Predicting the 2024 NFL First-Team All-Pro: Defense Picks and Predictions

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published June 28, 2024
11 min read

Offense gets the glory, defense wins championships—but the 2024 All-Pro First Team will bestow individual glory upon 12 of the best defensive players in the entire league.

The retirement of Aaron Donald opened up a huge hole (literally and figuratively) in the heart of the All-Pro team, while a sudden influx of talented corners will make spots in the secondary hard to come by.

Here are our early predictions for all 12 spots on the 2024 NFL First-Team All-Pro defense.

Also, have a look at our 2024 NFL First-Team All-Pro Offense Picks and Predictions.

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2024 NFL First-Team All-Pro Defense Predictions

2024 First-Team All-Pro Defense Picks at a Glance

  • Myles Garrett

  • T.J. Watt

  • Quinnen Williams

  • Jalen Carter

  • Fred Warner

  • Nick Bolton

  • T.J. Edwards

  • Devon Witherspoon

  • Derek Stingley Jr.

  • Antoine Winfield Jr.

  • Kyle Hamilton

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EDGE: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Garrett finally won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2023 and is +600 to repeat in 2024. His stellar campaign saw him finish with 42 tackles, 14 sacks, four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a Browns team that overcame a slew of injuries to finish 11-6.

Garett is close to unblockable off of the edge, even with opposing offenses sending multiple bodies in his direction. Interestingly, his 14 sacks last year were fewer than the 16 he produced in each of the two preceding seasons, and he likely still has more to give at only 28 years old.

Pro Football Focus graded the longtime Clevelander as the best outside rusher in the league, and expectations are high once again as the Browns look to make a run at the AFC North title.

Bet on Myles Garrett at FanDuel 

EDGE: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

Watt (+750 Defensive Player of the Year odds) led the NFL with 19 sacks last year, his second-most in a season and not too far off his best of 22.5 He also forced four fumbles and recovered three for a Steelers squad that depended heavily on its defense and got little support from the offense.

Pittsburgh’s success is directly correlated to Watt’s presence on the field. They’re 27-14-1 with him but only 1-10 without him on the field over the last three seasons, which is an extraordinary impact for a player who rarely has the ball in his hands.

Watt’s inclusion on our list means that Maxx Crosby, Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, and several others missed out, but the numbers and eye test prove that these are the two most impactful players at their position in the NFL.

Bet on T.J. Watt at FanDuel 

Interior Lineman: Quinnen Williams, New York Jets

Williams, 26, is now entering his prime as an interior defender. He fell from 12 sacks in 2022 to just 5.5 in 2023, but that’s not to say that he didn’t have an enormous impact on a Jets team that battled through injuries and offensive instability. 

PFF graded Williams as the third-best interior defender, behind only Dexter Lawrence and the now-retired Aaron Donald. He also earned the top mark in run defense despite the Jets ranking 25th in rushing yards allowed per game.

Even with the names such as Sauce Gardner and C.J. Mosley, Williams is the regular standout for the Jets. They have a great chance to compete for the AFC East title (+185 AFC East odds) in light of the Buffalo Bills’ losses, which gives Williams even more of a national platform.

Bet on Quinnen Williams at FanDuel 

Interior Lineman: Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles

Carter did not put up decent-but-not-amazing numbers during his rookie season, but he passed the eye test with flying colors. He frequently overpowered opposing linemen and required double- or even triple-teams to slow him down at the point of attack en route to six sacks and two forced fumbles,

There’s room for improvement with Carter’s consistency as far as impact on a play-by-play basis, but he still showed incredible promise as a first-year player. An offseason of development and the sense of comfort that comes with a year of NFL experience will both be crucial for him as he prepares to take the leap next year.

The Eagles went from allowing the fewest passing yards per game to the third-most in just one year. Their recent investments in the secondary should give Carter more time to get home, thereby leading to him having a substantial jump in output in 2024.

Bet on Jalen Carter at FanDuel 

Linebacker: Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

There are a few people around the league who can regularly be penciled into an All-Pro team—Warner is one of those people. He was a First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in three of the last four seasons and is still only 27, right in the middle of his prime.

Warner finished last season ranked second on PFF’s linebacker chart with top-six finishes in both run defense and coverage, showing his impressive versatility. The 49ers also ranked fourth in points and ninth in yards allowed despite frequently playing with the lead, meaning their opponents regularly tried to air the ball out and aggressively move down the field.

No player makes the first team every year, but Warner is almost in a class of his own when it comes to his range of ability at the middle linebacker position. The Niners’ defense figures to be elite again, which means Warner has another great chance to make his way back onto this list.

Bet on Fred Warner at FanDuel 

Linebacker: Nick Bolton, Kansas City Chiefs

Bolton’s third year in the NFL did not come with the leap into the next echelon that many hoped for, largely because of an injury he suffered a month into the season. He played eight games and registered 60 tackles and one interception, but it was nowhere near the 180-tackle season he had as a sophomore.

Bolton came up with 13 total tackles in the Super Bowl and will benefit from an offseason full of health and rehabilitation. He’ll also get the benefit of playing alongside a player in Drue Tranquill who flashed the last two seasons and with several other Pro Bowl-caliber athletes.

The Chiefs finished second in points and yards allowed last year. Even if they don’t quite hit that level in 2024, Bolton is primed for a bounce-back year on what could easily be one of the five best defenses in football for the second year running.

Bet on Nick Bolton at FanDuel 

Linebacker: T.J. Edwards, Chicago Bears

The signing of Tremaine Edmunds led many to overlook the arrival of T.J. Edwards, but there’s no questioning which of the two was the best linebacker on the Bears’ defense last year. That player was Edwards, who wound up with 155 total tackles and three interceptions in his fifth professional campaign.

The Bears allowed just 17.9 points per game after Montez Sweat arrived in a trade with the Washington Commanders in Week 8. That mark would have ranked third in the NFL over the course of the entire year behind only the Ravens and Chiefs, which means the proof of concept is there with this assembly of talent.

Edwards finished one spot outside the top 10 on PFF’s rankings but will have another year in Chicago’s system and chemistry with his new teammates. The Bears are also -112 to make the playoffs and should be involved in the NFC picture. 

Bet on T.J. Edwards at FanDuel 

Cornerback: Devon Witherspoon, Seattle Seahawks

Witherspoon only needed one year to make a resounding impact in the NFL. The fifth-overall pick from Illinois managed 79 total tackles, three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble while finishing sixth in PFF’s cornerback rankings.

The Seahawks completed the rebuild of their secondary in just two years, first by drafting Riq Woolen, and then Witherspoon. The pair gives them their bookend corners for at least the next four years, if not well beyond.

The young corner allowed just 396 yards receiving (28.3 per game) and should continue to improve with more NFL experience. New Seahawks coach Mike MacDonald was the defensive coordinator for the Ravens’ historic defense last year and will help Witherspoon become one of the best at his position in the league.

Bet on Devon Witherspoon at FanDuel 

Cornerback: Derek Stingley Jr., Houston Texans

Stingley is another young cornerback with only two years of NFL experience. The third-overall pick in 2022, he finished fifth in PFF’s coverage rankings for corners and allowed 35.9 yards per game while struggling with injuries.

The 23-year-old is yet to play more than 11 games in an NFL year, which is a concern. But the ascension of the Texans under DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud combined with the influx of talent they acquired during the offseason makes this one of the top contenders in the AFC (+800 odds to win the AFC) and puts Stingley in a position of power. 

With new arrival Jeff Okudah slotting in opposite Stingley Jr. and an improved defensive line leading the attack, the Texans are going to field an impressive defense. Their potential success could be the catalyst for the young Stingley gaining individual notoriety if he can just stay on the field.

Bet on Derek Stingley Jr. at FanDuel 

Slot Cornerback: Brian Branch, Detroit Lions

Branch is a safety by trade but spent a ton of time at slot cornerback last season—624 of his 839 (74.3 percent) snaps, to be exact.

Like our other members of the secondary, Branch is a youthful 22 and only has one year of experience in the NFL. The Detroit Lions also allowed the second-most passing yards per game (257) in 2023, but that was not a reflection of Branch, who was one of the top slot corners in coverage.

The Lions drafted Terrion Arnold and brought in Carlton Davis III to solidify their pass defense on the outside. That will give Branch more support and allow him to shine for Dan Campbell’s aggressive defense as they look to get back to the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year (+600 odds to win the NFC).

Bet on Brian Branch at FanDuel 

Safety: Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winfield Jr. resigned with the Bucs on a four-year deal earlier in the offseason and will return to the place where he established quite the reputation for himself. A reigning member of the First-Team All-Pro squad, there’s no reason to expect a decline in production from one of the league’s best at safety.

The son of a three-time Pro-Bowler, Winfield Jr. registered 122 tackles, six sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions in an incredible season in Tampa. Coincidentally, it was the first time he played every game in a season since his rookie campaign in 2020.

Winfield Jr. finished the year as PFF’s top-ranked safety and is willing to fly all over the field. He’s a playmaker at every level and can be disruptive rushing the passer, stopping the run, or deep in coverage. 

Bet on Antoine Winfield Jr. at FanDuel 

Safety: Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens

There was arguably no player who had a more impressive individual season than Hamilton, who was also a first-time First-Team All-Pro in 2023. That’s right, we’re predicting a repeat for both safeties.

Hamilton was used everywhere—he played 465 snaps in the slot, 301 at free safety, 236 in the box, 58 on the defensive line, and five at corner for a Ravens defense that led the league in points and yards allowed, sacks, and turnovers forced.

The Notre Dame product made an instant impact as a rookie when he finished atop PFF’s rankings for safeties and was even better in his 2023 cameo as a sophomore. His 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame makes him the most versatile safety in the game, and his instincts are unlike anyone else at the position.

Bet on Kyle Hamilton at FanDuel 

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Grant Mitchell

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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field. In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor in Sports Media and Analytics
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