The 2023 NFL season is rapidly approaching, which means it is once again time for us to unveil our preseason All-Division teams. We've done this exercise for the past several years, and the point is to preview which players at each position, in each division, we expect to put forth the best performance this coming season.
We began on Tuesday with theand continued Wednesday with the and Thursday with the . We'll wrap up the conference today with the AFC West. Next week, it's on to the NFC. Without further ado ...
Offensive skill positions
QB: Patrick Mahomes (KC)
RB: Austin Ekeler (LAC)
TE: Travis Kelce (KC)
FLEX: Josh Jacobs (LV)
Mahomes is the best player alive, probably the most talented quarterback I've ever seen. Nobody is taking his spot on a roster like this until they truly surpass him. Ekeler and Jacobs should each carry significant workloads for their teams, though Ekeler has a longer track record of producing at a high level. (Jacobs was pretty ordinary through the first three seasons of his rookie deal.) He's also in a better offense and working behind a better offensive line. Jacobs should still be pretty good, but the likelihood of him approaching what he did last year seems low.
Adams remains one of the NFL's premier wide receivers, and showed last season that he was far from an Aaron Rodgers creation. He has another new quarterback to work with this year, but his ability to command volume and turn it into tons of both catches and yards is matched by very few players at his position. Allen and Williams are clearly the next two most talented receivers in the division, and they will deserve these spots... as long as they can stay healthy, which is obviously no guarantee. Kelce is getting up there in age (he'll turn 34 in October) but he's coming off a season where he set career highs in catches (110), yards (1,338), and touchdowns (12). His spot on this squad is a lock.
C: Creed Humphrey (KC)
The magnitude of Slater's effect as a blind-side protector was seen when he missed nearly all of last season due to injury. As a rookie, he finished fourth in OROY voting and was named to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro second team. If he approaches anything resembling that level of play again, he's a lock here. Miller has turned himself into a really solid left tackle over the years, improving as both a pass-protector and run-blocker with each passing season. The rest of the Raiders' line might be a bit of a mess but Miller should remain quite good. Kansas City's interior line trio might be the best in the NFL. Each of Thuney, Humphrey, and Smith is a Pro Bowl-or-better caliber player.
FLEX: Khalil Mack (LAC)
Since Crosby entered the league in 2019, only Aaron Donald (304) has more pressures (275), according to Pro Football Focus. And over the past two years when he has really taken his game to new heights, only six players have generated a sack, hit, or hurry on a higher share of their pass-rush snaps (15.5%). One of those six players is Bosa (16.2%), who is dominant on the edge but just can't seem to stay healthy. If he ever puts together a full season, then he -- like Crosby -- will likely emerge as an inner-circle Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Mack is no longer at his 2015-2018 peak, but he's still a damn good player. He bounced back from an injury-marred 2021 campaign to post another Pro Bowl season in 2022, and even at 32 years old should still be able to get after it this year. He's also a force against the run, which the Chargers desperately need.
Jones has indicated that he's willing to sit out until Week 8, but even if that happens, he should make enough of an impact over the second half of the season to deserve a spot on this roster. (And not just because the rest of the division happens to be relatively weak along the defensive interior.) Allen came to Denver with his former Cardinals defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, and should slot right into what was a very good defense last year that got its performance undermined by the disaster on the offensive side of the ball.
Bolton has quickly turned into exactly the kind of read-and-react, second-level playmaker and tackle machine it looked like he'd be when he was coming out of Missouri. His job may get a bit more difficult without Jones in front of him, but he's up to the task. You could make an argument for Willie Gay or Josey Jewell at the other linebacker spot, but Singleton has been the most well-rounded player of the trio to date and should still be in his prime years even as he turns 30 years old later this season.
Surtain has quickly turned himself into one of the small handful of best cornerbacks in the NFL. He has prototypical size, strength, and agility, and he can shadow the No. 1 receiver every week if you ask him to. Sneed bounced back with a better coverage season last year than he had in 2021, and he also showcased his ability to play outside a bit more often. He and Trent McDuffie are a solid 1-2 combo that can play in different spots depending on the matchups each week. Jackson was injured and ineffective in the short stint before suffering a season-ending injury last year, but we have seen from him a higher ceiling of corner play than anybody else in this division. If he's healthy, he should get back to being a really good player.
James' versatility is so important for L.A.'s defense. If the Chargers can get solid play from their other players on the back end, it will allow Brandon Staley to more fully tap into what James is able to do -- assuming he can stay healthy, of course. And Simmons remains a very good center-field type, though it would be nice if he played the run better than he did last year. Considering his prior history, we're betting he can get back to that level.
K: Daniel Carlson (LV)
P: Tommy Townsend (KC)
RET: Derius Davis (LAC)
Carlson has made a ridiculous 21 field goals of 50 or more yards over the past three seasons. He's also connected on at least 90% of his kicks in each of those seasons, and was named to the All-Pro team in both 2021 (second team) and 2022 (first team). He's the class of this division at the moment. Townsend has raised his punting average from 45.0 to 47.2 to 50.4 over his three NFL seasons and dropped his touchback rate from 11.5% to 8.1% to 7.5% over that time. Davis was one of the best return men in the country during his time at TCU and has flashed the same talent during the preseason.