Football

2021 NFL Bronze All-Splash Team

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With the season over, it is time to take a look at the All-Splash team, a riff off the traditional All-Pro team. This article contains the bronze unit. This is analogous to the All-NBA Third Team, but it currently does not have a contemporary in the NFL (but it should).

Stay tuned for the silver and gold teams!

Quarterback: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

It was Burrow, not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, that posted PFF’s highest passing grade in 2021. Burrow was nothing short of superb in his second NFL season, posting 34 touchdowns and 4,611 yards in 16 games. He ended the season with a legendary stretch, compiling 971 yards, eight passing touchdowns, and zero interceptions en route to two huge, playoff-clinching wins for the Bengals. Joe Burrow had four games with a PFF grade of at least 89.9, and he should be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

Running Back: Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Despite missing a trio of games, Chubb romped to 1,259 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. His yardage total was second in the NFL, and he continued his incredible efficiency by averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Chubb made his third consecutive Pro Bowl, compiling his second-highest yards per game figure with 89.9 yards per game. 2021 was his fourth straight season in the top 10 in terms of yards per carry.

Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Tyreek Hill had his fair share of ups and downs in 2021. He only cracked 100 yards three times, but when he did crack it, he was as explosive as any player in the NFL. He had 197 yards and a touchdown in Week One before putting on a Week Four masterclass of 186 yards and three touchdowns. His final act was a massive game with 12 catches, 148 receiving yards, and a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers. Hill finished third in catches, seventh in receiving yards, and ninth in receiving touchdowns.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 16: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs catches the ball for a touchdown in the third quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Stefon Diggs posted his fourth season in a row with 1,000 yards. He tacked on 103 catches and 10 receiving touchdowns. His 10 receiving touchdowns are his most in a single season, and his 1,225 yards were second only to his league-leading campaign in 2020. Diggs ended ninth in catches, eighth in receiving yards, and sixth in receiving touchdowns as he and the Bills earned the No.3 seed heading into the AFC playoffs.

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle did miss three games, but he had another spectacular season. Among tight ends, he finished fourth in receiving yards with 916, and he tacked on six touchdowns. He earned the highest receiving grade of any tight end, and only Mark Andrews beat him out in pure PFF grade. Kittle posted three games with 100 yards, scoring a touchdown in each of them. His six touchdowns represent a career-high.

FLEX: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (Wide Receiver)

Tyler Lockett had a mixed bag of a season, and he needed a hot month to catch Diontae Johnson for this spot. Lockett eclipsed 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season, tacking on eight touchdowns or more for the fourth year in a row. His 1,175 yards represent a career-high, and he averaged 16.1 yards per reception. He had five games with more than 100 yards but had a handful of games with 30 or fewer yards. However, the Seahawks pass-catcher was on a 1,400-yard pace over the last seven games.

Left Tackle: Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Mailata had an incredible season, and the Eagles locked him up with what is already a steal of a contract for a stud left tackle. Mailata was PFF’s No.3 tackle, and he was one of four tackles to earn an 80.0 grade in both pass protection and run blocking. Overall, he was sixth in run blocking and 10th in pass blocking, a ridiculous combination only matched by the gold and silver team left tackles. All in all, Mailata is one of the biggest breakouts in the NFL, and he should be a stalwart for a long time.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND – JANUARY 02: Jordan Mailata #68 of the Philadelphia Eagles blocks against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on January 02, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Left Guard: Laken Tomlinson, San Francisco 49ers

The final left guard spot was one of the most tightly contested spots on the entire team. Laken Tomlinson gets the nod here over Joe Thuney because Tomlinson had a more well-rounded profile. Thuney was an elite pass protector while being an above-average run blocker. Tomlinson, on the other hand, was strong in both facets. The Jamaican native was one of four guards to have a 75.0 or better grade in both departments (with a minimum of 1,000 snaps). The other three represent both guards on the gold team and the silver left guard.

Center: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

After two well-rounded profiles for the gold and silver centers, Jason Kelce‘s hinges on his run-blocking. He earned an elite 90.0 run-blocking grade that was second among centers. Moreover, his overall grade of 84.8 was third at the position. While his pass protection was in the middle of the pack, his run blocking was a cut above every center besides the gold team’s representative. Kelce played 993 snaps across 17 games for the playoff-bound Eagles.

Right Guard: Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns

Wyatt Teller was PFF’s No.3 guard, finishing behind the gold team guards (among guards to play 1,000 snaps). He had another elite run-blocking season, paving the way for Chubb to run for over 1,200 yards. Also, he earned an 87.7 run-blocking grade, fourth among guards. Teller earns this spot over Chris Lindstrom with his better pass protection. The Virginia tech alum edged out Lindstrom by 0.2 in pass-blocking efficiency, and he allowed a combined four sacks plus hits. To provide a comparison, Lindstrom allowed eight.

CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 12: Cleveland Browns offensive guard Wyatt Teller (77) at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns on December 12, 2021, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Right Tackle: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

Lane Johnson becomes the third Eagle to make the offensive line after another strong season. He was PFF’s No.12 tackle, earning an 82.4 overall grade. In addition, he posted a solid 76.8 run-blocking grade and an 81.2 pass-blocking grade. Across 416 pass-blocking snaps, Johnson did not allow a sack, and he only allowed one hit. His 98.6 pass-blocking efficiency was second among tackles played 100 snaps. He did miss time but was his usual elite self the 13 matchups he participated in.

Interior Defensive Line: Christian Wilkins, Miami Dolphins

Christian Wilkins had a breakout season for the Dolphins. He had four pass deflections, his first career forced fumble, 4.5 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss. Among interior players to play 500 snaps, Wilkins was the fifth-highest graded. Furthermore, he was third in run-defense grade behind both of the gold team representatives, and PFF credited Wilkins with 43 defensive stops. He is not quite a dominant pass-rusher, recording just 31 pressures, but he had a solid 70.4 pass-rushing grade.

Interior Defensive Line: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Speaking of elite pass-rushing, Jeffrey Simmons finished fifth in PFF pressures with 62, just five short of second place. In terms of the usual counting stats, Simmons had an explosive season. He doubled his career total of deflected passes, getting his hands on six passes. He had 8.5 sacks, and he had 12 tackles for loss for the top-seeded Titans. PFF credited Simmons with 43 defensive stops, and he earned a 73.7 pass-rush grade.

Edge Defender: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

The edge position was ridiculously competitive in 2021. Nick Bosa recorded 75 pressures which was only good enough to tie for fourth among edge defenders. Bosa notched one pass deflection four forced fumbles, and 15.5 sacks. He led the NFL with 21 tackles for loss and earned an elite 89.2 overall grade, a mark that only six players surpassed regardless of snaps played. Bosa’s 39 defensive stops rank fifth amongst edge defenders, on par with his placement as the No.5 edge pass-rusher according to PFF.

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 23: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the quarterback during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 23, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the 49ers 23-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Edge Defender: Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals

Trey Hendrickson joins Bosa in the club of 75-pressure players. Hendrickson recorded at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive games, and he ended with a career-high 14.0 sacks. He also tacked on 12 tackles for loss and a trio of forced fumbles. Moreover, PFF credited Hendrickson with 19 defensive stops and one batted pass. He did not have the run-defense profile of the other edges, but his pass-rushing capabilities were among the best of the best for the AFC North champs.

Linebacker: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had a robust statistical season despite missing three games. He batted four passes, added two forced fumbles, and recorded 1.5 sacks. He had 76 total tackles and three tackles for loss. Among linebackers to play 50% of snaps, Owusu-Koramoah was PFF’s sixth-best linebacker with a 74.4 grade. He did miss a fair share of tackles but was nevertheless impactful enough in other ways for his subpar tackling to not drop him too much. The rookie ended with 34 defensive stops, according to PFF.

Linebacker: Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

Fred Warner was not quite worthy of being an All-Pro in 2021, but he was still one of the better linebackers in the league. He earned a 72.1 PFF grade; only three linebackers played more snaps and had a higher grade. Warner had 48 defensive stops, four pass deflections, one forced fumble, 0.5 sacks, and a career-best 137 total tackles. he notched seven tackles for loss, and he played 16 games for a playoff-bound 49ers squad.

Cornerback: Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas Raiders

Despite being a fifth-round pick, Nate Hobbs made an immediate impact in the Raiders secondary. His ball production was nothing special as he only had one interception, three pass deflections, and one forced fumble, but the grades speak for themselves. Among corners to play 500 snaps, Hobbs ranked 10th in PFF grade. He excelled in the slot, and he was versatile enough to post nine pressures, the second most among cornerbacks. Finally, he allowed one touchdown in 562 coverage snaps.

Cornerback: D.J. Reed, Seattle Seahawks

D.J. Reed was one of 13 cornerbacks to play 1,000 snaps in 2021. He finished fourth in PFF grade to both gold representatives and Kendall Fuller. Reed also allowed a mere 66.0 passer rating on 68 targets. Furthermore, his 51.5% completion rate allowed was among the best in the league, and he was also exceptional as a run defender. In terms of counting stats, Reed had a pair of interceptions and 10 pass deflections. He had four games with multiple pass deflections including a two-interception game against the Detroit Lions.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JANUARY 02: D.J. Reed #2 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates his interception with teammates during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lumen Field on January 02, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Safety: Micah Hyde, Buffalo Bills

Micah Hyde had an exceptional season. The Ohio native had five interceptions in a season for the second time in his career, in addition to having his first career pick-six. He ended with ten pass deflections, the second-most in a season for him. This spot could have gone to either of Buffalo’s safeties, but Hyde gets the nod over Jordan Poyer narrowly. Poyer likely did not lose any sleep as he made the Associated Press All-Pro team over Hyde. Hyde earned an 82.0 overall grade and 88.3 coverage grade.

Safety: Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

Derwin James had one of the best all-around seasons among all defensive backs. He was the only safety to have a 75.0 or better grade in run defense, tackling, pass-rushing, and coverage. James was not elite in any of the facets, but he was exceptional in all four. The third-year safety racked up two interceptions, five pass deflections, three forced fumbles, and seven tackles for loss. He also posted 2.0 sacks. James’ season was a reflection of what the NFL was missing over the last two seasons when he played just five of 32 available games.

Defensive Back: Rashad Fenton, Kansas City Chiefs (Cornerback)

Among cornerbacks to play 500 snaps, only the gold and silver team cornerbacks posted a higher grade than Rashad Fenton. Unlike those corners, Fenton did not allow a touchdown, one of four 500-snap cornerbacks to achieve such feat. Despite not nabbing an interception, the Chiefs defensive back allowed a passer rating below 90.0. He had seven pass deflections and a forced fumble for the No.2 seed Kansas City.

Kicker: Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams

This pick was fairly simple. Matt Gay finished second in the NFL in field goal percentage, and he missed one extra point. In comparison, the gold and silver team members finished first and third in field goal percentage and combined to miss zero extra points. However, Gay likely had the last laugh as his team is in the playoffs while the other two kickers are not. The ex-Buccaneer hit a season-long of 55 yards, and he converted four kicks beyond fifty yards.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 26: Los Angeles Rams Place Kicker Matt Gay (8) watches this 32-yard field goal attempt sail through the uprights during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams on December 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Punter: Logan Cooke, Jacksonville Jaguars

Logan Cooke had a breakout season for the 3-14 Jaguars. He was seventh in yards per punt, but he was second in net yards per punt. Only 32.8% of his punts were returned, the fourth-best figure in the NFL (among punters with 44 punts). His punts led to an NFL-high 26 fair catches. Also, he was fourth in average hang time, just a fraction of a second behind the gold team punter. Cooke earned the third-best punting grade from PFF.

Kick Returner: Andre Roberts, Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers

Andre Roberts was the only kick returner to crack 1,000 return yards. He added a touchdown late in the season, and his return average keeps the likes of Jamal Agnew, Tremon Smith, and DeAndre Carter out of the final spot. In his career, Roberts has made three Pro Bowls as a returner, and he has been selected to a bevy of All-Pro teams including the Associated Press team in 2018. Among returners with twenty kickoff returns, Roberts ranked sixth in PFF grade.

Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ray-Ray McCloud led all punt returners in both total returns and punt return yardage, posting 367 yards on 38 returns while his 9.7 yards per return ranked sixth in the NFL. Meanwhile, he made PFF’s All-Pro second team as a kick returner last season, but this season he was superior as a punt returner. McCloud had ten separate games with at least 20 punt return yards, giving extra field position to an otherwise anemic Steelers offense.


Thanks for reading my All-Splash team article! For more content, follow me @MrSplashMan19 and OTH Football on Twitter!

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.