By: Kieran Blake, Staff Writer
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is this season’s MVP front-runner. (Image Courtesy of David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
Patrick Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the NFL. He lost his best receiver, Tyreek Hill, over the offseason, and he still leads the NFL in passing yardage by 511 yards, and has a total of 5,250 passing yards this season. He has 41 passing touchdowns, six more than the next closest quarterback, Joe Burrow. He is practically a game ahead of all the other quarterbacks in the league statistically, and has a passer rating of 105.2. He has also led his team to 14-3, and the number one seed in the AFC. He is the best quarterback in the NFL this season.
Running Back: Josh Jacobs (Raiders)
Though it’s close, Josh Jacobs snatches the All-Pro spot at the running back position. He leads the league in rushing yardage with 1,653 yards, he has twelve touchdowns, and he leads all running backs with 97.2 rushing yards per game. Jacobs also had one game where he had 303 total yards from scrimmage, a Raiders franchise record. The other running back that came into consideration was Nick Chubb, but he is just behind Jacobs in rushing yards & rushing yards per game, and he is tied with him for rushing touchdowns, so Jacobs gets the edge.
Wide Receivers: Justin Jefferson (Vikings), Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), & Davante Adams (Raiders)
Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill are the best two receivers in the league, without question. Jefferson leads the league in receptions, receiving yards per game, and& receiving yards, and Hill comes in second in each of those categories as well. They are also the scariest wide receivers in the league for both fans & opposing teams, and they always have a big play lurking inside of them. The third spot came down to three people: Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, and Stefon Diggs. The case for Adams is that he leads the league in touchdown receptions, is fifth in yards per game, and is third in receiving yards. The case for Brown is that he is fourth in receiving yards, is tied for third in receiving touchdowns, is third in yards per reception, and has been the number one target for the Philadelphia Eagles, the number one seed in the NFC. The case for Diggs is that he is also tied for third in receiving touchdowns, is fifth in receiving yards, is fourth in receiving yards per game, and has been the number one wideout for one of the best teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. In the end, Adams got the nod because though he may not have had the team success that Brown & Diggs had, he leads them in both receiving touchdowns and receiving yards.
Tight End: Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
Travis Kelce is by far the best tight end in the NFL, leading all of them in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receiving yards per game. He’s also the number one target of the best quarterback in the league, Patrick Mahomes, and is the leading receiver on the number-one seeded Kansas City Chiefs. Case closed.
Left Tackle: Trent Williams (49ers)
Trent Williams is the best left tackle in the NFL, and has been for years. He has the highest PFF (Pro Football Focus) score of any offensive tackle in the NFL. He has allowed only one sack in his 871 offensive snaps played this season. His blocking has helped lead the 49ers to the number two seed in the NFC. He has been a big part of the success of running back Christian McCaffery and of rookie quarterback sensation Brock Purdy. He was also just selected to his tenth-straight pro-bowl, a remarkable feat. This spot isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Right Tackle: Lane Johnson (Eagles)
Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in the league by far. He helped the Eagles in both their passing & running game, and he was a huge part of their 8-0 start to the season. Just to add to that, after he went down in Week 16, the Eagles offense quickly declined, and they showed that with their embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints. Johnson also allowed an outstanding zero sacks in 972 offensive snaps. Johnson is a force to be reckoned with on the offensive line.
Left Guard: Joel Bitonio (Browns)
Colts guard Quenton Nelson has dominated the left guard position ever since he got into the league, but this has been his worst season so far in his career. Cleveland has had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines for the past few seasons, and a big part of that has been Joel Bitonio. His blocking has helped Nick Chubb become one of the NFL’s best running backs, and he has also allowed only one sack in 1,172 offensive snaps. Bitonio grabs the title of best left guard in the NFL this season.
Right Guard: Zack Martin (Cowboys)
Similar to Johnson, Zack Martin has allowed zero sacks this season. Martin has also committed only one penalty. He did this while playing 1,143 offensive snaps. He has a 96% pass block win rate. He has helped block for two 800-yard rushers and two quarterbacks who totaled 3,911 passing yards collectively. He helped lead the Cowboys to a 12-5 record and a playoff appearance. No other right guard in the league can touch Martin with a 10-foot pole.
Center: Creed Humphrey (Chiefs)
It was a battle between Eagles veteran Jason Kelce and second-year Chief Creed Humphrey for the top spot at center. In the end, though it was close, the spot went to Humphrey, as he helped the Chiefs achieve the best record in the AFC. Though Kelce helped the Eagles to the best record in the NFC, Humphrey has the highest pass block win rate out of any center at a whopping 98%, and he has the second highest run block win rate for a center this year at 76%, behind only Baltimore Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum. Humphrey has allowed zero sacks and committed only four penalties, and he also leads all centers in the NFL with a PFF score of 90.0. For all of these reasons, Humphrey just edges out future Hall of Famer Kelce.
Edge Rushers: Nick Bosa (49ers) & Haason Reddick (Eagles)
Bosa is a no-brainer. He leads all NFL players this year with 18.5 sacks, is second in tackles for a loss, and most impressively, leads all players with 48 quarterback hits, 13 more than the next closest player, Maxx Crosby. He also is a big part of the success of the San Francisco 49ers, the number two seed in the NFC. The second spot was a battle between four different players: Myles Garrett (the well-known pick), Matthew Judon (the power pick), Maxx Crosby (the stats pick), and Haason Reddick (the all-around pick). Which one of those players got the first-team nod? Haason Reddick, who has been a pass-rushing machine for the number-one seeded Philadelphia Eagles. Reddick racked up 16 sacks (tied for second), 11 tackles for a loss (tied for thirtieth), 26 quarterback hits (tied for ninth), forced five fumbles (tied for first), and recovered three fumbles (tied for third among defenders). While the tackles for a loss and quarterback hits may seem underwhelming, he made up for it with his 28% pass rush win rate, second to only Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons. While he may be as high up in some statistical categories as players like Crosby, he makes up for it by being on the next level in the others. Reddick just sneaks past the others and gets the nod as the second-best edge rusher in the NFL this season.
Defensive Tackles: Chris Jones (Chiefs) & Quinnen Williams (Jets)
Who to pick here was pretty easy. Among defensive tackles, Jones led them all in sacks (15.5) & quarterback hits (29), is tied for the lead in forced fumbles (two), and is second in tackles for a loss (17). He has also been the leader of the number-one seeded Kansas City Chiefs’ defense. Williams was less obvious, but he has been one of the best players on the defense of the New York Jets, who have two defenders on this All-Pro first-team and one on the second-team. Among defensive tackles, Williams came second in sacks (12.0), tied for sixth in tackles for a loss (12), tied for first in forced fumbles (two), and tied for second in quarterback hits (28). There is an obvious choice for the two best defensive tackles in the NFL this year, and that choice is Chris Jones & Quinnen Williams.
Linebackers: Micah Parsons (Cowboys), Fred Warner (49ers), & Roquan Smith (Bears/Ravens)
Micah Parsons and Fred Warner were definitely going to get spots on this list. Micah Parsons was one of the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year, and he has been the leader of a stacked Cowboys defense. His defensive ability has helped lead the Cowboys to a 12-5 record, and he totaled 13.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, 27 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries, and 65 tackles in total. He is always lurking on the field, and his pass rushing ability is uncanny. Warner on the other hand helped lead the 49ers to a 13-4 record and the number two seed in the NFC. He’s not as much a pass rusher as Parsons is but he is a good all-around linebacker. He totaled 130 tackles, batted down ten passes, forced one fumble, picked off one pass, recorded six quarterback hits, and racked up three tackles for a loss. While Warner’s stats may not jump out like those of Parsons, he has been the focal point of the 49ers defense this season. The third spot was a bit tougher. There was Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley, who provided their young team with veteran leadership and recorded 158 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits, seven passes defended, one interception, and one sack. Then there was Jaguars linebacker Foye Oluokon, who may not be a household name, but recorded 12 tackles for a loss, nine quarterback hits, two sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries, a mind-boggling 184 tackles, and helped the Jaguars clinch their division and claim a spot in the NFL playoffs. There was also Roquan Smith, who was traded midway through the season from the Bears to the Ravens & helped add some help to an already stacked Ravens defense, and who finished the year with 169 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, 4.5 sacks, six passes defended, & three interceptions. Finally, there was Matt Milano, who helped lead the Bills to a 13-3 record (their game against the Bengals in Week 17 was canceled when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field), and totaled 99 tackles, three interceptions, 1.5 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, seven quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, & one defensive touchdown in just 15 games. In the end, the spot went to Roquan Smith, who is well deserving statistically and was an important part of the Ravens’ success this year.
Cornerbacks: Sauce Gardner (Jets) & Tariq Woolen (Seahawks)
It may seem odd to have two rookie cornerbacks on the All-Pro first team, but looking at their stats and what they have both accomplished, they both have held their own. Sauce Gardner was a definite pick for the All-Pro team, as he emerged as a young leader for the New York Jets defense and totaled two interceptions, 75 tackles, one quarterback hit, three tackles for a loss, & defended a league-high 20 passes. The final spot, as has been with most of these defensive positions, was more of a battle. There was Tariq Woolen, Patrick Surtain II, Jalen Ramsey, James Bradberry, Darius Slay, Jaire Alexander, and L’Jarius Sneed. Woolen got the final spot because he led them all in interceptions (six), he batted down 16 passes (behind only Ramsey & Bradberry), he returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown, and he helped lead the Seahawks to a spot in the playoffs. Surtain was well behind the others statistically, Ramsey & Alexander were up there statistically but failed to lead their teams to the playoffs, Sneed wasn’t close enough to the others coverage-wise, Bradberry recorded only 44 tackles, and Slay wasn’t good enough all-around either, so the final spot went to Woolen.
Safeties: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers) & Derwin James Jr. (Chargers)
Minkah Fitzpatrick was obvious. He recorded 96 tackles, defended 11 passes (second among safeties), is tied for first in interceptions among all defensive players with six, returned a pick for a touchdown, and helped lead a Pittsburgh Steelers team with a lackluster offense (quarterback Kenny Pickett threw more interceptions than touchdowns & had the second-lowest passer rating in the NFL) to a 9-8 record all in just 15 games. Derwin James had some competition in Broncos safety Justin Simmons & 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga, but he beat them out with glaring numbers– 115 tackles, four sacks (tied for second among safeties), five tackles for a loss, five quarterback hits (tied for third among safeties), two forced fumbles, six passes defended, & two interceptions– all while helping lead the Chargers to a 10-7 record and the fifth seed in the AFC.
Kicker: Jason Myers (Seahawks)
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been the best kicker in the NFL for years, but he had an off year in 2022. Instead, the kicker spot went to Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers, who had a 91.9% field goal percentage while going 34 for 37 on field goals this year and converted on 41 of his 42 extra points (97.6%).
Punter: Tress Way (Commanders)
Punter is always a tough position to pick, as there are limited stats available to tell who is the best of the best. Washington Commanders punter Tress Way got the spot, as he punted the ball 83 times (tied for the fourth most punt in the league) and still managed to gain 46.7 yards per punt while pinning 37 of those punts inside the 20-yard line (tied for second in the NFL).
Kick Returner: Keisean Nixon (Packers)
Nixon returned 35 kickoffs (tied for first in the league) and totaled the most kickoff return yards (1,009), returned a kickoff for a touchdown (one of only five kick returners to do so), had the longest kickoff return this season (105 yards), & averaged the second-most yards per kickoff return this season (28.8).
Punt Returner: Marcus Jones (Patriots)
Jones was one of only three punt returners with a punt return touchdown, had the longest punt return in the league (84 yards), averaged the most yards per punt return (12.5), and totaled the most punt return yards (362) on just 29 punt returns (seven players returned more punts, none matched his total punt return yardage).
Coach: Brian Daboll (Giants)
Brian Daboll took a team that was 4-13 in 2021 and turned them into a 9-7-1 playoff threat. He turned Daniel Jones from a below-average quarterback to a team leader, and he transformed the Giants team overall. He made Dexter Lawrence into a pro-bowl defensive tackle, brought Saquon Barkley back to a superstar level, turned Kayvon Thibodeaux into a great defensive rookie, and led the New York Giants to their first playoff berth since 2016.
MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Chiefs
DPOY: Nick Bosa, Defensive End, 49ers
OPOY: Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, Vikings
DROY: Sauce Gardner, Cornerback, Jets
OROY: Kenneth Walker III, Running Back, Seahawks
CPOY: Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Giants
COTY: Brian Daboll, Coach, Giants