- Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
I put together an All-Pro team for the 2020 NFL season. I always get started thinking about this when the NFL releases its Pro Bowl rosters. The Pro Bowl is generally a good measure of player performance over an entire career, but it should be telling that one of their improvements in 2020 is that the voters didn’t pick any players who had been benched during the season, as former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was for stretches in 2019. Ironically, Rhodes has been much better for the Colts this season and didn’t get a Pro Bowl nod.
I prefer working with the idea of an All-Pro roster to focus on the best of the best. And since it’s my team, I can be realistic about what the NFL looks like in 2020. I don’t include a fullback or a third starting linebacker; instead, I’m including a third wide receiver and cornerback. T.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan play the same role as edge rushers, even if one is a 3-4 outside linebacker and the other is a 4-3 defensive end. I’m lumping them together in one group.
One more thing: In many cases here, there were miniscule differences between two or more players competing for one roster spot. When that happened, I generally — but not always — preferred the player who played more games or was on the field more frequently. Availability matters, and the difference between a player suiting up for 12 games and a similarly efficient player making it on the field for all 15 contests is more dramatic than it might seem. I’ll try to mention where that matters.
Let’s start with two fiercely fought positional races, ones I expect to get more into when I file my end-of-season awards ballot next week:
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