You’ve seen the rest, now it’s time to see the best. Yes if there’s one thing we back ourselves on it’s our player performance evaluation – if we didn’t then why would any one of us be bothering to show up for work?
So we’ve given others a day or two to get out their mid season All Pro teams, and now they’ve whet your appetite it’s time for the main course. The Official Pro Football Focus Mid Season All Pro Team.
While others have their favorites, and some just follow conventional wisdom, we’re not following our gut, but rather working on what we’ve analyzed by watching every play of the 2011 season in excruciatingly joyful detail.
We endorse these guys, and you should to.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
A controversial selection? Not so far this year. Rodgers has been head and shoulders above the competition with as close to flawless a display you’re likely to see from a quarterback. Put it this way, if you exclude spikes, throwaways and dropped passes Rodgers is completing 81.3% of his passes. Surreal.
Second Team: Tom Brady (NE)
Running Backs: Fred Jackson (Buf)
Jackson was a unanimous choice which is hardly surprising since he’s the most elusive back in the league. The second team choice was rather harder, with Adrian Peterson narrowly beating out both Matt Forte and Lesean McCoy. They can both feel hard done by given the levels of their performance.
Second Team: Adrian Peterson (Min)
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson (Det), Steve Smith (Car), and Wes Welker (NE)
How could you not pick Calvin Johnson? He’s so good nobody seems to have noticed how ‘meh’ Matthew Stafford has been. He truly is a quarterbacks best friend, although Wes Welker runs him close. Nobody knows how to get open like that man, and while he would narrowly beat out the resurgent Steve Smith in a two receiver set, we’ve gone all new age and decided to run a three receiver base look.
Second Team: Mike Wallace (Pit), Greg Jennings (GB) and Dwayne Bowe (KC)
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Gronkowski garnered three first team votes, with my arguments being that Jimmy Graham is so dominant as a receiver he has to be first team ignored. I can understand why given Gronkowski is a big time red zone threat and one heck of a blocker.
Second Team: Jimmy Graham (NO)
Offensive Tackles: Michael Roos (Ten) and Eric Winston (Hou)
Are the days of dominant tackle play behind us? Far too early to tell I’m told but with eight games gone it is consistency that is key with both Roos and Winston extremely reliable players. Winston however, better watch out for Bryan Bulaga. His sophomore year is balancing out his horrid rookie year with some superb run blocking.
Second Team: Joe Thomas (Cle) and Bryan Bulaga (GB)
Offensive Guards: Andy Levitre (Buf) and Marshal Yanda (Bal)
The biggest threat to Levitre’s status as 2011’s top guard may be Buffalo being forced to use him at left tackle. The less time he spends there, the more time the competition have to catch up on him. Yanda and Sitton are just that bit better than a strong group of right guards, led by Brian Waters and Jahri Evans.
Second Team: Evan Mathis (Phi) and Josh Sitton (GB)
Center: Chris Myers (Hou)
If you take one thing from this All Pro team it should be that Chris Myers is currently the best center in all of football. Maybe a healthy Mangold can catch him, but Myers has been so dominant this one may already be in the bag.
Second Team: Scott Wells (GB)
Defensive Ends: Justin Smith (SF) and Jared Allen (Min)
Here comes our somewhat hybrid defensive front. Simply put you can’t look past Justin Smith, and I’d usher anyone who disagrees to watch how instrumental he was in the 49ers beating the Lions. Allen has been handed the kind of schedule of left tackles that must have made him realize this could be a career year. He’s feasting on them at the moment and earning his sacks. Watch out for Carlos Dunlap if he gets more snaps. Hard to resist right now.
Second Team: Terrell Suggs (Bal) and Carlos Dunlap (Cin)
Defensive Tackles: Richard Seymour (Oak) and Haloti Ngata (Bal)
There wouldn’t be any doubt over Seymour but for the unnecessary penalties time and time again. That said he’s been that good he had to go into this team, playing the run well, and wreaking havoc in the backfield. Ngata joins him without reaching the heights of last year. The defensive tackle pool has been low on elite performers and it’s why reclamation projects like Alan Branch, and players on the rise like Geno Atkins, are getting involved.
Second Team: Alan Branch (Sea) and Geno Atkins (Cin)
Middle Linebacker: Patrick Willis (SF)
As good as Ray Lewis has been (and he has been good), you can’t go wrong with Patrick Willis. In fact the only way you can go wrong is by not selecting him. The premier inside linebacker in a league full of good ones, with players like NaVorro Bowman, Brian Cushing and Derrick Johnson playing extremely well.
Second Team: Ray Lewis (Bal)
Outside Linebackers: Von Miller (Den) and Daryl Smith (Jax)
Believe the hype when it comes to Von Miller. The 4-3 OLB is special, and is simply too quick and too active for most blockers. It’s about time Daryl Smith got his due for years of playing very well. This year may be his best year yet and he seems to be thriving in a Jaguars defense that loaded up on free agent talent. It says something about our thoughts on the 3-4 OLBs (and the injury to James Harrison) that DeMarcus Ware was the only one to scrape in.
Second Team: DeMarcus Ware (Dal) and Sean Weatherspoon (Atl)
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis (NYJ) and Carlos Rogers (SF)
If you follow our twitter feed you’ll be inundated with Revis stats because each week a new one comes out that amazes us. A word of advice to opposing offensive coordinators, stop trying to be ‘the guy’ that figures out how to beat him, and just accept whoever he is covering is off limits. There hasn’t been a better free agent signing than Carlos Rogers. A revelation in San Francisco and with the added benefit of being able to move inside to the slot in nickel packages. That means you can practically add Joe Haden to the first team unit given how much teams play in nickel.
Second Team: Joe Haden (Cle) and Cortland Finnegan (Ten)
Safeties: Kam Chancellor (Sea) and Eric Weddle (SD)
Even after having the worst game of his career Chancellor is still our top ranked safety. He makes plays all over the field. Weddle was erroneously ranked as a worse free agent than Danieal Manning, Michael Huff and Quintin Mikell by myself. Even I get it wrong sometimes, but between the four analysts we got it right this time with his All Pro nod.
Second Team: Troy Polamalu (Pit) and Jairus Byrd (Buf)
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski (Oak)
The joint longest kick in NFL history and five more kicks over 50 yards. He makes it look so easy at times.
Second Team: Josh Scobee (Jax)
Punter: Shane Lechler (Oak)
Is there a better leg in the league? Certainly not when it’s used for punting.
Second Team: Andy Lee (SF)
Returners: Joe McKnight (NYJ) and Patrick Peterson (Ari)
Are we cheating here or doing the sensible thing? You’d be foolish to ignore the impact McKnight is having a kick returner, and Peterson is having as a punt returner. Watch the touchdowns they’ve combined for and tell me they don’t deserve it.
Second Team: Leon Washington (SEA)
Special Teamer: Corey Graham (Chi)
The most reliable special teamer in the league and a guy capable of making big plays as he did on Monday Night.
Second Team: Everson Griffen (Min)
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