Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet: The AFC
Khaled Elsayed makes his AFC picks for the Pro Bowl, where the cornerback position is an open race.
Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet: The AFC
We’re only sticking to guys the NFL lets you vote for, so it leads to me being somewhat handcuffed at certain positions, and just scratching my head at others.
But here’s the list.
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady (NE), Peyton Manning (DEN) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
I’m only voting so I don’t need to choose a starter thankfully. Otherwise I’d have a hard time figuring out if the middle-of-the-season hot streak of Manning outdid the consistency of Tom Terrific. Both have been superb and who would bet against a rematch sometime in the playoffs? The last spot was a choice between Big Ben and Matt Schaub. I opted for Roethlisberger, who has had less to work with and put forth some of his best work to date.
Running Backs: C.J. Spiller (BUF), Ray Rice (BLT) and Stevan Ridley (NE)
It may seem something of an affront to Arian Foster, but I don’t think he’s running as well as he did last year. He’s leading the AFC in yards, but his yards per carry, yards after contact and forced missed tackle number are all down on some of his rivals. I’m not thrilled with the other choices outside of the excellent Spiller, who is playing at a different level to all others in the AFC.
Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne (IND), A.J. Green (CIN), Andre Johnson (HST) and Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
I wouldn’t begrudge anyone having Wes Welker in their selection, but he just missed out. I’d say Johnson has done more with fewer opportunities, Wayne is arguably more important and productive, and A.J. Green is just the best receiver out there. So it came down to Welker and Thomas, and in the end Thomas has put the ball on the ground as much as Welker (11 combined fumbles and drops each), has more yards per route run (2.5) and more trips to the end zone (five).
Fullback: Marcel Reece (OAK)
If there was a blocking fullback out there who stood out I’d have gone for him. There isn’t, and what Reece brings to the table as a receiving weapon gets him my endorsement.
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski (NE) and Heath Miller (PIT)
How much time Gronkowski misses is the only thing that could take him off my cheat sheet. He’s the best and most complete tight end. While Miller is something of a poor man’s Gronkowski, he does have a habit of coming through with plays at the right time.
Offensive Tackles: Duane Brown (HST), Sebastian Vollmer (NE) and Ryan Clady (DEN)
My only pet peeve is that there isn’t a right tackle mandate in Pro Bowl voting. So I’m pushing the agenda and using Vollmer as my poster boy. Give the man some love — he’s earned it with the highest grade of any right tackle at PFF. The left tackles picked themselves with Branden Albert just missing out. Clady is earning himself a big deal next year while Brown may be the most complete tackle.
Offensive Guards: Clint Boling (CIN), Marshal Yanda (BLT) and Kevin Zeitler (CIN)
There are very true constants in football, but Yanda being the league’s best right guard is certainly one of them. The state of guard play in the rest of the AFC hasn’t been great, and I’ve ended up plumping for two Bengals. I’d like to see more out of them in run game, but they certainly do a good job keeping pressure off Andy Dalton.
Centers: Mike Pouncey (MIA) and Nick Mangold (NYJ)
Chris Myers, Alex Mack and even Fernando Velasco are all putting heavy pressure on Pouncey and Mangold in what is one of the most competitive positions. The superior run blocking of both men is what has earned them my vote, but this one could change drastically on a week-to-week basis.
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