(Charlie Riedel :: L.G. Patterson :: Ted S. Warren :: Michael Conroy :: Charles Rex Arbogast)
(Charlie Riedel :: L.G. Patterson :: Ted S. Warren :: Michael Conroy :: Charles Rex Arbogast)

My Pro Bowl Picks

New format, same old emphasis on popularity over merit. But I'm here to correct that. Who deserves to go to Hawaii? Here's who made it in on my ballot

By
Andy Benoit
· More from Andy·

Pro Bowl balloting closes the day after Christmas. In an effort to help “merit” trump “popularity,” I filled out a full ballot that’s based solely on film study from this season. Stats are noted in some of the analysis, but they did not factor strongly into any decisions. There are very few players who consistently pop on film and don’t have good stats anyway. But there are plenty of players who have good stats but don’t consistently pop on film. 

Special teams were ignored because I do not watch film on that side of the ball. (And I don’t know any analyst who does. There simply is not enough time during the regular season.) The selections were made from NFL.com’s Pro Bowl ballot, which does not distinguish between 3-4 and 4-3 defensive positions or slot and outside receivers/corners. I was—and remain—a little leery of the new unconferenced format, in which the two top vote-getters on offense and defense become team captains and then “draft” their teams out of the voted Pro Bowlers, but I will admit it made for a smoother voting process. Choosing six players from 32 teams is easier than choosing three players from 16 teams. The players are listed in no particular order, though the players I would vote first team All-Pro are marked with an asterisk.

I’m sure you’ll take issue with some of these choices. The best part of Pro Bowl balloting is the arguments that come from it. Please feel free to share yours. And make sure to head over to page 3 for my preview of the Thursday night game between the Broncos and Chargers.

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Peyton Manning, Broncos* — Easily the 2013 MVP. No player does more to make his teammates better.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks — Best on-the-move QB in football. His ability to extend plays and make touch throws—both underneath and downfield—are the biggest reasons the run-based, injury-plagued Seahawks lead the NFC in scoring.

Tom Brady, Patriots — No accident that New England is still on track for a first-round bye despite weekly changes in both scheme and personnel.

Andrew Luck, Colts — His Colts won the AFC South despite an erratic running game, understaffed receiving corps and athletically challenged offensive line. No quarterback has done more with less.

Drew Brees, Saints — Remains the most proficient progression-reader in the NFL.

Tony Romo, Cowboys — Choke artists don’t have a 3.8-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Running Back

After rushing for his lowest career total as a starter (840 yards) in 2012, LeSean McCoy should shatter his career-high rushing yards (1,309) this season under Chip Kelly. (Kathy Willens/AP)
After rushing for his lowest career total as a starter (840 yards) in 2012, LeSean McCoy should shatter his career-high rushing yards (1,309) this season under Chip Kelly. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs* — More than just a speedster. Without his multidimensional receiving prowess and dependable pass-blocking, Kansas City’s offense would look like that of a really good high school team.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings — Still jumps out on film even by “future Hall of Famer” standards.

Matt Forte, Bears — Patience and versatility make him an invaluable stabilizer for Chicago.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks — Tenacity and power are well-known; less talked about is his lateral agility, which he relied on in creating a lot of his own yards when Seattle’s O-line was banged up.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles — Closest thing we’ve seen to Barry Sanders since Barry Sanders himself. A perfect fit in Chip Kelly’s system.

Reggie Bush, Lions — Brought balance to Detroit’s offense, both as a runner and multi-tool receiver.

Wide Receiver

Calvin Johnson, Lions* — No explanation needed.

A.J. Green Bengals* — Augmented his splendid raw talent by improving as a route runner.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys — Productivity has dipped a hair, but only because double-teams are up.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos — The clear-cut No. 1 weapon on the league’s most prolific offense.

Alshon Jeffery, Bears — Combination of size and speed make him as tough a one-on-one matchup as anyone in the game.

Brandon Marshall, Bears — The reason Jeffery gets so many one-on-one matchups.

Josh Gordon, Browns — Okay, sometimes stats are just too big to ignore. And he’s playing in an offense that, aside from tight end Jordan Cameron, has no other weapons to worry about.

Antonio Brown, Steelers — Has been prolific in an offense that gets very little from its ground game. Barely edged out Andre Johnson, who had just a few too many negative plays to warrant a selection off a bad Texans team.

Fullback

Weigh In

Do you disagree with Andy Benoit's Pro Bowl picks? Make sure to let us know @TheMMQB or by emailing us at talkback@themmqb.com.

Bruce Miller, 49ers* — Firm blocker and underrated part of San Francisco’s passing game.

Mike Tolbert, Panthers — A key ball-handler in critical situations, both on handoffs and underneath routes. Has also provided stellar lead-blocking, particularly in Carolina’s read-option game.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham, Saints* — Contract is up after this season. His agent will argue that he should have gone to Hawaii as a wide receiver.

Vernon Davis, 49ers — Kept afloat a Niners passing game that’s sorely missed a downfield wide receiver. Has also continued to be an assertive blocker, which is important in San Francisco’s creative running scheme.

Antonio Gates, Chargers — Is still the guy opponents zero their coverages around, which is why he’s become an even more movable chess piece in San Diego’s new spread system.

Charles Clay, Dolphins — Without his versatility, Miami would not be in wild-card contention.

Offensive Tackle

Joe Thomas, Browns* — Has consistently handled top pass rushers one-on-one.

Tyron Smith, Cowboys* — Mechanics finally caught up to his otherworldly athleticism. Tony Romo has never felt so secure.

Jake Long, Rams — A big reason why St. Louis’s offense stabilized after changing to a run-first system in early October.

Joe Staley, 49ers — Mobile as a run-blocker out in front, steady on an island in pass protection.

Trent Williams, Washington — His explosive short-area movement and rangy downhill run-blocking are why almost half of Alfred Morris’ rushing yards have come on carries classified as “wide left.”

Duane Brown, Texans — Continued to be a strong pass protector, even with the Texans using fewer blocker-friendly play-action rollouts this year. Won individual battles against leading AFC sacker Robert Mathis and leading NFC sacker Robert Quinn.

Joe Staley (left) and Mike Iupati are a big part of why Frank Gore excels and the 49ers win many of their battles in the trenches. (Damon Tarver/Cal Sport Media :: Daniel Gluskoter/CSM/Landov)
Joe Staley (left) and Mike Iupati are a big part of why Frank Gore excels and the 49ers win many of their battles in the trenches. (Damon Tarver/Cal Sport Media :: Daniel Gluskoter/CSM/Landov)

Guard

Logan Mankins, Patriots* — Few notice that New England’s run-oriented offense centers around its man-blocking, both on the ground and in play-action. This veteran’s work as a pull-blocker has been key.

Josh Sitton, Packers* — The lone bright spot on Green Bay’s beleaguered offensive line. Has terrific feel angles and technique.

Zane Beadles, Broncos — One of the best at delivering double teams and then working up to the second level. Without his services, Knowshon Moreno this year would have looked a lot more like the Knowshon Moreno of past years.

Mike Iupati, 49ers — San Francisco’s rushing attack got on track once he got on track.

Evan Mathis, Eagles — Has consistently shown the movement skills required in Philly’s finesse ground game. (And has also shown the surprising brute power needed for winning in the snow.)

Andy Levitre, Titans — Tennessee’s rushing attack is constructed around his pull-blocking, which has been downright dominant at times.

Center

Alex Mack, Browns* — No center locks and steers opponents better than the vastly underrated fifth-year vet.

Ryan Kalil, Panthers — The only source of stability on Carolina’s front five. Mobile run-blocker, savvy pass-blocker.

Eric Wood, Bills — Buffalo has usually been comfortable letting the 315-pounder go one-on-one against top-level nose tackles.

Mike Pouncey, Dolphins — There’s something to be said for raw athleticism, which he has in spades.

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36 comments
JPSmall
JPSmall

No Robert Mathis at DE?? Again, idiot. 


JPSmall
JPSmall

Hmmm....what was that about choke artists? Idiot. 

Calman21
Calman21

How is Philip Rivers not on your list, he has out played both Brady and Luck? And Antonio Gates doesn't really deserve to be. Really no one else on the Charger except for Keenan Allen could even be considered and with how good Receivers are this year it doesn't surprise me.

JWalks82
JWalks82

I'm sorry to be the guy who complains about his team not getting deserved attention, but I find the exclusion a tad ridiculous.
Both of the Bills defensive tackles, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, are among the top 5 for DTs in both sacks and tackles. Both of them. Yet, somehow, neither of them are in the top 6 at their position.
Mario Williams is 2nd among DEs for sacks and requires constant double-teaming to contain, yet also isn't in the top 6.
Kiko Alonso, in his rookie season, is 2nd in the NFL in tackles and tied for 1st for turnovers by an inside linebacker. Yet, again, he isn't worthy of the Pro Bowl.
I try to be as objective as possible, I truly do. But seeing that not one of these people got on your list forces me to question either your allegiances or your intelligence. Either way, I suppose it doesn't really matter, because most of them will be going to the actual Pro Bowl either way.

anon76
anon76

@Andy_Benoit


So, just to recap, the 49ers offense, which averages 311.5 ypg and 24.5 ppg, gets 4 pro bowlers, while the Broncos, the greatest offense the NFL has ever seen (not an exaggeration in terms of points or yards) get 3 pro bowlers (the same as the Cleveland Browns).  Does that sound about right?

Tomppa27
Tomppa27

Are you kidding me, no Brent Grimes?

lennyb6
lennyb6

Tony Romo over Nick Foles???

MicahThoughtlife
MicahThoughtlife

"Aqib Talib, Patriots — Has won battles against Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Steve Smith and Demaryius Thomas, playing hefty snaps of true solo man coverage."

Don't get me wrong. Talib has had a great season. But if you think he won his battle against Steve Smith then you can't have seen the game. You might want to edit this after looking at the tape, maybe mention the sterling job Talib did on Jimmy Graham instead. Smith, I'm afraid, beat Talib like a drum for 4 quarters.

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

Domonique Rogers-Cromartie?  Are you kidding me?

ScottSkipper
ScottSkipper

Where is Cordy Glenn at LT, has only given up 1 sack, DT Kyle Williams 55 tackles 7 sacks,

DT Marcell Dareus 60 tackles 7 sacks, OLB Mario Williams 12 sacks

diybk
diybk

How can Von Miller not be included????

diybk
diybk

I want to see the author go head to head against PFF on Zane Beadles.

afeltes
afeltes

As a Broncos fan, Louis Vasquez has been far superior to Zane Beadles.  

Mood_Indigo
Mood_Indigo

I'' take  Frank Gore over Matt Forte and Reggie Bush any day for a 60 minute football game (rather than a highlight reel). But then I'm a Niners fan...

tylery81
tylery81

River is having a way better year than romo

nyjetsfan08
nyjetsfan08

Sad to see no Revis, who is the best CB since PrimeTime. But he didn't earn it this year. Say what you want: He was injured, the coaches put him too many zone coverages and not enough press, he didn't have it this year. He may never be the same. I hope he does return to form because he was/is something special.

etep55
etep55

Did you forget about Nick Foles? 


Also, Clay over Julius Thomas? OK....ha. 

argirodo
argirodo

Davis/Smith over Grimes? WOW! They are still horrible. Grimes is the best corner back Dolphins have had since Madison. Sean and Vontae get beat weekly seemingly giving touchdowns at will. Brent has zero allowed all season. 

Cheese or Mini-Me
Cheese or Mini-Me

There are discussions of Burfict being the NFL Defensive MVP but he doesn't get probowl consideration?


enhancedakuma
enhancedakuma

Maybe because he missed 6 games and took a few to get back to form, seems obvious to me.

anon76
anon76

@diybk

Yeah, I love me some Beadles, but I don't see how you can argue he's having a better year than Vasquez, or several other guards on other teams.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@Mood_Indigo You can see that the writer put Miller, Iupati, and Staley on the team crediting them for a lot of Gore's greatness.  Bears and Lions don't have that perceived strength at run blocking positions. 

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@tylery81 No. not a way better year than Romo.  Better year than Luck or Brady maybe. 

enhancedakuma
enhancedakuma

Nick Foles has to do it for more than 5 games before you can call him a pro-bowler. At least wait until the regular season is over.

argirodo
argirodo

@etep55 I agree kinda surprised to see Clay, but Thomas plays with the MVP. Dolphins haven't passed for 20+ tds in 15 years. Clay has 7. Cut us some slack lol.

Translucent
Translucent

@argirodo Pat Surtain was actually better than Sam Madison, but they were both terrific. Too bad Jimma couldn't draft offense.

argirodo
argirodo

I am much happier having Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson (1 and zero allowed) then the other two. (not pro bowlers tho)

anon76
anon76

@enhancedakuma


Which games did he take to get back to form?  Look at his position grades- he was the #7 ranked edge rusher in his first game, and has only been ranked lower than that in one of his 7 games.  To go along with his 5 sacks he's got 10 QB hits, 25+ QB pressures, one drawn hold, and a tipped pass leading to an INT.  And that's just against the pass.  Against the run he has 6 stuffs in 7 games along with 3 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.

I can't say anything about the other OLBs on the list, but Miller has definitely been a one-man wrecking crew since coming back, starting with his first game against Indianapolis.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@Mood_Indigo Also he probably had a logjam at RB and thought he had enough Niners (4) on the offensive team already for a supposedly average offense. 

argirodo
argirodo

Andy's defense via twitter is that since he leads in INTS +PD's ie he's getting thrown at more. No stats to back that up. Except that he's put more points on the board directly for his team then the other team. Related he plays defense not offense. 

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