2020 All-Splash Team – Defense and Special Teamsby Ryan Potts January 27, 2021 1 comment
With the season over, it is time to take a look at the All-Splash team – Defense and Special Teams, a riff off the All-Pro team. Be sure to check out The Offense.
Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald
Second Team: DeForest Buckner
Donald had yet another otherworldly campaign on the interior of the Los Angeles defensive line. Donald recorded 98 pressures, leading the NFL for the third time in four years. He was a stalwart against the run as well, grading among the elite once again. Donald should win his third Defensive Player of the Year.
Interior Defensive Line: Cameron Heyward
Second Team: Chris Jones
Heyward did not quite match his sack production from 2017-2019, but his pressure numbers are in line with his All-Pro seasons in 2017 and 2019. Heyward had another year as one of the better interior run defenders in the NFL.
EDGE: T.J. Watt
Second Team: Myles Garrett
Watt led the NFL with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss despite resting during Week 17. He had at least four pressures in 14 of the 15 games he played, including a mammoth 15 in two weeks in November. Watt is the best EDGE in the NFL.
EDGE: Joey Bosa
Second Team: Khalil Mack
The second EDGE position was the hardest to choose on the entire team, offense or defense. Bosa gets the nod with his elite 12-game sample size. His 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss do not jump off the page, but no one in the NFL, not even the cross-town No. 99-wearing wrecking ball, matched Bosa’s pass-rushing productivity.
Linebacker: Eric Kendricks
Second Team: Bobby Wagner
Kendricks missed the final five weeks of the season, but he solidified himself as the single-best coverage linebacker in football. While other linebackers were annihilated week-after-week, Kendricks was a miniature no-fly zone in the center of the Minnesota defense.
Linebacker: Fred Warner
Second Team: Demario Davis
Warner is the second-place finisher to Kendricks’ masterful season as a coverage linebacker. Warner made the jump from potential stud to absolute superstar, and he should be a mainstay in the middle of the San Francisco defense for the next decade.
Cornerback: Xavien Howard
Second Team: Jaire Alexander
Howard intercepted 10 passes and batted away 20 more. He allowed a passer rating below 50 across 100 targets, and he had a sterling 89.6 coverage grade. It was the second time in his career that he led the NFL in interceptions, and he is a safe bet to rack up many more interceptions in the coming seasons.
Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey
Second Team: James Bradberry
While not quite as dominant as he was in 2017, he was very close. Ramsey erased most matchups he faced throughout the season, allowing just 309 yards across 64 targets according to PFF. He had his best game of the season Week 17, helping the Rams to clinch the playoffs.
Safety: Jessie Bates
Second Team: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Bates was the easiest selection of the bunch. He started the season by being the best player on the field against the Charges and rattled off excellent week after excellent week deep into December. He had a hiccup late against Houston, but he was the best safety in football for 15 of 16 weeks.
Safety: Justin Simmons
Second Team: Budda Baker
Similar to Bates, Simmons was a slam-dunk selection until a late-season lull. Simmons was an excellent tackler and coverage safety each week before being picked on by Josh Allen and the Bills Week 15. Simmons played every down for the Broncos for the third-straight season.
Defensive Back: Marlon Humphrey
Second Team: Darious Williams
Humphrey is a Swiss Army knife in the Baltimore secondary. He was often tasked to travel to the slot, and he had an excellent season. He led the NFL in forced fumbles with eight, and he even had a pair of sacks as a blitzer. Humphrey had three different games with at least an 86.9 coverage grade with two of those games coming in the slot.
Kicker: Justin Tucker
Second Team: Jason Sanders
Tucker has made 89.7 percent of his kicks in each of the last five seasons and seven of his nine total seasons. Inside 55 yards, Tucker only missed one kick, but he had range up to 55 yards as he drilled a de facto game-winning kick to knock off the Browns.
Punter: Jack Fox
Second Team: Michael Dickson
Fox was a weapon for the Lions, tacking on a punt average of 49.1 yards per punt. He was PFF’s highest-graded punter, and he ranked among the best in the NFL in terms of net punting average and percentage of punts returned.
Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson
Second Team: Ray-Ray McCloud
Patterson led the NFL in kick returns and kick return yardage while adding his eighth kick return touchdown with a massive 104-yard return against his former employer, the Vikings. Patteson’s eight career kick return touchdowns are tied with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington for the NFL record.
Check out the offensive side of the ball here.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images