With the season just around the corner, it is time to look at 26 players who could earn All-Pro spots in 2021.
Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
It may feel like a broken record at this point, but this is perhaps the best chance for Russell Wilson to secure MVP votes or an All-Pro nod. With Seattle’s new offensive coordinator (Shane Waldron), expect an uptick in Wilson’s production in both yards and touchdowns. Wilson has thrown 40 touchdowns in a season before, but if he were to do it in a year that was not as competitive as 2020, he would likely get some All-Pro consideration. Coupled with two of the better wide receivers in the NFL in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Wilson has an awesome supporting cast to help him make his first All-Pro team. At this point in NFL history, being the first-team All-Pro quarterback is synonymous with being the MVP, so take this as a projection for Wilson to finally win the MVP.
Honorable Mention: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Running Back: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry is staring down history as no back has ever completed two 2,000-yard seasons. With the 17th game, Henry increases his chances ever so slightly. 2,000 yards may be tough to crack again, but Henry is one of the most productive players in the NFL over the last few seasons. He is always healthy, and he accumulates both yards and touchdowns as fast as any running back in recent years. It is hard for modern running back to replicate elite seasons, but Henry can get it done. Even though offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is out of town, expect Henry to be a bell cow in an elite Tennessee offense.
Honorable Mention: Damien Harris, New England Patriots
Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
When coupled with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill has the highest floor of any receiver in NFL history. Hill will likely make his third All-Pro team in four seasons. Hill is the ultimate dynamo on the field as he scores many touchdowns, including long back-breaking touchdowns. He is a shoo-in for about 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. The only knock against Hill is that the Chiefs may be too good. He may have to sit out games late in the regular season. Otherwise, Hill is as good as it gets among receivers in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
More than anyone in this list, this is purely based on the stats. Calvin Ridley accumulated more than 1,300 yards last season despite splitting targets with Julio Jones. Without Jones, Ridley will have one of the most dominant receiver seasons ever. While some could be concerned that he will draw more double teams, Ridley is such an exquisite route runner that it often does not matter how much coverage is on him. Ridley is an elite separator, and few in the NFL get up open as often as he does. Couple his openness with a horrendous Atlanta defense, and Ridley should lead the NFL in receiving.
Honorable Mention: DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
Wide Receiver: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Like Ridley, Davante Adams should be among the league leaders in receiving yards. He also has a knack for scoring touchdowns, including 18 touchdowns last season. In what could be his final season with the Packers, expect Adams to be hyper-productive once again. He should make a second consecutive All-Pro team fairly easily. When one factors in that his quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, Adams has perhaps the highest floor of any player in the NFL. Adams has good hands, elite route running, and enough wiggle to create yards after the catch.
Honorable Mention: Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Even with as talented as the No.2 and No.3 tight ends in the NFL are, no one compares to Travis Kelce in terms of production. Kelce is already a Mount Rushmore-level tight end by production, as he accumulates yards and touchdowns unlike no tight end before him. When plugged into the Kansas City offense, Kelce is a shoo-in for at least 1,400 yards and eight touchdowns. He could flirt with 1,500 yards and 10-to 12 touchdowns in 2021.
Honorable Mention: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Tackle: Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
While most of the list has a history of elite play, this would represent Taylor Decker’s best season by far. The left tackle for the Lions, Decker has developed nicely over the last few seasons. In 2021, Decker will benefit from David Bakhtiari and Ronnie Stanley returning from serious injuries. With Stanley and Bakhtiari seemingly out of the running for the time being, a new name will likely ascend to the top left tackle spot in the NFL. Trent Williams will be stiff competition but expect Decker to have a massive 2021 season.
Honorable Mention: Mekhi Becton, New York Jets
Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
Rinse, wash, repeat. Quenton Nelson has made the All-Pro team in all three seasons he has played, and he is likely to make it four for four. Nelson’s stiffest competition happens to play right guard, so Nelson has been almost unquestionably the best left guard football for every snap of his NFL career. Even with Covid issues and a quick turnaround from being injured in the off-season, Nelson will still be the best left guard in football in 2021.
Honorable Mention: Laken Tomlinson, San Francisco 49ers
Center: Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions
Somehow, the Lions earned two spots on the offensive line. Frank Ragnow likely would’ve been the shoo-in All-Pro had a certain other NFC North center not been otherworldly in 2020. Ragnow is a sensational run blocker and capable pass protector, and he will be a key reason why the Lions won’t go winless. Like Decker, Ragnow has been building to this electrifying season which could rival the best of past greats such as Rodney Hudson and Jason Kelce. It will be tough for Detroit to have multiple All-Pro, but the play will speak for itself when it comes to Decker and Ragnow.
Honorable Mention: Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers
Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Yes, Zack Martin will miss Week 1 because he is on the Covid list. However, Martin is the only guard that comes close to Nelson over the last few seasons. Perhaps the only difference is that Nelson has yet to miss a game while Martin tends to miss two or three games per season. When on the field, Martin is a Hall of Fame-caliber guard who should make yet another All-Pro team in 2021. It will be tough to overcome missing the first week, but if there is any position that you can accept missed games, Martin at the right guard position could be the outlier to the rule.
Honorable Mention: Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons
Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints
After a down season in 2020, expect Ryan Ramczyk to bounce back in 2021. He was a 2019 All-Pro for a good reason. He was an elite run blocker and tremendous pass protector for the playoff-bound Saints. Entering 2021, the Saints offense is in limbo without Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, but Ramczyk and the rest of the offensive line should be a solid floor for the offense to operate from. Competition at right tackle is not quite as stiff as it is at left tackle, but expect Ramczyk to assert himself as the best right tackle in football once again.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Moton, Carolina Panthers
Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
This is the easiest pick in the entire list. Aaron Donald has been elite for practically every snap he has played since being drafted in 2014. He is the best player in the NFL, and no one has challenged his throne in the last 12 months. Congratulations to Donald for securing his seventh consecutive All-Pro appearance.
Honorable Mention: Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Interior Defensive Line: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans
After the formality that is Donald, Jeffery Simmons has as good of a chance as any to be the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Simmons has incredibly hot flashes as a pass rusher, and he should be a productive run defender. If Simmons can tap into his limitless potential, he could be in play for 12-to-15 sacks as the central force in an otherwise undaunting Tennessee defensive front. Without an injury before the 2019 draft, Simmons likely would’ve been a top-five pick. This is the year he proves his immense talent and earns an All-Pro spot.
Honorable Mention: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Edge Defender: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
The best edge defender in the NFL, T.J. Watt is poised to have yet another solid season. He has an elite run stopper and elite pass rusher, giving him immense versatility. If Pittsburgh remains among the best defenses in the NFL, Watt will be a central role in that. Watt will once again be in play for Defensive Player of the Year and a slew of statistical accolades. Watt could lead the NFL in sacks, and he should once again grade in the 90s according to PFF.
Honorable Mention: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
Edge Defender: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
When Myles Garrett plays at his ceiling, he is the best pass rusher outside of Donald. While his run defense comes and goes, expect Garrett to have a chip on his shoulder in 2021. Near the end of last season, he suffered through the coronavirus. He mentioned in the offseason that he did not get back to playing at 100%, so his production dip in the second half of the season could be explained by Covid. With a fully healthy offseason, Garrett is poised to flirt with 20 sacks this season.
Honorable Mention: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
Linebacker: Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
There are a few players in the NFL that can do one thing at as high of a level as Eric Kendricks can play coverage. Kendricks is perhaps the smartest player on defense in the NFL. Kendricks is excellent at defending players not simply defending grass. He is a tight end eraser, and he has just enough athleticism to defend running backs and the occasional wide receiver. He is not the superstar athlete that the likes of Devin White, Darius Leonard, or Patrick Queen, but Kendricks is so advanced in his brain that he is the best linebacker in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Linebacker: Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers
Fred Warner is the only linebacker that covers remotely close to as well as Kendricks does. He is an exceptional athlete, giving him versatility as a run defender and pass rusher, but his coverage is his pristine attribute. Warner can erase running backs and tight ends, and he can even make plays on receivers. He is a central reason why the 49ers could boom this year and return to the Super Bowl. Warner got paid in the offseason, and it should be obvious why he got paid as he starts racking up excellent game after excellent game in 2021.
Honorable Mention: Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears
Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
Cornerback is a hard position to be consistent. However, Jalen Ramsey is consistent as they come. He should make his third All-Pro team of his career in 2021. Ramsey is perhaps the most physical specimen at cornerback in the NFL, and he uses his length and size to shut off almost every receiver in the NFL. Even a player as talented as Metcalf cannot slip Ramsey. Ramsey is the best cornerback in the NFL, and he will back up that assertion during the season.
Honorable Mention: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
Cornerback: Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
Jaire Alexander seemed to be in lockstep with Ramsey throughout the 2020 season. After several seasons of being a promising young player, Alexander burst onto the scene with an electric All-Pro season in 2020. The former first-round pick is an exceptional athlete who is as consistent as cornerbacks can be in the modern NFL. Alexander rarely has a bad stretch let alone a bad game. By the end of 2021, he should be considered the 1B to Ramsey’s 1A. Both of them likely repeat as cornerback All-Pro nominations.
Honorable Mention: James Bradberry, New York Giants
Safety: John Johnson, Cleveland Browns
While there might be six or seven elite safeties in the NFL, John Johnson could leap to the top of that pile in 2021. Johnson is a perfect scheme fit in Cleveland‘s defense. He will be a key reason why Cleveland will maneuver from one of the worst secondaries in the NFL to one of the best this season. Johnson is an incredibly cerebral player, and Cleveland’s scheme will maximize Johnson’s intelligence in making plays. Johnson is exceptional in coverage, but he can do some of the strong safety roles well as well. He is effective enough in the run game and as a blitzer, but expect him to lay back and ball-hawk many interceptions for Cleveland.
Honorable Mention: Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals
Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Minkah Fitzpatrick will look to make it three-for-three in securing All-Pro spots while being a member of the Steelers. Fitzpatrick is incredibly rangy as a free safety, and no one performs the pure role better than Fitzpatrick. In terms of turnovers, Fitzpatrick is second only to Miami’s Xavien Howard with his ability to be around the football. Expect Fitzpatrick to haul in several interceptions and fumble recoveries, potentially returning one or more for touchdowns. Fitzpatrick had an awesome season in 2020, and he will only grow more in 2021.
Honorable Mention: Jamal Adams
Defensive Back: Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
In a league of extreme talent, Marlon Humphrey is one of the most skillful at one particular aspect. Humphreys’s so-called “fruit punch“ forced eight fumbles in 2020. While receivers by the end of the season were wrapping up the ball better, Humphrey should force a bevy of turnovers in 2021. He is one of the more versatile corners in the NFL as he is tremendous on the perimeter and in the slot. When Baltimore requires his services, Humphrey delivers as often as anyone in the league. He is an exceptional player, and his statistical profile should be amended in 2021.
Honorable Mention: Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals
Special Teams: Justin Tucker (kicker, Baltimore Ravens), Jack Fox (punter, Detroit Lions), Cordarrelle Patterson (kick returner, Atlanta Falcons), Jakeem Grant (punt returner, Miami Dolphins)
Honorable Mentions: Jason Sanders (kicker, Miami Dolphins), Michael Dickson (punter, Seattle Seahawks), Devin Duvernay (kick returner, Baltimore Ravens), Mecole Hardman (punt returner, Kansas City Chiefs)
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images