With Week 8 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 7.
You can find my Week 7 Team of the Week here.
An asterisk (*) indicates a player that would earn a spot on the All-Pro team through seven weeks.
Quarterback: Mike White, New York Jets
The NFL season has officially gone off the deep end. White had never started a game in the NFL, but he quickly erased any of those notions. He and the Jets lit up the Cincinnati Bengals to the tune of 405 passing yards and three touchdowns. For context, no Jet in the author’s life has thrown for as many yards. The author was born three months after the last Jet threw for 400 yards, Vinny Testaverde in Week 17 of 2000.
If the season ended today, Murray would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Running Back: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
Mitchell romped to his third 100-yard game of the season. He led the week with 137 rushing yards, and he tacked on a touchdown in San Francisco’s win over the Chicago Bears. Perhaps the most impressive stat of Mitchell’s day was that 135 of his 137 yards came after contact. He had five 10-yard runs, including a long of 39. He forced a pair of missed tackles as well. While Mitchell was not targeted as a receiver, he did enough to warrant a selection.
If the season ended today, Jonathan Taylor would earn the author’s All-Pro vote with Derrick Henry out with injury.
Wide Receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Previously Appeared: Week 1, Week 4
Samuel did have a pair of drops on Sunday, but his gargantuan tally of 171 yards on just six catches gets him a spot. He posted an 84.6 overall grade and 82.2 receiving grade despite the drops. He hauled in both of his contested-catch opportunities. Five of Samuel’s six receptions went for first downs. He continued to show his exceptional after-catch ability, racking up 94 yards after the catch. He forced a missed tackle in the win.
If the season ended today, Cooper Kupp would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Wide Receiver: A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
Brown was the second receiver to go over 150 yards in Week 8’s slate of games. He caught 10 of his 11 targets for 155 yards and a touchdown. Like Samuel, he was two-for-two in contested-catch opportunities. Brown forced a pair of missed tackles, and a bulk of his 61 yards after the catch came on a back-breaking 57-yard touchdown. After being held in check for the first five weeks, Brown has posted 91, 133, and 155 yards.
If the season ended today, Davante Adams would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Wide Receiver: Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Previously Appeared: Week 1
Cooper may have finished behind Tyler Lockett and Chris Godwin in yards, but Cooper’s yardage mattered to the very end. Cooper Rush hit Cooper for a game-winning touchdown in the dying moments of Week 8. He had a fumble, but he came through when it mattered. Cooper contributed to eight first downs, and he was the only receiver to be 100% on more than two contested-catch opportunities.
If the season ended today, Ja’Marr Chase would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
It was a brutal week at the tight end position. Only five tight ends went for 50 yards, and none of them were able to score. This is one of the weakest marks that any individual position has had, but Hockenson led the week with 89 yards, so he gets the nod here. Hockenson caught two of his three contested-catch opportunities, and he forced a missed tackle. Five of his 10 receptions turned into first downs.
If the season ended today, Mark Andrews would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Left Tackle: Dion Dawkins, Buffalo Bills
Dawkins had an exceptional day for the Bills. Across 73 total snaps, Dawkins earned an 82.4 grade. He posted a 72.9 run-blocking grade, but he excelled in pass protection. In 52 pass-blocking reps, Dawkins allowed zero pressure, the first time he has done so all season. Trent Williams and Taylor Lewan graded out better, but they allowed pressure on their quarterbacks. With Dawkins’ well-rounded profile, he becomes the eighth different left tackle to make the Team of the Week.
If the season ended today, Tyron Smith would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Left Guard: Andrew Norwell, Jacksonville Jaguars
Norwell was the lone bright spot in the Jaguars’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was the No.1 guard by 5.3 points. He was No.2 in run-blocking and No.9 in pass-blocking, one of the most well-rounded performances by any offensive lineman in 2021. Across 76 snaps, Norwell earned an 87.7 grade. He had an 85.7 run-blocking grade and a stellar 83.7 pass-blocking grade. Despite facing 58 pass-blocking snaps, Norwell did not surrender pressure.
If the season ended today, Joel Bitonio would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Center: Alex Mack, San Francisco 49ers
Unlike the tight end position, the center position was tightly contested. Creed Humphrey ended with the top grade, a mammoth 94.2. Brian Allen joined Humphrey in the 90 club, but the nod here goes to Mack. He had an 89.9 grade, narrowly missing the elite criteria. However, Mack did not surrender a pressure on 30 pass-blocking snaps. Allen allowed one, and Humphrey allowed two. Mack was No.3 in run-blocking grade among centers and No.4 in pass-blocking grade.
If the season ended today, Creed Humphrey would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Right Guard: Trai Turner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Turner played the entire game at right guard (sorry, Nate Herbig) and dominated against the Cleveland Browns. He posted an 80.3 overall grade with a 76.9 run-blocking grade and 75.6 pass-blocking grade. On 39 pass-blocking snaps, Turner did not surrender pressure. After having generally solid games for the first six weeks, Turner had a stellar all-around game in Cleveland. Turner (and the rest of the line) need to play well for the Steelers to maintain their playoff spot.
If the season ended today, Zack Martin would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Right Tackle: Terence Steele, Dallas Cowboys
Following the example set by the left tackle, Steeler used a well-rounded performance to earn the spot. He posted an 81.5 grade with a massive 86.0 run-blocking grade. His 73.2 pass-blocking grade buries the lede as he did not allow Rush to be pressured on the night. Riley Reiff narrowly graded better than Steele, but Reiff allowed a pressure that turned into a sack of Joe Burrow.
If the season ended today, Rob Havenstein would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Interior Defensive Line: Greg Gaines, Los Angeles Rams
Gaines was one of four interior players to have a 70 grade in run defense, tackling and pass-rushing. D.J. Reader and Linval Joseph made compelling cases, but Gaines gets the nod here. Gaines was fourth in PFF grade at the position, but he tied for the lead in pressures with six. Gained racked up three stops, just one behind the leaders at the position. He is not the only interior from the Rams, however.
If the season ended today, Cameron Heyward would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams*
Previously Appeared: Week 2, Week 3
Donald was the fourth member of the all-70 club, but he had an outstanding day as a pass-rusher. Donald turned 28 pass-rush snaps into four pressures and two sacks (by PFF’s count). He earned an 87.2 pass-rush grade, but his overall grade of 91.1 led all interior players. It is Donald’s second-best game of the season, and it is his eighth game in a row with multiple pressures.
If the season ended today, Donald would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Edge Defender: Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams
Seven different edge defenders earned a 90.0 pass-rushing grade, but Floyd was the only one to account for three (PFF) sacks. Few players will have as efficient of a game as Floyd had on Sunday. He turned 20 pass-rush snaps into four pressures and three sacks. Eight players had multiple sacks in Week 8, but Floyd led the group in PFF grade with an impressive 87.3 mark.
If the season ended today, Myles Garrett would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Edge Defender: Matt Judon, New England Patriots
Judon reached the rarefied air of double-digit pressures in a game. He posted 10 in the Patriots’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He had an 84.2 overall defense grade, aided by his 83.8 pass-rush grade. Judon had a 30% pressure rate, earning his 10 pressures on just 33 pass-rush snaps. He was one of the eight players with multiple sacks in Week 8. This was Judon’s best game of the season by pass-rush grade, overall grade, and total number of pressures.
If the season ended today, Maxx Crosby would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Linebacker: Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
Previously Appeared: Week 1, Week 3
Thompson has only played five weeks, but he makes his third Team of the Week. Across 35 snaps, Thompson earned a gargantuan 93.6 grade with a 92.7 grade in coverage. Both marks are by far his best of the season. He had three stops on the day, and he had his second interception of the season. Thompson has ground to make up in the All-Pro conversation, but if he has another game like this, he can replace the current votes.
If the season ended today, De’Vondre Campbell would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Linebacker: Jordan Hicks, Arizona Cardinals
Hicks finished a distant second to Thompson’s ridiculous day. While he did not excel in coverage, Hicks was excellent as a run defender. In total, Hicks earned an 84.5 grade with an 86.5 grade in run defense and an 82.2 grade as a tackler. He notched a pressure in his five pass-rush snaps as well. He had four stops, tied for his most in a game this season. Hicks ranked in the top 10 in both run defense grade and tackling grade.
If the season ended today, Darius Leonard would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Cornerback: Elijah Molden, Tennessee Titans
As is the general rule, a pick-six earns you a spot in the team. Molden fit that criterion, and he earns a spot despite allowing a touchdown in coverage. He earned a solid 72.4 coverage grade and a 73.9 tackling grade. His 66.6 overall grade was hurt by his poor run defense mark (41.4), but as a corner, he has larger priorities in other places. Molden’s interception was the first of his career.
If the season ended today, Casey Hayward would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Cornerback: Michael Carter II, New York Jets
Carter had the most well-rounded game of any cornerback in Week 8. He helped with the Jets’ coverage unit, preventing an eruption from a fellow rookie in Chase. However, Carter brought much more to the table. He and Tavierre Thomas posted 83.8 run defense grades, the best of the week for corners. Carter did not miss a tackle, and he added a pair of pressures as a pass-rusher.
If the season ended today, Trevon Diggs would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Safety: Adrian Phillips, New England Patriots
Phillips and the other safety selection were the only defensive players with multiple interceptions in Week 8. Phillips’ first interception came on a deflection, but his second was a diving effort. His second turned into a pick-six, icing his spot here. Phillips was one of four safeties to earn a 90.0 PFF grade, and he was bolstered by an 89.9 coverage grade. As a whole, Phillips successfully executed his revenge against the Chargers.
If the season ended today, Kevin Byard would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Safety: Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
Previously Appeared: Week 3
Simmons must not believe in Hail Marys as he intercepted two of Taylor Heinicke‘s attempts. Simmons had a solid day otherwise, earning an 80.2 grade. He was sturdy against the run (70.8), and he missed just one of eight tackles. In coverage, Simmons earned an impressive 79.0 grade. After making the Week 3 Team of the Week, Simmons seemed to be stuck in a rut of average performances, but he answered the call in Week 8.
If the season ended today, Marcus Williams would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
Defensive Back: P.J. Williams, New Orleans Saints
Williams only played 17 snaps on Sunday, but when you pick-six the reigning champions to ice the game, you earn a spot here. He posted a simply ridiculous 97.0 grade. In 16 coverage snaps, Williams had a 94.9 grade. He was the highest-graded player at any position, and his coverage grade was the best by more than two full points. Williams is the fourth different Saint defensive back to make a Team of the Week joining Marcus Williams (twice), Malcolm Jenkins, and Marshon Lattimore.
If the season ended today, Jalen Ramsey would earn the author’s All-Pro vote.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images