With Week 12 of the NFL season in the books, it is time to look at the best performers at each position from last week. It should be a mix of usual suspects and random one-game wonders. If a player is not on the list, it does not mean that the individual did not have a great game. Not all positions are created equal. Prior performance has no bearing on this list. With that said, let’s look at the best 11 offensive players and best 11 defensive players from Week 12.
You can find my NFL Week 11 Team of the Week here.
An asterisk (*) indicates a player that would earn a spot on the All-Pro team through 12 weeks.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers*
Previously Appeared: Week 11
Rodgers makes it two weeks in a row as he sliced the Los Angeles Rams up for 307 passing yards, a pair of passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. Rodgers was second to Joe Burrow in PFF passing grade, and his four big-time throws were tied for the most in the week. Even with “toe-vid,” Rodgers was dominant, and he is entering the MVP race for the 9-3 Packers.
If the season ended today, Rodgers would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Running Back: Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fournette may have finished seventh in rushing yards, but he tacked on a trio of rushing touchdowns. He took 17 carries for 100 yards and a 76.6 rushing grade. He also had seven catches on eight targets, posting 31 yards and his fourth touchdown of the afternoon. Fournette broke out three 10-yard runs, and he forced five missed tackles in one of the better well-rounded games of November. Joe Mixon is a deserving second place with 165 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
If the season ended today, Jonathan Taylor would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Wide Receiver: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
Not only did Waddle lead all wideouts in receiving yards with 137, but he also tacked on a touchdown. The rookie had an exceptional 88.7 receiving grade. He hauled in nine of his 10 targets, notching six first downs. He was perfect in contested catch opportunities, and Tua Tagovailoa had a 152.1 passer rating when targeting Waddle. Waddle is closing the gap on Ja’Marr Chase for most receiving yards in the 2021 draft class.
If the season ended today, Cooper Kupp would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Wide Receiver: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
Higgins finished fourth in yards with 114, but he added a touchdown. He earned an 88.7 receiving grade, and he posted an impressive 4.75 yards per route run. All six of Higgins’ catches went for first downs, and he caught his lone contested opportunity. The Pittsburgh Steelers aimed to take away Chase, and Higgins took advantage of lax coverage for his first 100-yard game of the season. DeSean Jackson was the only other receiver to have 100 yards and a touchdown in Week 12.
If the season ended today, Davante Adams would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Wide Receiver: Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders
Renfrow posted an excellent 134 receiving yards, accumulating 53 yards after the catch. His 54-yard catch-and-run broke the Dallas Cowboys and helped the Raiders to a stunning 36-33 win on Thanksgiving. Renfrow contributed to a trio of first downs, and he earned 4.06 yards per route run. He had a modest 73.3 receiving grade, but he was key in the Raiders’ sixth win of the season.
If the season ended today, Deebo Samuel would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Previously Appeared: Week 1
Dawson Knox caught a pair of touchdowns. Both Jack Doyle and Mark Andrews had solid yardage games with a touchdown. However, none of those three were the weapon that Gronkowski was on Sunday. He lit the Indianapolis Colts on fire for 123 yards on seven catches. Gronkowski earned a stellar 92.4 receiving grade, forcing a trio of missed tackles and tacking on 53 yards after the catch. It was a vintage performance even if he did not find the end zone.
If the season ended today, Andrews would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Left Tackle: Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As is the standard here, Smith posted a well-rounded game. He ended up in third among left tackles for overall PFF grade, but both Team of the Week veterans Jordan Mailata and Trent Williams allowed multiple pressures. Smith allowed zero across 39 pass-blocking reps. He was also stout as a run blocker, paving the way for Fournette and Ronald Jones. All told, Smith posted an 84.6 overall grade, 81.6 run-blocking grade, and 83.5 pass-blocking grade.
If the season ended today, Williams would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
The Joel Bitonio Award for Best Left Guard: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns*
Breaking news: Bitonio is good. Bitonio is now the only five-time member of the Team of the Week, and he has made it three times in a row. Bitonio ended with an 89.5 overall grade, grading out well as a run blocker and as a pass blocker. He is a slam-dunk All-Pro pick at this point, and he is on quite a roll. He has not allowed multiple pressures since Week 6, and he has had just one facet grade (run-blocking or pass-blocking) under 60.0 on the season.
If the season ended today, Bitonio would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Center: Mason Cole, Minnesota Vikings
Brian Allen and Cole were the tightest selection of the week. Both had great run-blocking performances, but Cole was ever-so-slightly better as a pass-blocking, so he gets the nod here. On 18 run-blocking snaps, Cole posted an 85.9 grade. On 37 pass-blocking snaps, Cole earned a 79.0. Cole was an outright disaster as a pass-blocker last week, but he answered the call in Week 12 even in defeat.
If the season ended today, Creed Humphrey would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
The Zack Martin Award for Best Right Guard: Shaq Mason, New England Patriots
Previously Appeared: Week 9
Martin was once again in contention as he was the highest-graded right guard, but well-roundedness matters. Mason did not surrender pressure while Martin surrendered one. Mason was sturdy on 24 run-blocking snaps, earning an 84.2 grade. Among all guards in Week 12, Mason finished in the top five in both run-blocking and pass-blocking. Only Bitonio joined him in both categories. Mason is a key reason why the Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL.
If the season ended today, Martin would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Right Tackle: Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Previously Appeared: Week 9
Lane Johnson and Tom Compton had excellent days as run-blockers, but they left something to be desired as pass-blockers. Wirfs, like his tackle partner Smith, surrendered no pressure en route to an impressive 84.5 pass-blocking grade. He paved the way for Fournette’s huge day on the ground, earning a solid 73.7 run-blocking grade. Wirfs is closing the gap on an All-Pro spot on his divisional rival Ryan Ramczyk.
If the season ended today, Ramczyk would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams*
The NFL seems to be returning to normal. Donald was the highest-graded interior defender among those that played 40 snaps as he posted a ridiculous 90.8 overall grade on 81 snaps. Donald had five pressures on 49 pass-rush snaps, recording one hit and four hurries. As a run defender, Donald graded out well, earning an 80.4 grade. Donald is back in the All-Pro team for the time being after his 11th consecutive game with a 74.0 or better grade.
If the season ended today, Donald would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Interior Defensive Line: Ed Oliver, Buffalo Bills
The former first-round pick had one of his best games as a professional. Oliver tied for the lead with six pressures among interior players, and he posted one sack and two hits. He made four stops, and he graded out well across the board. He earned a solid 80.8 overall grade that was bolstered by a 77.9 in run defense and 77.6 as a pass-rusher. With Tre’Davious White out for the season the Bills need Oliver to keep this play up.
If the season ended today, Cameron Heyward would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Edge Defender: Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins
Phillips had a breakout performance. He ended with a 90.0 overall grade including an 85.8 pass-rushing grade. Phillips was one of two Dolphins to post seven pressures (Andrew Van Ginkel), but Phillips got home for three sacks while Van Ginkel had to settle for one sack and four hits. Phillips only had 24 pass-rush snaps, but he made the most of them. He beat out fellow rookie (and former Team of the Week player) Odafe Oweh‘s six pressures and forced fumble.
If the season ended today, Myles Garrett would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Edge Defender: John Franklin-Myers, New York Jets
Previously Appeared: Week 4
Franklin-Myers made one of the plays of the week as he batted a Tyrod Taylor pass and kept his composure for the interception. He was the only edge to have an interception on the week. To add to the week, Franklin-Myers had a pair of sacks and an additional hurry. He earned a 78.0 overall grade with a strong 84.0 pass-rush grade and a 73.0 tackling grade. Franklin-Myers continues to be worth every penny of his contract.
If the season ended today, Maxx Crosby would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Linebacker: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns
Owusu-Koramoah had a masterful Sunday Night. He led all linebackers with an absurd nine stops. He was the second-highest graded tackler of the week. Owusu-Koramoah ended with an 88.1 overall grade, and his run defense stood out above the rest. In a difficult assignment against Lamar Jackson and a top-tier rushing attack, Owusu-Koramoah earned a 90.7 run defense grade. The rookie has been a sensation in every context, and he would be a deserving Pro Bowl pick.
If the season ended today, De’Vondre Campbell would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Linebacker: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys*
Owusu-Koramoah had three pressures to lead all linebackers not named Parsons. Parsons had 10. Should Parsons be considered a linebacker? Maybe not, but he would make the team regardless of positional designation with an elite performance like he had on Thanksgiving. He earned an 82.5 pass-rush grade on 43 pass-rush snaps, and he led all players in pressures. If he is counted as a linebacker, Parsons should make the All-Pro team. It is more difficult to consider him if he is an edge, but the production speaks for itself.
If the season ended today, Parsons would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Cornerback: Mike Hilton, Cincinnati Bengals
Hilton spent four years with the Steelers, but it only took two games for Hilton to make an impact against his former team. On Sunday, Hilton took an errant Ben Roethlisberger pass back for a touchdown, helping him to a 92.4 defensive grade, best among corners. Hilton earned a spectacular 93.7 coverage grade, two full points above anyone else at the position. In coverage, Hilton allowed just three yards on four targets.
If the season ended today, Jalen Ramsey would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Cornerback: Rasul Douglas, Green Bay Packers
Previously Appeared: Week 7
Douglas came in second to Hilton in overall defensive grade with a 91.2. He filled in run fits well, earning a 75.9 run defense grade, but the 91.0 coverage grade stands out. Douglas victimized Matthew Stafford for a pick-six and a pair of other pass deflections. Douglas did allow 79 yards and a touchdown, but the individual 54-yard touchdown was more of a team-busted coverage than Douglas being solely at fault.
If the season ended today, AJ Terrell would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Safety: Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
Previously Appeared: Week 2
James had a tremendous all-around game on Sunday despite the loss. James ended with a 91.1 overall grade. He had a 70.2 grade in run defense, 85.0 tackling grade, 68.4 pass-rush grade, and 90.3 grade in coverage. He allowed a passer rating of 2.8, intercepting a pass in the effort. James registered one pressure (a hit) and he recorded three stops. With games like this, James is inching closer to All-Pro consideration.
If the season ended today, Kevin Byard would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Safety: Xavier McKinney, New York Giants
McKinney has been one of the bigger feast-or-famine players in the league this season. He has four games with a PFF grade in the 40s, but he has a pair in the 90s and a trio of Team of the Week appearances. On Sunday, McKinney earned a 92.2 grade, his second-highest of the season. McKinney hauled in his fifth interception, and he had an additional pass break-up. McKinney led all safeties in grade, and he was second in coverage grade.
If the season ended today, Marcus Williams would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Defensive Back: Patrick Surtain, Denver Broncos
Surtain likely would have made the team with either two interceptions or a pick-six, but he did both in the same game. When Justin Herbert targeted Surtain, Herbert had a 26.0 passer rating. Surtain was the only play to have a pair of interceptions in Week 12. Sure, his pick-six was fluky, but production speaks for these lists. Surtain did not have a spectacular grade (62.7, 61.4 in coverage), but he capitalized on Herbert’s mistakes.
If the season ended today, Denzel Ward would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Be sure to check out our NFL Team of the Week every week for the remainder of the season.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images