Who will be the All-Pros of tomorrow? Well, as in, after the 2018 NFL season wraps?
You're in luck; they're all below. Of course, The AP changed its position parameters two years ago, and it's still hard to get used to. There's one RB and a flex, presumably as an homage to fantasy? Then there's a line of delineation on the defensive 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. Your frustrations? Send along to the usual place ... @HarrisonNFL.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.