Over the next week, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be selecting the best players in each division by position. Here we will be discussing the AFC West All-Division Team, which has no shortage of talent. This division gave us the AFC’s two best records of the season from the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers (12-4 each). Let’s look at who makes the cut from all four teams at the defensive positions and special teams for the AFC West All-Division Team. For this division, we’ll be doing a 3-4 defense.
2019 AFC West All-Division Team: The Defense & Special Teams
Defensive End: Joey Bosa (Chargers)
Joey Bosa is coming off a season that was shortened by injury, but he’s still one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the entire NFL. Even when he’s not getting sacks (which he still gets plenty of), he’s getting lots of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. Of course, the pass rush duo of Bosa and Melvin Ingram in general is a nightmare for other offenses, but Bosa is the more important of the two – as we saw when Ingram seemed to briefly decline a little when Bosa was injured.
Defensive Tackle: Chris Jones (Chiefs)
After a massive breakout season, Chris Jones has established himself as a top tier defensive lineman. He put up 15.5 sacks in 2018 (good for third-most sacks in the league), plus a pick-six. For his efforts, he earned a Pro Bowl berth and Second Team All-Pro honors. He’s had an overall excellent season that makes him more than earn his spot on this list.
Defensive End: Frank Clark (Chiefs)
The Chiefs just traded for Frank Clark this off-season, and he should be a strong addition to their defensive line. In four years with the Seattle Seahawks, he put 35 sacks and forced nine fumbles. He set a career high with 13 sacks in 2018. He may not be one of the first names to come to mind among great pass rushers, but that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked either given the sacks that he can get.
Outside Linebacker: Von Miller (Denver Broncos)
Von Miller’s one of the more obvious choices on this list. He’s been a mainstay of the Broncos defense ever since he was drafted, and he’s been one of the better linebackers in the league. He showed no signs of slowing down in 2018 when he put up 14.5 sacks, which was his second best ever. Only one season has he not put up double-digit sacks, so we should expect more of the same.
Middle Linebacker: Darron Lee (Chiefs)
Darron Lee was another off-season pickup for the Chiefs. Interestingly, his sack total disappeared in 2018, but his pass defense quality went up as he suddenly picked up three interceptions after not having a single one before. So now he’s showing promise as a strong all-around linebacker. We’ll see if he can keep it up with the Chiefs.
Middle Linebacker: Todd Davis (Broncos)
Todd Davis stepped it up this year a bit for the Broncos. He recorded a career-high 114 combined tackles, and then he also had a career-high seven passes defended and his first career interception. What’s good for him is that he doesn’t even have to do all the work in the backfield because of the outside linebacker corps.
Outside Linebacker: Bradley Chubb (Broncos)
Must be quite nice for the Broncos to have as many good linebackers as they do. Bradley Chubb’s only played one year in the league, but he already piled up 12 sacks in just that one year alone. If he keeps this up, he’ll more than live up to being a fifth overall pick and give the Broncos an insanely deadly linebacker duo. Of course, the fact that a rookie’s on this list might also point to that there aren’t a ton of great outside linebackers elsewhere in the division.
Cornerback: Chris Harris Jr (Broncos)
The Broncos had a little scare this off-season with Chris Harris Jr when he wanted a new deal or to be traded. However, the two sides worked it out and ultimately the former was settled upon. Harris has been a consistently great cornerback for the Broncos and is certainly one of the better pass defenders in the division.
Free Safety: Lamarcus Joyner (Oakland Raiders)
The Raiders managed to get a nice pickup from the Los Angeles Rams this off-season in Lamarcus Joyner. He may not have been a key part of the Rams defense, but he’s still got four interceptions over the last two years and put up a career-high 78 tackles in 2018. This might make him already the best player in the Raiders secondary… which isn’t saying a whole lot, but he still looks to be the best pure free safety in this division.
Strong Safety: Derwin James (Chargers)
Derwin James had a ridiculous rookie season for the Chargers. 105 tackles, three and a half sacks, three interceptions and 13 pass deflections. A First-Team All-Pro nod. And he’s got a full career of him still, so he may only get better from here. And even better, he can play all over the field; he’s not really just a safety, he’s a defensive everyman. Basically, he’s one of the biggest shoe-ins on this list.
Cornerback: Bryce Callahan (Broncos)
The Broncos picked up a new cornerback this off-season to go opposite Harris in Bryce Callahan. This should be quite a good pickup for them. Callahan, who’s played with the Chicago Bears the last four years, finished seventh overall at cornerback with Pro Football Focus. He’s gotten four interceptions the last two years and even gotten a few sacks during that time. If it wasn’t clear so far in this post, the Broncos aren’t really going to have many problems on defense.
AFC West All-Division Team: Special Teams
Kicker: Harrison Butker (Chiefs)
Harrison Butker wasn’t quite as superb in 2018 as his rookie year, but he’s still the most consistent kicker in this division right now. And it’s a good thing he’s generally accurate with his extra points since he’s going to be a kicking a lot of them with Mahomes around.
Punter: Dustin Colquitt (Chiefs)
Dustin Colquitt is the only punter in the division that’s been around more than two years; as compared to him being around since 2005. In that time he’s made two Pro Bowls. Considering the lack of experience or accomplishments of everyone else in the division, he’s the easy choice here.
Kick/Punt Returner: Dwayne Harris (Raiders)
Dwayne Harris benefited pretty well from a move to the Raiders, having his best season of kick/punt returns since 2015 with 996 total return yards, and his first return touchdown since that year as well. He also had a 99-yard punt return – the second longest in NFL history. He might be irrelevant as a receiver, but his returning abilities aren’t anything to sneeze at.
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