Stefon Diggs (32), Davante Adams (32), Justin Jefferson (5), Tyreek Hill (3), DK Metcalf (3), DeAndre Hopkins (3), AJ Brown (2), Jarvis Landry (1), Adam Thielen (1)
It’s one of the most high profile positions in the NFL. But the choice at Wide Receiver for the All Pro team was barely a decision. Not out wide at least, we’ll come to slot receivers later.
For the wide receivers, there were two clear choices – Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams. The decision was so clear cut that they appeared on 32 of the 42 ballots. The next closest was Justin Jefferson with just five votes.
Diggs & Adams were first and fifth in yards over the course of the season, Diggs leading the league with 1535 yards and Davante Adams grabbing 1374, the same amount as Calvin Ridley. However, Davante Adams did lead the league in touchdown receptions with 18 – Diggs had just 8. Both caught over 75% of their targets (the top two receivers with over 100 receptions) over the course of the regular season and had around 12 yards/reception (Diggs had 12.1, Adams 11.9).
Splitting the two obvious candidates at receiver
So Stefon Diggs led the Bills down the field but Adams was far better at converting drives into touchdowns. But come on, we have to break the tie. Given that Adams missed a pair of games, he has the higher yards/game with 98.1, while Diggs had 95.9. Meanwhile, both had 9.2 yards per target and 73 first downs a piece. They seem inseparable.
The tiebreaker? Given Aaron Rodgers looks set to clinch a third MVP award – although you’ll have to wait and see if he earns our award – with Davante Adams, it seems fair to give the edge to Diggs, who led the league by over 100 yards. The more impressive factor though is, along with Brian Daboll, he is a significant part of Josh Allen’s third year development.
Can anyone feel hard done by at receiver?
While Stefon Diggs & Davante Adams were runaway selections, was anyone worthy of consideration? DeAndre Hopkins & Justin Jefferson both had 1400 yards or more, the latter breaking the rookie record for receiving yards. Calvin Ridley matched All Pro Davante Adams for yards. Tyreek Hill, Adam Thielen and Mike Evans each had 13 or more touchdowns.
Perhaps the most curious omission is DeAndre Hopkins. He finished his first season in Arizona with 1407 yards, 6 TDs, 88 yards a game and 12.2 yards/reception. While he may not have had quite as eye-catching a season, it was surely worth more than 3 votes.
Spare a thought for Justin Jefferson. The most yards ever by a rookie (1400). 15.9 yards/reception and 7 TDs, 11.2 yards/target and over 87 yards a game. He will surely earn an All Pro of his own at some point in his career.
Beasley becomes second Bills’ All Pro Receiver
Cole Beasley (10), Tyler Lockett (5), Keenan Allen (4), Chris Godwin (4), Calvin Ridley (2), Allen Robinson (2), Justin Jefferson (3), Cooper Kupp (2), Davante Adams (2), Tyreek Hill (2), Adam Thielen (1), Jamison Crowder (1), DK Metcalf (1), Jarvis Landry (1), Tyler Boyd (1)
Let’s take a look inside where it was a tougher battle. However there was still a decisive winner. 15 players got at least one vote at slot receiver, compared to nine out wide. The winner took under 25% share of the vote, but Cole Beasley still had twice as many votes as anyone else.
Who are the elite slot receivers today?
One thing this vote did raise: who are the elite slot receivers in the NFL today? There are great players who are effective in the slot. But more often than not they line up inside as often as they do outside. The great slot receivers of today are more great overall receivers, lining up in the slot to create scheme mismatches.
Perhaps this explains the diversity of selection at the position. Only linebacker, cornerback (both of which had 3 slots) and special teams had as many different players selected.
We’ve already looked at Calvin Ridley’s spectacular season. Keenan Allen had 992 yards and 8 touchdowns as a safety blanket for Justin Herbert. Jarvis Landry had 840 yards and 11.7 yards/reception. Landry is one of the more ‘true’ slot receivers under consideration but he did only have 840 yards.
Was Cooper Kupp robbed?
There is perhaps one man who can feel hard done by with just two votes. Cooper Kupp’s stats were incredibly similar to Cole Beasley. Kupp had 92 receptions to Beasley’s 82 and 974 yards to Beasley’s 967. Beasley edges Kupp with four touchdowns three and more yards/reception (11.8 to 10.6). Beasley caught 76% of targets compared to Kupp at 74% – a career high. Kupp had 64.9 yards each game compared to 64.5 for Beasley.
There is more of a question whether Cooper Kupp is a wide receiver compared to a slot receiver, whereas Beasley is more clear cut – although he does play out wide at times.
Overall, in terms of effectiveness, Beasley deserves to win the category. He had a stellar season and was a good option to aid Josh Allen’s development. Beasley is worthy of an All Pro selection. However, Kupp surely deserves more than 20% of Beasley’s vote share.
Image: Rick Scuter / AP Photo