2014 PFF All-Third Year Team
In this week of singling out draft classes, we’re now turning our attention to the crop of 2012. The commonly held belief is that by Year 3 you get an idea of what you’re getting out of a player, so if you’re making this team then there’s a good chance the front office got it right.
As ever, we’ve got 22 players on offense and defense plus a selection of special teamers who made the cut. Lets’ see who.
Quarterback: Andrew Luck (IND)
It came down to Luck and Russell Wilson, with Luck a relatively comfortable choice with his more dynamic passing season. At times carrying the Colts offense, you wonder where they would be without him.
Running Back: Lamar Miller (MIA)
The Dolphins’ late-season struggles and just 216 carries meant that Miller didn’t get the attention he deserved. As it is he had the fifth-highest rushing grade of all running backs and a very healthy 5.1 yards attempt.
Fullback: Will Johnson (PIT)
You didn’t notice Johnson an awful lot which tends to be a good thing for a blocker with just 11 touches on the year.
Tight End: Dwayne Allen (IND)
He wasn’t quite at the level of his dominant rookie year, but after a season out and dealing with some lingering injuries there was still plenty of evidence as to why Allen is one of the most complete tight ends in the league.
Wide Receivers: T.Y. Hilton (IND) and Rueben Randle (NYG)
Part of the Colts’ stellar draft class, Hilton has developed into one of the premier deep threats in the league and a nightmare to cover. Randle edged out Alshon Jeffery whose seven penalties didn’t help, along with a fair bit of garbage time yardage.
Tackles: Kelvin Beachum (PIT) and Mitchell Schwartz (CLE)
Whether by luck or design the Steelers have found their left tackle of the future and that man is Beachum, one of the better pass-blocking tackles in the league. On the right side there weren’t as many candidates with the solid Schwartz beating out the weaker in pass protection Bobby Massie.
Guards: Kelechi Osemele (BAL) and Brandon Brooks (HOU)
Part of a much improved Ravens line, Osemele has become a real road grader who can generate movement laterally and off the line of scrimmage. Brooks’ better run blocking meant he got the spot over Kevin Zeitler who himself had a very good year.
Center: David Molk (PHI)
Default selection time. Molk was poor in pass protection but the only center who played enough to qualify. That’s how it works sometimes.
Defensive Ends: Malik Jackson (DEN) and Olivier Vernon (MIA)
The versatile Jackson is the kind of player who just makes plays, whether against the run or pass and 2014 was no exception. Vernon isn’t quite as flexible and might do with a little less playing time, but generated more than enough pressure to earn the second spot here.
Defensive Tackles: Fletcher Cox (PHI) and Mike Daniels (GB)
Cox is really acting on his first round talent and was especially good against the run where he had the highest run defense grade of any 3-4 defensive end. Daniels was a more productive pass rusher and has emerged as the rock on the Packers’ defensive line.
Linebackers: Luke Kuechly (CAR), Dont’a Hightower (NE) and Brandon Marshall (DEN)
Let’s be honest, 2012 produced a heck of a lot of linebackers. Some names that missed out include Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin and Mychael Kendricks who all had strong years. But this trio beat them out, with Kuechly and Hightower first- and second-team PFF All Pros, respectively, while Marshall was on course before missing time injured. Tremendously talented group.
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore (BUF) and Josh Norman (CAR)
If we extended this to the slot then Brandon Boykin and Casey Hayward would be battling over the spot. But they aren’t so Gilmore and Norman are comfortably the top outside corners based on their play this year.
Safeties: Harrison Smith (MIN) and Tashaun Gipson (CLE)
Another PFF First Team All-Pro in the shape of Smith here who had a big year to prove himself well worth the first round pick. Gipson was another who had his season curtailed by injury, but his 787 snaps were more than enough to earn selection over George Iloka and Will Hill who both had good years.
Kicker: Blair Walsh (MIN)
You couldn’t go wrong with either Walsh or Justin Tucker, but in the end Walsh (with more opportunity) hit 12 40+ yarders compared to eight for Tucker which got him the choice.
Punter: Johnny Hekker (SL)
Another season, another excellent year for Hekker who has put enough on tape to be considered one of the top punters in the league.
Returner: Omar Bolden (DEN)
Another one of these choices where we were not blessed with a lot of options. Bolden looked likely on his kick returns.
Special Teamer: Kelcie McCray (KC)
One of the best special teamers in the league, there really wasn’t any doubt he’d get the nod, though Michael Thomas, Justin Bethel and Steven Johnson all had impressive years.
See the other awards we’ve handed out this week:
2014 PFF All-Pro Team
2014 PFF All-Pro Special Teams
2014 PFF Stephenson Award (Best Player)
2014 PFF Offensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Matthews Award (Best Offensive Lineman)
2014 PFF O-Line Rankings
2014 PFF Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF All-Rookie Team
2014 PFF All-Sophomore Team
2014 PFF All-Third Year Team
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