Position rankings: Midseason All-Pro team, defense

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With the schedule flipping from Week 8 to Week 9, we've reached the midpoint of the 2016 season -- which means it's time for Chris Wesseling to present his Midseason All-Pro team:

Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles and Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals

Perennially one of the league's most efficient per-snap pass rushers in a situational role, Graham has been waiting to shine in new coordinator Jim Schwartz's Wide-9 scheme since 2010. Graham has "just" four sacks this season, but he has been relentless off the edge; he and Von Miller are the only players with at least 40 QB pressures (combined sacks, hits and hurries). Disruption is production.

The 6-foot-8 Campbell plays a different game entirely, toggling between end and tackle, uprooting offensive linemen and wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. Between Campbell and Seattle's Cliff Avril, it's tough to pick the more dominant defensive force over the past month.

In the hunt: Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks; Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks; Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints; Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals.

Defensive tackle: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams and Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

Thanks to the prominence of analytics and the widespread study of game film over the past half-decade, interior defenders of Donald's ilk are finally receiving a modicum of the credit they're due. "Around The NFL Podcast" cohort Gregg Rosenthal believes Donald is the NFL's best player, outranking even the superstar quarterbacks. What separates Donald from other interior defenders is his combination of raw power and unparalleled speed off the snap. That quickness is enhanced by a swashbuckler's strong but dexterous hands, a relentless array of moves and the ferocious closing speed of an apex predator.

Graham isn't the only defensive star excelling under Schwartz. Transitioning from end to his more natural position of three-technique tackle, Cox routinely overpowers guards and centers to disrupt opposing ground attacks. He's the most integral force on an Eagles front seven that ranks among the league's stingiest units this season.

In the hunt: Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins; Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals; Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills; Leonard Williams, New York Jets.

Outside linebacker: Von Miller, Denver Broncos and Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

Miller rushed out to an early lead in the MVP race, sacking Cam Newton and Andrew Luck with the game on the line in Weeks 1 and 2 before terrorizing the offensive lines of Cincinnati and Tampa Bay in Weeks 3 and 4. The Broncos have lost a pair of games since then, but Miller remains pro football's dominant edge-rushing force.

Jones has notched five sacks -- compared to 8.5 at midseason with the Patriots in 2015 -- but he's been a more consistent, well-rounded player in Arizona. His performance in the 6-6 tie with Seattle in Week 7 was one of the most impressive we've seen this season, resulting in a sack, two QB hits, four more pressures and a forced fumble. If you want to stump for Melvin Ingram or Lorenzo Alexander in this spot, you'd have a strong argument.

In the hunt: Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers; Lorenzo Alexander, Buffalo Bills; Nick Perry, Green Bay Packers; Markus Golden, Arizona Cardinals.

Linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks and Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

League-leading tackler Zach Brown boasts the most impressive game by an inside linebacker this season (his 17-tackle performance against Jacoby Brissett's Patriots in Week 4), but Wagner and Kuechly are future Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers. Wagner has been the most consistent defensive star in Seattle, recapturing the 2014 form that resulted in an infamous MVP vote.

Prior to Week 8's blowout victory over Arizona, Carolina's once-stifling defense couldn't rush the passer or cover top receivers. The lone bright spot was Kuechly, the most instinctual linebacker of his era.

In the hunt: Zach Brown, Buffalo Bills; Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots; K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks; Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys.

Cornerback: Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos and Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs

As Rosenthal pointed out in his eye-opening weekly "Debrief" column, it's remarkable that Talib is enjoying the finest season of a Hall-of-Very-Good career after missing most of training camp. Opposing quarterbacks have managed a passer rating south of 40.0 when targeting Talib this season. As the Falcons showed in Week 5, it's best to avoid Denver's secondary altogether and try your chances with the linebackers in coverage.

The first half of Peters' rookie season left many with the misguided notion that he's a gambler, vulnerable to big plays. That's simply not the case. Since this time last season, though, Peters has been not just a premier playmaker but also a shutdown corner, ranking in the top five in lowest completion percentage and passer rating on throws in his coverage. Peters has a commanding lead in interceptions (13) since entering the league, three more than the next-closest player in that span, according to NFL Media Research. Peters also has nearly as many passes defensed this season (11) as the entire Jacksonville Jaguars team (15).

In the hunt: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals; Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants; Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons; Chris Harris, Denver Broncos; Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots.

Safety: Tony Jefferson, Arizona Cardinals and Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens

Last year, it was Tyrann Mathieu jumping off the film whenever Arizona was cued up on NFL Game Pass. This year, it's Jefferson turning in big plays near the line of scrimmage and in the defensive backfield on a weekly basis. The Cardinals will have some decisions to make next offseason, with Jefferson, Jones, Campbell and receiver Michael Floyd set to reach free agency.

The Chargers didn't want to overpay Weddle for his decline phase. The Ravens, on the other hand, were happy to roll the dice on the potential of a fourth Pro Bowl season for the 31-year-old. Chalk one up for Baltimore's front office, watching Weddle put the clamps on opposing tight ends like no other safety in the league. Don't let the Ravens' moribund offense obscure the fact that the defense has exceeded expectations this season.

In the hunt: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks; Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings; Landon Collins, New York Giants; Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles.

Punter: Marquette King, Oakland Raiders

King's booming right leg earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for averaging 54.6 yards per kick at Jacksonville in Week 7, but his left leg garnered just as much attention on a lightning-fast 27-yard scamper to convert a first down after a bad snap. Per Next Gen Stats, King reached 21.35 mph, the second-fastest speed of any Raiders player that week.

For all of that pizazz, it wasn't even King's most impressive performance of the season. Back in Week 4, he averaged 51.8 yards on eight punts, four of which were pinned inside the 20-yard line during the Raiders' 28-27 nail-biter of a win over the Ravens.

In the hunt: Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts.

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