2021 NFL Silver 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 silver unit. This is analogous to the All-Pro second team.

Make sure you check out the bronze team and stay tuned for the gold team.

Quarterback: Tom Brady, Tampa Buccaneers

Brady had yet another incredible season. He led the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns, and he graded in the 90s once again. He had PFF’s highest overall grade for quarterbacks, and he was second to Joe Burrow in passing grade. Brady led the NFL with 42 big-time throws, and he had the second-lowest turnover-worthy play rate.

Running Back: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Mixon had a fully healthy season, and he produced. He finished third in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns. He tacked on 42 catches and over 300 receiving yards as well. Mixon averaged a solid 4.1 yards per carry, romping for 1,205 yards for the AFC North-winning Bengals. In a talented AFC North in terms of running backs, Mixon is the highest-ranked.

Wide Receiver: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Staying with the Bengals, Chase had a legendary rookie season. He finished fourth in receiving yards and third in receiving touchdowns among wide receivers. Among players with 50 targets, only the next player averaged more yards per reception than Chase. Chase should win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he will be a perennial All-Pro for the next decade.

Wide Receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

Samuel had one of the more unique seasons in NFL history. As a receiver, he turned 77 catches into 1,405 yards and six touchdowns. However, the 49ers began to deploy him as a running back, and he was exceptional. On 59 carries, Samuel had 365 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He finished third in scrimmage yards behind two players on the gold team.

INGLEWOOD, CA – JANUARY 30: San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel #19 runs for a touchdown during the NFC Conference Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams on January 30, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce had another great season with the Chiefs. Among tight ends, Kelce finished second in catches and yards, and he finished tied for first in receiving touchdowns. He tied for most missed tackles forced at the position with 19. It marked a career-high for Kelce. 2021 was Kelce’s sixth year in a row with at least 1,000 receiving yards and his fourth in a row with 1,100.

FLEX: Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (Running Back)

Ekeler had a career year for the Chargers, accounting for an NFL-high 20 scrimmage touchdowns. He had a career-best 906 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. As a receiver, Ekeler caught 70 passes for 647 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranked fifth in rushing touchdowns, sixth in scrimmage yards, and eighth in total touchdowns. Ekeler had a touchdown in 13 of 16 games played.

Left Tackle: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

Despite missing six total games, Smith grabs the silver left tackle spot due to his all-around dominance. He was PFF’s second highest-graded left tackle in both run-blocking and pass-blocking. He had the highest pass-blocking efficiency of any player with at least 100 snaps at left tackle. 2021 was Smith’s first 90.0 or better grade since 2015. The 2011 first-round pick has been a force for over a decade now.

Left Guard: Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Marpet earned PFF’s second-best grade among left guards, posting a rock-solid 84.1 overall effort. While he was moderately better as a run blocker, he was still among the best pass-blocking left guards with his 77.8 pass-blocking grade. Across 712 pass-blocking snaps, Marpet allowed just one sack and a pair of hits.

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Guard Ali Marpet (74) sets up to block during the regular season game between the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 12, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Center: Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers

Linsley was PFF’s second highest-graded center, earning an 85.7 overall grade. Like Smith and Marpet, Linsley was the model of consistency no matter what he was asked to do. He earned the fifth-best run-blocking grade with a sturdy 84.6 mark. As a pass protector, Linsley allowed zero sacks, two hits, and only eight hurries en route to a league-best 84.9 pass-blocking grade.

Right Guard: Shaq Mason, New England Patriots

Mason was a rock in the Patriots’ line, earning an 86.2 overall grade across 955 snaps. He was an elite run blocker, placing fourth among primary right guards. However, his pass blocking stood also stood out. His 73.1 pass-blocking mark was third among right guards who played 900 snaps. The gold team right guard was the only player to beat Mason in both facets.

Right Tackle: Rob Havenstein, Los Angeles Rams

Among players with 800 snaps at right tackle, Havenstein was third in overall grade, second in run-blocking grade, and fifth in pass-blocking grade. While he was a reliable pass blocker for Matthew Stafford and the Rams, Havenstein shined as a run blocker, earning a top-20 grade regardless of position. He did allow seven sacks, but he allowed one of the lowest pressure rates at the position, a more accurate depiction of his blocking.

Interior Defensive Line: Jonathan Allen, Washington Football Team

Allen finished second among interior players with 67 total pressures. Per PFF, 10 of these were sacks and 14 were hits. Allen recorded 32 defensive stops, and he impressively missed just one tackle. Among interior players to play 600 snaps, Allen finished third in overall grade, second in tackling grade, and third in pass-rushing grade. The Football Team may have disappointed, but Allen had an incredible season.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND – JANUARY 02: Boston Scott #35 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by Jonathan Allen #93 of the Washington Football Team at FedExField on January 02, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Interior Defensive Line: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

Jones finished one spot behind Allen in pressures which is all the more impressive when you consider that Jones was playing out of position for half of the season. When Jones was moved to his natural interior spot, he dominated. All told, he finished with 65 pressures and an 89.0 pass-rushing grade that was fourth among interior players. Jones recorded 10 sacks, and he batted five passes.

Edge Defender: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

In most seasons, Garrett would be an easy selection for the gold team. He had the highest PFF grade among edge defenders with 700 snaps. He was third in pressures among edges, and he tallied 18 sacks. However, it happens that one edge cracked 100 regular-season pressures and another edge tied the official sack record. Garrett is a top-10 player who got extraordinarily unlucky.

Edge Defender: Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers

Gary had an explosive season, finishing second at the position in pressures with 81. He earned the fourth-best grade at the position, edging out Nick Bosa. Gary recorded 10 sacks, and his 88.9 pass-rushing grade was elite. He was even solid as a run defender and as a tackler, helping him to an 89.3 overall grade. Gary is the NFL’s next superstar edge.

Linebacker: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

Leonard made the Associated Press All-Pro first team, but he was the third linebacker. Like Garrett, Leonard missed the gold team here because two other players had legendary seasons. Leonard had a phenomenal season in his own right, finishing as the No.3 linebacker according to PFF. He was one of the best run defenders regardless of position, and he forced six fumbles on the season.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JANUARY 02: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts on the field in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Linebacker: Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints

Davis had another strong season with the Saints. He was PFF’s No.5 linebacker, and he had a well-rounded profile. He earned 75.0 or better grades in run defense and as a tackler. He racked up 18 pressures as a blitzer including three sacks and eight hits. In coverage, Davis had five pass deflections while not allowing a touchdown en route to a 78.7 passer rating allowed.

Cornerback: Chidobe Awuzie, Cincinnati Bengals

Awuzie was PFF’s second-highest graded cornerback, and he had the third-best coverage grade. Awuzie allowed a completion percentage of just 57.0%, one of the better marks in the league. He notched two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. All told, Awuzie allowed a passer rating of 74.8. Only three cornerbacks faced as many targets and allowed as low of a passer rating.

Cornerback: Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

Slay lived up to his “Big Play Slay” moniker in 2021. He returned one interception and a pair of fumbles for touchdowns, leading the league with three non-offensive touchdowns. When he was not forcing turnovers, Slay was still excellent. He was fourth among cornerbacks with an 83.9 coverage grade. He had three interceptions, four pass breakups, and a passer rating allowed of 76.1.

Safety: Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winfield missed four games, but he finished as PFF’s No.2 safety. He was a phenomenal free safety, earning an 87.2 coverage grade. On 32 targets, Winfield allowed just 9.3 yards per reception and zero touchdowns. Coupled with his pair of interceptions, Winfield allowed a 63.9 passer rating that ended up being lower than either of the gold-team safeties.

TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 16: Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) warms up during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 16, 2022 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Safety: Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints

Williams was only targeted 16 games during the season, and he allowed just 112 yards and eight catches. He allowed one touchdown while picking off a pair of passes. Perhaps his most spectacular play of the season was negated as he had an interception against the Tennessee Titans that was nullified by a defensive penalty. Williams allowed a 54.2 passer rating while in coverage.

Defensive Back: Trevon Diggs, Dallas Cowboys (Cornerback)

There are certainly flaws to Diggs’ games, but he had one of the craziest seasons by a cornerback ever. He nabbed 11 interceptions, returning a pair for touchdowns. He was peppered with targets, but he allowed a completion percentage of 57.3%. Diggs was not perfect, but he helped the Cowboys to the playoffs with his exceptional ball skills and coverage ability.

Kicker: Younghoe Koo, Atlanta Falcons

Koo hit 27 of 29 field goals, good for a 93.1% conversion rate. He also made 30 of 30 extra points. His field-goal conversion rate was third in the NFL, and he was one of four kickers to be perfect on at least 30 extra points. Koo was perfect inside of 40 yards, and he was 10 of 12 from beyond 40 yards including connecting on four of five kicks beyond 50 yards. His season-long kick was 54 yards.

Punter: Bryan Anger, Dallas Cowboys

Anger earned PFF’s second-best grade for punters. He was fifth in yards per punt, but he was first in net punting average, posting 44.6 net yards per punt. He landed 26 punts inside the 20, and only 38.5% of his punts were returned. He had the NFL’s best hang time among punters who had at least 25 punts. He was deserving of the NFC Pro Bowl nod for punters.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 26: Bryan Anger #5 of the Dallas Cowboys punts the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Football Team 56-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Kick Returner: Braxton Berrios, New York Jets

Berrios racked up 852 kick return yards, ranking third in the NFL. He was one of two players with a 102-yard kick return touchdown on the season, joining Jamal Agnew. Among those who qualified, Berrios had the highest average on his returns, averaging 30.4 yards per return. Among players with 20 kick returns, Berrios had the third-best PFF grade.

Punt Returner: Jakeem Grant, Miami Dolphins & Chicago Bears

Grant was PFF’s No.1 punt returner among those with at least 10 returns. He had a 97-yard punt return touchdown for one of the two punt return touchdowns on the season. He only muffed one punt. Grant tied for third in punt return yardage and second in yards per punt return. He was the logical pick for the NFC Pro Bowl spot for punt returners.

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Main Image Credit:

TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 23: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the NFC Divisional playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 23, 2022, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , FL. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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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.