Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 01:45 p.m.
Updated: Aug. 21, 2018 at 03:39 p.m.

Projecting the 2018 first-team All-Pros

Who will be the All-Pros of tomorrow? Well, as in, after the 2018 NFL season wraps?

You're in luck. The AP changed its position parameters a couple years ago, and it's still hard to get used to. Especially on the D-line, with categories for edge rushers and interior linemen. The edge group includes 3-4 rush linebackers like, say, Von Miller. Yet, pass rushers Chandler Jones (first team) and Miller (second team) made the All-Pro team as linebackers in 2017. Confused yet? And if you're a 4-3 OLB, you get noooooo respect, as not a one made the prestigious first team last year. You know why? No sacks. What B.S. Not to worry -- I corrected that madness with a speedy OLB.

Speaking of, this prediction of the 2018 first-team All-Pro honorees is a quick read, as the pain came in the picking. Send frustrations to the usual place ... @HarrisonNFL.

28 Photos Total

  • With Carson Wentz coming off major surgery and Tom Brady running out of WRs (at least while Julian Edelman is unavailable), Rodgers will be first-team All-Pro. The Packers' addition of Jimmy Graham jacked up the league's peanut gallery. Who am <i>I</i> pumped about? Davante Adams, who has really come on. 28

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    With Carson Wentz coming off major surgery and Tom Brady running out of WRs (at least while Julian Edelman is unavailable), Rodgers will be first-team All-Pro. The Packers' addition of Jimmy Graham jacked up the league's peanut gallery. Who am I pumped about? Davante Adams, who has really come on.

  • With a new crop of wideouts in town, the Cowboys must lean on the run game. Further, Dallas proved last year that it can't win when relying on Dak Prescott offensively. Fully expect Elliott to get over 350 touches at a <i>minimum</i>, with that figure edging closer to 400. 27

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Running back: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

    With a new crop of wideouts in town, the Cowboys must lean on the run game. Further, Dallas proved last year that it can't win when relying on Dak Prescott offensively. Fully expect Elliott to get over 350 touches at a minimum, with that figure edging closer to 400.

  • Compared to other major stars who missed most of the 2017 season, this guy is in the least worrisome situation. Johnson suffered a broken wrist and <i>not</i> a lower-body injury, which is the kryptonite of running backs. Yes, he finds himself in a new offense, thanks to a change in coaches -- but, well, Johnson <i>is</i> the Cardinals' offense. 26

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Flex: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

    Compared to other major stars who missed most of the 2017 season, this guy is in the least worrisome situation. Johnson suffered a broken wrist and not a lower-body injury, which is the kryptonite of running backs. Yes, he finds himself in a new offense, thanks to a change in coaches -- but, well, Johnson is the Cardinals' offense.

  • Brown is the AFC's version of Aaron Donald: Over the last four years, he's been the best player at his job in the NFL. With Martavis Bryant having left Pittsburgh and running back Le'Veon Bell sitting out training camp (and perhaps coming back sluggishly), look for Brown's targets to soar through the roof. 25

    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Brown is the AFC's version of Aaron Donald: Over the last four years, he's been the best player at his job in the NFL. With Martavis Bryant having left Pittsburgh and running back Le'Veon Bell sitting out training camp (and perhaps coming back sluggishly), look for Brown's targets to soar through the roof.

  • The Giants sorely missed Beckham last season. New York's passing "attack" was more of a "mild passing surge" without its WR1. Now, though, Beckham is back healthy. If you take that into account, along with the threat of a running game, courtesy of rookie Saquon Barkley, and better protection for Eli Manning, well ... look out. 24

    Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

    The Giants sorely missed Beckham last season. New York's passing "attack" was more of a "mild passing surge" without its WR1. Now, though, Beckham is back healthy. If you take that into account, along with the threat of a running game, courtesy of rookie Saquon Barkley, and better protection for Eli Manning, well ... look out.

  • Kelce has replaced Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in the NFL, mostly because Gronk has trouble staying healthy, while Kelce's production (80 catches, 1,013 yards and 5.7 touchdowns per season over the past three seasons) is undeniable. With the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce being an easy form to find for young QB Patrick Mahomes, the three-time Pro Bowler should be leaned on heavily. 23

    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Tight end: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    Kelce has replaced Rob Gronkowski as the top tight end in the NFL, mostly because Gronk has trouble staying healthy, while Kelce's production (80 catches, 1,013 yards and 5.7 touchdowns per season over the past three seasons) is undeniable. With the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce being an easy form to find for young QB Patrick Mahomes, the three-time Pro Bowler should be leaned on heavily.

  • Three veteran NFC East left tackles could claim this spot. Like, say, Jason Peters, who enjoyed a fantastic 2017 before getting hurt. The Redskins' Trent Williams was dominant. But Smith's value shined through when he missed a game in Atlanta last season -- and his backups combined to give up <i>six</i> sacks. When healthy, Smith is elite. 22

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Left tackle: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

    Three veteran NFC East left tackles could claim this spot. Like, say, Jason Peters, who enjoyed a fantastic 2017 before getting hurt. The Redskins' Trent Williams was dominant. But Smith's value shined through when he missed a game in Atlanta last season -- and his backups combined to give up six sacks. When healthy, Smith is elite.

  • Making first-team All-Pro would represent quite a leap for the Saints sophomore. Yet, given the way Ramczyk performed last season, it's not a stretch to predict he'll receive this honor. The right tackle only allowed only two sacks as a rookie. That's remarkable. 21

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    Right tackle: Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

    Making first-team All-Pro would represent quite a leap for the Saints sophomore. Yet, given the way Ramczyk performed last season, it's not a stretch to predict he'll receive this honor. The right tackle only allowed only two sacks as a rookie. That's remarkable.

  • Signing Norwell was a huge move for the Jags. With a possible Super Bowl berth in front of this road grader, I don't anticipate Norwell's play will fall off. He lost on football's greatest stage with the Panthers a few years ago, but since then, he's turned himself into the best LG in the NFL. 20

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Left guard: Andrew Norwell, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Signing Norwell was a huge move for the Jags. With a possible Super Bowl berth in front of this road grader, I don't anticipate Norwell's play will fall off. He lost on football's greatest stage with the Panthers a few years ago, but since then, he's turned himself into the best LG in the NFL.

  • One of the unfortunate injuries last season was the broken ankle that cost Yanda 14 games. Before he was hurt, Yanda was the premier <i>offensive lineman</i> in pro football (not just guard). He's healthy now, and he sounded as ready as ever during Ravens camp. Tough player. 19

    Al Tielemans/Associated Press

    Right guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens

    One of the unfortunate injuries last season was the broken ankle that cost Yanda 14 games. Before he was hurt, Yanda was the premier offensive lineman in pro football (not just guard). He's healthy now, and he sounded as ready as ever during Ravens camp. Tough player.

  • Mack is getting on in years at age 32, but he's also coming off what might have been his two best pro seasons. Throughout NFL history, centers have performed at a high level well into their 30s. Think of Jim Otto, Mike Webster, Jeff Van Note, Ray Donaldson and Kevin Mawae. 18

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    Center: Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons

    Mack is getting on in years at age 32, but he's also coming off what might have been his two best pro seasons. Throughout NFL history, centers have performed at a high level well into their 30s. Think of Jim Otto, Mike Webster, Jeff Van Note, Ray Donaldson and Kevin Mawae.

  • There are times Jordan jumps off the screen when you're watching him play. While the Saints' turnaround was attributed to the defense, and much (deserved) credit went to Marshon Lattimore, Jordan was brilliant in 2017: He had 13 sacks, 11 tipped passes and two forced fumbles. 17

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Edge rusher: Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

    There are times Jordan jumps off the screen when you're watching him play. While the Saints' turnaround was attributed to the defense, and much (deserved) credit went to Marshon Lattimore, Jordan was brilliant in 2017: He had 13 sacks, 11 tipped passes and two forced fumbles.

  • Miller represents the pinnacle of the sport for all edge-rushing freaks, given his productivity, notoriety and absolute domination of a Super Bowl. Now that Denver's offense can at least move the ball with Case Keenum at the controls, Miller should be in more competitive situations. That's a good thing. 16

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Edge rusher: Von Miller, Denver Broncos

    Miller represents the pinnacle of the sport for all edge-rushing freaks, given his productivity, notoriety and absolute domination of a Super Bowl. Now that Denver's offense can at least move the ball with Case Keenum at the controls, Miller should be in more competitive situations. That's a good thing.

  • Of the high-profile talents holding out, only Donald will make the All-Pro team. Simply put, he's the top non-QB in the NFL. If Donald signs too late, next man up is ... Carolina's Kawann Short. 15

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Interior lineman: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

    Of the high-profile talents holding out, only Donald will make the All-Pro team. Simply put, he's the top non-QB in the NFL. If Donald signs too late, next man up is ... Carolina's Kawann Short.

  • There are so many stout interior defensive linemen now, especially if you count 3-4 DEs (who essentially operate like 4-3 DTs). Cox gets the nod over Kawann Short, Geno Atkins and Cameron Heyward, partly because every time I watch him, he is either disruptive or double-teamed. 14

    Al Tielemans/Associated Press

    Interior lineman: Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

    There are so many stout interior defensive linemen now, especially if you count 3-4 DEs (who essentially operate like 4-3 DTs). Cox gets the nod over Kawann Short, Geno Atkins and Cameron Heyward, partly because every time I watch him, he is either disruptive or double-teamed.

  • The speedy linebacker is a huge piece of the Jaguars' forceful defense, even if Smith's name doesn't ring a bell with the casual fan. He can tackle, cover and create turnovers. His ability to get out in space allows Jacksonville to often just rush the front four. #Underrated 13

    Margaret Bowles/Associated Press

    Linebacker: Telvin Smith Sr., Jacksonville Jaguars

    The speedy linebacker is a huge piece of the Jaguars' forceful defense, even if Smith's name doesn't ring a bell with the casual fan. He can tackle, cover and create turnovers. His ability to get out in space allows Jacksonville to often just rush the front four. #Underrated

  • Watching Wagner throughout a game is like seeing one of those Skee-Ball machines at Dave & Buster's that spits out tickets nonstop (well, if you're worth a darn). Wagner racks up tackles, a testament to his ability to I.D. plays. He's the old-school sideline-to-sideline type. 12

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

    Watching Wagner throughout a game is like seeing one of those Skee-Ball machines at Dave & Buster's that spits out tickets nonstop (well, if you're worth a darn). Wagner racks up tackles, a testament to his ability to I.D. plays. He's the old-school sideline-to-sideline type.

  • When healthy, Kuechly performs at a Hall of Fame level. Kuechly, Wagner and Sean Lee harken back to a time when the middle linebacker was the most important player on defense. Kuechly remains in his prime, as evidenced by 125 tackles, three picks and three fumble recoveries last year. 11

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Linebacker: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

    When healthy, Kuechly performs at a Hall of Fame level. Kuechly, Wagner and Sean Lee harken back to a time when the middle linebacker was the most important player on defense. Kuechly remains in his prime, as evidenced by 125 tackles, three picks and three fumble recoveries last year.

  • Other than lacking confidence and being shy, Ramsey owns all the traits of an All-Pro cornerback. OK, maybe not. Ramsey stifles nearly every receiver he lines up against, and he cannot be overpowered by the larger wideouts. He allowed completions on just 51 percent of throws his way in 2017. 10

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Other than lacking confidence and being shy, Ramsey owns all the traits of an All-Pro cornerback. OK, maybe not. Ramsey stifles nearly every receiver he lines up against, and he cannot be overpowered by the larger wideouts. He allowed completions on just 51 percent of throws his way in 2017.

  • Not many rookies create the impact Lattimore pulled off in 2017 -- <i>especially</i> at corner. Lattimore was considered the key to revitalizing the Saints' once-soft defense. The 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year allowed a measly 42.7 passer rating when in man coverage, per Pro Football Focus. 9

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Cornerback: Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

    Not many rookies create the impact Lattimore pulled off in 2017 -- especially at corner. Lattimore was considered the key to revitalizing the Saints' once-soft defense. The 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year allowed a measly 42.7 passer rating when in man coverage, per Pro Football Focus.

  • Smith continues to be a stud for Mike Zimmer's defense. He keeps making plays, like <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000949040/Harrison-Smith-reads-Bortles-perfectly-on-interception">his interception of Blake Bortles last week</a>. His pick <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000859418/Mitchell-Trubisky-throws-pivotal-INT-to-Harrison-Smith-in-crunch-time">in Chicago last season</a> saved the day for the Vikings. Smith is a smart player who has been outstanding in run support when needed. 8

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Safety: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

    Smith continues to be a stud for Mike Zimmer's defense. He keeps making plays, like his interception of Blake Bortles last week. His pick in Chicago last season saved the day for the Vikings. Smith is a smart player who has been outstanding in run support when needed.

  • How much more motivated can a player be? His 2017 season <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000906711/Can-t-Miss-Play-Diggs-MIRACULOUS-last-second-TD-SEALS-Vikings-win">ended in embarrassment</a>. But did you notice how everyone rushed to his defense? That's because he played at a near-All-Pro level as a rookie <i>last year</i>. With Kenny Vaccaro gone, more will be expected of Williams this year. 7

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Safety: Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints

    How much more motivated can a player be? His 2017 season ended in embarrassment. But did you notice how everyone rushed to his defense? That's because he played at a near-All-Pro level as a rookie last year. With Kenny Vaccaro gone, more will be expected of Williams this year.

  • Seems like a lot of folks have forgotten about Mathieu. Once considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, the Honey Badger was derailed by injuries. After enduring a mediocre season in 2017, he'll be a good fit in Houston. He's healthy. And the Texans will deploy him everywhere. 6

    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Defensive back: Tyrann Mathieu, Houston Texans

    Seems like a lot of folks have forgotten about Mathieu. Once considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, the Honey Badger was derailed by injuries. After enduring a mediocre season in 2017, he'll be a good fit in Houston. He's healthy. And the Texans will deploy him everywhere.

  • Tucker might have only finished seventh in field-goal percentage last year (91.9 percent), but he's still the best going right now. His three misses were from 58, 62 and 46 yards. He was perfect on extra-point attempts, whereas every kicker ahead of him in FG percentage missed at least two. Wow. 5

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

    Tucker might have only finished seventh in field-goal percentage last year (91.9 percent), but he's still the best going right now. His three misses were from 58, 62 and 46 yards. He was perfect on extra-point attempts, whereas every kicker ahead of him in FG percentage missed at least two. Wow.

  • Hekker has established himself as <i>the</i> punter in the game. He's made first-team All-Pro three years running, and I am not making the mistake of betting against him again. Hekker equaled his career high of 47.9 yards per punt in 2017, and he's so consistent. He almost never shanks. 4

    Paul Jasienski/Associated Press

    Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams

    Hekker has established himself as the punter in the game. He's made first-team All-Pro three years running, and I am not making the mistake of betting against him again. Hekker equaled his career high of 47.9 yards per punt in 2017, and he's so consistent. He almost never shanks.

  • <b>Call this my fun pick.</b> When Hill was activated to play special teams in December, he racked up four tackles. And Hill contributed to a blocked punt against the Vikings in the playoffs. He'll probably be the QB3 behind Tom Savage, which means he can play special teams all year. 3

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    Special teamer: Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

    Call this my fun pick. When Hill was activated to play special teams in December, he racked up four tackles. And Hill contributed to a blocked punt against the Vikings in the playoffs. He'll probably be the QB3 behind Tom Savage, which means he can play special teams all year.

  • Provided Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn't take Cohen off the field to save him for the offense, he might be the All-Pro returner this year. Cohen ranked in the top 10 in punt- and kick-return average last year. 2

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Punt returner: Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears

    Provided Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn't take Cohen off the field to save him for the offense, he might be the All-Pro returner this year. Cohen ranked in the top 10 in punt- and kick-return average last year.

  • Kickoff returner is easily the hardest position to pick, mostly due to coaching decisions based on a player's value to the offense. Going with last year's first-team All-Pro here, not only because he is an excellent kick returner, but also due to the Rams' overall strength at wide receiver.  (At best, Cooper is the Rams' WR4.) I think Tyler Lockett will have a lot of opportunity with the Seahawks, but he's banged up right now (toe). 1

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    Kick returner: Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams

    Kickoff returner is easily the hardest position to pick, mostly due to coaching decisions based on a player's value to the offense. Going with last year's first-team All-Pro here, not only because he is an excellent kick returner, but also due to the Rams' overall strength at wide receiver. (At best, Cooper is the Rams' WR4.) I think Tyler Lockett will have a lot of opportunity with the Seahawks, but he's banged up right now (toe).