PFF’s All-Pro team

Khaled Elsayed reveals Pro Football Focus' 2015 All-Pro roster, featuring this season's top-graded players from around the NFL.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

PFF’s All-Pro team


17 weeks of football, 17 weeks of excellence. We’ve witnessed some truly amazing performances from players at various positions, and now we’re at the time of the year when we can truly celebrate them. What better way to kickoff the playoffs than with the 2015 PFF All-Pro Team, dedicated to honoring the best seasons we’ve graded this year?

Let’s begin the with this season’s offensive standouts.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Cardinals

Second team: Tom Brady, Patriots

What a year for Palmer, who not only came back from what many presumed to be a career-defining injury, but did so by playing better than he ever has. What made Palmer so impressive was his ability to destroy defenses deep, with an impressive 34 deep completions (10 of which went for touchdowns). On our second team, Brady just edges out Cam Newton, doing a remarkable job, considering the issues the Patriots’ offense had with injuries.

Honorable mentions: Cam Newton (CAR) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

Running back: Doug Martin, Buccaneers

Second team: Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

While Adrian Peterson had more yards, we liked the work of Martin a little more, with the Buccaneer forcing more missed tackles (57) on fewer carries, fumbling less, and being better in the passing game. It was for these reasons that Peterson missed out to Stewart, as well, with the Panthers’ running back a tad more consistent.

Honorable mentions: DeAngelo Williams (PIT) and Adrian Peterson (MIN)

Fullback: Patrick DiMarco, Falcons

It should tell you how much better DiMarco was than the rest of the competition that he rendered the need for a second team fullback redundant. He was far and away our top-graded player in a year that did nothing to say the position is back in fashion.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Second team: Delanie Walker, Titans

Another year, another PFF All-Pro selection for Gronkowski, who not only has that game-changing ability catching balls, but is a fine run blocker, as well. Credit to Walker, though, who performed admirably in a struggling Titans’ offense. It’s not easy to catch 94 balls and score positive marks with your blocking, but the excellent former 49er did.

Honorable mention: Tyler Eifert (CIN)

Wide receiver (outside): Antonio Brown, Steelers

Second team: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

What a year for Brown, who picked up the highest grade we’ve ever awarded to a receiver with his work in the pass game, doing so despite a midseason lull when he was catching passes from Landry Jones. It will go down as one of those seasons that we at PFF were privileged to watch. Spare a thought for a guy like Hopkins, who was pretty special himself, but must settle for life on the second team.

Honorable mentions: Calvin Johnson (DET) and Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)

Wide receiver (outside): Julio Jones, Falcons

Second team: A.J. Green, Bengals

What a year from Jones, who cemented his status as the most physically-imposing wide receiver in the league. Even when the Falcons’ season went off the rails, he kept producing, despite defenses paying him extra attention. Would we like him to cut out the drops and fumbles? Sure. But with his ability to get separation and make things happen after the catch, you learn to deal with imperfections.

Wide receiver (slot): Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

Second team: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks

Reinvented as a slot threat, Fitzgerald rolled back the years to show how productive—and dangerous—of a receiver he still is. He had to be that good to keep Baldwin off the first team, given how the Seahawk finished the year.

Honorable mention: Jarvis Landry (MIA)

Left tackle: Joe Thomas, Browns

Second team: Tyron Smith, Cowboys

Our top two tackles by some distance, the big difference between the pair was that Thomas provided a little more consistency in pass protection, and ultimately that is the biggest part of being a franchise left tackle. Two tremendous years.

Honorable mentions: Terron Armstead (NO) and Andrew Whitworth (CIN)

Left guard: Richie Incognito, Bills

Second team: Josh Sitton, Packers

A year away from the game proved ideal (in anything but ideal circumstances), as Incognito came back and played better than we’d ever seen from him before. (Maybe Anthony Davis made a wise decision in taking some time off?)

Honorable mentions: Evan Mathis (DEN) and Andrew Norwell (CAR)

Center: Travis Frederick, Cowboys

Second team: Joe Berger, Vikings

How about that year from Berger? Expected to be a backup, the Viking only just loses out on the first team nod because his pass protection was weaker than that of the excellent all-rounder Frederick.

Honorable mentions: Weston Richburg (NYG) and Ryan Kalil (CAR)

Right guard: Marshal Yanda, Ravens

Second team: Zack Martin, Cowboys

There isn’t a season that goes by where we don’t get excited about Yanda. He may not get a lot of publicity, but he continues to be one of the very best linemen PFF has ever graded.

Honorable mentions: T.J. Lang (GB) and Trai Turner (CAR)

Right tackle: Ryan Schraeder, Falcons

Second team: Mitchell Schwartz, Browns

We don’t discriminate against right tackles at PFF. While it’s true the left tackle group graded out much better, it shouldn’t lessen the achievements of these two men. Schraeder, outside of a tough outing against J.J. Watt, had the kind of year where, through his own solid play, you rarely noticed him. Schwartz allowed more pressure, but did his chances of landing a decent contract no harm.

Honorable mention: Marcus Gilbert (PIT)

 

Each year, PFF puts 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).

Defensive end (3-5 tech): Aaron Donald, Rams

Second team: Geno Atkins, Bengals

What a year from Aaron Donald. He fell just short of PFF’s single-season grading record, but the simple fact that he got so close should tell you how well he played. His out-of-this-world first step has seen linemen whiffing like it’s going out of fashion, and it’s that explosiveness that saw him score the highest marks of any interior defender—both rushing the passer and against the run. When you can put a rejuvenated Geno Atkins as a second teamer, you know you’ve done something very right.

Honorable mentions: Fletcher Cox (PHI), Kawann Short (CAR), and Mike Daniels (GB)

Defensive end (3-5 tech): J.J. Watt, Texans

Second team: Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins

Even a broken hand couldn’t completely slow Watt down, though there’s no doubt that the injury (and the extra attention he received) had an impact on his performance. Even then, he still made it to 89 quarterback disruptions, and was his usual penetrative self against the run. His best year? No. But one of the best years you’ll likely ever see from a man at his position? Yes. Such is the standard of the Texan.

Nose tackle: Linval Joseph, Vikings

Second team: Damon Harrison, Jets

It’s a shame that Joseph got banged up, because he was on a real tear, manning that one-tech spot with a ferocity that sent fear into many centers’ hearts. It’s not easy to be as disruptive against the run as he was, while also causing the quarterback problems. He’s elevated his game in 2015, and he had to with the more prototypical nose tackle and one-man wrecking ball, Damon Harrison, proving to be such a force against the run.

Honorable mention: Brandon Williams (BAL)

Edge rusher: Khalil Mack, Raiders

Second team: Von Miller, Broncos

Our knock on Mack last season (his rookie year) was that he wasn’t productive enough rushing the passer. This year, he turned that on it’s head, and did so while remaining a force against the run. Now a truly complete player, he has the ability to take over on any down, and was so good that he pushed usual All-Pro Miller to a mere second team spot.

Honorable mentions: Michael Bennett (SEA), Justin Houston (KC), and Tamba Hali (KC)

Edge rusher: Olivier Vernon, Dolphins

Second team: Cameron Jordan, Saints

Where did that year come from? Vernon has largely been something of an afterthought to the excellent Cameron Wake, but when Wake went down, boy, did Vernon step up. His second half of the year was the kind of pace that would have seen him in Defensive Player of the Year consideration if he had kept it up, as he mauled tackles with a relentlessness they won’t forget in a hurry.

Inside linebacker: Luke Kuechly, Panthers

Second team: Derrick Johnson, Chiefs

So he didn’t finish the season as strongly as he started it, but it’s still as good a year as we’ve ever seen from an inside linebacker (and we were privileged enough to watch every snap of Patrick Willis’ career). Kuechly has now set the benchmark at his position.

Honorable mentions: Jerrell Freeman (IND), Jamie Collins (NE), and Sean Lee (DAL)

Inside linebacker: Anthony Barr, Vikings

Second team: K.J. Wright, Seahawks

Whatever the Vikings ask of Barr, his incredible athleticism shines through. He can blitz like the best of them, cover with incredible closing speed, and run thump like a man possessed. In two years, he has already established himself as a prototypical, do-it-all linebacker, and 2015 was the stage he used to show it.

Cornerback (outside): Patrick Peterson, Cardinals

Second team: Josh Norman, Panthers

It isn’t easy tracking the top receivers in this league. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be, but clearly Peterson didn’t get that memo, because he’s had no difficulty doing so. His consistent, shutdown play is something we don’t often witness.

Honorable mentions: Darius Slay (DET) and Jason Verrett (SD)

Cornerback (outside): Richard Sherman, Seahawks

Second team: Johnathan Joseph, Texans

Asked to do things a little differently this year, the brash Sherman proved more than up to the challenge, with his job on Antonio Brown one of the highlights of the year by any cornerback. The Seahawk finished the year playing as well as anyone—just in time for the playoffs.

Cornerback (slot): Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals

Second team: Chris Harris, Jr., Broncos

It’s a real shame that Mathieu had his season cut short, but he still put enough on tape that his inclusion as our slot corner was never really in doubt. He does it all from the spot, and his ability to contribute is every phase of the game is something to behold.

Honorable mention: Captain Munnerlyn (MIN)

Strong safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles

Second team: Eric Berry, Chiefs

Berry is the true feel-good story, and in any other year would rightfully have earned first team honors. But this isn’t just any other year—this is the year where Jenkins took his game to a whole new level, with an ability to influence the game in the box like few safeties can.

Honorable mention: Reshad Jones (MIA)

Free safety: Harrison Smith, Vikings

Second team: Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Smith may have missed some time, but even so, he still earned the highest mark of any safety on the year. He was that good. A safety who can make plays wherever you line him up, he’s someone quarterbacks needs to account for on every snap (even if free safety doesn’t really account for his versatility).

Honorable mention: Charles Woodson (OAK)

Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

Second team: Dan Bailey, Cowboys

The Patriot is strong on kickoffs, but this appointment comes chiefly because Gostkowski was our top-ranked field goal kicker on the year.

Honorable mention: Steven Hauschka (SEA)

Punter: Pat McAfee, Colts

Second team: Brett Kern, Titans

The excellent McAfee was a regular fixture on our Team of the Week, so it’s no surprise he should hold off divisional-rival Kern for the first team honor.

Honorable mention: Sam Koch (BAL)

Kick returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings

Second team: Benny Cunningham, Rams

A couple of touchdowns and numerous big returns. Patterson might not be the receiver Minnesota had hoped for, but he is something else as a returner.

Punt returner: Jarvis Landry, Dolphins

Second team: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

Spare a thought for Lockett, here. He was the best all-round returner, but even he couldn’t compete with the excellence of Landry on returns.

Special teamer: Michael Thomas, Dolphins

Second team: Justin Bethel, Cardinals

It almost feels like heresy to say that Bethel isn’t first team, but that’s how good the Dolphins’ Thomas has been.

Honorable mention: D.J. Alexander (KC)

  • william20

    Sorry Fletcher Cox IMO is a first team All Pro as well, and so is Donnie Jones his punting and keeping the other team pinned down has been very consistent every year

    • Justinius Maximus

      Who’s place does Fletcher Cox deserve to take?

  • EricLeggitt

    No Packer offensive lineman belongs anywhere near an All-Pro Team list. Josh Sitton had a terrible year both blocking and with penalties. Reshad Jones was the best Strong Safety I saw play on a weekly basis and it’s not even close. Yes he and the Dolphins secondary had lapses in coverage, but the guy was phenomenal on a very consistent basis. Besides those two glaring issues I think the PFF did a decent job on it’s 2015 PFF All-Pro Team.

  • Chris Hettel

    Umm, Darren Sproles?

  • SonnySky

    Much ado about nothing. Cam Newton and the teams only interest is to win the game and the focus is on game time and winning not whether I am better than the other guy in the league. So just leave the game to the Panthers and let the PFF analyze what they will.

  • Izach

    Was surprised to see brandon marshall not on the list at WR, even as a mention felt that was off, much better year than Calvin/AJ green/Baldwin, he did have a few more negative plays as his fumbles were bad, but he made plays everywhere, had more catches yards and TDs than all of them (Doug tied technically) but beyond stats, Marshall made the jets a playoff contender, him just being there forced defenses to take notice and Eric decker had a better year this year as the no.2 WR than he had as the no.1 WR last year due to Marshall taking the pressure off, how PFF missed him on this list is egregious

    • sd

      PFF missed nothing. There’s nothing to miss. Not a single snap played by any player failed to be added into their arithmetic sum of grades. Whoever ends with the biggest number is the guy on the list.

      • Izach

        Like I said I was “Surprised” they missed something because they didn’t mention him at all, you can say what ever you’d like about his style of play but at the end of the day he’s a better WR than over half the ppl mentioned in this article (including honorable mentions). Plain and simple

    • James Winslow

      at least he is top ten in receivers

  • william20

    IMO opinion any of the ones who were picked ahead of him. This is a bullshit who has the name game. IMO its a joke like the Pro Bowl now remember this is my opinion you do not have to agree and I respect the fact if you don’t I just look at the importance he brings to the line I believe he is a very valuable piece and does more all around then the guys picked ahead of him Suh had one big game against the Birds he was a no show until that game he IMO doesn’t make it over Cox and its not cuz I been a fan over 54 years its because he played better

    • sd

      There’s no “name game” involved here. Every snap is evaluated individually, then they add it together.

  • Ronny Hamouche

    Reshad Jones played like the best safety in the league this season he’s always underrated and forgotten about cuz he’s on a shitty team

    • sd

      Incorrect. PFF does not “forget.” They watch and grade every snap played in the NFL for every player. Then they just perform addition.

  • Kellan Weyer

    This was better than the actual All-Pro selections.

  • FisherStache

    Johnny Hekker poops on McAfee.

  • Catman

    You still haven’t been able to respond to the 800 pound gorilla in the room. My biggest question was about why the top 2 guys in your own rankings weren’t the top two All-Pros in every case. When they ARE, you point that out. Fine, okay. But that still doesn’t explain why there are ppl on the All-Pro team that were not tops or second in your own ratings. I haven’t seen any explanation that covers those picks because it’s always different for each guy it seems. Also there appears to be zero factoring in of injuries. Not a bad All-Pro group as they go overall, but the defensive and condescending nature of the “help” here most certainly makes one not want to question you.

    Please realize you guys are SUPPOSED to be the “experts,” and deriding FANS like me and others does not do your reputation any good. I consider myself only slightly more informed than the average fan, as this isn’t my job. How would you feel if you go to the bank and inquire about their investments only to be laughed at and talked down to for not knowing everything the bankers know? Would you invest your money with them?

    Because that’s how you treat people here….we’re all a bunch of miscreants I guess.

    Don’t forget – it’s the “insufferable miscreants” and their money that got you guys noticed and helps keep the lights on. You would do well to actually create a policy on how to interact with people AND FOLLOW IT.

  • Bill

    No Long Snappers???

  • Ron Green

    Your kidding at running back….right? Can’t imagine AP any place but first.