On Monday. the football analytics site Pro Football Focus released their list of NFL All-Pros for the 2020 season. PFF’s Sam Monson picked three Kansas City Chiefs for the first team — and one for the second team.
TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Second Team: Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Kelce finished the season just 119 receiving yards away from leading the entire league — regardless of position — despite being rested for the final game in a week in which Stefon Diggs racked up 145 yards to jump him for the lead. For a tight end to be in with a chance of leading the entire league in receiving yards is virtually unheard of, but it underlines how dominant Kelce was this season. He generated 2.5 yards for every route run this year and averaged 5.6 yards after the catch per reception.
We don’t need PFF grades or stats to know Kelce is the right choice. In the last few weeks, he had been contending to lead the league in receiving yards. As Monson notes, he might have won the race if he had played in the final game. In the end, he finished in second place behind Buffalo Bills wideout Stephon Diggs — who also made Monson’s list.
Everyone knows it’s unusual for a tight end to finish near the top in receiving yards — but just how unusual is it? From 1983 through last season, only one tight end had finished a season among the top five in receiving yards. Was it George Kittle in 2018? Jimmy Graham in 2013? Rob Gronkowski in 2011? Antonio Gates in 2009? Tony Gonzalez in 2004?
Nope. It was none of those stellar performances. It was Travis Kelce. Last season.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, Kelce is just the fifth tight end to finish a season among the top five in receiving yards — and the only one to do it back-to-back seasons.
There is simply no more dangerous weapon in the NFL than Tyreek Hill, particularly when paired with Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback able to hit him at any moment from virtually anywhere on the field. Hill trailed only Davante Adams in receiving touchdowns, added two more as a rusher and had 32 explosive receptions (15-plus yards). But none of that does justice to the effect he has on a defense every single snap because of what that threat changes in terms of coverages.
Question: What is a “FLEX-O”?
Answer: The league’s most dangerous wide receiver, who is used often enough in jet sweeps that he doesn’t contend for the receiving yards title — and also because he plays for a team whose tight end usually leads the team in both targets and yards. In other words, it is a position that has been created for these kinds of lists so there is a place to put Tyreek Hill.
If Hill were on any other team — as long as it also had a decent quarterback and an offense that gave him enough opportunities — he would be leading the NFL in receiving yards. But we shouldn’t feel bad for him. He’s simply settling for being the No. 1 receiver on the league’s most explosive offense.
DI Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Second Team: Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
This season the spot of “best interior defensive lineman after Aaron Donald” goes to Chris Jones, who finished the season with the second-best PFF pass-rushing grade (93.1) of any rusher. Jones notched 60 total pressures for the season as well as a couple of forced fumbles, and at his best can wreak the kind of havoc that Donald does on the inside. The only thing separating the two players is the volume of pressure that Donald gets by comparison, and Donald has been more consistent against the run this year.
Any time a defensive lineman gets a big-money contract, fans of his team breathlessly await enormous sack totals — and then attack the player for not getting the “production” he’s being paid to provide. That’s certainly been true of Jones this season. But as Chiefs coaches keep repeating, when a defensive lineman is able to make the quarterback alter his position by getting pressure on him — or even require the attention of more than one offensive lineman to contain him — he’s done his job.
Fans love to bag on PFF — and their criticism is sometimes deserved. But it’s also true that PFF clearly reveals the contributions of players like Jones, who is a defensive play-wrecker — whether he gets a sack or not.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Second Team: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The Aaron Rodgers Revenge Tour just kept on trucking all season long, reminding people that he was once the transcendent quarterback talent redefining the game in the same way Mahomes is right now.
Rodgers’ touchdown to interception ratio (48:6) speaks for itself, but it’s backed up by an equally impressive big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio (43:11). And yes, Rodgers had one awful game against Tampa Bay, but outside of that, he just kept cooking relentlessly in his best season since 2014, and arguably the finest of his career. Mahomes and even Josh Allen ran Rodgers close, but he was a clear choice in the end.
Here we have the whole MVP race wrapped up in two paragraphs. Let’s be honest: as Monson’s numbers show, Rodgers has had a fantastic season. If the league’s MVP is defined simply as the NFL quarterback who has the season’s best statistics, Rodgers absolutely deserves to be in the conversation. But if it is instead supposed to be the league’s most valuable player — that is, the player who has made more of a difference than any other — then we all know who deserves it the most.
For reference, here is the complete PFF first-team All-Pro list:
- QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
- RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
- WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
- WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
- TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
- FLEX-O Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
- LT Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers
- LG Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- C Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
- RG Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns
- RT Jack Conklin, Cleveland Browns
- DI Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
- DI Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
- Edge T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Edge Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
- LB Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
- LB Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers
- CB Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
- CB Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
- FLEX-D Bryce Callahan, Denver Broncos
- S Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
- S Adrian Amos, Green Bay Packers