Crazy Predictions: August Edition (Defense and Special Teams)by Ryan Potts August 28, 2019 0 comments
The April edition of crazy predictions featured one per division. The May edition of crazy predictions featured one per team.
The June edition of crazy predictions featured award predictions.
The July edition of crazy predictions featured stat leader predictions.
This edition will feature AP 1st Team All-Pro predictions.
Defensive tackle: Aaron Donald
This is the easiest selection of the offense or the defense. Donald is far-and-away the best player in the NFL. He reached new heights in 2018 as he walked away with his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award and his fourth straight nod to the First Team All-Pro roster. Over the last four years, Donald has been a unanimous All-Pro, earning the distinction from the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers, Pro Football Focus, and Sporting News. He will be on all of those lists at the end of the season.
Defensive tackle #2: Akiem Hicks
Hicks came into his own in 2018. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance, and he was a monster on the interior of Chicago’s defensive line. Moving into 2019, he will once again be the centerpiece of the Chicago line as he and Khalil Mack will look to wreak havoc on offensive lines from coast-to-coast. Speaking of Mack…
Defensive end: Khalil Mack
Mack has been incredible over the last four seasons. He has four double-digit sack campaigns, and he has been named to the First Team All-Pro squad thrice. The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year will look to have yet another dominant campaign with the Bears. If Mack plays a full slate of 16 games, he may challenge Aaron Donald for Defensive Player of the Year, but he will almost certainly be named as an All-Pro again.
Defensive end #2: J.J. Watt
Watt is a menace to quarterbacks everywhere. He has five seasons with double-digit sacks, five Pro Bowl appearances, and five All-Pro selections to back it up. In 2019, Watt should be in play for a fourth Defensive Player of the Year selection in addition to his sixth appearance on the First Team All-Pro roster.
Linebacker: Bobby Wagner
Wagner is a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time First Team All-Pro. As the stud defensive player in Seattle’s defense, he will make or break the Seahawks’ hopes and dreams. Wagner is elite in all aspects of being a linebacker as he excels as a tackler and in coverage. He should provide the Seahawks with yet another elite campaign in 2019.
Linebacker #2: Luke Kuechly
In a similar vein to Wagner, Kuechly has been playing at a high level for a long time. Kuechly has six Pro Bowl selections and five All-Pro nods to his name. Only 28, Kuechly should have a handful of good seasons in front of him. He is no longer the tackling machine of his younger days, but Kuechly has excelled in coverage all while being a smooth-tackling linebacker.
Linebacker #3: Deion Jones
As opposed to the consistent elite play of Wagner and Kuechly, Jones is a recent revelation in terms of being a great linebacker. Despite missing 10 games in the 2018 season, Jones still projects as a high-level coverage linebacker. His tackling and fulfillment of other linebacking duties leave something to be desired, but the former LSU Tiger should dominate in 2019.
Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey broke onto the scene with a stellar 2017 campaign which saw him get named as a First Team All-Pro. Ramsey did take a step back in 2018, but he is generally regarded as the best cornerback in football. The Jaguars are poised to have a better season than 2018 which would shed a more positive light than another down season from Duval County.
Cornerback #2: Marlon Humphrey
While he was not recognized as much as other corners in the NFL, Humphrey’s advanced stats are off the charts. He outpaced other elite corners in a variety of metrics including catch-percentage allowed. He may not have the name of a Ramsey or the soon-to-be-mentioned Stephon Gilmore, but if the Ravens replicate their elite 2018 defensive performance, Humphrey might receive his overdue recognition.
Safety: Jamal Adams
Derwin James would have received this nod, but he will be out for a lengthy portion of the 2019 season. The main competition for the 2018 Pro Bowler is 2018 All-Pro Eddie Jackson. Adams and Jackson play remarkably different roles in their respective secondaries, but Adams is less likely to regress because he is not as reliant on forcing turnovers as Jackson is. If the Jets are better, it seems logical that Jamal Adams will be more likely to be named as a First Team All-Pro.
Defensive back: Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore was named as a First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career last season. He had a breakthrough campaign with the Patriots, making his second career Pro Bowl roster in addition to winning a Super Bowl. Gilmore is elite in all aspects of coverage, and he should be able to replicate his dominance in a stout New England secondary.
Defensive back #2: Earl Thomas
If Thomas plays a full slate of 16 games, he will once again be named as a First Team All-Pro. Due to injury woes over the last three seasons, Thomas has had to settle for a Second Team (AP) and First Team (Sporting News) selection in 2017. Moving into arguably the best secondary in the NFL, Thomas should be able to return to his incredible play from the 2012-2014 seasons which saw him named to the All-Pro team thrice.
Kicker: Justin Tucker
Tucker is the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL. He has four seasons in which he has converted on 90% of his kicks. He has made 95% of kicks within 50 yards (including the handful that has been blocked) and has only missed one extra point out of 242. He has been named as a First Team All-Pro three times in his career, and he will almost certainly add a fourth to his mantle in 2019 barring extreme circumstances.
Punter: Johnny Hekker
Hekker has been named First Team All-Pro four times. Hekker’s total number of punts has been cut in half from a high watermark of 98, but he still is as good as it gets in the NFL. Hekker might not lead the NFL in punts or punt yardage again, but he should rank among the best in the game yet again.
Kick returner: Cordarrelle Patterson
The remaining positions are pure dice rolls. Patterson has been named 1st Team All-Pro twice (2013 and 2016), and he seems to be the best bet to win it in 2019. Patterson has six career kick return touchdowns, and he averages a mammoth 30 yards per kick return.
Punt returner: Tarik Cohen
Similar to Patterson, Cohen is a complete flip of the coin. He was named First Team All-Pro in 2018, and he should have a similar season in 2019. He did not have a return touchdown in 2018, but he did lead the NFL in returns and yardage, so there is a reason to believe he could be recognized as the NFL’s best punt returner again.
Special teamer: Justin Bethel
With the returners, there are stats to go off of and make reasonable predictions. Bethel is a total shot in the dark. He does have three trips to the Pro Bowl as a special teamer and a bevy of All-Pro selections from Pro Football Writers and Pro Football Focus.
As always, it’s quite possible none of these predictions will come true. This is truly an exercise in spewing hot takes. Please check back come January and February to add these to the worst predictions in the history of sports.