PFF's Midseason All-Pro Team
Can you believe we’re over halfway through the season already? To celebrate a fantastic first nine weeks of the year, it’s awards day at Pro Football Focus, and what better way to kick it off than with our Midseason All Pro team.
Each player’s overall season grade is noted next to their name.
Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Cardinals, 96.8 overall grade
Second team: Tom Brady, Patriots, 96.8
At the top of our quarterback rankings two men stood out, and we can’t really fault anyone who went in the direction of Brady. But we’ve settled on Palmer, with his intermediate and downfield aerial assault a key reason.
Running back: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, 94.0
Second team: Devonta Freeman, Falcons, 86.8
The clear No. 1 back in our system, Bell’s injury will likely prevent him from earning All-Pro honors at the end of the season, but it can’t prevent him being our guy at the halfway point. Freeman wins out over Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch, with his playing time and ability in the passing game catching our eye.
Fullback: Patrick DiMarco, Falcons, 84.0
Second team: Michael Burton, Lions, 77.2
There isn’t much competition at the top of the rankings, so even though DiMarco hasn’t followed up his hot start, he’s well ahead of Burton.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, 97.5
Second team: Tyler Eifert, Bengals, 92.3
Gronk may have fewer touchdowns than Eifert, but he is without peer at the tight end spot. He’s an unstoppable receiving weapon who just so happens to be a willing and able blocker.
Fitzgerald “slots” in as the inside receiver, with the dominant duo of Brown and Jones the clear choices on the outside. On the second team, Alshon Jeffery misses out on playing time in a crowded contest.
As abundant in talent as the left tackle market is, the right tackle one is devoid of it. It almost makes you understand why only left tackles get voted to end of season awards. Smith wins out, and guys like Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth can feel a bit slighted not to make the second team. On the right side, Schwartz has had some ups and downs, but is the best of the bunch.
Trai Turner nearly snuck in, but it was always going to be difficult given the four that made it. Incognito has been a revelation since returning to the league, playing the best football of his life. On the right side, what can you say about Yanda that we haven’t already said? The best guard of his generation is continuing to play at a high level.
Center: Ryan Kalil, Panthers, 93.4
Second team: Travis Frederick, Cowboys, 88.9
There was never any doubt Kalil would be the man in the middle, but with Frederick tied to the decimal with Weston Richburg in our rankings, second team was slightly trickier. In the end, we went with the superior run blocking of the Cowboy.
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 (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles), and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Whatever you class Watt as, he’s still the top dog on the defensive front seven, despite the extra attention he gets. Donald was a lock with his consistent play, but we had a real dilemma picking the second team. Cameron Heyward, Ndamukong Suh, Geno Atkins, and Muhammad Wilkerson were just some of the other names who put forward serious cases.
Defensive interior – nose: Linval Joseph, Vikings, 94.1
Second team: Brandon Williams, Ravens, 90.1
Joseph is coming off a career game that vaulted him into this spot, where his ability to deliver against the run, as well as applying some push in the pocket, got him in over the stout Williams.
No edge rusher has a better pass rushing grade than the excellent Jordan, and that’s why he’s the top-ranked guy at his spot right now. Much like the interior, the biggest issue came in picking the second team, where Pernell McPhee just edged out the likes of Cliff Avril and Von Miller.
Second team: Anthony Barr, Vikings, 90.2, and Derrick Johnson, Chiefs, 86.5
Kuechly is playing as well as any linebacker during the PFF era, proving a force on every single down. He has a significant lead atop his positional rankings, but that’s not to the say the rest are playing badly. Wright is really shining in Seattle right now, while Barr is really breaking out.
With so much talent at the cornerback position, it’s impossible to fit it all in (apologies to Ronald Darby, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Patrick Peterson, especially). That said, credit goes to the guys making either team, where Josh Norman is the obvious star with his massive start to the season.
We were among those who questioned the Eagles bringing in Jenkins, but he’s been a revelation in Philadelphia, with his 2015 season seeing him put together all his talents for a truly memorable year. He’s the standout of the position, with Harrison Smith not far behind.
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
Second team: Brandon McManus, Broncos
Perfect on the year, Gostkowski is in the zone right now.
Punter: Pat McAfee, Colts
Second team: Chris Jones, Cowboys
McAfee is booming the ball right now, and stands adrift of the competition in our punter rankings.
Punt returner: Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
Second team: Travis Benjamin, Browns
Landry is a real game-changer when he gets the ball in the open field.
Kick returner: Dwayne Harris, Giants
Second team: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
Harris may never prove worth the money, but his impact on special teams is in some ways proving us doubters wrong.
Special teamer: Justin Bethel, Cardinals
Second team: Cedric Peerman, Bengals
One of the constants in the NFL is how Bethel is out of this world when it comes to his work as a vise.