2021 AP All-Pro Team Announced

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Packers
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Packers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - The 2021 AP All-Pro Team was announced today, and you can find the winners at this link. Five players were chosen unanimously: Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, T.J. Watt, and Aaron Donald.

As you may know, this was my second year as one of the 50 members of the voting panel. So in the interest of open discussion, here were my choices for this year's All-Pro Team.

QB Aaron Rodgers, GB

It was a difficult choice between Rodgers and Tom Brady. The main difference between the two is that Rodgers was more efficient per play but Brady had more value. For example, Rodgers was No. 1 in DVOA but Brady was No. 1 in DYAR. And it certainly meant something that Brady overcame a difficult schedule to put up fantastic numbers. However, I also wanted to weigh the teammates that surrounded each player. I feel like Brady was in a better situation this year. Rodgers had Davante Adams, but Brady had better receivers as a group. And yes, he lost some of those receivers near the end of the season, but he had a very good offensive line that stayed healthy for most of the year. Rodgers did a good job working around injuries on his offensive line. And so, I went with Rodgers.

RB Jonathan Taylor, IND

I don't think this one requires explanation.

WR Cooper Kupp, LAR; Davante Adams, GB; Deebo Samuel, SF

I went with the top three wide receivers in DYAR. This was going to include Justin Jefferson until I realized that Samuel had so much rushing value that he ended up with more total DYAR than Jefferson or Adams. I'm sorry I can't include Jefferson on my list but you can only vote for three wide receivers and Samuel certainly had unique value this season. Adams just squeezes by Jefferson.

TE Mark Andrews, BAL

Led all tight ends in receiving DYAR. I did consider George Kittle because his blocking is so important to the 49ers offense, but in the end decided the DYAR gap between Kittle and Andrews was too great.

LT Trent Williams, SF

My offensive line picks were a combination of looking at SIS total points earned as well as ESPN's pass block and run block win rates, and talking to offensive line experts such as Brandon Thorn and Geoff Schwartz. Film experts agree that Williams had a phenomenal season, although he surprisingly wasn't that spectacular in ESPN's win rate stats. I believe he had the highest offensive line season ever by PFF grading.

LG Joe Thuney, KC

Led all guards in pass block win rate and was second among guards in SIS total points earned.

C Ryan Jensen, TB

I was very close to going with Kansas City rookie Creed Humphrey but the film study folks just absolutely rave about Jensen and Jensen also finished first among centers in SIS points earned while Humphrey was fifth.

RG Zack Martin, DAL

Tied for third among guards in SIS total points earned, and made the top 10 in both run block win rate and pass block win rate. (The No. 1 guard in points earned is a real surprise, David Edwards of the Rams. Edwards does not make the top 10 in either run block win rate or pass block win rate.)

RT Tristan Wirfs, TB

This one was a tough choice over Lane Johnson of the Eagles, especially because of the way that Cameron Jordan obliterated Wirfs in that Saints shutout victory. But Wirfs was very good the rest of the year, played more games than Johnson, and led all linemen in SIS's points earned metric.

IDL Aaron Donald, LAR; Chris Jones, KC

Aaron Donald, I mean, duh. The other spot was a close call between Jones and Cameron Heyward of the Steelers. Heyward tied for the league lead in defeats but Jones did better in SIS's points saved metric and obviously his move back to the inside in the middle of the year was one of the catalysts for the turnaround of the Chiefs defense.

ER T.J. Watt, PIT; Myles Garrett, CLE

Watt tied the all-time sack record. Garrett led the league in pressures according to SIS charting (combining hits, hurries, and knockdowns).

LB Micah Parsons, DAL; De'Vondre Campbell, GB; Darius Leonard, IND

Micah Parsons had to make the team at whichever position he was assigned, and SIS found that he played more snaps off the ball than as an edge rusher. Parsons and De'Vondre Campbell were No. 1 and No. 2 in points saved among linebackers. Leonard was third through Week 17 and while he fell to fourth after Week 18 I decided to keep him as my third linebacker over Anthony Barr of the Vikings, who only played 11 games but was very good in those games. Leonard did allow 7.0 yards per target in coverage but had four interceptions and his average run tackle came after a gain of less than 3.0 yards.

CB Jalen Ramsey, LAR; A.J. Terrell, ATL

I wanted to go with J.C. Jackson for a long time but in the end I ended up with the top two cornerbacks in SIS's points saved. Ramsey is just a game-changer. Terrell has crazy insane good charting stats this year, including just 3.2 yards allowed per target. The panel ended up going with Trevon Diggs and his 11 interceptions despite the fact that he also led the league in yardage allowed in coverage.

S Derwin James, LAC; Jordan Poyer, BUF

The hardest position to choose. I spent the last few weeks trying to decide who to drop between James, Poyer, and Kevin Byard of the Titans. I ended up going with Poyer first, because I wanted someone from our No. 1 defense. Poyer led all safeties in SIS's points saved and the Bills were the No. 1 defense against deep passes. James vs. Byard is really hard. James made more plays and had more defeats. Byard did better in points saved. He's more of a coverage safety while James is more of a chess piece you can use in many different ways. In the end, I went with James, because I feel like he just impacts games more. I may have been overinfluenced by what happened with Travis Kelce when James went out of the second Chiefs-Chargers game. It was a tough decision. Sorry to Titans fans, but Byard won the votes of most of the panel and was chosen All-Pro despite me, so don't be too upset!

K Justin Tucker, BAL

Led FO metrics in field goal value.

P Bryan Anger, DAL

Led FO metrics in both net and gross punt value.

KR Kene Nwangwu, MIN

Led FO metrics in kick return value. The total value battle was very close with Braxton Berrios of the Jets, but Nwangwu also had more value per return. The panel did choose Berrios over Nwangwu and Andre Roberts.

PR Jakeem Grant, MIA/CHI

Led FO metrics in punt return value.

ST J.T. Gray, NO

Led all special teams players with 18 combined tackles, 13 of which stopped a return short of an average gain.

LS Luke Rhodes, IND

The AP actually gives us a couple of long-snapper coaches to speak to about this choice, and both of the coaches I reached out to recommended Rhodes.

Again, click this link for a list of the full winners:

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Comments

9 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2022, 12:38pm

1 Once again, love reading…

Once again, love reading this. More or less fills a gap left by Dr Z.

Diggs's yards allowed would look better if he had better free safety play. To his credit he always takes the blame, but there were at least a couple of big plays where better safety play means no yards allowed or else mitigates the damage.

2 I'm glad that Milano and our…

I'm glad that Milano and our safeties got some love, but whomever picked McKenzie as an All Pro Kick Returner must be trolling.

3 Super-dislike the Jensen…

Super-dislike the Jensen pick. Wirfs was really, really good this year, so I can see him over Johnson. But with Wirfs being that good, of course Jensen's going to look good, too.

I like the actual All Pro team much better there: Kelce at C and Wirfs at RT.

4 Thanks, Aaron! Great to have…

Thanks, Aaron! Great to have an inside look at this process. Generally very happy with both your reasoning and the final outcome. Two comments/quibbles:

1) If you look at FO team stats, it's obvious someone from the TB O-line needs to make it, but my guess from those stats would have been Donovan Smith, because TB is top in ASR and 3rd in ALY around left end, but only 15th in ALY around right end. Also maybe Marpet or one of the other interior OL because of the power/stuff and mid/guard rankings.

2) I would like to see some stats on Micah Parsons' performance as an off-ball LB. I watched a lot of Dallas this year, and I was pretty unimpressed. Obviously he made a huge splash when they lined him up at ER, but I really don't like him making all-pro at off-ball LB and pushing out guys who were great at that actual position.

5 Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers 34/50 votes (1st)

WR Davante Adams 50/50 votes (t1st)

IL Kenny Clark 2/50 votes (t6th)

LB Devondre Campbel 18/50 votes (3rd)

Solid. Cant really argue. 

6 Yep seems about right to me…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Yep seems about right to me as well. I'm glad Campbell made it. Seeing the defense without him against Det made me appreciate his season even more.

 

I do kinda wish they did coaches too. I know they have started doing an assistant coach of the year but that so far has just been offensive of defensive coordinators, and I get that. But Adam Stenovich deserves offensive line All-Pro coach or something. 7 different starting combinations (9 changes since a couple combos got used early and late with different injuries). No player started every game (though Newman did play all 17 as he came in after they pulled Bakh and Meyers in week 18). Only 5 games with 2 preferred starters in their preferred positions, the rest were 1 or 0 preferred starters in position and most of those were Turner at RT. Turner is generally considered their weakest of the 5 preferred starters (though putting him in front of a rookie Myers would be fine). While Patrick is a preferred starter at RG, only started 1 game in w17 there, he had 3 starts at LG, and 12 at C, and missed game 4. The most stable configuration was LT2 (Jenkins), LG3 (Runyan), C2 (Patrick), RG2 (Newman), RT1 (Turner) for 6 games.

With all that they finished 6th in Adjusted Sack rate, 3rd in Adjusted Line Yards, 5th in ESPNs pass block win rate with 66% (1st place LAR at 68% and 32nd place dolphins at 47% to give a range) and 4th with 73% in ESPNs run block win rate (WFT 75%, HOU 65% for range).

Over the last 3 years seeing Stenovich's results I'm not worried about o-line injuries anymore. I would still rather not have them but I fully expect whoever they plug in will play fine, even if I forgot they were on the team and go who is that? It also makes me feel they should just keep spending a 4th-6th here or there on prospects and give them a few years to get coached up and they'll be fine. Put that draft capital into some receivers and a D linemen or 2 (if any of the impact quality ones make it as far down the board as they tend to pick)

Now if they could just get coaches of that quality for the special teams....

8 Goes back to even James Campen

They'd had some weird OL measurement requirements for a while though (can't find them). That and...well this is why I lean WR over OL (Cincy is reaping the benefits). You can always just throw the ball away to negate a bad OL. Of course it needs to meet a certain threshold but the difference between elite pass catchers and average ones is greater than elite OL and their average counterparts. 

 I'm not worried about o-line injuries anymore. I would still rather not have them but I fully expect whoever they plug in will play fine, even if I forgot they were on the team and go who is that? It also makes me feel they should just keep spending a 4th-6th here or there on prospects and give them a few years to get coached up and they'll be fine. Put that draft capital into some receivers and a D linemen or 2 (if any of the impact quality ones make it as far down the board as they tend to pick)

This is the way in todays league. 

9 I would have to agree about…

I would have to agree about the coaches.

Recognizing the work of the positional coaches would be a nice thing to do for the guys that work the 70+ hour weeks and are barely a news blurb when a team wins or loses.