The 2020 NFL season will be fascinating on many levels. With COVID-19 erupting on the country, the NFL landscape was also broadly affected. The season will roar on despite little preparation time. This will make being selected as an All-Pro even more challenging than normal. Being an All-Pro is the most prestigious recognition of being the best at your position in the NFL. Let’s dive into who may be an All-Pro on defense in 2020.
First Team All-Pro Edge Rushers: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears and Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
Khalil Mack had a down year in 2019, but still produced like a premier edge rusher. Mack’s sack number of 8.5 was disappointing, but sacks don’t always tell the whole story. Mack produced 45 quarterback pressures and 30 quarterback hurries, both elite numbers. The only other player with at least 45 pressures and 30 hurries last season was Aaron Donald. These advanced numbers show that there was not much of a drop off between Mack’s 2018 and 2019 seasons besides the sack numbers. Mack is ready to produce in 2020 and change the narrative of himself back to the 2018 version with more sacks. Khalil Mack is in position to be an All-Pro this season as he tries to get back to his lofty standards.
Myles Garrett had his superb 2019 season cut short due to a grave mistake. Garrett infamously struck Mason Rudolph‘s head with his helmet during a brawl last season. That got him a suspension for the final 6 games of last season. That is now behind Garrett, and he earned a $125 million payday this summer. Before the suspension, Garrett was playing at a very high level. He had 10 sacks in 10 games, along with 29 pressures. Garrett should continue to produce like this and improve in 2020. Myles Garrett is bound for an All-Pro selection this season as the dangerous edge rusher should be available for all 16 games.
First Team All-Pro Interior Defensive Linemen: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams and DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts
Aaron Donald, in all likelihood, would be a Hall of Famer if he retired today. That is insane considering he has been in the league just six seasons. He is already a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year and a 5-time All-Pro in the first six years of his career. However, Donald is not retiring today and has some prime years ahead of him. Donald put up 12.5 sacks and 55 pressures last season. That is a crazy amount for a defensive tackle, and it wasn’t even close to Donald’s ceiling. He had a whooping 20.5 sacks in 2018. Donald is in his peak years and is in fantastic shape once again. He has been a machine over the past half decade. Aaron Donald is quite possibly the best player in football and poised for another All-Pro selection in 2020.
DeForest Buckner was dealt from the 49ers to the Colts in a blockbuster offseason trade. The Niners got a first-round pick in return, and it should be well worth it. Buckner was also given an $84 million extension from Indianapolis after the trade. The Buckner trade was fairly stunning, as he is an elite player just entering his prime. The Colts pounced on the opportunity to land him. Buckner put up 7.5 sacks and 62 tackles last season, after 12 sacks in 2018. He is a superstar defensive tackle. Buckner looks like a perfect fit with the Colts. He will be the anchor they need on their 4-3 defense. Buckner can produce interior pressure and will be a focal point of the defensive unit. DeForest Buckner has a great chance to be an All-Pro as he improves with a big role on a new team in 2020.
First Team All-Pro Linebackers: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks, Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts, and Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Luke Kuechly retiring this offseason, Bobby Wagner is now the undisputed best linebacker in the game. Wagner is extremely consistent and has been the rock of Seattle’s defense from the Legion of Boom era to now. Wagner racked up a league-high 159 tackles, along with 3 sacks in 2019. He played in 99% of Seattle’s defensive snaps as well. Wagner is extremely comfortable in Pete Carroll‘s defense, which will be an advantage with no real offseason or preseason. The Seahawks traded for Jamal Adams this offseason, giving Wagner more help on defense. Bobby Wagner is in line for another All-Pro campaign in 2020.
Darius Leonard is everything you could ask for in a player and more. The young star struggled with some injuries last season, but still put up crazy numbers. Leonard posted 121 tackles, with 5 interceptions and 5 sacks. He did all of that in just 13 games. This shows Leonard can do it all. He can tackle like an elite linebacker, cover like a cornerback, and rush the quarterback like an edge rusher. Leonard may be the most well rounded player in the NFL. With full health and the Colts adding the aforementioned Buckner this offseason, Leonard should shine in 2020. Leonard is also a great teammate and a great guy off the field, the total package. Darius Leonard is primed for an All-Pro season as he gets healthy and continues to improve his all-around skillset.
This is where it gets bold. Devin White is a deep sleeper pick to be an All-Pro. The 22-year old linebacker has just one season under his belt but has loads of potential. White has all the tools that a legendary middle linebacker needs. He has speed, strength, a great ability to dissect plays, and leadership. White has both the tangible and the intangible skills of football covered. He put up an impressive 91 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 13 games during his rookie season. White also recovered 4 fumbles and forced 3. White has the pleasure of playing alongside a savvy and extremely underrated veteran linebacker in Lavonte David. David is still an elite player and a great mentor. Devin White is a bold pick to be an All-Pro in 2020, but I believe he can put all his tools together to take this immense leap.
First Team All-Pro Cornerbacks: Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens and Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
Marlon Humphrey had an outstanding 2019 season and is one of the best cornerbacks in the game. He is very underrated by the media and most fans. Humphrey had 3 interceptions last season along with 14 pass deflections. Humphrey really stands out in the advanced stats. He allowed just 5.0 yards per target in 2019, the lowest of any cornerback in the league. Humphrey also only allowed a completion percentage of 58% and a passer rating of 68.4 when targeted. He is durable, playing 98% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps last season and speedy, running a 4.41 40-yard dash. Humphrey should continue to grow his game and improve on a great Ravens team in 2020. Marlon Humphrey is primed for an All-Pro selection at cornerback this season.
Jaire Alexander has all the tools to become possibly the best cornerback in the NFL. Alexander was very good last season. He had 2 interceptions and 17 pass defections. He also allowed just 54% of passes his way to be completed. That is a very solid season, and he should be able to even improve on that this season. Alexander is just 23 years old and has been the Packers number 1 corner since his rookie year. He is extremely fast, running a 4.38 40-yard dash, and has the size and the strength to be a special player. Alexander also has the necessary swagger and confidence of a shutdown cornerback. In addition, he is physical and aggressive. I think Jaire Alexander will take a massive Year 3 leap and be an All-Pro in 2020.
First Team All-Pro Safeties: Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks and Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
Jamal Adams was traded from the Jets to the Seahawks in a blockbuster trade this offseason. Among other pieces, the Jets got a package with 2 first-round draft picks. Pressure will therefore be sky-high for Adams to make a major impact in his first season with Seattle. Adams should be up for the challenge as the best safety in the game. Adams racked up 6.5 sacks, most among defensive backs in the NFL by a wide margin, along with 75 tackles and an interception in 14 games last season. He is also elite in coverage. Adams allowed just a 55% completion percentage on targets towards him, and just 4.9 yards per target. Adams’ impact however goes far past the box score. He brings leadership, confidence, and energy every snap. Adams is a coaches dream as a player. Jamal Adams should be an All-Pro in 2020 as he debuts in Seattle.
Justin Simmons had a breakout season in 2019. The Broncos star took a major step forward to become an elite safety. Simmons stuffed the stat sheet in many different ways. He had 4 interceptions, 15 pass deflections, and 93 tackles on the year. Simmons also allowed just a 43.6 passer rating when targeted, as well as a 53% completion percentage and 5.4 yards per target. Simmons is a great coverage and tackling safety. He is also extremely durable, playing every single snap for the Denver defense over the past two seasons. Simmons should grow his game even more in 2020. Justin Simmons is a key piece for the Broncos and is primed for an All-Pro selection this season.
First Team All-Pro Defensive Backs: Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs, Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots, and Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The defensive back All-Pro position generally has the Second-Team All-Pro cornerbacks and safeties in its slots. Tyrann Mathieu is one of my choices for this position. Mathieu joined the Chiefs before the 2019 season and it paid off big time. Mathieu was the captain of the defense for the Super Bowl champion team. He brings his swagger and hard hits every game. Mathieu played a monster role for Kansas City last season. He had 4 interceptions, 12 pass deflections, 75 tackles, and 2 sacks on the year. Mathieu had just a 57.8 passer rating allowed when targeted, along with a 56% completion percentage, and 5.1 yards per target. Mathieu was the heart and soul of Kansas City’s defense last regular and postseason, and should be again this season as they try to defend their title. Tyrann Mathieu is poised to be an All-Pro defensive back in 2020.
Stephon Gilmore was insanely good last season, taking home Defensive Player of the Year honors, a very rare achievement for a defensive back. Gilmore was lockdown week in and week out for the Patriots. Gilmore racked up 6 interceptions and 20 pass deflections, league highs in both categories. He returned two of those interceptions to the house for pick-sixes, and had 53 tackles on the year. Gilmore also allowed just a 44.1 passer rating when targeted, a 51% completion percentage, and 5.9 yards per target. Gilmore covered the #1 wide receiver of every team New England played last season. That makes his stats even more impressive. It will be hard for Gilmore to replicate last season’s performance in 2020, but he should be great once again. Stephon Gilmore is in position to be an All-Pro again this season.
Carlton Davis is another Buccaneers defender who is a very bold pick for an All-Pro selection. Davis had a very underrated 2019 season as the top corner in Tampa Bay. Davis had 19 pass deflections on the season, good for second-best in the NFL behind Gilmore. He had just one interception however. Although it is unfair, cornerbacks are largely judged on interceptions. If Davis can improve his hands and catching ability, he will rack up the interceptions this season. Davis was very solid in other categories as well in 2019. He had 60 tackles, and allowed just 50% of passes his way to be completed. Davis also allowed just 5.5 yards per target. Davis will be a key cog of Tampa Bay’s underrated defense this season. Carlton Davis is a bold pick, but he has a real chance to be an All-Pro in 2020.
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