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The NFL Players’ Association put out its Players’ All-Pro Team selections for the first time ever.
On their website, they write that “For too long, we have allowed everyone else to define the best of us as players. That ends now.”
The All-Pro Team with which we’re all familiar is run by the Associated Press and voted on by 50 media members. For the NFLPA’s rankings, players picked their contemporaries.
They were asked to select both players that play their position, or players they directly compete against. So, for example, wide receivers voted for the best fellow wide receivers and for defensive backs.
Players were not allowed to vote for themselves or their teammates and only players who played the majority of his team’s games were considered. The rankings are for this season only and the top five at each position are listed.
But, just like the media poll, there are plenty of debatable rankings. Let’s get into them.
Players love Lamar Jackson
The five quarterbacks to make the list are Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson.
There’s not a ton of debate about the top four. You could argue that Joe Burrow should be ahead of Jalen Hurts, but Hurts had incredible season. Perhaps Burrow should be ahead of Josh Allen, but again, these aren’t major concerns.
For me, Lamar Jackson’s ranking is curious. Jackson finished 27th in the NFL in passing yards. His 62% completion percentage ranked 24th. He did run for 764 yards and three touchdowns, but missed six games and most of a seventh.
If part of the qualification is staying on the field — which the NFLPA specifically says: “Being available counts” — then how in the world is Jackson ahead of guys like Justin Herbert, Tom Brady or even Kirk Cousins?
Jackson is viewed very favorably among players, which he is using to his advantage in his upcoming contract negotiations.
Derrick Henry gets no love from Players’ All-Pro Team
The top five running backs features one notable absent name: Derrick Henry. Rated ahead of his are Josh Jacobs, Nick Chubb, Tony Pollard, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley.
The Tony Pollard ranking is baffling. Pollard had a good season, but he split carries with Ezekiel Elliott. Apparently, being compared to Zeke is good for business since he’s pretty terrible these days.
But how did any defensive player say they’d rather face Tony Pollard than Derrick Henry? That makes no sense. From a literal standpoint, who the hell wants to tackle Henry?
But even from a statistical standpoint, Henry crushed Pollard. Henry ammassed over 1,500 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns. Pollard barely cracked 1,000 yards.
Pollard is a better receiver though, right? Not statistically. Henry had more receiving yards (398 to 371) on fewer catches (41 to 33).
McCaffrey and Barkley should complain, as well. Both of them behind Pollard? The running back list nearly de-legitimizes the entire voting process.
Players’ All-Pro Team Wide Receiver list is spot-on
The top five wide receivers are Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and AJ Brown. This feels correct.
Ja’Marr Chase is a top five wide receiver in the NFL but his missed games because an injury cost him a spot. That’s part of the criteria, so no complaints here. For my money, Jefferson is the game’s best, so glad to see the players agree.
You could possibly quibble with the order, but I won’t because the five players are correct.
Some slight Micah Parsons hate
Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons made the top five, but not the top three. Nick Bosa got the nod at #1 followed by Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby and Parsons. Matthew Judon rounded out the top five.
Nick Bosa will likely be named Defensive Player of the Year, so he’s a deserving #1. Personally, I would have put Parsons behind him. Garrett had more sacks (16.0 to 13.5) but Parsons plays all over the field for Dallas — he’s not just a pass rusher.
Parsons had more sacks than Crosby (12.5) who is another more traditional pass rusher. All three are good at getting to the quarterback and generating pressure, but Parsons’ versatility makes him more valuable to me.
Hassan Reddick led the Eagles historically great defensive line, and the performance of his teammates probably cost him the nod over Judon. Reddick’s 16 sacks tied for second in the NFL with Garrett (behind Bosa’s 18.5).
Jalen Ramsey snubbed from Players’ All-Pro Team
The last category I want to discuss is cornerback. The top five, in order, are Patrick Surtain II, Darius Slay, Jaire Alexander, Sauce Gardner and Tariq Woolen.
I just don’t understand how Jalen Ramsey did not make this list. He’s been a top five corner in the league for years and actually had another elite season, despite playing for a struggling and injured defense.
Ramsey had four interceptions, which was more than Slay, Gardner or Surtain. He led the NFL in passes defended. Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s third-best corner.
Darius Slay is the obvious overrated player here. He benefitted greatly from the Eagles defensive line. Reddick got snubbed because of his teammates but Slay did not suffer a similar fate. In fact, there’s an argument to made that he wasn’t even the best corner for the Eagles.
James Bradberry finished second in the NFL in passer rating when targeted (behind Tariq Woolen) and third in completion percentage allowed.
Slay rated as PFF’s #17 corner, one spot ahead of teammate Bradberry. Both were very good, but benefitted from an incredible pass rush and each other. Neither belongs in the top five, in my opinion.
To put Slay at #2 ahead of Ramsey, Alexander, Gardner and Woolen is a crime.
Other notable Players’ All-Pro selections, snubs
I’m not going to go through all of the positions because you probably don’t care. Quite frankly, I don’t either. I trust the players to rank offensive lineman better than me.
The tight end list top three are Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Mark Andrews. That feels correct, although, TJ Hockenson (ranked 4th) had a better season than Andrews. That’s just a slight quibble, though.
Chris Jones edged out Aaron Donald for the top spot among interior defensive lineman and based on this season, that feels right. Arguably, based on Donald’s missed games, Quinnen Williams (third) should have been above him.
Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James led the two safety spots. Again, feels right. Though, CJ Garnder-Johnson ranked fifth among strong safeties, despite tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions.
You can find the complete list here. Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ