Fighting the Fan Vote

| November 17, 2011

Uh oh, seems like a storm is a brewing.

At least a storm of incredulity in PPF headquarters as the NFL released their list of players who lead fan votes at their position. Needless to say some of it isn’t just bad, it’s downright offensive.

Now, to be fair, some positions have been hit. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Darrelle Revis and Fred Jackson are all at the top of their positions in their respective conferences. That, I can dig.

But some of the picks? Well let’s just say there’s too much love for some Packers, and too many reputation picks elsewhere. Time to explore some of the worst. I’ve limited myself to the 11 that hit me the hardest (in no particular order).

 

 

Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers

Positional Rank: 19th overall (C)

Selection Analysis: The man who inspired this list. We here at PFF have always been pretty strong in our conviction that younger Pouncey has never got close to earning the praise afforded him. That continues this year as he somehow leads the race for the Pro Bowl center spot. This is frankly ludicrous, with Maurkice not even being the better Pouncey right now.

Suggested Candidate: It’s not even a contest in our minds given how well Chris Myers has played all year.

 

Logan Mankins, LG, New England Patriots

Positional Rank: 32nd overall (G)

Selection Analysis: Mankins may be the best guard in the game given his work over the past four years. That doesn’t make him the best guard in the league right now, and he’s put forth a series of very average performances. His run blocking in particular has been somewhat lacking since getting his big pay day.

Suggested Candidate: The best guard in the league right now? He plays on the right side, and he plays in Baltimore. Marshal Yanda, that’s you I’m talking about. This is one guy who got paid and is actually outperforming his shiny new contract.

 

Michael Oher, RT, Baltimore Ravens

Positional Rank: 24th overall (T)

Selection Analysis: This pick tells you all you need to know about how fans view offensive lines. I imagine it’s because Oher has a film about him, because while he hasn’t been terrible he shouldn’t be anywhere near a Pro Bowl. The amazing thing is that he looks like bucking the trend of the Pro Bowl being a haven for left tackles. It’s just a shame he’s not doing it the right way by outperforming those tackles; he’s already given up 30 combined sacks, hits and hurries.

Suggested Candidate: This is a year where Michael Roos, our top-ranked left tackle is actually living up to his reputation and then some. If you want a guy from the right side, Eric Winston should be your choice.

 

Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis Colts

Positional Rank: 30th overall (4-3 DE), 6th in Pure Passing Rushing

Selection Analysis: If Freeney was the putting in his usual pass rushing performance, I’d understand. But he’s not. In fact, he ‘only’ has four sacks, six hits and 20 pressures on the year, with his impact somewhat negated by the Colts’ struggles limiting his opportunities to pin his ears back. The real shame is the fans have been robbed of the guy they should be looking at: Carlos Dunlap. The Bengal isn’t on the ballot because he doesn’t start, despite managing a combined 37 sacks, hits and hurries on 202 pass rushing attempts. Phenomenal.

Suggested Candidate: With no Dunlap, how about showing some love for either Andre Carter (nine sacks, 11 hits and 18 pressures) or Terrell Suggs (+13.8 grade in run defense).

 

LaMarr Woodley, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Positional Rank: 12th overall (3-4 OLB), 13th in Pure Pass Rushing

Selection Analysis: Woodley has 10 sacks. That eye catching number alone is bound to garner him votes, but if you look past that number what do you get? 23 quarterback disruptions. That number is less than James Harrison who has played far fewer snaps. So I ask the question, if Woodley makes the team because of his pass rushing, but isn’t even the most productive pass rusher on his team, how does he end up the top vote-getter in the AFC? I reiterate, sacks are not everything.

Suggested Candidate: You don’t need to go for a 3-4 OLB, especially when you have the new prototype of strongside linebacker/ rush end in the NFL. Kamerion Wimbley (45 QB disruptions) and Von Miller (40) warrant a nod for their sublime work.

 

John Kuhn, FB, Green Bay Packers

Positional Rank: 27th overall (FB)

Selection Analysis: A fullback should lead block right? Did why the heck are you picking Kuhn? Answering with what he does as a short-yardage back isn’t a suitable answer, when the guy that deserves the nod has had some of his own (even if they aren’t followed by people shouting out his name).

Suggested Candidate: A lot of people hadn’t heard of Jed Collins before this year. I was one of them, and now look at me singing his praises. That’s how good he has been.

 

Chad Clifton, T, Green Bay Packers

Positional Rank: 45th overall (T)

Selection Analysis: There are so many reasons not to pick Chad Clifton. One, he’s only played 284 snaps – that’s less than half of all Packer snaps. Two, he was pretty poor when he played. Pro Bowl voters, hang your head in shame. Clifton, with his limited snap count, has given up 18 QB disruptions. There are tackles who have played every snap who have given up less.

Suggested Candidate: Jason Peters has played exceptionally well for the Eagles. His work at the second level and in pass protection has been as good as anyone.

 

T.J. Lang, G, Green Bay Packers

Positional Rank: 28th overall (G)

Selection Analysis: If you’re going to pick one guard from Green Bay at least make sure you’re picking Josh Sitton. The ultra-talented Sitton has greatly outperformed his Packers teammate, even if Lang has been an upgrade on Daryn Colledge. Neither man should be leading the Pro Bowl vote however.

Suggested Candidate: Somebody will pay Carl Nicks a lot of money this year.

 

Desmond Bishop, ILB, Green Bay Packers

Positional Rank: 13th overall (ILB)

Selection Analysis: This is a joke right? You’re not seriously telling me that a group of people would really pick anyone over Patrick Willis? Wow. There’s homerism, and then there’s HOMERISM. Guess what this is. Bishop has played well, but nowhere near the level of play he put forward in 2010 when I wouldn’t have had a problem with this pick.

Suggested Candidate: Right now you’re blinkered if you go for anyone not playing football in San Francisco. NaVorro Bowman has played well, but Patrick Willis is the best linebacker in the league. Period.

 

Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers

Positional Rank: 84th overall, 18th coverage (CB)

Selection Analysis: Another one of those picks that makes me want to smack my head into a table ferociously. Woodson doesn’t even warrant consideration, with a lack of plays considering how much he rushes the passer, seven penalties and some inconsistent work in coverage. Sure he has five interceptions, but this isn’t just a numbers game and Woodson isn’t even the best cornerback on his own team.

Suggested Candidate: He had a tough day against the Giants but you’d be wise to look at Carlos Rogers, and, after the way he handled Calvin Johnson, Charles Tillman.

 

Roman Harper, S, New Orleans Saints

Positional Rank: 75th overall, 15th in run defense (S)

Selection Analysis: Harper can blitz no doubt. But then he’s afforded the opportunity to so much that his seven sacks shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. It’s a great figure but how many of those are unblocked? Six of them. He executes, but don’t be fooled by the numbers, especially since he’s given up more touchdowns (five) than any other safety.

Suggested Candidate: Kam Chancellor is having a breakout year, while Adrian Wilson is putting in the kind of complete performances you don’t always see from him.

 

Follow Khaled on Twitter @PFF_Khaled and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed @ProFootbalFocus

 

  • sgtrobo

    your consistent and irrational hatred of Maurkice Pouncey makes me wonder, especially in light of how hard you pimped Willie Colon. It’s not a Steelers thing at all. I just wonder if you get the player’s #s mixed up sometimes.

    • johnny_s

      +1. Their repeated attacking of Pouncey is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve watched the kid play and I am not sure what they think they see, because it’s pretty far off base. I’m not saying he is the best center in the game, but his rating this year and last year couldn’t be any farther off.

      • http://www.profootballfocus.com Sam Monson

        Watch Pouncey play, then go and watch Chris Myers play. If your baseline expectations for a center say that Pouncey is good then that’d fine, but it means you’ll be blown away by someone like Myers or Mangold. They’re worlds better.

        • visible

          Does your formula take into consideration line calls from the center? How about the quality of the lineman next to them. How about the strength of the opposition? Those are HUGE factors when evaluating a center, which is why your grade is simply YOUR grade. There is a reason why you guys are so far off with your evaluations. Tom Brady as the #30 QB last year is enough to tell everyone that your QB forumula is useless. you guys still think Matt Ryan is a franchise QB which is absolutely hilarious since he is terrible against teams with winning records and only goes as Michael Turner goes. You guys think Suh is overrated, yet he is the #1 concern for every offensive coordinator they play. They create specific schemes to take Suh out and even in the ATL game there were multiple times he was tripled teamed…but according to you guys Suh is overrated and the offensive coordinators in the NFL just haven’t got the memo yet. Any NFL coach will tell you that teams scheme against Suh more than any other DT in the league. You guys will be banging your heads against the wall for a long time because the bottom line is you guys don’t really understand what you are trying to evaluate.

          • meowch

            you steelers fans just cant accept the truth

        • johnny_s

          Thanks. I usually keep my head buried in the sand when the Steelers aren’t playing, so I don’t see any other teams play. Anyway, sarcasm aside, I’ve seen the great centers play and like I just said, and you conveniently ignored to make a counterpoint about an argument I wasn’t making, is that Pouncey is not the best center in the league, but he’s certainly not close to the bottom either.

          • Rick Drummond

            Hey johnny, I think your last line there is right with how we’ve got him this year … not the best and not near the bottom. He’s actually smack in the middle overall right now (and a bit above that in run blocking) but just isn’t in the neighborhood to challenge for top-man type of recognition. We might be at odds here over varying degrees of middle-of-the-pack-ness.

  • motorcycle

    I don’t understand the disdain for pro bowl voting. Fans don’t choose who is playing the best, they choose their favourites. If there is a position they don’t have a favourite in, they choose someone who is well-known or is popular in the NFL media.

    • Ben24626

      +1

    • http://www.profootballfocus.com Ben Stockwell

      That’s fine, but if it is a popularity vote then it needs to stop being used as a crutch for building people’s Hall of Fame credentials. Otherwise at no point is there any recognition for the very best players in the league, the whole way through we are only recognising the most popular and those that have the good fortune of playing in the largest markets.

      • mattydice

        and now the truth has been spoken…

      • motorcycle

        I agree. I would hope that the people who vote players into the Hall of Fame have seen around 75% of all their professional snaps and vote on the basis of those rather than how many pro bowls they’ve been to.

  • tom

    The Pro Bowl has always been a popularity contest, even when the players voted. OLine, sack masters and interceptors are the typical head scratchers. The players used to shun Rodney Harrison for Pro Bowl when he was outperforming all safties and made first team All-Pro!

    Cripes, Mankins isn’t even the top Guard on the team this year, Waters is. The media seems to have latched onto this idea that Pouncey is a top center because he jumped right in as a rookie and played well. That and most media members are either too lazy or stupid to actually investigate and/or evaluate them. The Pat’s get to see Mangold vs Wilfork 2 times a year and Mangold usually wins those matchups.