PFF's Midseason All-Pro Team
Nine weeks into the season seems as good a time as any to unveil our Mid Season All Pro team.
Unlike a lot of places we’re not going on what the box scores tell us or on the reputation players have. We’re not concerned with what people might think because in our method we trust and we take pride in having four sets of eyes (at least) on every snap of every game.
So sit back and enjoy.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, DEN (+22.3)
Was there ever any doubt? Sure Manning hasn’t played nearly as well in his last three starts as his first eight, but he’s still ahead of the chasing pack. We’ll guarantee this though and that’s if he doesn’t find some of that early season form then come the end of the year someone else be in his place.
Second Team: Philip Rivers (SD)
Running Back: LeSean McCoy, PHI (+14.4)
He leads the league in rushing, has forced 39 missed tackles and tops our rushing rankings at his position. Still, after a strong start to the year, he needs to do more than he has done recently to hold off the challenge.
Second Team: Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
Fullback: Anthony Sherman, KC (+13.3)
The only man who looks like vaguely challenging Sherman is Collin “The Moonster” Mooney of the Titans, but with just 106 snaps he’s got some work to do. Instead Sherman has quietly become the most reliable fullback in the league. We did not see that coming after his exploits in Arizona.
Second Team: Mike Tolbert (CAR)
Tight End: Vernon Davis, SF (+9.4)
Davis separated himself from the pack because unlike the other two contenders he can block. So that left a fight between Gonzalez and Graham for the last spot. After much discussion, Graham and his ability to get into the end zone wins the day despite the quite frankly ridiculous attention that Gonzalez is receiving right now.
Second Team: Jimmy Graham (NO)
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson, DET (+14.9) and Andre Johnson, HOU (+15.8)
The Johnson boys have cemented their union as our first-team pairing with two incredible strong performances in their last game. For Andre that pushed him to the top of our receiver rankings, marginally ahead of Calvin who might rue missing some time hurt in his quest to rewrite the record books.
Second Team: Jordy Nelson (GB) and Antonio Brown (PIT)
Tackles: Joe Thomas, CLE (+15.3) and Doug Free, DAL (+12.9)
In choosing a left tackle we wanted a guy who excelled in pass protection above all else. With five sacks allowed it meant turning away from our top-ranked Nate Solder and instead looking at the always reliable Thomas who has coped extremely well with some quarterbacks not afraid to hold onto the ball. The right side was an even trickier selection after Sebastian Vollmer went down on injured reserve. While the play of Zach Strief and the transformation in Tyler Polumbus warrant mentioning, it was Free who got the nod even after his worst performance of the year.
Second Team: Trent Williams (WAS) and Tyler Polumbus (WAS)
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+27.9) and Louis Vasquez, DEN (+15.2)
Is there any stopping Evan Mathis? It looks like he’ll get our All Pro nod for the third consecutive year as he maintains his excellent form since becoming an Eagle. Vasquez, who also filled in at right tackle successfully, has proved worth the money Denver paid for him and then some. He’s given up just four hurries all year. On the second string, DeCastro picked himself but the standard of guard play made picking a left guard somewhat less appealing.
Second Team: David DeCasto (PIT) and Kory Lichtensteiger (WAS)
Center: Chris Myers, HOU (+15.5)
Comfortably our top-ranked center, Myers hasn’t set the world alight but he has continued to generate movement to open up running lanes. He may never be the best pass blocking center, but he’s good enough that you can live with it.
Second Team: Manny Ramirez (DEN)
Turn to Page 2 for the defense and special teams…
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: J.J. Watt, HOU (+51.0) and Gerald McCoy, TB (+26.3)
If you didn’t see this coming you’re not watching enough football. His sack numbers aren’t as high but Watt leads his peers in defensive stops in the run game (23) and quarterback disruptions (41). He’s still the best player in football. When you watch McCoy make plays you forget briefly all about the struggles of Tampa Bay. He’s so good on every down.
Second Team: Jason Hatcher (DAL) and Fletcher Cox (PHI)
Defensive Interior – Nose: Damon Harrison, NYJ (+21.8)
One of the most pleasant surprises of the year has been the ascension of Harrison to not just a starting role, but to earning a spot on our Midseason All-Pro team. He’s fantastic against the run and does more than just eat up space as his 12.9 run stop percentage (fourth best of all defensive tackles) will show you. A really stacked position with Dontari Poe, Marcell Dareus and Brandon Mebane all playing well enough.
Second Team: Dontari Poe (KC)
Edge Rushers: Robert Quinn, SL (+34.2) and Justin Houston, KC (+22.1)
You can only beat what is in front of you, and nobody smells blood in the water like Robert Quinn. He’s feasted on poor tackles to the tune of 46 quarterback disruptions, with only the Chiefs outside linebackers having more. In that regard Tamba Hali leads the way, but it’s Houston (with 35 fewer pass rushes and better all round play) who gets in.
Second Team: Tamba Hali (KC) and Robert Mathis (IND)
Linebackers: Sean Lee, DAL (+10.8) and Lavonte David, TB (+12.3)
Is there a linebacker playing better than Lee right now? He has graded positively in every area of the game only Paul Posluszny and David have more defensive stops than his 40, and he’s got four interceptions and three pass break ups to go with it. It might feel odd to have another Buccaneer on this team given their struggles but when you watch David make play after play after play how could you not find a spot for him.
Second Team: Derrick Johnson (KC) and Kiko Alonso (BUF)
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, TB (+13.8) and Alterraun Verner, TEN (+11.7)
Are you calling shenanigans? A third Buccaneer? Well that just goes to show the lopsided nature of the team with Revis not back to his best, but close enough to lead our cornerback rankings. Verner hasn’t quite maintained his magnificent early season form, but hangs on in with his teammate McCourty, Seahawk Sherman and many more not far behind.
Second Team: Jason McCourty (TEN) and Richard Sherman (SEA)
Safeties: Devin McCourty, NE (+17.4) and T.J. Ward, CLE (+11.7)
He might not be as complete as Earl Thomas, but the work of McCourty as a deep safety has been unparalleled this year. A really good feel for where he should be as seen him break up five balls to go with his one interception. Ward is the standout strong safety even if he might not be able to do all the things Eric Berry can. He’s thriving in that Ray Horton defense and it shows with nine more defensive stops for Ward than any other safety.
Second Team: Earl Thomas (SEA) and Eric Berry (KC)
Kicker: Nick Folk, NYJ (+13.7)
There isn’t a better one right now than Folk who shows no signs of missing a kick or letting the pressure get to him.
Second Team: Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
Punter: Shane Lechler, HOU (+18.5)
Hekker might have the better grade but a lot of that owes to simply punting the ball a heck (pun intended) of a lot more. Lechler has thrived in Houston.
Second Team: Johnny Hekker (SL)
Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN (+8.7)
Two touchdowns isn’t a bad return from the rookie, is it? An electric returner.
Second Team: Golden Tate (SEA)
Special Teamer: Justin Bethel, ARZ (+8.5)
Special teams guru Neil Hornsby can’t say enough good things about either man, but it’s Bethel who will be first string. He’s already drawn five penalties with his work on the punt coverage unit.
Second Team: Jeremy Lane (SEA)
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