Two members of the Washington Commanders' defense have been grouped among the top players of the 2021 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Jonathan Allen, who had a career season fresh off a contract extension prior to training camp, ranked 54th on PFF's Top 101 players from last season. With an 84.9 overall grade, Allen was the fourth-highest interior defensive lineman on the list.
Coming in behind him was cornerback Kendall Fuller, who PFF ranked 73rd with an 81.5 overall grade. In his second season back with the Burgundy & Gold after spending two years with the Kansas City Chiefs, Fuller was the fifth-highest cornerback on the list.
PFF's Sam Monson said Allen -- he was unranked in last year's list -- was "one of the most consistent interior pass-rushers in the game this season," and Allen's 67 quarterback pressures backed up that claim. That led to a career-high nine sacks, which helped him reach the Pro Bowl for the first time.
"It definitely is rewarding," Allen told senior vice president of media and content Julie Donaldson. "I feel like it's a reward for a great season, personally. And like I said, everyone's goal is to be able to make a Pro Bowl."
Allen's Pro Bowl selection was the result of him justifying his contract extension. He was one of the team's captains, and he recorded a 90.9 pass-rushing grade that was the third-highest for his position. Defensive line coach Sam Mills III called Allen's pass-rush "relentless" and reliable.
Head coach Ron Rivera heaped more praise on Allen after the franchise's rebrand announcement, saying that the defensive tackle is fit for the football team and community.
"I think the thing about him…is that he's a guy that has had and is having success in his career. He earned a contract extension, he signed it and he continues to play at that top level."
With Fuller, Monson points out that the defensive back stood out on a Commanders secondary that showed room for improvement after finishing second-best in passing yards allowed in 2020. He had a career-high in pass breakups, which was tied for sixth in the league, and recorded 77 tackles -- the second-highest total of his career.
"He earned his best overall grade and coverage grade since 2017, racking up 14 pass breakups even though he came away with just one interception." Monson said. "Fuller allowed only 9.4 yards per reception and put up an excellent grade against the run."
Rivera said during the season that Fuller was "our most steady player as far as our corners are concerned," adding that Washington was fortunate that the six-year pro was much healthier than he was in 2020.
"He's playing at a better level. He really has," Rivera said. "And again, you see him being one of those guys that's trying to lead, that's trying to communicate out there. That really has helped that group."
As one of the veterans on a young secondary, having Fuller as a constant in the group was comforting to Rivera.
"We're seeing that consistency, that solid play. So it's been good. It's been good to watch."