The 2016 regular season is in the books and it’s time to reflect on the best players at each position with our All-Pro team. the format has changed a little from previous years as the Associated Press has decided to give a “flex” position to the offense instead of the second running back spot, this is to reflect the continuing versatility of offensive formations. It can be filled with a running back, wide receiver, tight end, or full back. So who made the cut, and who missed out?
Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan’s 2016 has been a revelation. From an above average quarterback for most of his career, Ryan became a game-changer in 2016 as he commanded the highest scoring offense in the league and threw touchdowns to a record 13 different players. Ryan threw 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions as he lead the Falcons to the NFC South division title and the #2 seed in the NFC.
Running Back: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Johnson may not have come close to the leading the league in rushing, but with 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns he was devastatingly effective. With the rest of the Cardinals offense taking a huge step back from 2015, Johnson was left to do much of the heavy lifting for Arizona and he did not disappoint. As a receiver he was unparallelled out of the backfield, and even capable of lining up out wide and beating coverage. As a ball carrier he is blend of speed and power that excelled even with a banged up offensive line in front of him.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers & Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Antonio Brown spent most of 2016 tormenting defenses as he pulled in 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. From deep bombs to screens, he was almost always open and always a threat to take the ball to the house. But for his dramatic last second reach across the goal line in Week 16 the Steelers would have missed out on the playoffs this season.
The highlight of Julio Jones’ season was when he shredded the Carolina Panthers for 300 yards in Week 4. It was a thing of beauty to watch him burn through an overmatched secondary, and while the rest of the season never reached those heights he did have 6 other 100+ yard games and finished with 1,409 yards despite only playing 14 games. While Jones “only” scored six touchdowns in 2016 he was a constant threat and the focal point of every defense he played. Not that it mattered much.
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
With Rob Gronkowski’s injury opening up the tight end spot Travis Kelce seized this season by the scruff of the neck and was a dominant force for the Kansas City Chiefs. Kelce lead all tight ends with 85 catches and 1,125 yards (good for 12th overall in the NFL). His best game of the season came against the Broncos in Week 16 when he pulled in 11 of his 12 targets for 160 yards and a score. Kelce has been devastatingly consistent in the second half of the season, stringing four 100+ yard games together from Week 11 to Week 14 as he helped fuel a newly dangerous Chiefs passing attack.
Flex: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
You may be surprised by Elliott not getting the first team running back spot, and the explanation follows in our offensive line selections which is dominated by Cowboys. However with the ball in his hands few players were as explosive and dominant as Elliott. With the speed to run past defenders and the power to go through them, he was well worth his NFL-best 1,631 rushing yards. After a slow start Elliott came smashing through for the Cowboys and dominated the regular season, winning our offensive rookie of the year award.
Left Tackle: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Smith was part of a Cowboys offensive line that made life easy for the two rookies behind him. My favourite play of this season was Smith hitting the edge on a run and launching the Giants Eli Apple into orbit. He was a relentlessly effective brick wall for the Cowboys all season as he battled elite pass rushers with little to no help. While there were better pure pass protectors in the NFL this year no one blended pass & run blocking quite like Smith.
Left Guard: Kelechi Osemele, Oakland Raiders
While Tyron Smith was launching defensive backs, Kelechi Osemele was burying linebackers in the ground. Osemele walked into Oakland as a free agent with a love of embarrassing defenders, and at 330lbs it’s not that hard for him to do. Osemele was a monster in the running game all season for the Raiders and was instrumental in creating a brutal mentality across the line that served the team so well this season.
Center: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
Frederick is the communication hub of the Dallas, but he is also a terrific blocker. Frederick has a range that is second to none from the center position, he is able to make angles that no one else can, which allows the guards to go about their job without having to give him a hand first. 2016 was another superb year for Frederick.
Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Martin in the third Cowboy offensive lineman to make our team, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone since he was the best of the lot. While Osemele is all fire and power, there is a lot of finesse and angle work to the way Martin blocks. He is as happy allowing a defensive tackle to rush the wrong way and wall him off as he is getting up field and ruining a safety’s day. Martin had a spectacular 2016 campaign as he was flagged just twice and allowed only 1 pressure a game. Together with Smith, Frederick, left guard Ronald Leary, and right tackle Doug Free the Dallas offensive line was comfortably the best of the season and consistently opened lanes for Elliott. That situation worked against the rookie when it came to making the selection for our All-Pro running back.
Right Tackle: Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans
Our second rookie! The AP now strictly separates between left and right tackles, which helps Conklin and hurts a handful of left tackles. Still, Conklin had a remarkable rookie season as a run blocker, laying waste to defenders in front of him. While he wasn’t perfect in pass protection, giving up two sacks, he was destructive enough in the ground game to earn a place in our All-Pro team.
QB: Tom Brady, Patriots
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
WR: Mike Evans, Buccaneers & Odell Beckham Jr, Giants
TE: Greg Olsen, Panthers
Flex: T.Y. Hilton, Colts
LT: Trent Williams, Redskins
LG: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
C: Alex Mack, Falcons
RG: Kevin Zeitler, Bengals
RT: Ryan Schraeder, Falcons
Do you think there were more deserving players that we left out? Let us know in the comments below!