Defensive Interior: J.J. Watt (HOU) and Gerald McCoy (TB)
So the Texans lost a lot more games this year. You can’t blame that on Watt who surpassed his 2012 grade with an even better year that had less sacks, but more hits and hurries with more impact plays against the run. It was special, and so was the year of McCoy to top our defensive tackle rankings. His work against the run is a bit more style than substance at times, but he’s just too good for most guards rushing the passer. These two were consensus picks along with Suh on the second team, with Calais Campbell missing out by the odd vote in five due to the play of Casey.
Second Team: Jurrell Casey (TEN) and Ndamukong Suh (DET)
Nose Tackle: Marcell Dareus (BUF)
The spot which featured the most discussion. Semantics played a part with two-down players Brandon Mebane and Damon Harrison having fine years. But ultimately we wanted guys who played on every down and in every package and that meant Dareus got the nod and Poe was put on the second team.
Second Team: Dontari Poe (KC)
Edge Rusher: Robert Quinn (SL) and Robert Mathis (IND)
Quinn set a record with his +77.2 grade that was truly breathtaking. Many a tackle wasn’t just made to look bad, but made to look like they didn’t belong in the league with the speed and regularity of how often he beat them on his way to 91 quarterback disruptions. Mathis couldn’t match that kind of production but his habit of making big plays with less help on his defense was extremely impressive. On the second team, Houston, who led our 3-4 outside linebacker rankings despite missing time, was always in with Hardy just earning the nod over Cameron Wake.
Second Team: Justin Houston (KC) and Greg Hardy (CAR)
Linebackers: Lavonte David (TB) and Patrick Willis (SF)
A tricky spot to decide. David was always in with his feverish playmaking really a joy to behold. His numbers really don’t do him justice with him earning positive grades in coverage, against the run and rushing the passer. That was the easy one but deciding the rest saw Willis, Bowman and Davis joined in the discussion with Vontaze Burfict, Luke Kuechly, Karlos Dansby, Derrick Johnson and Stephen Tulloch. Ultimately, Willis’ work in every phase of the game got him the start, while the playmaking of Bowman got him on the second team. Of the rest, the consistently excellent work of Davis in coverage was what just got him onto the team.
Second Team: NaVorro Bowman (SF) and Thomas Davis (CAR)
Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes (MIA) and Darrelle Revis (TB)
We had some discussions here, though not when it came to Grimes. The man who would give up no touchdowns and pick up 18 combined pass break-ups and interception was the value free agent signing this year. Finding the other starter was much harder with it being left to the deciding vote of an unnamed analyst that saw Revis get the nod over Sherman. The Seahawk is joined on the second team by Patrick Peterson who edged Keenan Lewis.
Second Team: Richard Sherman (SEA) and Patrick Peterson (ARZ)
Free Safety: Devin McCourty (NE)
McCourty wound up with our highest grade of the year, with his work in coverage the real standout element of his game. He was a unanimous selection over Thomas who we love when things go well, but can’t ignore when he misses a tackle or takes a bad angle with his all active style. Others getting serious consideration included Eric Weddle and Will Hill.
Second Team: Earl Thomas (SEA)
Strong Safety: Eric Berry (KC)
A new type of safety, Berry would often spend his time in the box to make him a fourth linebacker for the Chiefs in their dime package, while just as able to cover a tight end or back in man coverage or play the deep safety role. A truly complete player. On the second team the work of Whitner in coverage (a weakness heading into the year) got him the nod over T.J. Ward.
Second Team: Donte Whitner (SF)
*Slot Cornerback: Tyrann Mathieu (ARZ)
If we’re going to have a slot receiver then we need a slot corner. In a heated discussion, the complete play of Mathieu — who played base downs as a safety and moved to the slot in the Cardinals’ nickel and dime packages — won out despite him missing time toward the end of the season. Harris makes the second team in large part due to his overall game, an area where Brandon Boykin missed out. Being so close to the action, we liked our slot cornerback to have a bigger impact on more areas than just coverage.
Second Team: Chris Harris (DEN)
Kicker: Nick Folk (NYJ)
Folk won the Jets more games than many expected them to win all year with his last minute heroics, going a healthy 33-of-36 on the year.
Second Team: Justin Tucker (BAL)
Punter: Johnny Hekker (SL)
That his opponents had 79 return yards all year owed an awful lot to the excellent hangtime of Hekker. Edges out Morstead and Shane Lechler in a competitive field.
Second Team: Thomas Morstead (NO)
Kick Returner: Cordarelle Patterson (MIN)
Was there ever any doubt here? Patterson was the biggest special teams weapon all year and the only way he wouldn’t make our All Pro team is if we opted for an all round returner (like Brandon Tate) who fields punts and kickoffs.
Second Team: Quintin Demps (KC)
Punt Returner: Golden Tate (SEA)
Tate didn’t have a touchdown but he did demonstrate an ability to make players miss and create yards that didn’t seem possible.
Second Team: Dexter McCluster (KC)
Special Teamer: Justin Bethel (ARZ)
Bethel was superb and played in a way that made this the easiest of selections. They don’t make special teamers like him.
Second Team: Jeremy Lane (SEA)
Pages: 1 2