Tennessee Titans second-year safety Kevin Byard has been named to the AP’s All-Pro first team after a stellar season.
A couple of weeks ago, the NFL’s Pro Bowl rosters were announced, and a glaring omission was Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard. At the time, Byard was the league’s leader in interceptions and had won the Pro Bowl Fan Vote for AFC safeties. But the coaches and players around the league decided that Eric Weddle, Reshas Jones and Micah Hyde were all more deserving than the second-year Middle Tennessee product.
As the NFL’s players and coaches showed their true colors, so did the best writers covering the NFL. Earlier this afternoon, Byard was named to the AP’s All-Pro team, specifically their first team, which is the highest honor they give out. It’s also a much more prestigious honor than representing your conference in a meaningless game, though he may still do that as a Pro Bowl alternate.
Byard is joined on the first team by fellow safety Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings, who has been one of the best players in all of football this season for a 13-3 team and was also curiously snubbed from the Pro Bowl.
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A ballhawk coming out of college, Byard spent much of his rookie season as an in-the-box safety, consistently making plays in the running game. With Johnathan Cyprien coming to town, Byard was able to take on more of a free-roaming role in 2017, though he still made plenty of plays in opposing teams’ backfields.
Byard’s new role allowed him to flourish, and he responded with 10 total turnovers, which led the NFL. He picked off a whopping eight passes (tied for league lead) and recovered two fumbles. He had three separate games where he picked off multiple passes.
It’s fair to say that if this year’s version of Byard hadn’t been on this team, the Titans probably wouldn’t be getting ready for a playoff game tomorrow.
Titans punter Brett Kern, who made the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster, was named a second-team All-Pro, getting edged out by the Los Angeles Rams’ Johnny Hekker.