Football

2021 NFL Gold All-Splash Team

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With the season over, it is time to take a look at the Gold All-Splash team, a riff off the traditional All-Pro team. This article contains the gold unit. This is analogous to the All-Pro first team.

Make sure you check out the bronze and silver teams.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers capped off the 2021 season with his fourth MVP award. He dominated to the tune of 4,115 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 111.9. He led the NFL in QBR for the third time, passer rating for the fourth time, and interception percentage for the sixth time. Rodgers is a deserving inclusion in the gold All-Splash team.

Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

With Derrick Henry out for half of the season, Jonathan Taylor ran away with the gold All-Splash team selection. Taylor wrapped up the rushing triple crown, posting 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns on 332 carries. He also had the longest run of the season, and he led the NFL with 106.5 rushing yards per game. The first-time Pro Bowler finished second in Offensive Player of the Year voting.

Wide Receiver: Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Speaking of triple crowns, Cooper Kupp became just the fourth receiver to win the receiver triple crown since the AFL-NFL merger. Kupp hauled in 145 passes for 1,945 yards and 16 touchdowns. While playoff performance had no bearing on this team, he had 478 yards and six touchdowns in four playoff games en route to Super Bowl MVP.

Wide Receiver: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson had yet another ridiculous season, racking up 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns on 108 catches. He finished fourth in receptions, second in receiving yards, and sixth in receiving touchdowns. He led the NFL with 14.3 yards per touch. While he narrowly missed out on the All-Pro team, he is an easy inclusion in the gold All-Splash team.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 09: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings heads to the locker room after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Tight End: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

No matter who was throwing the football for the Ravens, Andrews dominated. He caught 107 passes for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns. He set the franchise record for receiving yards, and he was unstoppable in December. After years of being in the second tier of tight ends, Andrews made quite the claim to jump into the top tier with Travis Kelce and George Kittle.

FLEX: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (Wide Receiver)

Davante Adams made his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl and second straight All-Pro team, and he tacks on the gold All-Splash team to his accolades. In 2021, he caught 123 passes for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 2021 season was Adams’ third campaign with an average of over 90 yards per game. He set career-highs in both catches and receiving yards.

Left Tackle: Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams was the easiest offensive selection to the gold All-Splash team. If the NFL was not so quarterback-dominant, Williams likely would have gotten some interest as MVP or Offensive Player of the Year. He posted a scarcely believable 97.8 PFF grade, strengthened by a 97.9 run-blocking grade. He had a reasonable pass-blocking grade, and he allowed just one sack.

Left Guard: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

Like Williams, Joel Bitonio was an easy pick for the gold All-Splash team. Bitonio was the best guard in the NFL (regardless of position) seemingly every week, and he even kicked out to left tackle and dominated anyways. All told, Bitonio posted a 93.6 overall grade, 92.5 run-blocking grade, and 85.9 pass-blocking grade.

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 09: Cleveland Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio (75) at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter of the National Football League game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on January 9, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Center: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

Creed Humphrey may have been snubbed from both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams, but he makes the gold All-Splash team. He earned an elite 91.4 offensive grade with a 92.5 run-blocking grade. He also was great as a pass blocker, allowing just 10 pressures on 752 pass-blocking snaps. Out of those, only two resulted in a hit to Patrick Mahomes.

Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

After missing Week 1 with COVID, Zack Martin returned to his throne as the best right guard in the NFL. He had six different games with an elite PFF grade, and he set career-bests in run-blocking and overall grade. Moreover, he allowed just one sack, and his 98.4 pass-blocking efficiency was right in line with his career average.

Right Tackle: Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unlike other players in the gold All-Splash team, Tristan Wirfs was not necessarily a slam-dunk pick. He had a great season, but it was comparatively weak to the rest of the offensive line. Either way, Wirfs posted an 84.6 overall grade with a particularly strong 84.2 pass-blocking grade. Blocking for Tom Brady helps, but Wirfs allowed just four total hits with a pair of sacks.

Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Aaron Donald had yet another ridiculous season. He finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting, made his seventh All-Pro team in a row, and had 12.5 sacks. He finished second in pressures with 86. According to PFF, Donald was an elite run defender (90.0) and pass rusher (92.7). He is the best player in the NFL, and it is not particularly close.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 16: Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald #99 and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Donte’ Deayon #21 celebrating during the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl LVI Championship parade on February 16, 2022, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Interior Defensive Line: Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

The first of two Steelers in the gold All-Splash team, Cameron Heyward started with a bang and did not let off the gas. In Week 1, Heyward recorded 12 pressures in Pittsburgh‘s upset win over the Buffalo Bills. He continued to dominate week-in and week-out, finishing with 61 pressures and ten sacks. 2021 marked his fifth Pro Bowl in a row and his third All-Pro nod.

Edge Defender: Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Maxx Crosby only had 8.0 sacks, but he led the NFL with a staggering 101 pressures. Also, he had four games with 11 or more including Week 1 and Week 18. Sure, the fourth-year Raiders edge-rusher played many weaker-than-average tackles, but Crosby was the only player in the NFL consistently torching them for double-digit pressures.

Edge Defender: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

The second Steeler in the gold All-Splash team, T.J. Watt led the NFL with a record-tying 22.5 sacks. He also led the NFL with 21 tackles for loss. Despite playing defense, Watt brought ridiculous value to the Steelers, almost single-handedly winning games against the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Baltimore Ravens.

Linebacker: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

While Micah Parsons played on the edge for a decent portion of the season, he played just enough at linebacker to earn a spot in the gold All-Splash team. Parsons was a unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year, posting 67 pressures and 13.0 sacks. He also notched three forced fumbles and a trio of pass deflections.

ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 16: Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons (11) runs during the NFC Wild Card game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys on January 16, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Linebacker: De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers

To the surprise of everyone in NFL circles, De’Vondre Campbell had a breakout season for the ages at age-28. He had 146 tackles, a pair of interceptions, five pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. Campbell dominated en route to one of the more well-rounded linebacker profiles in PFF history. He earned an 85.8 overall grade, 82.0 run-defense grade, 90.4 tackling grade, 73.8 pass-rush grade, and 83.1 coverage grade.

Cornerback: AJ Terrell, Atlanta Falcons

Both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams overlooked AJ Terrell, but he deserves a spot on the gold All-Splash team. Terrell earned an excellent 85.6 coverage grade with an overall 82.7 PFF grade. He had 18 defensive stops, 13 pass breakups, three interceptions, and a passer rating allowed of just 47.5. He allowed 200 yards in coverage, never allowing more than 32 in any game.

Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams

While Terrell was new to the NFL accolades, Jalen Ramsey would have made several iterations of the gold All-Splash team had it existed before this season. Ramsey edged out Terrell with an 86.3 coverage grade and 84.5 overall grade. He was also very sturdy as a run defender, earning an 86.0 grade. Ramsey picked off four passes, batted away 12 more, and allowed a passer rating of 74.4.

Safety: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans

After a down year in 2020, Kevin Byard answered in a big way and is a deserving addition to the gold All-Splash team. Byard earned the best PFF grade of his career with a 90.3 which was bolstered by his 90.7 coverage grade. Furthermore, he picked off five passes, knocked away six more. All told, Byard allowed an 82.0 passer rating.

HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 09: Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) and Tennessee Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton (26) tackle Houston Texans wide receiver Nico Collins (12) in the fourth quarter during the NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans on January 9, 2022 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Safety: Jevon Holland, Miami Dolphins

Jevon Holland had one of the games of the season with his elite performance against the Ravens in Week 10. After this week, Holland was sensational, picking up ground in the second safety spot in the gold All-Splash team. After rattling off several dominant weeks in a row, Holland finally secured his spot. He posted an 87.7 coverage grade and an 84.7 overall grade.

Defensive Back: J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots (Cornerback)

The Patriots’ star cornerback picked off eight passes and forced 12 additional incompletions. He allowed a passer rating of 47.8. He also had career-best grades across the board for PFF. J.C. Jackson had an 82.7 overall grade, 75.8 run-defense grade, and 83.0 coverage grade. He locked up a spot with an elite Week 17 performance with an interception and a 26.8 passer rating allowed.

Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Justin Tucker might have been a four-time All-Pro before 2021, but he had never led the NFL in field-goal percentage. He did so in 2021 with a 94.6% conversion rate. He also connected on an NFL-record 66-yard field goal in a win over the Detroit Lions. Tucker was perfect from 50-plus yards, and he made all 32 of his extra points.

Punter: AJ Cole, Las Vegas Raiders

AJ Cole made his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams in 2021, and he adds the gold All-Splash team to his accolades here. Cole led the NFL with an average of 50.0 yards per punt, a massive improvement on his 2020 season. He also lapped the field with an 84.6 punting grade. Only Bryan Anger (74.9) was within 10 points.

Kick Returner: Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota Vikings

Kene Nwangwu only returned 18 kicks on the season, but he was the only player in the NFL to score twice on them. He averaged an elite 32.2 yards per return, and he likely would have run away with the Pro Bowl and All-Pro spots had he had more returns. However, his two touchdowns are more than enough to warrant inclusion in the gold All-Splash team.

Punt Returner: Devin Duvernay, Baltimore Ravens

After being an elite kick returner in 2020, Devin Duvernay developed into the NFL’s best punt returner in 2021. While he did not have a punt-return touchdown, he led the NFL with an average return of 13.8 yards. He had a season-long of 42 yards, and he was a field-flipping weapon for the Ravens in his 16 games played.


Thanks for reading my gold All-Splash team! 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.