The PFF Mid Season All Pro Team

| November 9, 2011

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)

 

Follow our main feed on Twitter: @ProFootbalFocus


  • The Commish

    Uh, Jason Pierre-Paul doesn’t even make the *SECOND* team at DE? Are you guys out of your mind? LOL!

    • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

      He’s played well and picked up sacks, but does he really deserve to be in over players who have generated more combined sacks, hits and hurries and play the run better? Sure Dunlap only has three sacks but he has 37 combined sacks, hits and hurries on 202 pass rushes. JPP? 25 on 269 pass rushing attempts. He’s playing well, but there’s more to being a DE than just the sack stat.

      • The Commish

        You’re right. He’s also second amoung all DEs in tackles and Passes Defensed.

      • mopman

        You really don’t know what you’re talking about. First, JPP only play around 30 snaps a game, second he plays NT on every 3rd down, with his explicit intent to use his long arms and legs to take the center and guard out of the play, to allow Osi and Tuck who line up as edge rushers 1 on 1 matchups against the tackles. In those spots he is not on the field to get a sack. Does Carlos Dunlap or Jason Allen do that? Do those two guys rotate in and out and not play the whole game?

        I mean please, give me a break.

        • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

          You’re way off base with his snap numbers. The lowest snaps he has managed in a game is 41 (against Miami), and he’s played almost 200 more snaps than Carlos Dunlap (JPP has been on the field for 81.95% of all Giants defensive snaps, Dunlap is at 55.37% of all Bengals snap).

          You’re right that he lines up inside in nickel, but its certainly not on every 3rd down (Tuck has spent 19.38% of his time pass rushing as a DT in a four man line, JPP is at 27.3%) and it’s not designed to free up additionally pass rushers. It’s because JPP is a match up problem and can generate pressure of his own against guards.

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

    A generous scorer will give you tackles (our retrospective awarding of tackles has him seventh). Even then a tackle isn’t always a win for the defender, in the same win a defender can do more good for his team and not show up on a stat sheet.

    I am categorically not saying JPP hasn’t impressed me. He has, and he looks like he’s only going to get better. But when you compare his performance, and not just the numbers, to his peers, he’s a little way short of them (which is a credit to them).

  • The Commish

    Sorry, Khaled. Not buying it. I live in Cincinnati and watch Carlos Dunlop (almost) every week. He’s not even in the same discussion as Jason Pierre Paul. Seems some of these picks were based almost exclusively on PFF stats.

    • sunnym

      Are you sure you’re watching the right player!? I’m a Bengals fan and he’s our best player on D easy. He’s always active and destructive whenever he plays. You must be an idiot if you can’t acknowledge that. You’re probably looking at someone else.

      • The Commish

        Whoa, whoa, whoa … name calling? On the internet??? This is an outrage!

        (granted, I actually *AM* an idiot, but still …)

        :-)

  • The Commish

    PS- Adrian Peterson over Matt Forte?

    • ItsJustWerner

      I agree Forte > Peterson atm, but I think the choice came down to yards after touches, and the fact that Forte has more stuffs and negative yards because of some poor O-line play. Or maybe because of so many elite WR, a more pure back was needed. I’d like to see PFF’s reply to your post.

  • keim8604

    I’m somewhat disappointed by the omission of Saints FB Jed Collins. I do understand we see more 3 wideout sets than 2 back sets, but I would have liked to see him get recognition. He’s playing better than any FB was at this point last year and has been a difference maker as a blocker for New Orleans. That being said, this is a fine midseason all-pro team.

    • Neil Hornsby

      Hey Keim8604,
      You’re not the only one and I actually had a vote! Rest assured I picked a fullback and his name was Jed Collins. I’d like to see us include a FB but I know why we didn’t. If it was a choice purely between Jed and Wes Welker I’m sorry but he’d get my vote too.

      • keim8604

        I can’t disagree with that logic. I also have a couple other questions. First, about the selection of Joe Thomas over Jordan Gross. It seems Thomas has been a lot more inconsistent. So why him and not Gross, or even Jason Peters? Second, what determined that a player with as few snaps as Bryan Bulaga made the team but not James Harrison or Trent Cole? Was it amount of games played? Third, are stops almost as important as overall rating for defenders? And fourth, are penalties less of a killer stat depending on a player’s position? Thank you.

        • Neil Hornsby

          Wow that’s a lot…I’ll try and be brief.
          1) Gross/Thomas – I think a left tackles key role is pass pro and the best guy at that this year is Thomas. I agree Gross (and Peters) have been better overall
          2) Eligibility on playing time – Good question. As a person who voted for Harrison I asked the same thing myself. Khaled gave me some tosh about snap counts but when the difference is 28 I agree with you.
          3) Stops over Grade – No the stops are just one facet of play and are included in the overall grade anyway.
          4) Penalties by position – I think is 10 yard penalty on 3rd and two is equally malodorous wherever it comes from. Obviously some positions (OL and DB etc.) are just more pre-disposed to them.

  • ItsJustWerner

    I guess those pair of lost fumbles hurt Forte more than I would like. He’d also be in a better position if he got into the EZ more.

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

    With Forte, and I’m going on my rationale, he has a lot of big runs but I liked what Peterson is doing on a more carry to carry basis. It was probably the most contentious pick and one where the top four guys are so evenly matched I wouldn’t argue with anyone going another direction.

  • We’ve Got A SituAsian

    RE: Von Miller…his pass rush skills obviously jump every time you watch him…has his coverage ability been as stellar, or simply outweighed by his amazing quickness rushing the QB?

    And as you mentioned, there are a plethora of excellent guards, just curious ho Chris Kuper stacked up…

  • Felton

    I’m surprised not to see Carl Nicks, but I think the lack of Saints overall is fine based on performance thus far – they are currently not the team that was advertised in pre-season.

    I’m also interested in why selections would be made on votes instead of grades. It seems more logical to rely on what you spend most of your time doing.

    Notable underrepresented teams – NYG (6-2) – 0; Det (6-2) – 1

    Notable overrepresented teams – Sea (2-6) – 3; Jax (2-6) – 2; Ten (4-4) – 2; Clev (3-5) – 2; Oak (4-4) – 3

    I’m not being critical – it’s just interesting.

    • Neil Hornsby

      You’re not the only one surprised to see Nicks not there as I voted for him – truth be told I think they’ve all just ganged up on me. :-(

      The reason we do these things on votes not grades is because I’d be the first one to tell you to treat our OVERALL grades with caution. This is because we don’t weight them. For example we picked Gronkowski over Graham because of his blocking but many people don’t see that as important – most of the voters did. Earlier in this comment chain I explained I picked Joe Thomas over Jordan Gross because his pass protection was so good, as our overall grades consider run blocking and pass blocking equally it skews this for some people like myself who want a tackle to first and foremost pass protect.

      As a future development I’d like all our readers to be able to weight the facets of the game to their own preference but that’s a way off I’m afraid.

      • Felton

        That makes sense – it’s interesting to note how much of an effect matchups have on individual game grades and even a full season can fall unusually well for a player. I like that the grades are lower numbers, which tends to make them a point of reference instead of a concrete mark. Hope you guys make a handsome living off of your work here.