As we reach training camp and get closer to training camp, it’s time to take a look at the best players in each division by position. Here we will be looking at the AFC South All-Division Team. They have not really had any juggernaut teams in the division for a while, but they have still had two playoff teams each of the last four seasons, so there is still plenty of good talent to go around. This article will focus on the 2021 AFC South defense.
2021 AFC South Defense: The All-Division Team
Defensive End: Josh Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Not to be confused with the quarterback, Allen missed half of the 2020 season in a disappointing sophomore campaign. However, the momentum of his rookie year still lands him a spot on this list. He had 10.5 sacks that year and became the first Jaguars player ever to go to the Pro Bowl in their rookie year. While he does need a bounce-back year in 2021, the upside is still clearly there.
Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner (Indianapolis Colts)
Buckner is one of the more prolific and stat-filling defensive tackles in the league. He was traded to the Colts in 2020 and became the second-highest-paid at his position afterward. Over the last three years, he’s compiled 29 sacks, four forced fumbles, and six fumble recoveries. He’s also gotten All-Pro nods each of the last two years. Buckner’s one of those guys that can make a defensive line better wherever he goes.
Defensive End: Denico Autry (Tennessee Titans)
Denico Autry has never gotten any significant accolades during his time in the NFL, but he should not be slept on either. He had a good run with the Colts from 2018 to 2020, putting up 20 sacks in those three years as well as three forced fumbles. He stayed in the division by going to the Titans, and he should provide a good veteran presence on the defensive line.
Outside Linebacker: Bud Dupree (Titans)
A natural 3-4 outside linebacker, Dupree belongs on this list regardless but fits in well being a pass-rushing linebacker. He’s been quite good at getting after the quarterback the last couple of years. He had 11.5 sacks in 2019 and got eight more in 2020. He probably would’ve gotten double-digit sacks again if he hadn’t torn his ACL in Week 12. Regardless, this is a big edition for the Titans that beefs up their pass-rushing ability.
Inside Linebacker: Darius Leonard (Colts)
While Darius Leonard is normally an outside linebacker, if he were playing in a 3-4 defense, he would probably play in the inside. Even though he can pass rush and does sometimes on late downs, it’d be a waste of his coverage ability, among other things. Then again, he probably would find a way to excel regardless of where he was in the linebacker lineup. He’s been electric ever since he came into the NFL in 2018, having gone All-Pro all three years with 416 combined tackles and seven interceptions. He’s made a name for himself as one of the better linebackers in the NFL and has a long career ahead of him.
Inside Linebacker: Joe Schobert (Jaguars)
Schobert doesn’t have as prolific a resume as the other linebackers on this list, but he’s no slouch either. He’s been a tackling machine for the last four years, having gotten over 100 combined tackles in each of those four years. He’s also gotten better in pass coverage more recently, having come up with seven interceptions in the last two years.
Outside Linebacker: Myles Jack (Jaguars)
While Jack isn’t really a pass-rusher, he struggled when trying to play in the middle before. And after having his best year as a pro which allowed him to go All-Pro in 2020, he couldn’t be left off this list. He had career highs with 118 combined tackles and five pass deflections. Moving to the outside permanently seems to have helped.
Cornerback: Xavier Rhodes (Colts)
Rhodes has had a strange past couple of years. He got a Pro Bowl nod in 2019 with the Vikings, but most anyone who watched him would agree that he did not actually have a good year at all. Then he joined the Colts last year, and the change of scenery seemed to be good for him as he brought in two interceptions and had 12 pass deflections… and yet this time did not get a Pro Bowl nod. Regardless, he has gone from being thought of as washed up to a clear-cut starter again. Considering he’s in his early 30’s, it remains to be seen how long this rejuvenation will last, but being with the Colts has done wonders – and it’s helped him get a spot on this list.
Free Safety: Kevin Byard (Titans)
Kevin Byard had a bit of a down season interception-wise in 2020, only pulling in one – but he did pull in the most tackles of his career, having 111 combined and 79 solo. While last season may not have been quite his best overall, he’s still been a reliable starter for the Titans since getting drafted in 2016. In fact, he has never missed a game. While there’s not a lot of competition, Byard remains the best safety in his division right now.
Strong Safety: Khari Willis (Colts)
Strong safety is in the running for the weakest defensive position spot in the division. Khari Willis was really the only choice here, but he had a nice season in 2020 in his first full season as a starter. He was in on 85 tackles, had two interceptions including a pick-six, six pass deflections, and one forced fumble. He’s not really in the upper echelon of safeties yet, but he is off to a promising start.
Cornerback: Shaquill Griffin (Jaguars)
Griffin had been with the Seattle Seahawks the first four years of his career but joined the Jaguars in free agency this off-season. He’s been a fine corner during that time; he got a Pro Bowl nod in 2019 and set a career-high with three interceptions despite missing four games. While he is not a top-tier cornerback, he’s still good enough to get a spot here.
Embed from Getty Images