The 2023 NFL season has arrived, 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 last week with the AFC, beginning with the, continuing to the and and finally finishing up with the . This week, it's on to the NFC. We began Tuesday with the , continued Wednesday with the and Thursday with the , and finish up today with the NFC West.
Without further ado ...
Offensive skill positions
What a difference a year makes! Smith is in the best position to succeed of any quarterback in this division thanks to a strong offensive line and one of the best wide receiver trios in football. He likely won't repeat last season's outlier touchdown and interception rates, but there's room for both to regress and him to still be the most productive QB in the division. In the 10 full games McCaffrey played with the 49ers, he was at a full-season pace of 1,204 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 85 receptions for 748 yards and seven additional scores. And that was with the Niners managing his reps by using Elijah Mitchell quite often. Sheesh.
There is, once again, injury concern with Kupp. We have no idea if or when he'll play this season. We do know that when he's on the field, though, he is the most productive receiver in the league. So, we're taking a chance and betting that he'll get out there at some point. Then, we have both of Smith's top targets, who should remain in those roles even after the arrival of Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Samuel is the best run-after-catch threat in the league, and the most versatile offensive player in football. Even if somebody else leads the team in receptions, he's likely to make the biggest impact among the pass-catchers. Kittle would be the best tight end in football if not for the existence of Travis Kelce. His role is so much more than receiving, as he's the best blocking tight end in the league, and he's of course capable of blow-up performances in the passing game.
Williams is still either the best or second-best overall offensive lineman in the league, which is pretty incredible at his age (35). Since arriving in San Francisco after sitting out the 2019 season, he's made the Pro Bowl in all three seasons and was named a First Team All-Pro the past two seasons. Cross had a very strong debut season protecting Smith's blind side and should team with Abraham Lucas to form a really good bookend duo for years to come. The interior linemen in this division are not nearly as strong as the tackles, but Hernandez has played at an above-average or better level several times, and Banks and Allen have at least shown they can be capable starters.
Bosa deservingly just got an absolute monster bag. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year ranks first in the NFL in sacks (34) and second in pressures (165) over the past two seasons and is heading into the prime of his career. Nwosu is coming off a career-high 9.5 sacks in his first year with Seattle, which was also the first season where he played more than two-thirds of his team's snaps. He should take a step forward this season with more help up front.
When healthy, Donald still has as good an argument as anybody in the league for being the best defensive player (and best non-Patrick Mahomes player) in the league. Hargrave and Armstead should be one of, if not the best interior duo in the NFL this season, and their combination of skill sets matches together perfectly. Oh, and the Niners have the NFL's best linebacker in Warner and probably its most underrated in Greenlaw. What an absolutely preposterous group of players they have on defense.
Ward turned himself into a really nice player during his time in Kansas City, got paid like a No. 1 corner, and lived up to the billing in his first year in San Francisco. In Steve Wilks' defense, he should be very good once again. Woolen got overshadowed in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting by Sauce Gardner, but he proved himself a very capable perimeter corner with great size and coverage skills. And Jackson had the best year of his career playing across from Woolen, and should still have a sizable role even after Seattle drafted Devon Witherspoon.
Baker remains a premier safety, and even on what figures to be a downright awful Cardinals team, he should still shine. Hufanga exceeded all reasonable expectations by emerging as a Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro last year, and while he probably won't have four picks and a touchdown again, he should continue playing extremely well on the back end of what should be one of the NFL's best defenses. He deserves a spot here.
Myers has been excellent since arriving in Seattle, connecting on 87.5% of his kicks and making multiple 50-plus-yarders in each season. Dickson has a monster leg (47.6 yard career average) and is able to control his touchback rate. McCloud has been one of the highest-volume and most efficient punt returners in the league for several years, and has been at 9.7 yards per return or better in each of the past three seasons.