No. 40: Justin Simmons, Safety, Denver Broncos:
The four-year veteran was robbed of a Pro Bowl nod in 2019. After being a steady safety in 2017 and 2018, Simmons transformed into a terrific free safety, excelling in coverage. In 2018, Simmons allowed a 94.5 passer rating. Moving into 2019, Simmons trimmed it by 50 points, allowing fewer touchdowns, forcing more incompletions, and intercepting an extra pass. Simmons was recognized as a first-team All-Pro according to Pro Football Focus and a second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Simmons will turn 27 in November, and he should have a few seasons of elite play left. He should slide into an AFC Pro Bowl spot with Jamal Adams moving to the NFC.
No. 39: Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, Baltimore Ravens:
Humphrey was a first-team All-Pro in 2019 as he continued to blossom into a star cornerback. He is a lockdown corner, and his pairing with Marcus Peters created a dynamic duo. Humphrey notably erased Odell Beckham in Week 4 for three quarters, letting up only two catches for 20 yards. In terms of pure lockdown capabilities, Humphrey is one of the best in the NFL. Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White had gaudier interception numbers, but Humphrey generally matched them in raw coverage numbers. With Tavon Young returning, Humphrey will return to his usual outside position, but Humphrey is talented enough to follow star receivers into the slot if necessary.
No. 38: Terron Armstead, Offensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints:
Armstead has made two consecutive Pro Bowls as the stalwart left tackle for a great Saints team. When Armstead is on the field, few are as versatile as Armstead is in pass protection and run blocking. In his seven-year career, Armstead has protected Drew Brees’s blindside and paved the road for stellar seasons from the likes of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. However, Armstead has never played in all 16 games, and his 88 percent of snaps in 2019 was a career-high. Armstead could be named an All-Pro in 2020 as an anchor to a potentially great Saints offensive line.
No. 37: Rodney Hudson, Interior Offensive Line, Las Vegas Raiders:
Hudson ended his fifth season in Oakland with his third Pro Bowl nod. He is stout in both pass protection and run blocking, and he is a pivot in a strong Raider offensive line. Oakland lacked a lot of talent on offense in 2019 outside of Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller). However, Hudson was the best in a strong offensive line that protected Derek Carr and enabled Jacobs to have 1,300 yards from scrimmage. Hudson is entering his age-31 season, so he should have a handful of seasons at his peak before he steadily declines. Hudson should contend as the best center in the NFL in 2020.
No. 36: Saquon Barkley, Running Back, New York Giants:
Barkley slipped from a tremendous 2018 season, but he still managed to crack 1,000 rushing yards in 2019. Barkley is the prototype for a modern back as he can break tackles as both a runner and a receiver, and he can produce regardless of his offensive line. While his production dropped in 2019, he had 44 fewer carries than in 2018. His 4.6 yards per carry was still productive, and the 0.4 yards per carry drop stems from an atrocious offensive line. His 2.8 yards after contact per attempt was identical to his 2018 figure. Barkley should get back into the conversation as a Pro Bowl back in 2020.
No. 35: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Historically speaking, Evans is on pace to be one of the greatest receivers of all time. In 2019, Evans joined Randy Moss as the only players to open their career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Evans has averaged 1,210 yards per season, tacking on eight touchdowns per season. His 1,157 yards in 13 games in 2019 was his second-highest production (89.0 yards per game). With Tom Brady coming to Tampa Bay, Evans’s traditionally volatile performances should normalize out to his usual statline. Evans should make his fourth Pro Bowl in 2020, but the NFC has a plethora of talented wide receivers.
No. 34: Cameron Heyward, Interior Defensive Line, Pittsburgh Steelers:
In 2017, Heyward transformed from a solid player into one of the best players in the NFL. In the last three seasons, Heyward has 29.0 sacks, 37 tackles for loss, and 63 quarterback hits. He is one of just seven players to match those numbers. Heyward is a two-time All-Pro and has made three consecutive Pro Bowls. He does not have the name recognition of T.J. Watt or Minkah Fitzpatrick, but he is just as disruptive as either. Heyward is entering his age-31 season, and he should have a few more seasons wreaking havoc in the AFC North.
No. 33: Calais Campbell, Interior Defensive Line, Baltimore Ravens:
Campbell is in the same 29-sack, 37-tackle-for-loss, and 63-quarterback-hit club that Heyward is in. The former Jaguar was traded to Baltimore in March for a fifth-round pick. Campbell is a five-time Pro Bowl and one-time All-Pro, boasting a pair of 10-sack seasons in his 30s. He will turn 34 before the season starts. So there is a chance for a decline, but Campbell should still be one of the best run defenders in the NFL even if he does not post at least five sacks for the 12th straight season. Campbell has registered 20 quarterback hits in five consecutive seasons.
No. 32: Khalil Mack, EDGE, Chicago Bears:
Mack should probably be higher, and he could jump back into the top-five next season. However, Mack was not as consistent at turning pressures into sacks in 2019. Sacks are a flawed stat that does not account for quarterbacks accelerating their release, but they do matter. Mack slipped to 8.5 sacks in 2019, his first season below 10 since his rookie 2014 season. Mack has made five straight Pro Bowls, and he has sprinkled in All-Pro nods in 2015, 2016, and 2018. He could certainly add another All-Pro to his mantle in 2020, but for now, he is not a shoo-in.
No. 31: Mitchell Schwartz, Offensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs:
Schwartz is one of the most disrespected superstars in the NFL. He has been the best offensive tackle in the AFC for two years. He has been recognized with zero Pro Bowl selections and a lone All-Pro nod. Even dating back to his four years in Cleveland, Schwartz has been a terrific right tackle for the variety of quarterbacks he has protected. In Kansas City’s Super Bowl run last season, Schwartz was as good as any tackle had been in a playoff run in the decade, protecting Patrick Mahomes from a bevy of talented pass rushers. Schwartz’s efforts culminated in a Super Bowl, and he should be an elite tackle for years to come.
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