Predicting the NFL All-Pro Teams for 2022

Ian Wharton@@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVAugust 31, 2022

Predicting the NFL All-Pro Teams for 2022

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    There's no question that winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle for any NFL player or coach. Climbing that mountain takes an incredible amount of teamwork, talent and luck. Those who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy are in rare company.

    The next-best single-season accomplishment is an individual honor. The All-Pro team is extremely difficult to land on compared to earning a Pro Bowl bid. Of all the great players every season, only a handful at each position makes an All-Pro team.

    Reaching the All-Pro team takes the right blend of elite production and respect from voters. Some of the all-time greats were edged out more times than you'd imagine for the honor.

    For example, Tom Brady has only made six All-Pro teams in his 22-year career. Three were first-team nominations and three were second-team.

    We've scoured the stats from the last few years and projected this season's outcome to predict the NFL's All-Pro offensive and defensive teams in 2022. We'll do our best to nail all members of the first and second teams.

Quarterbacks

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    First Team: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The stage is set for Brady to retire after 2022 with as many accolades as possible. After leading the NFL in passing attempts, yards and touchdowns last year, anything is possible for Brady. The 45-year-old has a reloaded set of playmakers around him after the team signed Julio Jones and Russell Gage in free agency and brought back Chris Godwin.

    Once Godwin returns from his ACL tear, the Buccaneers will again have the undisputed crown for the best surrounding cast in the NFL. Brady will take full advantage of the receiving corps, featuring Mike Evans, and a backfield led by Leonard Fournette. He'll have to overcome some early injuries across the offensive line, but betting against Brady at this point in his career is foolish.


    Second Team: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    The NFL's stable of impressive quarterbacks is as deep as it's ever been. We're amid a shift from the old regime of Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees to a group headlined by Mahomes and Josh Allen. The amount of talent at the position 27 years old or younger is incredible.

    Mahomes gets the nod over Allen as the Chiefs impressed with their preseason display of a revamped offense without Tyreek Hill. Expect Mahomes to lead the NFL in attempts, which means his numbers will be as good as they've ever been. He'll be rewarded after doing more with less around him.

Running Backs

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    First Team: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

    The Associated Press only nominated one rusher in 2021 since Indianapolis Colts rusher Jonathan Taylor unanimously earned the distinction. It's doubtful that happens again in 2022.

    Taylor ran away with the nomination after Henry was injured midway through the year. But we're looking at a fierce competition if both stay on the field for all 17 games.

    Henry is the Titans' offense, and he was on pace for 1,991 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground before missing nine games with a foot injury. Taylor was slightly under those numbers, leading the NFL with 332 carries, 1,811 yards and 18 scores. Nick Chubb was 552 yards behind Taylor.

    The only man who can unseat Taylor in 2022 is Henry. The Titans are more built for him to take that workload, and Taylor will lose some opportunities with Matt Ryan in town. Expect Henry to push for another 2,000-yard season if he can stay healthy.

    Second Team: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

    Whichever back doesn't earn the first team nod will get second team. This purely about opportunity. Barring a dramatically more effective year from the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line, even Najee Harris can't compete with Henry's and Taylor's production.

Wide Receivers

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    First Team: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings; Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals; Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

    Several young receivers broke out with massive seasons in 2021 and will continue to dominate in 2022. Seeing Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams end up in Miami and Las Vegas, respectively, might hurt their production enough to take each out of the running. Relative to their previous teams, both have a stronger second receiver and downgraded at quarterback.

    We know what to expect out of Jefferson, Chase and Kupp. Both the Vikings and Bengals have room to increase their passing volume as their offenses ranked 11th and 20th in attempts last year, respectively. That means the sky is the limit for each.

    Kupp led the NFL in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns last year. Projecting him as an All-Pro again is far from a surprise.


    Second Team: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills; CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

    With the San Francisco 49ers transitioning from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance, the door is open for other receivers to earn top accolades if Deebo Samuel's targets drop. Diggs was already on his heels last year, totaling 1,225 yards and 10 scores. He could be in for a year more similar to 2020 when he had 1,535 yards so long as Josh Allen's accuracy returns to the level he produced that year.

    Lamb is a complete newcomer to the All-Pro team. He finished 14th amongst receivers in yards last year but is in for a bigger workload in what was the top-scoring offense of 2021. Amari Cooper is in Cleveland, and Michael Gallup is working his way back from a torn ACL.

    Lamb would need to produce around 20 more catches and 300 yards to get into the range of last year's All-Pro members. It's far from impossible for the 23-year-old to get there as he enters his prime.

Tight Ends

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    First Team: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

    We're keeping things chalk from the 2021 All-Pro team. It's conceivable for either George Kittle or Kyle Pitts to increase their production and prove to be real competition to either Andrews or Kelce, but these two players define the playmaking units on their offense. Each also plays with an elite quarterback, whereas Lance and Marcus Mariota are question marks.

    Andrews finished first in tight end receiving yards with 1,361, and Kelce wasn't far behind at 1,125 yards. Each produced what would've been a terrific season at wide receiver, let alone tight end.

    Andrews was only 55 yards behind Kelce's NFL record for most yards by a tight end in a single season, set in 2020.

    Second Team: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    It's hard to imagine Kelce ever sees a decline at the rate he's going. Turning 33 in October, Kelce is still one of the fastest and most dominant talents at the position. He's 994 yards away for 10,000 career receiving yards.

    Pitts wasn't too far behind Kelce in 2021 with 1,026 yards, but he recorded only one touchdown. If he can reach the end zone closer to 10 times, he'd make a strong case to land on the All-Pro team.

    The bar is extremely high, and his situation is far less advantageous for him to produce like that.

Offensive Linemen

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    First Team: LT Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers; RT Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles; LG Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts; RG Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys; C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

    The one group of All-Pro teamers that sees less change than most is the offensive line. This is such a reputation-based position that it's hard for newcomers to break into. Injuries open the door as much as any outside factor.

    With Tristan Wirfs already banged up with a minor oblique injury and the Buccaneers suffering multiple losses across their line, we're projecting Lane Johnson to take advantage. Johnson will benefit from a strong running game once again and is a similarly premier pass-blocker. The margins are that small for someone to lose their spot.

    The other change we'll see on the first team is Nelson grabbing Joel Bitonio's spot. The Colts look to be a more successful team than the Browns in 2022, and that increased attention will bode well for Nelson as he's entering a contract season.


    Second Team: LT David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers; RT Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; LG Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns; RG Shaq Mason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

    If Bakhtiari is fully healthy, he's undeniably one of the best blindside blockers in the NFL and will earn a spot on the All-Pro team. He'll be joined by a mixture of familiar and new faces.

    The most notable changes come at right guard and center.

    Mason hasn't made an All-Pro team yet but is a fantastic pass blocker who rejoins Brady in Tampa Bay. He'll also benefit from playing next to Wirfs. The former Patriot was somehow netted for only a fifth-round pick but has been a consistent presence throughout his career.

    Humphrey made a strong impression in his first season with the Chiefs. It'll be tough for him to edge out 2021 second-teamer Corey Linsley of the Chargers, but with Mahomes possibly throwing more, Humphrey's contributions will stand out even more.

Interior Defensive Linemen

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    First Team: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

    Only four defensive tackles logged nine or more sacks in 2021, but not all of them made the All-Pro team. Donald is a lock to make it once again since he's arguably the best non-quarterback in this era of football. But figuring out the next-best three is difficult.

    We're predicting a newcomer to take the leap into the first team.

    Simmons earned a second-team nod with 8.5 sacks last year, but the 25-year-old was even more dominant than his sack total suggests. He's one of the most physically imposing trench players in the league. As the Titans return to prominence with Henry back, Simmons will earn more attention.


    Second Team: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; Jonathan Allen, Washington Commanders

    Both Jones and Allen were phenomenal last year. Jones continued to anchor the Chiefs defense with his nine sacks. The 28-year-old has no reason to slow down now after he earned Second-Team All-Pro last year.

    Allen had nine sacks but wasn't honored as the Commanders produced a lackluster season. Missing Chase Young at the start of the season could either help or hurt his cause. Allen produced only three of his sacks without Young in the lineup last year.

Edge-Rushers

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    First Team: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

    The easiest call in the league for first-team All-Pro is the AFC North combination of T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett. These fierce pass rushers are two of the most gifted athletes in the NFL and combine their natural talent with the unprecedented skill of bringing down quarterbacks. They combined for 38.5 sacks in 2021.


    Second Team: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers; Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

    Could the Bosa brothers be united on the All-Pro second team? It's possible if they can stay healthy again. Nick Bosa has produced like a top-tier edge threat, totaling 15.5 sacks last year and 21 tackles for loss. It's Joey who will have to find another gear, as he finished with 10.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in 2021.

    The Chargers added veteran Khalil Mack this offseason, who will either create new sack opportunities or take away some from the elder Bosa brother. Joey will likely need at least 13 sacks and continue to force a high number of fumbles to reach this distinction.

Linebackers

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    First Team: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys; Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams; Shaquille Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

    2021 was one of the most productive seasons for linebackers in the history of the NFL. A whopping 18 linebackers logged at least 122 total tackles over the first 17-game season. Only 13 linebackers hit the mark in 2020, and 14 did it in 2019. Neither season can compare to the 33 linebackers who broke the 100-tackle mark last season.

    Parsons and Leonard are two locks to make the first team again if their production closely resembles their 2021 marks. Both produce more turnovers and sacks than their peers. They're true unicorns at the position.

    Wagner gets the last nomination as he joins the Rams to be the primary tackling threat. While he produced 170 combined tackles last year, former teammate Jordyn Brooks had 184. Both could see even more on their own in 2022.


    Second Team: Logan Wilson, Cincinnati Bengals; De'Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers

    Wilson produced 100 tackles, four interceptions, four pass breakups, one sack and a forced fumble in just 13 games. He became a force in the playoffs, showing his skill in coverage against Darren Waller and Travis Kelce.

    The public didn't know much about Wilson prior to 2021, but that excuse is gone after the Bengals and Wilson emerged as AFC powerhouses. Expect Wilson to get more attention after his breakout season.

    Campbell already made first-team All-Pro last year after his own huge year. His 146 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, two sacks and five pass breakups proved his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.

Cornerbacks

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    First Team: J.C. Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers; Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

    Let's face it: The cornerback discussion often revolves around interceptions. Few cornerbacks consistently can produce turnovers, and this skill is valued more than the ability to provide great coverage. Only a small handful of corners are "lockdown" defenders capable of completely deterring targets.

    Thus, we're favoring the two corners that balance great coverage with forcing interceptions better than anyone in the NFL right now. Jackson earned second-team honors last season after logging eight picks with New England and landed on a more talented Chargers defense after securing a huge contract in free agency. Howard has continued to be a turnover machine throughout his career, averaging seven per year over his last three full seasons.


    Second Team: Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams; Pat Surtain II, Broncos

    We're giving the second-team nods to more consistent coverage options. For as well as Trevon Diggs played by forcing 11 picks last year, he earned the reputation of being too much of a high-risk player. His interceptions will drop because that's an unsustainable number, and voters will turn their attention elsewhere. Expect Surtain to become a hot name in his second season.

    Both Ramsey and Surtain are cerebral, physical and constantly in a position to challenge passes at the catch point. Their technique is masterful and deserves recognition in a crowded field.

Safeties

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    First Team: Derwin James Jr., Los Angeles Chargers; Micah Hyde, Buffalo Bills

    The safety position has become increasingly difficult to narrow down as the NFL has become more pass-centric. Players who used to be standout talents are now in a large bucket of impactful-but-not-foundational pieces. We're looking for an even rarer playmaker at the position to make All-Pro.

    Both James and Hyde embody that moniker as they've filled stat sheets while filling every role their coordinators could have thrown at them. And while Hyde earned second-team honors last year, teammate Jordan Poyer landed on the first-team. They're each deserving, so we're just rotating such that Hyde gets his own spotlight.


    Second Team: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers; Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals

    It's almost impossible to distinguish Fitzpatrick and Baker from our first-teamers. Both are highly versatile and equally dangerous in the passing game and run defense. Each hits the right balance of tackling volume and ball production to fit on either team.

    But Pittsburgh and Arizona aren't expected to be quite as good as the Chargers and Bills. Because of that, these two suffer slightly compared to their peers. Nonetheless, they're just as talented.

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