Predicting the NFL’s Next First-Time All-Pro at Each Position

Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown

Getty Eagles WR A.J. Brown was held to 1 catch for 7 yards in Week 10 versus Washington.

The NFL All-Pro list is the definitive measure of a player’s stature as the elite of the elite at his position, and the honor that garners the most respect when it comes to defining legacies.

Early summer is a time when hope springs eternal for NFL teams, and players, alike, as minicamps wind down and the grind of training camp and the upcoming season await with much optimism and promise. It’s also the perfect time to project out which players will shine the brightest in the fall.

Projecting which players will wind up as a First-Team All-Pro can be a daunting task, but easy all at once, by simply placing the name of the best player at his position the prior season into your projected list for the next one.

But, in order to make things a bit more interesting, to shine the spotlight a little brighter on some of the stars of the game that are knocking on the doorstep of reaching “elite’ status, we opted instead to make the list of players most likely to become a First-Team All-Pro selection for the first time.

Here are our selections:

QB: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts very nearly stole the MVP and a first-team All-Pro slot from Patrick Mahomes last season, but the stage seems set for the 24-year-old to make another significant stride in his development. Given that this will be Hurts’ second season throwing to dynamic receiver A.J. Brown, as well as DeVonta Smith’s third NFL season (when receivers typically begin to peak), all of the pieces are in place for Hurts to take his game and the Eagles’ outlook to new heights.

RB: Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Chubb was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2022, and he’s one of the most feared backs in the game. The combination of the Browns‘ run-based scheme, an offensive line that can make a strong claim as one of the two best in the league, and Chubb’s ferocious running style give the 27-year-old a great chance to make the varsity squad in 2023.

RB: Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Running back might be the easiest position to make the leap to first-team All-Pro as a rookie. Especially when a rookie running back can expect the kind of workload Robinson can in Atlanta, combined with his explosiveness as a runner and versatility as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. If Robinson’s 104 forced missed tackles and 1,o71 yards after contact from last season at the University of Texas translate to the NFL, look out.

WR: A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

Not only was A.J. Brown a touchdown-maker, catching a career-high 11 in his first season in Philadelphia, he was a monster averaging 6.4 Yards After the Catch per Reception. If that was Brown’s introduction to the Eagles‘ offense, imagine how much more prolific he’ll be in a second season as Hurts’ favorite target.

WR: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2021, but each year the dynamic receiver’s chemistry seems to strengthen with quarterback Joe Burrow. Injuries limited Chase to just 12 games last season, yet he still produced 1,046 receiving yards with nine touchdowns. Given that Chase averaged 4.8 Yards after The Catch per Reception, just imagine how productive he’ll be if he can stay on the field for the entire 2023 campaign.

WR: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

One might think that the addition of a speedster like Tyreek Hill on the other side might limit the production of a player like Waddle, but that’s not exactly how 2022 played out. Sure, Waddle only caught 75 passes (down from 104 in 2022), but his yards per catch average nearly doubled to an eye-popping 18.1. Waddle’s speed gives him the ability to take the top off a defense. Playing opposite Hill creates space. Don’t be surprised if Waddle finds a way to build on last season’s 1,356-yard and 8-touchdown outburst.

TE: T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

Hockenson was an absolute revelation to the Vikings‘ offense, after arriving in a midseason trade. The 25-year-old caught 60 passes for 519 yards with 3 touchdowns during the final 10 games of the season. With Justin Jefferson flying down the perimeter, expect there to be plenty of room for Hockenson to operate underneath, and plenty of check down targets from Kirk Cousins for him to rack up yards and touchdowns this season.

LT: Andrew Thomas, New York Giants

Andrew Thomas is one of the ascending stars along the offensive line, and the trajectory of his career has been ticking upward the past two seasons, in a big way. A Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2022, Thomas only allowed three sacks and continued to emerge as a stalwart along the Giants’ offensive line.

RT: Kaleb McGary, Atlanta Falcons

McGary is a dominant presence along the line of scrimmage, and one of the Falcons’ building blocks on offense. Last season, McGary was Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 highest-rated offensive tackle, with an 86.6 overall grade. The addition of Robinson in the backfield will give McGary even more opportunities to showcase his ability as a lead-blocker in the running game, where he posted the highest run-blocking grade of anyone not named Trent Williams, at 91.6.

LG: Joe Thuney, Kansas City Chiefs

Joe Thuney has been a stalwart of consistency throughout his career, and he has elevated his game to new heights since arriving in Kansas City in 2021. Last season, Thuney was instrumental in keeping Mahomes upright, allowing only one sack and 15 total pressures. That kind of consistency up front makes it easy for a freelancer like Mahomes to create big-play opportunities.

RG: Teven Jenkins, Chicago Bears

Teven Jenkins is a road grader up front in the running game, a tactician in pass protection, and one of the anchors of the Chicago Bears‘ offensive line. Last season, Jenkins only allowed 2.0 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures. He’s already on the cusp of breaking through as an All-Pro, and if the Bears’ offense makes major strides, this could be his season to crack the list.

C: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

Creed Humphrey is the most consistently dominant young center in this league. Full stop. Humphrey is a complete mauler as a run-blocker, producing an elite 91.1 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, and a stonewall in pass protection, where he didn’t allow a single sack last season, with just one surrendered through the first two seasons of his career. Maybe more impressive than the fact that Humphrey allowed just 21, quarterback hits is that he was flagged for only 4 penalties in 1,138 snaps in 2022. Humphrey is an ascending talent and perhaps next in line to be a permanent All-Pro fixture.

EDGE: Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

There are few pass-rushers who strike as much fear in opposing offensive tackles as Maxx Crosby does when he’s flying off the edge. It is almost unfair that a player has that much burst and that much speed, flying off the corner. Beyond freakish athleticism, Crosby’s productivity speaks for itself; 15.0 sacks, 81 total pressures, 4 forced fumbles, and 70 tackles in 2022 as the centerpiece of the Raiders‘ defense. Given the exotic blitz packages defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is accustomed to drawing up, don’t be surprised if even those numbers from Crosby take a big jump in 2023.

EDGE: Montez Sweat, Washington Commanders

Montez Swat is borderline unblockable off the edge, where he produced 8.0 sacks and 63 total pressures as the centerpiece of the Commanders’ front-seven in 2022. What makes Sweat special is that he’s one of the more dominant run-stopping edge players in the game, on top of being a game-wrecker when rushing the passer. Sweat is one of the more complete players at his position, and if he continues his upward trajectory, could find himself on All-Pro lists this season.

DL: D.J. Reader, Cincinnati Bengals

Injuries limited D.J. Reader’s production last season, he missed six games due to a knee injury while finishing with 27 tackles and 1.0 sack, but don’t let those numbers fool you into thinking this isn’t one of the top players at his position. Reader is a matchup nightmare, a dominant interior pass-rusher, and as steady as they come against the run. If Reader can stay on the field all season, 2023 could be the year he solidifies his place among the elite of the position.

DL: Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants

Few humans walking the earth can move with the speed and burst that Dexter Lawrence shows on each snap, at a mammoth 6-foot-4 and 342 pounds. Not only does Lawrence take up boatloads of space against the run, but his 9.0 sacks and 63 total pressures are absolute game-wreckers up the middle for opposing quarterbacks. Lawrence was a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2022, and playing another season in coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s scheme should create even more opportunities for Lawrence to destroy things up the middle. If he does, well, etch his name on the First-Team list this season.

LB: Tremaine Edmunds, Chicago Bears

Edmunds arrives in Chicago coming off the most dominant season of his prolific career. Once again surpassing 100 total tackles, Edmunds produced a team-high 101, while holding opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 87.1. All that, only to leave Buffalo without a contract extension. Given Edmunds’ productivity, his talent, and the added motivation that comes with being spurned by your former team, expect big things from the centerpiece of the Bears’ revamped defense in 2023.

LB: Devin Lloyd, Jacksonville Jaguars

Lloyd didn’t waste any time throwing his weight around, as a rookie in the Jaguars’ linebacker corps last season. The Utah alum’s three interceptions led all linebackers, and he was consistently around the football, carding 110 total tackles. If Lloyd builds on his stellar rookie season, don’t be surprised to find him on this list by year’s end.

LB: Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers

A strong case can be made that each member of the 49ers’ front-seven could wind up an All-Pro, but Greenlaw should benefit more than most from Javon Hargrave’s arrival. Last season Greenlaw had 127 tackles and was just a brick wall against the run. Expect that to continue in 2023.

CB: Charvarius Ward, San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers boast one of the most talented defenses in the league, and the best defensive back on the roster might be Charvarius Ward, who is criminally underrated outside the Bay Area. Opposing quarterbacks managed only an 88.2 passer rating when targeting Ward last season, and receivers had little room to operate, averaging just 11 yards per catch. Given the combination of the 49ers’ ferocious front-seven and Ward’s prowess in man coverage, the stage could be set for the 27-year-old to have a career year in 2023.

CB: Asante Samuel Jr., Los Angeles Chargers

Entering his third season, Samuel Jr. hasn’t just already proven himself to be a legitimate ballhawk, but he continues to get better. Quarterbacks rarely targeted Samuel Jr. last season, and when they did, they managed a meager 97.6 passer rating on those throws. Samuel Jr. already etched his name in the record books, becoming the first player to pull down three interceptions in his playoff debut. If Samuel builds on a stellar finish to 2022, there’s a good chance he finishes 2023 as an All-Pro.

S: Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens

Hamilton is as versatile as they come at safety, and aims to build on a prolific rookie season, that was capped by him leading the Ravens’ defense with 9.0 tackles in a Wild Card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Not only does Hamilton thrive in coverage, where he played both deep safety and in the slot while holding opposing receivers to only 9.9 Yards per Reception, but he’s a real weapon up near the line of scrimmage. Hamilton’s 2.0 sacks and 20 run-stops underscore his value at all levels of the Ravens’ defense.

S: Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winfield Jr. is an ascending talent at the safety position, who could see more opportunities to create turnovers as head coach Todd Bowles dials up the pressure via the blitz this season. Moving to free safety this season could create more opportunities for Winfield to flash in coverage, where he held opposing receivers to just 10.5 Yards per Reception in 2022. If the Buccaneers’ defense bounces back, and Winfield plays a starring role, don’t be surprised when he winds up being an impact player this season.

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