the league with 16 rushing touchdowns, and he averaged 111.2 rushing yards per game (1,557 total). If Nick Chubb hadn’t missed four weeks, the Georgia product might’ve thrown his name into this conversation. Alvin Kamara also deserves credit for his production.

Wide receiver- Stefon Diggs

Second Team- DeAndre Hopkins

Getting traded to Buffalo was the best thing that happened to Diggs in his career. The former fifth-round pick averaged 95.9 yards per game on his way to leading the NFL with 1,535 and 127 receptions. The top receiving threat on one of the league’s best offenses, Diggs is finally entering top-five and even top-three debates among active wide receivers.

Unfortunately, Hopkins isn’t picking up his fourth consecutive First-Team All-Pro selection. If the 28-year-old remained with Watson in Houston, he might’ve had a better chance. Instead, Hopkins played in Arizona, amassing the third-most receiving yards (1,407) and second-most receptions (115) in the league.

Wide receiver- Davante Adams

Second Team- Tyreek Hill

The debate going into the offseason over whether Adams or Diggs had a better year should be fun. In 14 games, Adams caught 115 passes (tied with Hopkins) for 1,374 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns. His connection with Rodgers is unreal. Even when teams know the ball is going to Adams, they can’t stop it.

Despite only playing in 15 games, Hill finished second in the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns. The Cheetah didn’t eclipse his 2018 First-Team All-Pro production, but he got close. Hill snagged 87 passes for 1,276 yards, the eighth-most in the league.

Flex- Dalvin Cook

Second Team- Justin Jefferson

There’s no rule against players appearing on both All-Pro teams, even if some people don’t agree with it. Cook had nearly 400 more yards from scrimmage than the closest wide receiver, which puts him over the top in my books. He’s joined by fellow Viking Justin Jefferson, who smashed rookie receiving records. The LSU product finished 2020 with 1,400 receiving yards.

D.K. Metcalf gave Jefferson a strong challenge for the second FLEX position, but the second-year Ole Miss product came up a hair short. Better luck next season.

Tight end- Travis Kelce

Second Team- Darren Waller

In a year where Zach Ertz and George Kittle suffered from injuries and backup quarterbacks, Kelce and Waller walked away with All-Pro selections. Kelce set a new NFL record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 1,416 on 105 receptions. He finished second in the league in total receiving yards, fifth in receptions, and tied for fifth with 11 receiving touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Waller had the best season of his career. The 2019 breakout star topped his production from last season across the board, posting 107 receptions, 1,196 yards, and nine touchdowns. The former sixth-round pick is officially a member of the tight end triumvirate (along with Kelce and Kittle).

Left tackle- Trent Williams

Second Team- David Bakhtiari

Williams is back in action after sitting out last season. Rarely have we seen a player sit out during his prime and return a year later only to have the best performance of his career. Bakhtiari earned the official First-Team All-Pro selection from the AP, but Williams was just as deserving.

It’s hard leaving Garett Boles off of the All-Pro team entirely, especially considering how he’s turned his career around. However, Bakhtiari is still the best pass-blocking tackle in the league. In a normal year, Ronnie Stanley might compete for that title as well.

Right tackle- Jack Conklin

Second Team- Ryan Ramczyk

After earning a First-Team All-Pro selection during his rookie season (2016), Conklin hadn’t sniffed a Pro Bowl or All-Pro bid until this year. He helped block for the third-best rushing attack in the NFL this season. Meanwhile, Ramczyk narrowly edged out Tristan Wirfs for a Second-Team All-Pro spot.

Left guard- Quenton Nelson

Second Team- Joel Bitonio

Despite earning the top selection for left guards this year, Nelson was far from the best overall guard in the NFL. The AP gave him a First-Team All-Pro selection as well, making it his third consecutive bid to start his career. However, other players surpassed Nelson this season. There’s even an argument for Tampa Bay’s Ali Marpet ranking ahead of Bitonio and Nelson here.

Right guard- Zack Martin

Second Team- Wyatt Teller

Martin flashed his versatility, moving to right tackle and performing well before having his season cut short in Week 12. Martin’s ability to change positions and still serve as one of the NFL’s ten best offensive linemen is incredible.

I almost listed Teller as a First-Team All-Pro ahead of Nelson at the left guard spot, even though that’s not Teller’s position. Teller deserves a First-Team nod this season. Unfortunately, he’s grouped with a future Hall of Famer in Martin. The AP selected Brandon Scherff as this year’s official First-Team All-Pro right guard.

Center- Corey Linsley

Second Team- Frank Ragnow

Linsley was the best center this season by far. His selection ends Jason Kelce’s run of three consecutive First-Team All-Pro accolades. Ragnow battled through injuries this season to post the best year of his young career. I can’t remember the last time that neither Kelce nor Maurkice Pouncey made an All-Pro team.

Defense

Edge- T.J. Watt

Second Team- Khalil Mack

The younger Watt picks up his second consecutive First-Team All-Pro selection and should gain a lot of attention for Defensive Player of the Year. Watt led the NFL with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss this year. He also led the league in quarterback pressures with 55, according to Pro Football Reference. For reference, Aaron Donald and Chris Jones finished second with 43 pressures.

Mack doesn’t have the raw numbers to qualify for an All-Pro selection this season. However, he dominated against the run and shredded blockers left and right. Playing on a quickly depleting Chicago defense, Mack carried the weight of the world this year, and he prevailed.

Edge- Myles Garrett

Second Team- Za’Darius Smith

Garrett finished tied for sixth in the league with 12.0 sacks this season. If he hadn’t missed two games because of COVID-19, the star defensive end might’ve stuck around in the Defensive Player of the Year debate. Garrett saw a First-Team All-Pro campaign end after ten games in 2019, when he hit Mason Rudolph with a helmet.

Smith set a career-high with 13.5 sacks last season. He followed up with 12.5 this year to accompany four forced fumbles and 12 tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus selected Smith as a First-Team All-Pro last season, but he never earned a bid from the AP.

The edge rusher category should’ve looked a lot different this season. Injuries to Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Danielle Hunter, Chandler Jones, and Von Miller thinned the herd substantially.

Interior DL- Aaron Donald

Second Team- Cameron Heyward

Donald could win his third Defensive Player of the Year award this season. The 29-year-old is in the midst of one of the best defensive runs in league history. He recently earned his sixth consecutive First-Team All-Pro selection from the AP. Seven years into his career, Donald has 85.5 sacks.

I came close to giving Heyward his third First-Team All-Pro selection in the past four years. However, I and the AP agree that DeForest Buckner is a better choice. Still, Heyward is more than worthy of a Second-Team bid. The stud defensive tackle only recorded four sacks this year, but he also tallied 54 tackles and 29 quarterback pressures.

Interior DL- DeForest Buckner

Second Team- Chris Jones

Buckner’s first season in Indianapolis went well. After getting snubbed by the AP in 2018 and earning a Second-Team selection in 2019, Buckner finally received a First-Team bid this year. With 9.5 sacks, 58 tackles, and 26 quarterback hits, I’d argue Buckner is a fringe Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

While he posted 43 quarterback pressures, Jones only finished the 2020 season with 7.5 sacks, marking his lowest total since 2017. When he’s hot, Jones is the best interior pass rusher in the NFL. Unfortunately, he has moments of inconsistency and doesn’t stack up well against the run, especially compared to Buckner, Donald, and Heyward.

Grady Jarrett and Quinnen Williams seem determined to break into the NFL’s elite defensive tackles club. It’s also hard to overlook Leonard Williams after the 11.5-sack performance he had this season. Expect all three of these young defensive tackles to make noise in the future.

Linebacker- Bobby Wagner

Second Team- Darius Leonard

Another year another All-Pro selection for Wagner. The 30-year-old received his sixth First-Team All-Pro nod in the past seven years from the AP recently. That accolade should solidify Wagner’s position as a future Hall of Famer. Even without a Defensive Player of the Year award, Wagner already has a résumé that can go toe-to-toe with Luke Kuechly or Brian Urlacher.

Speaking of future Hall of Famers, Leonard is off to a hot start. The 25-year-old only played 14 games this season, but he still amassed seven passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three sacks, and 132 tackles. So long as he stays healthy, Leonard could become an All-Decade team member for the 2020s.

Linebacker- Fred Warner

Second Team- Eric Kendricks

Warner flashed All-Pro potential as a rookie (2018) and finally delivered on that promise this year. The ultra-athletic former third-round pick amassed two interceptions, six passes defensed, and 125 tackles in 2020. Imagine what his production will look like once San Francisco’s defensive front is fully healthy.

Kendricks only played in 11 games this season, which might end his All-Pro bid. However, the inside linebacker was one of the only bright spots on an aging Vikings defense. The 2019 First-Team All-Pro produced three interceptions, six passes defensed, and 107 tackles.

Linebacker- Lavonte David

Second Team- Demario Davis

David is the most overlooked linebacker of his generation. The one-time Pro Bowler is always around the football, making plays against the run or in coverage that other linebackers are incapable of. David shines even brighter next to Devin White. While the younger linebacker has flashier numbers, he misses plenty of tackles and plays in coverage that David routinely completes. If he’d played in a larger market, David would’ve been a borderline Hall of Famer.

Davis earned a First-Team All-Pro selection for his worst last year. While the nine-year veteran still outperformed most of his colleagues, Davis didn’t shine as much in coverage this season. At 31 years old, he’s finally getting recognized on one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Cornerback- Xavien Howard

Second Team- Jalen Ramsey

Howard led the NFL with ten interceptions. He’s the first player to reach double-digit interceptions since Antonio Cromartie in 2007. To remind you of how long ago that was, LaDainian Tomlinson led the league in rushing, and Reggie Wayne beat out Randy Moss for the receiving title. Howard also led the NFL with 20 passes defensed and anchored a defense that led the league with 29 takeaways.

According to Pro Football Reference, Ramsey allowed a 68.6 passer rating when targeted this season. That’s significantly lower than what he gave up in 2019 and 2018. Meaning, this year was Ramsey’s best season since his First-Team All-Pro breakout campaign in 2017. According to PFF, Ramsey locked down some incredible receivers this year, including D.K. Metcalf.

Cornerback- Jaire Alexander

Second Team- Tre’Davious White

Alexander was PFF’s highest-graded cornerback this season. The 23-year-old finally made the jump everyone was looking for. Alexander’s raw numbers don’t leap off the page. He only recorded one interception, 13 passes defensed, and 51 tackles this year. However, Alexander routinely deterred offenses from throwing his way and created opportunities for Green Bay’s other star defensive backs.

White didn’t match his production from last year. The former First-Team All-Pro saw his passer rating when targeted almost double, but White solidified his game after a shaky start. Overall, Buffalo’s defense began playing much better once White returned to form. Even after an up and down season, White is still one of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL.

Safety- Jessie Bates III

Second Team- Justin Simmons

The Cincinnati Bengals have very few worthwhile defenders. Perhaps that’s why only Bengals fans recognize how well Bates played this season. The former second-round pick is in line for a massive contract extension after intercepting three passes for the third year in a row. He also batted away 12 more throws while amassing 109 tackles. If he played on a better team, Bates might have claimed the title of best safety this year.

Simmons earned Second-Team All-Pro selections from the AP and Pro Football Focus last year. He made PFF’s Second-Team again this season after setting a career-high with five interceptions. If this production keeps up, Simmons could establish himself as one of the best safeties of the 2020s.

Safety- Tyrann Mathieu

Second Team- Minkah Fitzpatrick

The Mathieu pick might come across as controversial, but he does so much for Kansas City’s defense that I can’t snub him from making the First-Team. Even if I demoted him to the general defensive back position, I’d still list him as a First-Teamer. After completing his return to glory last season, Mathieu continued his dominant play. The LSU product wrapped up 2020 with six interceptions, a new career-high.

Fitzpatrick didn’t quite replicate his play from 2019. Last year, the former Miami Dolphin dominated from the moment he joined the Steelers. Fitzpatrick got off to a slow start this season, getting accused of not showing up in big games. By Week 6, the reigning All-Pro put everything together and returned to dominance.

Plenty of other safeties deserve recognition for their performances in 2020. Arizona’s Budda Baker, Buffalo’s Jordan Poyer, Green Bay’s Adrian Amos, Minnesota’s Harrison Smith, New York’s Marcus Maye, and Seattle’s Jamal Adams all had noteworthy seasons. Safety is arguably the NFL’s most stacked position.

Defensive back- Jalen Ramsey

Second Team- James Bradberry

Ramsey earned a Second-Team spot at cornerback, but he sneaks in as a First-Team All-Pro as a general defensive back. In the same division as DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Lockett, and Metcalf, Ramsey had his hands full all year.

Bradberry had a breakout campaign in his first season with the New York Giants. The 27-year-old made the Pro Bowl while intercepting three passes and swatting away 18 more. If not for the NFL’s depth at defensive back, Bradberry could’ve earned a First-Team All-Pro selection.

Special Teams

Kicker- Jason Sanders

Second Team- Younghoe Koo

Shockingly, Justin Tucker isn’t on either of these teams, but Sanders and Koo both had great seasons. Sanders made 92.3% of his field goals, including going 12-14 from 40-49 yards and 8-9 from 50 or more yards away. He also went 36 for 36 on extra points. Meanwhile, Koo finished 37-39 on field goals and 33-36 on extra points.

Punter- Jake Bailey

Second Team- Michael Dickson

Efficiency as a punter is more important than accumulated stats, like net yards or total punt yards. Instead, teams want punters that can pin opposing teams deep in their own territories. Bailey and Dickson did that. Bailey pinned opponents behind their 20-yard line 31 times in 55 attempts, while Dickson accomplished the feat 32 times in 61 attempts.

Kick returner- Cordarrelle Patterson

Second Team- Andre Roberts

Patterson was the only kick returner this season with over 1,000 kick return yards. He’s also that only return man with over 700 yards and a touchdown. Averaging 29.1 yards per return, Patterson deserves his fourth career First-Team All-Pro selection. He’s currently 13th all-time in kick return yards.

Meanwhile, Roberts was the only return man with more than ten attempts that averaged 30.0 or more yards per return. He also finished second in kick return yards this season with 961.

Punt returner- Gunner Olszewski

Second Team- Jakeem Grant

Olszewski led all qualified punt returners, averaging 17.3 yards per attempt. For perspective, second place averaged 12.7 yards per return. Olszewski was also only one of eight players to record a punt return touchdown this season. Grant also scored on a punt return. He finished tied for second in the NFL with 29 punt return attempts but only called eight fair catches, the fewest among any return man with at least 20 attempts.

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