2012 PFF All-NFC North Team
A division that proved its not how you start its how you finish, the NFC North brings a solid core of talent to the table. Khaled Elsayed gives truth on ...
2012 PFF All-NFC North Team
The format is simple. Locate 11 guys to start on offense and defense with four more on special teams to field as strong a starting unit as possible for their division.
Here’s the NFC North, and links to the others:
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
He didn’t quite hit the form that he had in early 2011, but it was still a stellar year from Rodgers who earned another selection to a PFF All-Pro Team, even if it was the second unit. Rodgers finished the year with the highest adjusted Accuracy Percentage for any quarterback.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson (MIN)
Was there ever any doubt that our co-MVP would be the starter here? Every team he’s been eligible for so far he’s made, thanks to a stunning year where he carried his Vikings into the postseason.
Fullback: Jerome Felton (MIN)
The biggest competition Felton faced in this division was from his own teammate Rhett Ellison, who actually finished the year with a better run-blocking grade. Ellison only missed out because of a lack of playing time.
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
Found the end zone nine times even with some erratic quarterback play. He’s not a world beater yet, but he is extremely competent in everything that is asked of him.
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson (DET) and Brandon Marshall (CHI)
If Percy Harvin had played more than 427 snaps then we’d have found some room for him somehow. He didn’t though, and as a result this duo picked themselves. Johnson broke the receiving record, while Marshall showed how dangerous he is after the catch, in the end zone and just generally whenever the ball was thrown his way.
Tackles: Matt Kalil (MIN) and Phil Loadholt (MIN)
Kalil was a no brainer. He came into the league as a guy who was expected to shutdown pass rushers and in Year 1 he’s largely done that. The second spot was between Loadholt and Gosder Cherlius. Ultimately, we wanted a tackle that gets some significant push in the run game. There are few better than Loadholt in that regard.
Guards: Robs Sims (DET) and Josh Sitton (GB)
Sims gave up just two quarterback knockdowns all year, while doing a solid enough job in the run game. Meanwhile, the Packers’ Sitton is a more impressive run blocker who once again ended up in the Top 5 of our overall right guard rankings.
Center: John Sullivan (MIN)
You may be surprised to know this, but there isn’t a better center in football than John Sullivan right now. He finished the year with our best grade and is coming off his second consecutive excellent campaign.
Edge Defenders: Clay Matthews (GB) and Israel Idonije (CHI)
Matthews seems to be one of those guys who people love to say is overrated, when he’s far from it. A constant threat to make a play regardless of whether it’s a passing or running attempt, there are few like him in the league. Showing what we think of the Pro Bowl, we’re bypassing both Jared Allen and Julius Peppers here. Instead, we are opting for the excellent Idonije who delivered the goods even when the Bears had to move him to defensive tackle.
Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh (DET) and Nick Fairly (DET)
We’d understand those promoting Henry Melton, one of the most disruptive players inside in the league. Same goes for Kevin Williams, with both ranking among our Top 10 defensive tackles this year. Ultimately though, Ndamukong Suh was a bully in a good way. He worked over right guards throughout the league to end up behind only Geno Atkins in our pass rusher rankings for defensive tackles. Fairly missed some time, and was a penalty machine at times, but his all-around impact couldn’t be ignored.
Linebackers: Lance Briggs (CHI), Brad Jones (GB) and Erin Henderson (MIN)
Briggs had himself a fine year, ending up third overall in our outside linebacker rankings with some top notch work in coverage. In the middle, Jones is the best we can manage, as he is coming off a surprisingly impressive year after moving to an inside linebacker spot. Our last choice came down to Henderson and his teammate Chad Greenway. While we’re not overly comfortable with Henderson in coverage, his work in the run game and tackling (he missed three tackles compared to 15 of Greenway) earned the selection.
Cornerbacks: Charles Tillman (CHI) and Antoine Winfield (MIN)
Two of our Top 5 cornerbacks in 2012, with Casey Hayward, Tim Jennings and others unlucky to miss out. It may seem odd having Winfield in this team given that Hayward was a First Team All-Pro over him. While Hayward is the top dog in the slot, Winfield plays every down and makes an impact on all of them. No such controversy with Tillman who added some underrated work in coverage to his plethora of forced fumbles.
Safeties: Morgan Burnett (GB) and Harrison Smith (MIN)
Burnett took advantage of Charles Woodson going down to get closer to the line of scrimmage and show off a knack for making plays. Over in Minnesota, Smith was a huge part of that revamped defense, showing some tremendous instincts in coverage even if his tackling was a little suspect at times.
Kicker: Blair Walsh (MIN)
When you go 10 for 10 on field goals of 50 yards or more you’re doing something right.
Punter: Tim Masthay (GB)
A solid enough year from Masthay which took advantage of a slow start from Chris Kluwe.
Returner: Marcus Sherels (MIN)
Picked up good yardage on his kick returns and was a danger when fielding punts.
Special Teamer: Ashlee Palmer (DET)
Made a contribution on both coverage units.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled