NFL Rookies Who Made All-Pro Teams in the Last DecadeMay 1, 2022
NFL Rookies Who Made All-Pro Teams in the Last Decade
The moment that every single pick is announced during the NFL draft, fans quickly start dreaming about how that player will excel as a rookie.
Although we understand most prospects need a few years to develop, some players truly do thrive immediately. Over the last decade, a little more than two dozen rookies have secured Associated Press All-Pro recognition in their professional debuts.
In fact, seven players have earned an every-down role and garnered first-team AP recognition since 2012. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is the most recent example.
While landing All-Pro honors as a rookie doesn't guarantee long-term success, it's hard to start an NFL career in a better way.
Blair Walsh bookended his rookie year in epic fashion.
In his first career game, Walsh drilled a 55-yarder to force overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He then buried a 38-yarder in the extra session, giving the Minnesota Vikings a 26-23 triumph to start what would be a playoff-bound year.
Walsh kicked a 29-yarder as time expired to defeat the rival Green Bay Packers in the regular-season finale, too. He totaled an NFL-high 35 made field goals, making all 10 of his attempts from 50-plus yards and claiming first-team AP recognition.
Washington running back Alfred Morris and New York Giants kick returner David Wilson also garnered second-team honors.
The next season, Minnesota once again had a special teamer as the lone first-team AP rookie.
Cordarrelle Patterson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, leading the NFL with 32.4 yards per return. Although he never developed into a star receiver as hoped, Patterson picked up two more All-Pro honors as a returner with the Vikings.
Meanwhile, the Packers believed they'd found a star in running back Eddie Lacy. He amassed 1,435 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns in 2013, winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in addition to his second-team AP choice.
Lacy's effectiveness tumbled after a strong 2014, but he occupied a key role for three seasons in Green Bay.
Early in the 2010s, the Dallas Cowboys invested heavily in offensive linemen. Zack Martin became the third opening-round blocker for the franchise in a four-year stretch.
And it certainly paid off.
Martin started at right guard, securing first-team AP recognition and ending second in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. He would've been the first lineman to win the latter award. He's since earned six All-Pro honors, including four more first-team nods.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley landed on the second team after racking up 133 tackles.
Tyler Lockett made a notable impact as a receiver for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, but he contributed most in the return game.
In addition to his 51 catches for 664 yards and six scores, Lockett returned a kick and a punt for a touchdown. The special teams scores propelled him to first-team AP distinction.
The second-team list featured then-St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. Not coincidentally, they captured the AP Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards, respectively, in 2015.
Gurley piled up 1,294 scrimmage yards and 10 scores, while Peters led the NFL with eight interceptions and 26 pass defenses.
Three familiar names adorned the All-Pro list in 2016.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott lived up to his billing as the fourth overall pick of the draft. He cruised to first-team AP recognition after pacing the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards, ending his rookie campaign just six yards shy of 2,000 from scrimmage.
Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin and then-Chiefs returner Tyreek Hill joined Elliott, too. Hill totaled three return touchdowns—two punts and one kickoff—beyond his contributions on offense.
Perhaps most impressively, Elliott, Conklin and Hill have all collected All-Pro honors since 2016.
Budda Baker carved out a role on the Arizona Cardinals defense right away, but he especially stood out on special teams. Baker ranked third in the NFL with tackles on coverage units.
Also a first-teamer, Jamal Agnew returned two punts for touchdowns with the Detroit Lions.
The biggest name wound up as a second-teamer; Alvin Kamara showed off his versatility for the New Orleans Saints. He rushed for 728 yards, caught 81 passes for 826 yards and totaled 13 touchdowns, sealing his All-Pro spot in the flex position.
The 2018 campaign brought the strongest All-Pro rookie class.
On the offensive side, Indianapolis Colts left guard Quenton Nelson put together a dominant year. His teammate, linebacker Darius Leonard, amassed an NFL-leading 163 tackles and earned AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James collected 105 tackles, three interceptions and 13 pass defenses. Rounding out the quartet of first-teamers, Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson averaged 48.2 yards per kick.
Leighton Vander Esch added a second-team mention, tallying a team-high 140 stops for the Cowboys.
Special teams, baby.
Rookies nearly swept the return group in 2019, accounting for three of the four returners on the AP All-Pro lists.
Saints punt returner Deonte Harris claimed first-team recognition with an NFL-high 338 yards and scored once. The second-team choice went to Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Next to Johnson on the second team, Kansas City Chiefs speedster Mecole Hardman notched 26.1 yards per kick return and also returned one for a score.
During the last decade, the 2020 season is the lone campaign with no rookies on the AP's first-team list.
Justin Jefferson nonetheless made a tremendous impression right away in Minnesota. After the Vikings surprisingly dealt star wideout Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, Jefferson reeled in 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Lions found a gem in punter Jack Fox, an undrafted free agent out of Rice. He averaged 49.1 yards per kick and made the Pro Bowl, too.
Interestingly enough, all three All-Pro rookies opted out of the 2020 college football season.
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons demanded first-team honors with his remarkable year. The runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year—not simply the rookie accolade, which he won—Parsons accumulated 84 tackles with a stunning 20 for loss.
The second-team selections were Cincinnati Bengals wideout Ja'Marr Chase and Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater. Chase grabbed 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns as the Bengals won their first AFC title in 33 years.