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AP Photo/Nick Wass

Wolf Sports 2023 NFL All-Pro Team: Defense

Our 2023 NFL All-Pro selections for the defense are below, and if you missed our offensive selections, they can be found here.


EDGE: T.J. Watt, PIT

Season stats: 68 TKL | 19 TFL | 19.0 SK | 4 FF | 3 FR | 1 INT

Watt missed time last year and only had 5.5 sacks, but he reclaimed the sack crown this season while—as usual—making game-changing plays for the Steelers. If not for heroics like we saw in the win over the Rams (with an interception) or multi-sack games versus the Rams, Ravens (twice), and Bengals, there is a good chance Pittsburgh wouldn’t have been 10-7 and found their way back into the postseason.


EDGE: Maxx Crosby, LV

Season stats: 90 TKL | 23 TFL | 14.5 SK | 2 FF | 1 FR

The all-around impact that Crosby brings as a pass rusher, versus the run, and in the locker room (because of how hard he always plays) gives him the nod for the other edge spot among tough competition—and his numbers tell the story with huge tackle (89/90) and tackle for loss (22/23) totals in each of the past two seasons. In a season that could have gotten ugly following the firing of head coach Josh McDaniels, Crosby made sure the Raiders kept fighting.


INT DL: Derrick Brown, CAR

Season stats: 103 TKL | 7 TFL | 2.0 SK | 1 INT

Brown didn’t get an All-Pro selection by the AP or NFLPA, but he broke the single-season record for tackles by a defensive lineman by reaching triple-digits, and he was one of the lone bright spots for Carolina in 2023. A powerful figure on the interior with underrated athleticism, Brown helped the Panthers finish No. 4 in total defense despite general team struggles, and he’s deserving of a long-term extension to anchor the unit into the future.


INT DL: Dexter Lawrence, NYG

Season stats: 53 TKL | 7 TFL | 4.5 SK 

Lawrence is another space-eating option inside, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a dominant three-down player; in addition to the absorbing presence versus the run, Lawrence can create consistent pressure as a pass rusher (21 quarterback hits) and commands attention from multiple offensive linemen to prevent him from overwhelming the opposition. New York didn’t live up to expectations in 2023, but Lawrence’s play was a big reason for them winning the games they did.


LB: Roquan Smith, BAL

Season stats: 158 TKL | 5 TFL | 1.5 SK | 1 FF | 1 INT

It took a trade to Baltimore for Smith to get the recognition he deserves with a First-Team All-Pro selection in back-to-back seasons, and the results for the Ravens since acquiring him are undeniable with the No. 1 scoring defense in the league this season (16.5 points per game)—and dating back to when he joined the team in November of 2022. Smith has not only elevated the entire unit, but also the individual play of fellow linebacker Patrick Queen, and he’s now made our All-Pro team in each of the past four years.


LB: Fred Warner, SF

Season stats: 132 TKL | 6 TFL | 2.5 SK | 4 FF | 4 INT

There are plenty of tough choices for the All-Pro defense, but everyone can agree that Warner and Roquan Smith should be locks at linebacker—with San Francisco’s defensive leader making the most impact plays of his career with a combined eight forced fumbles and interceptions. Whether it’s making tackles versus the run or disrupting things in the passing game, Warner was again all over the place for the Niners in 2023.


LB: Demario Davis, NO
Season stats: 121 TKL | 12 TFL | 6.5 SK | 1 FF | 1 FR

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah deserves recognition here for how strongly he finished the season, but Davis didn’t slow down at all in his age-34 campaign—keeping together a New Orleans defense that struggled at times to have them in playoff contention into Week 18. Similar to Jason Kelce on offense, Davis has only gotten better with age and has earned five All-Pro selections (mostly Second-Team) since turning 30.


CB: DaRon Bland, DAL

Season stats: 69 TKL | 3 TFL | 9 INT | 15 PD | 5 TD

Bland was arguably the most dangerous player in football this season with his ability to turn defense into offense—setting the NFL record for pick-sixes (five) by Thanksgiving. Making the season all the more impressive was Bland moving from the slot to the perimeter when Trevon Diggs (knee) went down, and it’s scary to think about what Dallas might be able to do with both of them ball-hawking outside the numbers in 2024.


CB: Joey Porter Jr., PIT

Season stats: 43 TKL | 1 TFL | 1 INT | 10 PD

Again, this is a position where a few players could have been chosen, but Porter Jr. was a rare shutdown cornerback that played shadow coverage—and he did it as a rookie. The highlights were a game-winning interception versus the Ravens and locking up DeAndre Hopkins in primetime (after requesting the assignment leading up to the game), and his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year-caliber season did not get close to the recognition it deserved with zero touchdowns allowed.


SCB: Taron Johnson, BUF

Season stats: 98 TKL | 3 TFL | 1.0 SK | 8 PD | 1 FR

Buffalo had key injuries on defense this year, but Johnson was an extremely steady presence in the slot with a well-rounded game to provide run support and play stout coverage. The former fourth-round pick further developed as a player to be perhaps the league’s best slot cornerback in 2023, and he even had a 15-tackle performance in a slugfest victory over the Giants.


S: Antoine Winfield Jr., TB

Season stats: 122 TKL | 6 TFL | 6.0 SK | 3 INT | 12 PD | 6 FF | 4 FR

Statistics can be misleading, but they certainly weren’t for Winfield this year, and his inexplicable Pro Bowl snub was at least made up for by a First-Team All-Pro selection. The versatile safety was everywhere for Tampa Bay—whether it was taking the ball away in deep coverage or forcing a key strip sack—and the team went 7-0 in games where he recorded an interception and/or sack.


S: Kyle Hamilton, BAL

Season stats: 81 TKL | 10 TFL | 3.0 SK | 4 INT | 13 PD | 1 FF | 1 TD

Hamilton was also a force all over the field this season, and the takeover performance on Christmas Night—with two interceptions and three passes defended in a 33-19 win over the 49ers—put him on the map as a superstar for casual NFL fans. Hamilton had a 3.0-sack game earlier in the season, and his combination of size, athleticism, and intelligence at 22 should make him a mainstay on All-Pro squads for years to come.