2020 NFL All-Pro Team: Winners and Losers

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 8, 2021

2020 NFL All-Pro Team: Winners and Losers

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The Associated Press released its NFL All-Pro rosters Friday.

    And while there's usually less to gripe about on this occasion compared to the release of the Pro Bowl rosters, there were a few surprises and snubs worth highlighting, examining and/or criticizing. 

    Here are the winners and losers from the announcement.

Winner: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Each of the last seven All-Pro quarterbacks also won MVP. In this case, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers now looks like an MVP lock after receiving 46 of 50 All-Pro votes. (Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received two votes each.)

    With an unreal 48-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Rodgers posted the second-highest passer rating (121.5) in NFL history—behind his own 122.5 from 2011. Now, he'll almost certainly join Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Brett Favre and Johnny Unitas in the exclusive three-plus MVPs club.

    It cements an incredible turnaround for the 37-year-old, who wasn't particularly great in recent seasons and hadn't been an All-Pro (even a second-teamer) since 2014.

Loser: Denver Broncos S Justin Simmons

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    Justin Edmonds/Associated Press

    Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons was the only player to intercept five-plus passes and register 90 tackles. He made big play after big play in a season that was more impactful than his second-team All-Pro campaign in 2019.

    And yet the 27-year-old received just six votes, so he was left off both teams.

    First-teamers Tyrann Mathieu of the Kansas City Chiefs, Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals made a lot of big plays, but second-teamer Jamal Adams missed four games and didn't stand out beyond in the pass rush for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Simmons made a far more significant impact than Adams (who had four fewer takeaways), Baker (three fewer picks) and fellow runners-up Jessie Bates III of the Cincinnati Bengals and Adrian Amos of the Packers (significantly lower approximate value metrics). He got robbed.

Winner: Denver Broncos LT Garett Bolles

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    Justin Edmonds/Associated Press

    Meanwhile, the lone Broncos player to earn All-Pro recognition didn't live up to the hype as a first-round pick in 2017 until finally exploding with a stellar season as Denver's left tackle in 2020.

    Just last offseason, the team declined Garett Bolles' fifth-year option for 2021. But he responded by posting the third-best Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade for a tackle. Despite a lack of continuity and production elsewhere on offense, he didn't surrender a single sack.

    This more than makes up for the fact the 28-year-old was a Pro Bowl snub last month.

Loser: Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Only Tennessee Titans All-Pro Derrick Henry—who piled up 2,027 yards—averaged more rushing yards per game than the Minnesota Vikings' Dalvin Cook. The 25-year-old posted 111.2, while no other player in the NFC reached 80.0.

    But because Henry put together one of the most productive seasons in history while Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints scored a league-high 21 touchdowns, Cook didn't receive a single vote.

Winners: Aaron Donald and Travis Kelce

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce were the only unanimous All-Pros.

    Donald has a shot at his third Defensive Player of the Year award following a campaign with 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, while Kelce ranked in the top five in receptions (fifth, 105), receiving yards (second, 1,416) and touchdown catches (tied for fifth, 11). He became the first tight end to eclipse 1,400 yards while earning his third All-Pro honor.

    Donald became the 13th player to earn six All-Pro nods before turning 30.

    Now, we'll see if they also win Defensive and Offensive Player of the Year. Donald is in a tight race with Steelers All-Pro edge-defender T.J. Watt (who received 47 votes), while Kelce will have a tough time beating Aaron Rodgers (46) and Derrick Henry (47).

Loser: Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Because Travis Kelce earned all 50 votes at tight end, the second-team spot was left vacant. That's a shame, because if the Associated Press utilized the Borda count (ranked-choice voting like Major League Baseball), Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller might have received 50 second-place votes.

    Instead, the 28-year-old didn't get All-Pro recognition for a remarkable season in which he caught more passes than Kelce (107 to 105) and ranked in the top 10 with 1,196 receiving yards and nine touchdown grabs.

    Nobody made a mistake because Kelce had such a historically good season, but you almost wish one voter had selected Waller just because he had one of the most productive seasons in league history for a tight end (only two tight ends have caught more passes in one year).

Winners: The Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    Four Green Bay players—quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley—took up 36.4 percent of the spots on the All-Pro offense. The Packers also had two second-team defenders in edge-rusher Za'Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander.

    Meanwhile, four Indianapolis Colts—left guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard and special teamer George Odum—made the first team. The Colts too had a pair of second-teamers (center Ryan Kelly and long snapper Luke Rhodes), giving Green Bay and Indianapolis a combined 12 All-Pros.

    To boot, Packers safety Adrian Amos and Colts right tackle Braden Smith also received votes.

Loser: Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander picked the wrong year to have an outstanding season, at least when it comes to All-Pro credit.

    While the 23-year-old did earn a second-team nod after surrendering just 4.7 yards per target, he took a back seat to Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins and Jalen Ramsey of the Rams.

    This is a case in which one of those three was going to be snubbed. All were elite shutdown corners, and Howard would have been tough to deny after becoming the first player to intercept 10 passes in a season since Antonio Cromartie did so in 2007.

    But Alexander had slightly better coverage numbers than Ramsey: fewer yards allowed per target (4.7 to 5.0), a lower opposing passer rating (67.4 to 68.6) and the same number of touchdowns allowed (two). And he was the league's top-rated corner at Pro Football Focus.

    It's fair to wonder if Ramsey's name gave him the edge, as he received seven more votes than the lesser-known Alexander.