NFL Pro Bowl 2021: PFF's selections for NFC, AFC Pro Bowl rosters | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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NFL Pro Bowl 2021: PFF's selections for NFC, AFC Pro Bowl rosters

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) hands the ball to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL will soon release its official Pro Bowl rosters for the 2020 NFL season, so it’s time for PFF to weigh in with the help of the only football database that has grades on every player from every play of the season.

The Pro Bowl still insists on using some outdated quirks that desperately need an overhaul, so we’ve decided to fix what needs fixing for this team.

Rather than try to make sense of their position designations or the players that NFL teams arbitrarily choose to place on the ballot, we have just decided to select from groups of edge defenders, interior defensive linemen and off-ball linebackers according to conference and who we believe to be deserving of the honor.

Here are the players from each conference who should make up the 2020 Pro Bowl rosters, given the previous 14 weeks of NFL action.

NFC

Quarterbacks

Rodgers' revenge tour is still in full swing. The Packers quarterback has been utterly imperious outside of one ugly game against the Bucs, and he is the best-graded quarterback in the league this season. He has thrown 37 big-time throws, just one off the league lead, and he has offset them by only seven turnover-worthy plays, half that of the players ahead of him.

Russell Wilson has recently gone off the boil, but his early play keeps him on the roster, while Tom Brady has played better than his stats would suggest for most of the season.

Running Backs

Cook has racked up almost 1,000 rushing yards after contact this season, trailing only Derrick Henry, while Kamara was the entirety of the New Orleans offense for much of the season before taking more of a back seat with Taysom Hill at quarterback. Montgomery trails only Henry and Cook in broken tackles (43).

Fullback

The most heavily used fullback in the NFL is also the best. Juszczyk is closing in on 400 snaps of offense this season and has earned a PFF rushing grade of 85.9 across 13 carries.

Wide Receivers

Adams leads the league in yards per route run (3.03) and has been the best receiver in the league this season. The Vikings' duo of Jefferson and Thielen has been incredibly productive, with Jefferson racking up the yards and Thielen coming down with the spectacular touchdown catches.

DeAndre Hopkins moved conferences but remains one of the game’s best. He has dropped just one of the 95 catchable passes thrown his way this season.

Tight Ends

The big production at tight end comes from the AFC, but T.J. Hockenson has been impressive for the Lions this season in his own right, generating a passer rating when targeted of 97.3.

Tonyan has been a useful addition for Aaron Rodgers and is tied for the position lead with nine touchdowns, with four of those scores coming from passes thrown over 20 yards downfield.

Offensive Tackles

Bakhtiari has allowed just seven total pressures this season, while Williams has been back to burying guys in the run game for the 49ers. Duane Brown has PFF grades of at least 83.0 in every facet of play we track.

Offensive Guards

Martin has missed some time due to injury, but he was the best guard in the game when he was healthy, despite the line falling to pieces around him. Marpet’s loss for a stretch in Tampa was also keenly felt, and he has six perfect games of pass protection on the season.

Brandon Scherff has earned a PFF grade of at least 79.0 in all facets of play for the Washington Football Team.

Centers

Linsley has been by far the best center in football this season, earning a PFF grade almost 10 points clear of the next closest competition. He has allowed just two total pressures all year and actually has an even better run-blocking grade.

Meanwhile, Ragnow has been a much-improved player for the Lions and is steadily an excellent player inside. The Lions center has allowed nine pressures all year and has grades north of 74.0 as both a run-blocker and pass-blocker.

Nov 8, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets the ball away before pressure from Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Edge Defenders

The very best edge-rushing performances have come from the AFC this season, with the one exception being Khalil Mack, who may not have the pressure numbers but has been destroying blockers all season only to see the ball gone before he can get home.

Demarcus Lawrence has been a problem on a Dallas defense that hasn’t presented many for opposing offenses, and Brian Burns has developed into a real impact pass-rusher in Carolina. Chase Young just squeezes into this last spot in what will likely be the first of many in his career.

Interior Defensive Linemen

Aaron Donald is on pace to once again lead the league in total pressures, as he has 75 through 14 weeks, 16 more than any other interior rusher.  Grady Jarrett has 49 pressures himself on a Falcons defense that has struggled to help him out, while Jonathan Allen has been the best pass-rusher on that formidable Washington defensive front. David Onyemata has quietly had a career year for the Saints and has multiple impact games with a PFF grade of at least 87.0.

Linebackers

Wagner continues to do incredible work even as the rest of the Seattle defense disintegrates around him. He has 20 total pressures on the blitz, six total pass breakups and a PFF run-defense grade of 90.4.

Eric Kendricks has backed up last season’s excellent work with another strong showing for Minnesota and has a PFF coverage grade of 90.7. Fred Warner is right behind him (87.8) and has allowed a passer rating of only 76.8 when targeted.

Cornerbacks

Ramsey’s coverage assignments are what allows Troy Hill and Darious Williams to excel in their roles while sheltered from the scariest receivers in the league, but that shouldn’t diminish how well Williams, in particular, has played with that help. He has allowed 46.6% of passes thrown his way to be caught for a passer rating of only 50.1.

Jaire Alexander has allowed a total of 282 yards in coverage all season, while James Bradberry is having a career year despite drawing assignments like D.K. Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins on back-to-back weeks.

Safeties

Johnson has seven pass breakups and an interception to his name this season, and while Budda Baker’s most memorable play was being chased down by D.K. Metcalf, he has been a playmaker all year for Arizona. Jimmie Ward is backing up his impressive 2019 campaign with another excellent season in 2020.

Special Teams

Dec 6, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes leads the league in big-time throws (38) and trails only Aaron Rodgers in PFF grade on the season. Deshaun Watson is performing minor miracles in Houston with little to no help around him and has yet to earn a single-game PFF grade lower than 66.0 overall.

Josh Allen has raised his game to levels only the Bills Mafia thought him capable of. He currently has an adjusted completion rate of 78.8%.

Running Backs

The analytics say running backs don’t matter, but Derrick Henry matters for the Tennessee Titans. Henry is the only back in the league with more than 1,000 rushing yards after contact and hasn’t been held to fewer than 57 yards all season. Nick Chubb leads the league in yards after contact per attempt (4.1), while James Robinson has been one of the few bright spots for a hapless Jaguars team, trailing only Henry and Dalvin Cook in rushing yards and yards after contact.

Fullback

Fullbacks aren’t exactly heavily used in the AFC. Andy Janovich has just 146 snaps to his name this season, even including nullified plays, but he does at least have solid grades as a blocker, which can’t be said for the players above him in terms of workload.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs has changed things for the Buffalo Bills' passing attack, giving them an elite receiver who can win at all levels of the defense. He leads the league in catches (100) and is second in targets (130).

Keenan Allen leads all receivers in targets (136) and has just two drops on the season, while Tyreek Hill is the most dangerous receiver in the league and a touchdown waiting to happen at any moment.

Corey Davis gets less recognition than A.J. Brown in Tennessee’s offense, but their numbers are very close, and he has a higher PFF grade over the season in a true breakout year. Davis is second in the league in yards per route run (2.76).

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce is on pace for a record-setting season. He currently leads the NFL in receiving yards, which would be the first time a tight end has ever done that over a season, and he has more yards than the No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends in the NFC put together. Darren Waller is an intimidating weapon in his own right, generating a passer rating of 108.4 when the ball comes his way.

Offensive Tackles

The transformation in Garett Bolles has been impressive to watch. He hasn’t allowed a sack all season across 481 pass blocks, the most of any tackle that hasn’t surrendered a sack. His run blocking has stayed strong, and he has cut down on his penalty count.

Michael Onwenu’s best games have come at guard, but the rookie surprise has been excellent wherever he has been asked to line up this year for the Patriots, surrendering 13 total pressures in 14 weeks. Jack Conklin has been a huge boost to the Browns' offensive line and one of the best run-blockers in football.

Guards

Wyatt Teller has been arguably the best offensive lineman in football this season and a truly dominant run-blocking force for the Browns. He has allowed 10 total pressures in 10 games of action and has a 93.6 run-blocking grade. His teammate, Joel Bitonio, has also been excellent, allowing just 12 total pressures with only one penalty to his name. Shaq Mason has again been one of the best run-blocking linemen in football for the Patriots, earning an 86.4 PFF run-blocking grade through 14 weeks.

Centers

Brandon Linder has missed some time, but he has been as good as any center in the league outside of Corey Linsley when healthy, surrendering just four total pressures in nine games. J.C. Tretter makes a trio of Browns interior linemen on this roster.

Oct 25, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrates the missed field goal by Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Edge Defenders

T.J. Watt has been on a quest for Defensive Player of the Year for a couple of seasons now and currently leads all edge rushers with 68 total pressures. He also has a forced fumble and even an interception to his name. Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa are hot on his heels and represent two of the top four grades at the position. While J.J. Watt may be a little off his best play, he is still causing problems for opposing offenses.

Interior Defensive Linemen

Heyward may be the best interior lineman in the league not named Aaron Donald, and he has plenty of help around him in Pittsburgh to ensure he can’t be double-teamed to death the way some other players can. Chris Jones has 50 total pressures for the Chiefs, and DeForest Buckner has been better this season than any year in San Francisco, which was what earned him the monster extension and trade in the first place. Lastly, Jeffery Simmons has flashed the ability to dominate like few other players, and over the season, he is right on the fringes of the very best players at his position.

Linebackers

The AFC linebackers can’t quite match their NFC counterparts, but there have been some impressive performances. Myles Jack has the same number of defensive stops (43) as Bobby Wagner, while Nick Kwiatkoski has a top-10 coverage grade at the position (81.7) for the Raiders. Alexander Johnson has proven that last year was no fluke, even if he isn’t quite matching those highs this year for Denver — his 51 defensive stops are second in the league among all players.

Cornerbacks

Howard’s interceptions get all of the attention, but perhaps more impressive is that he has seven full games with fewer than 30 receiving yards allowed and three in which he didn’t give up a single catch.

Bryce Callahan has been one of the best corners in football despite being asked to play outside — away from his typical slot alignment — due to injuries. Callahan has still yet to surrender a catch longer than 19 yards all season.

Rhodes has been reborn in Indy, allowing an NFL-low 42.9% completion rate, and Marlon Humphrey has been a reliable and versatile cover guy for the Ravens.

Safeties

Jessie Bates has been one of the few bright spots for the Cincinnati Bengals this season. At 91.1, he has by far the highest PFF coverage grade at the position, five grading points better than anyone else. Bates has three picks and 11 pass breakups.

Justin Simmons is backing up last season’s dominant season and has 25 defensive stops — sixth-most among safeties — despite playing most of his snaps deep. Marcus Maye has stepped into the role vacated by Jamal Adams; he's been a real standout for the Jets defense this season.

Special Teams

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