Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet: The AFC
With half the season now gone, Khaled Elsayed gives you a cheat sheet to fill out your AFC Pro Bowl ballot.
Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet: The AFC
Out with the old, and in with the young right? With Neil Hornsby either occupied elsewhere or deposed from his Pro Bowl cheat sheet writing duties depending on your perspective, I’ll be trying to steer you in the right direction.
You see we bang on about how we watch and grade every player on every play in every game. That means we’re pretty confident in pushing you in offering guidance so players get the recognition they deserve. As always with our Pro Bowl Cheat sheet we’re following the rules set out by the Pro Bowl ballot.
AFC Offense (starter’s name first)
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady (NE), Peyton Manning (DEN) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
The hardest thing in this contest was deciding who would start. While Manning maybe the hot quarterback right now, it’s the work of Brady throughout the year that earns him the nod. Matt Schaub is playing well enough to feel like he deserves a mention, but it’s safe to say third string Big Ben is doing more with less right now.
Running Backs C.J. Spiller (BUF), Ray Rice (BLT) and Willis McGahee (DEN)
Spiller may only be 14th in terms of rushing yards, but his 7.2 yards per carry leads the league as does his 115 Elusive Rating. He’s as explosive a back as there in the league this year. Arian Foster may lead all AFC backs in yardage, but when I look at Rice and McGahee I’m seeing guys doing more to earn their yards.
Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne (IND), A.J. Green (CIN), Andre Johnson (HST) and Wes Welker (NE)
Green is an obvious slam dunk pick and playing as well as anyone right now while Johnson is averaging just 0.05 yards per route run less than Welker. While he hasn’t quite built on that superb display against Green Bay, Reggie Wayne has already proved the doubters wrong and is well worth a start. Demaryius Thomas can thank his habit of fumbling for his non-inclusion.
Fullback: Vonta Leach (BLT)
A predictable selection but well earned. Leach remains the best pure lead blocker in the AFC.
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski (NE) and Heath Miller (PIT)
The AFC affords us the luxury of picking up two guys who can both be described as complete tight ends. That’s what gives them the edge over Owen Daniels even if his 2.31 yards per route run matches Gronkowski as the best of both leagues at his position. Miller comes 15th in that regard and while he’s a better blocker out in space than in line, he can still get the job done.
Offensive Tackles: Duane Brown (HST), Sebastian Vollmer (NE) and Ryan Clady (DEN)
It finally happened. Brown gave up a sack for the first time since the 2010 season. He still edges Ryan Clady though for the starting spot by virtue of some far superior run blocking even though Clady has yet to give up a sack. The right tackle we’ve stumped for (because there should always be a right tackle in these things) is Vollmer. The little talked about Patriot has surrendered just 14 quarterback disruptions and done a quietly efficient job with his run blocking.
Offensive Guards: Willie Colon (PIT), Marshal Yanda (BLT) and Kevin Zeitler (CIN)
While picking Yanda was one of the easiest decisions out there (he is after all our top ranked right guard and rightfully so), choosing the left guard was not quite so. I threw out some names but none of them inspired me. In the end I decided I could look past the eight penalties of Willie Colon because of what he offers when he’s not breaking the rules.
Centers: Mike Pouncey (MIA) and Alex Mack (CLV)
The better of the Pouncey brothers starts here and it’s down to you guys to ensure the right one is bragging at the end of the year. Joining him you’ve got a fight between Mack, Nick Mangold and Chris Myers and I really wouldn’t argue with any of the choices. Overall, Mack has been that little bit more consistent.
Turn The Page for the Defense