Defences win Championships, or so the old adage goes.
What seems almost startling, is that there isn’t a single Bronco on this list.
The tide is changing in the NFL – and that’s what makes it the most compelling sport on the planet.
So, it’s time for Paddy Power’s All-Pro awards on the defensive side of the ball.
Left Defensive End – Joey Bosa (Los Angeles Chargers)
In just his second season in the league, Bosa’s gotten another double-digit sack season, while playing outside of a weakening defensive front on the interior. Despite this, he remains one of the most dominant young talents in the game.
Defensive Tackle – Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)
Quarterbacks are everything, but for my money – Aaron Donald is the best player in the National Football League. With a building block like him, Sean McVay can afford to take risks on the opposite side of the ball and it has clearly worked.
Nose Tackle – Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia Eagles)
One of the most consistent defensive players in football, Cox has come off yet another stunning season. The Eagles are number one in rushing yards against. If you can’t build up a rushing rhythm, you’ll do well to win games and Cox ensures that.
Right Defensive End – Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints)
This was the most contested spot, and he didn’t even make it into the Pro Bowl as a starter – however – Jordan’s an animal in both forms play. He can stuff the run and get to the quarterback, his 12 sacks this campaign show that.
Will Linebacker – Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
We’ve had to do some shuffling around with schemes, but David could play on of the three linebacker positions, so we’ll stick him in here. He has totalled 95 tackles on the season and been a rare bright spot in an otherwise embarrassing season for the Bucs.
Mike Linebacker – Luke Kuechly (Carolina Panthers)
The best player to play the position in a generation. Kuechly came out of college as the prototype Tampa 2 middle linebacker, and has been perfect in that role. Not only that, he’s one of very few backers that can match up with almost anyone in man coverage – meaning teams cannot stretch the Panthers defensively with scheme shifts.
Sam Linebacker – Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks)
Getting a bit worried there were no Seahawks as well as no Broncos? Thankfully, despite all the issues in Seattle, Bobby Wagner’s remained healthy and elite. In saying that, linebacker play in general is down this year and had he not gotten injured, Reuben Foster wouldn’t have been too far away from this spot.
Right Cornerback – Casey Hayward (Los Angeles Chargers)
Hayward made the Pro Bowl last year and has made it once again. That’s no shock to anyone as he’s been the definition of a shutdown corner. The Chargers didn’t allow a single receiver to gain 100 yards in a game all year and that’s down to Hayward following primary targets.
Left Cornerback – Marshon Lattimore (New Orleans Saints)
A rookie. At last. Lattimore was the first cornerback taken out of the 2017 NFL Draft – although many considered Gareon Conley to be the better prospect of the two. Those people can now be laughed at, as Lattimore’s amazing athletic ability means opposing quarterbacks avoid him in man coverage.
Free Safety – Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings)
I originally wrote Harrison Ford, but Smith’s heroics are equally impressive – and he does all of his own stunts. What’s incredible is that he goes unnoticed, by and large, by mainstream media. He’s the best safety in football at this moment in time, and it’s not really even close.
Strong Safety – Landon Collins (New York Giants)
Ah, the Giants. It had all the potential to be a ten-win season, and now look at them. They’ve still got a very good core of players, but lost Odell Beckham to injury, Eli Manning to ignorance and have to find a new head coach. At least they have Collins, who’s quickly become of the best readers of the game at only 23.