Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Nov 2007

Pro Bowl Ballot Suggestions

I think everyone basically agrees on who are the top skill position players this year -- Brady and Manning and Romo and Favre and Owens and Moss and so on. But what about the other positions? If you're filling out a Pro Bowl ballot, I have some suggestions.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 30 Nov 2007

43 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2007, 11:58am by dryheat

Comments

1
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:22pm

Wouldn't bother me in the least if the Packers went after Trufant.

2
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:23pm

Great list, but why only one player for each position?

3
by John Morgan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:26pm

Very good pick on Tru and Andy Lee, but I think your Joe Nedney pick violates FO's own theory that kicking accuracy is nearly meaningless.

Also, Marques Douglas was gifted a number of those tackles against the Hawks thanks to Shaun Alexander's continuing descent into the bottomless pit that is post-decline running backs.

4
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:28pm

I'm still partial to Jeff Saturday at AFC center, but hard to argue with most any member of the NE OL.

I'd also pitch Gary Brackett (I thnk Aaron put in a plug for him a few weeks back) as AFC ILB. Having a monster year, just about the only healthy LB all season on a top-performing unit. He's the QB of the D.

DR. Z has been a longtime proponent of Scifres and his hang time. Can't that be taught?

I have a hard time buying a CB on the Browns, whose D has not exactly been stellar. I have not seen them, so Bodden may in fact be Brown and Orange Jesus surrounded by a cast of clowns... but I again humbly point to Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Heyden, a couple Indy CBs who have a league-leading pass D and are very supportive against the run too (look at last year's run D vs this year's, with these two CBs playing a key role)--it's not all about passes defensed and INTs if the other guys are running for 5 yards a pop on you, the CBs are partly to blame. They are not asked to be God-like cover men, which will count against them in voting. But they do what they are asked to, do it well, and their D is tops against the pass as a result. In this case it might come down to the old argument about what's more important to voters: individual stats, or unit excellence?

5
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:28pm

Only one per position basically because I thought mentioning more guys might actually have the opposite of the intended effect, that it would dilute the significance of mentioning them. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's what I was thinking.

6
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:44pm

"I’m still partial to Jeff Saturday at AFC center, but hard to argue with most any member of the NE OL."

I don't understand the love for the NE OL.

Kazcur is a well oiled turnstyle, Light (this year and most of last) has looks like a turnstyle that could use a little more greasing.

Light has been a slightly below average tackle since he broke his leg a couple years ago.

Where that line is strong is the middle. Mankins is a monster, Neal (in the 7 or 8 games hes played this year) is great, and Koppen is great.

What the middle of the line allows is Brady to step up and avoid edge rushers. Brady's ability to slide in the pocket (he has employed a coach just to teach him pocket footwork since he was 13) makes that line look a lot better than it is.

7
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:05pm

MDS, I really respect your judge of talent. Have for a while. Now, reading this, makes me feel all smart and vindicated, to a degree, because I have been voting for half these guys:

Jason Peters
Logan Mankins
Dan Koppen
James Harrison I've been asking around about's football forum, no one's told me more, so I wondered, but don't know myself.
Donte Whitner
Rob Bironas
Mike Scifres
Chris Snee
Marques Douglas I haven't been voting for, but he was on my radar for being a lot better than I thought he'd be. I was voting for Darnell Dockett, who's been a force and no one's said a word about him.
Barrett Ruud I just noticed the tackle numbers, the great defense they'd been playing, and the importance of his position (especially since they're playing much more quarters than Tampa 2). But I didn't really know if he was really playing well.
Marcus Trufant
Jermaine Phillips also was on my radar, but didn't vote for him. I did vote for Tanard Jackson though on the other spot.
Andy Lee

I also have Bobby Engram, Joe Thomas, Jammal Brown and Derek Anderson on my list.

8
by sablesma (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:18pm

Gregg over Haynesworth for AFC DT? Is that really what your vote would be or are you trying to put out a less obvious choice?

9
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:31pm

Great idea for an article, some undeserving players always get in at these positions (most especially from my team... the cowboys :( ).

But were you going for players that the public might not know about who should get in? Because otherwise some of your picks don't make sense to me.

10
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:45pm

Re #3
I think there's a difference between "kickers are all pretty fungible and you should get the guy with the strongest leg" and "here's a PK having a good year," and what MDS is saying is the latter.

I strongly suspect MDS wrote the article to mention players other than the obvious ones. I don't think any of the guys he mentioned would be anybody a casual fan would vote for.

Yes, from what I've seen of Carolina, Barrett Ruud really has been playing that well. I also agree with Bobman that Brackett has played surprisingly well this year. Bodden actually looks a little meh to me-I'd love to see his FO numbers, because he hasn't impressed me that much from what I've seen of CLE this year.

11
by DLfred (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:46pm

You can't be serious about Andre Gurode. I could see it if he had only had one or two bad snaps, but that's been a legitimate problem for him this year. Even many of his snaps that are still caught by Romo will wander. The bottom line is that he's just not consistent, and he's damn lucky that Romo generally makes amazing plays off the botched snap.

(It makes me feel like I'm watching the NFL of the 1960's, back when a few snaps would sail over the heads of punters or quarterbacks each week.)

There are better choices out there, although perhaps you were going for the less obvious players, as others have said.

12
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:14pm

Re #10
I have no idea why I typed "Carolina"-I know Barrett Ruud plays for Tampa.

13
by Eddo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:16pm

3: "I think your Joe Nedney pick violates FO’s own theory that kicking accuracy is nearly meaningless."
When has FO ever said kicking accuracy is meaningless? Of course it's meaningful! Games are frequently decided by the accuracy of a field goal kicker.
FO has stated, however, that field goal accuracy is unpredictable, year-to-year. Had MDS written an article listing guys he'd want on his team next year, then the choice of Nedney would be questionable, at best. However, the article is about players having good seasons this year, and Nedney fits the criteria.

14
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:34pm

PS., in my post I forgot to add that Leroy Hill has been playing as Seattle's best linebacker right now, and deserves to go. Not over DeMarcus Ware, but over Julian Peterson, who is a valuable playmaker, but has made some big mistakes, often immediately after making a big play (i.e., the 33-yard screen pass for Rudi Johnson after burying him for a 3-yard loss and a near safety in Week 3).

15
by admin :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:49pm

MDS asked me for my recommendation on kickers. Sadly, Nedney was the best we came up with. There hasn't been a single kicker in the NFC who has been above-average this year both on field goals and on GROSS kicking value (as opposed to net, which is what is on the ST stats page). The closest were Nedney and Josh Brown. In the AFC, MDS didn't mention this but Bironas is also fourth in gross kickoff value; it looks worse on the ST page because the Titans have a poor kickoff coverage unit. He's clearly the best all-around kicker in the league this season.

16
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 8:12pm

I think Nedney's looked fine, but haven't noticed other NFC Kickers. If the closest were him & Josh Brown, it's probably a good pick. Although Josh Brown is probably become the best kicker in the NFC, and most valuable to retain, he's just missed so many field goals this year. Kickoff distance I think he's really improved on in the past 2 years, but every once in a while he gives them one of those ducks that start at the 9 yard line.

17
by iapetus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 8:33pm

Everyone agrees that Brady and Manning are the top QBs in the AFC? Football Outsiders' stats don't - by DPAR, it's Brady and Anderson. By DVOA, it's Brady and Garrard. Manning's not even top three by either measure.

18
by Waverly (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 8:42pm

The article did not mention Manning.

The summary on this page did, but maybe that was just a reflexive muscle-memory reaction -- every mention of Brady must be accompanied by a mention of Manning, and vice-versa. There must be some (American) English grammar rules about that.

19
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:03pm

Great list, Mike. It's always nice to see lesser-known guys get the credit they deserve, and you've raised the profile of a few players with whom I'm not very familiar and to whom I'll try to pay more attention. One quibble: You say you're listing players "who are more deserving than their reputations might indicate." Doesn't Pat Williams already own the reputation as the best nose tackle in the NFL? Don't get me wrong; he legitimately is the best run-stopper in the league as far as I can tell and a very worthy choice for honors. I just think many people already are aware of that.

Re: 8 Gregg over Haynesworth for AFC DT? Is that really what your vote would be or are you trying to put out a less obvious choice?

It's unlikely that Haynesworth has added as much value to his team in 8 games as Gregg has in 11. Gregg isn't just a less obvious choice; he probably is a better choice.

Re: 17 Everyone agrees that Brady and Manning are the top QBs in the AFC? Football Outsiders’ stats don’t - by DPAR, it’s Brady and Anderson. By DVOA, it’s Brady and Garrard. Manning’s not even top three by either measure.

First, DVOA and DPAR, valuable measures though they may be, are far from perfect. I have long believed that DVOA and DPAR actually underrate Manning, despite the fact that he is easily the top player by those measures in the DVOA era. Second, I’m pretty confident that Manning, if he stays healthy, will make up that 4.4 DPAR gap with Anderson over the next five games. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Manning second in DPAR by the end of the season. In fact, I would be a little surprised if he doesn’t end the season in the top three. If someone honestly and without bias believes that Derek Anderson is a better QB in 2007 than Peyton Manning, I suggest that person simply doesn’t understand the game.

20
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:12pm

Rich,

I think you're being hard on Kaczur and Light. Yes, they've struggled at times, but part of that might be scheme (as you said, the Pats are strong up the center and Brady likes to step up, so maybe Dante is coaching the tackles to stop the inside move whatever they do, try to push edge rushers out and backwards instead). Also, part of it may just be that teams pressure the Pats more. How many more pass attempts do the Pats have than anyone else? And how do people try to slow down the pats? (answer, blitzing). Plus, with all the 4- and 5-wide, and sending Watson downfield when they do use a TE, the tackles often don't have a lot of help.

I'm not saying either one is a pro-bowler. I would put Light pretty much dead average, and Kaczure at worst slightly below average. I just think you're a little spoiled from watching the Pats. Watch some teams with truly bad tackles and you'll appreciat Light and Kaczur.

Bobman,

The knock I would point out against the Colts' corners is the Colts use the same defensive scheme that made Jason David and Nick Harper look pretty good, and we see how good they actually are this year. Dungy has made a defensive living by designing a defense that is very CB friendly...

21
by Brian (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:23pm

I'd love to see Kelly Gregg make the pro bowl. There are other great DTs this year, but Gregg might deserve the lifetime of being overlooked award.

22
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:24pm

I'm mystified as to why Kelly Gregg would be on the team over Ngata. Almost every time an opposing offense designates just one blocker for Haloti he just throws them 5 yards into the backfield. Gregg plays very well, very consistantly, but isn't nearly in the same class.

23
by Jim Ryalto (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:32pm

Nedney's also probably the best onside-kicker in the league.

24
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 10:43pm

MJK, I agree with you taking Rich to task on the OL (he sounds like Colts fan Stan talking about Indy's OL--"They suck!"). Whenever I see Brady he looks well protected to me, and somewhat of a grab bag RB committee is operating at high efficiency (partly thanks to Brady, but the line gets credit also).

RE Indy CBs, I got a laugh out of your comment. Touche. But I don't think anybody outside NO and Ten thought those guys were actually "good." Indy had no qualms about saying adios. And look at the improvement in both Pass D and Run D (with a lesser pass rush than in years past) in 07. The system helps the WLB more than the CBs look good. Their job is to keep everything in front of them--fewer gaudy INTs but a nice low yardage total.

Last Year Indy was pretty good in Pass D (ranked 18 here), mainly because nobody passed on them--why bother when they were 31st ranked here on Run D (aggregate ranking 27). To have both working well with an aggregate ranking of 3 in 2007 is pretty amazing for any team, no less a team that had a 27 ranking last year.

Which gives me an opening for tout my DROY candidate. He has no chance of winning because rookie LBs get all sorts of gaudy tackle and INT numbers, but UFA Ed Johnson out of Penn State at DT in Indy appears to be a solid double threat against run and pass. Essentially replaced Booger McF without skipping a beat, and he was pretty well regarded as a cagey old vet. Did I say skipping a beat? Yikes, I have to remind myself that these guys went from 27st last year to #3 so far this year. Thanks to 2 new LBs, a new DT, and two new CBs. Otherwise, scheme is the same. They not only skipped a beat, they got in the late Evil Knevil's rocket cycle and jumped the Snake River Canyon. (How's that for getting timely current events into a post?)

25
by langsty (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 1:28am

Michael Boley's been the best defender on the Falcons for the past two seasons (tho you could make a case for Grady Jackson last year) and it's great to see him getting more recognition now.

"If Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is elected to the Pro Bowl, I'm going to be sick to my stomach."

hahaha uhhh

26
by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 5:09am

Should Josh Brown get extra points for tackling Devin Hester?

27
by Bobman (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 5:47am

#24 mea culpa. That should be Evel Knievel. RIP. Apparently I spent four years at Evil Daredevil school and audited the spelling class.

28
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 5:57am

As a Redskin fan... Sean Taylor. Been wondering how his FO metrics look this season... by his play I think they'd all be improved.

Was looking through PFP2006 and 2007 for stuff on him... you guys were pretty quiet on how good he was... but the thing that jumped out to me was the number of plays he was involved in... the only other player who was up there that I noticed was Brian Dawkins.

RIP Sean... all of us Redskin fans are stuffing the box for you... at least now I have some ideas for who to pick for OL positions.

29
by Dom (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 8:13am

#24

The thing is, I doubt anyone would actually vote for the Colts' cornerbacks because of the perception that the entire improvement of the defence is down to Bob Sanders

30
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 11:26am

I love how Rich (#6) still finds areas for criticism of the New England offense. If you just listened to some of his posts, without watching the games, you'd think that New England had an inaccurate passer with poor pass protection.

I humbly submit that Rich might be a little bit spoiled. You don't know what a turnstile offensive lineman truly is unless you've seen Robert Gallery vs Albert Haynesworth a few weeks ago.

31
by Mungo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 11:47am

#23 Nedney is probably the best onside kicker in the league, but he also has an annoying tendency for putting his long ones out of bounds, which is pretty damn costly.

32
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:20pm

I got inspired to go vote for some FO favorite type players.

My votes:

AFC
QB Tom Brady
QB Peyton Manning
QB Derek Anderson
RB Joseph Addai
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
RB Kenny Watson
WR Randy Moss
WR Reggie Wayne
WR Wes Welker
WR Chad Johnson
TE Antonio Gates
TE Kellen Winslow
FB Lawrence Vickers
T Joe Thomas
T Jason Peters
T Matt Lepsis
G Logan Mankins
G Eric Steinbach
G Stephen Neal
C Samson Satele
C Dan Koppen
DE Jared Allen
DE Aaron Smith
DE Justin Smith
DT Albert Haynesworth
DT Casey Hampton
DT Haloti Ngata
LB Derrick Johnson
LB James Harrison
LB Angelo Crowell
LB Kirk Morrison
LB DeMeco Ryans
CB Champ Bailey
CB Cortland Finnegan
CB Asante Samuel
S Bob Sanders
S Ed Reed
K Rob Bironas
P Mike Scifres
KR/PR Josh Cribbs
ST Josh Stamer

NFC
QB Brett Favre
QB Tony Romo
QB Drew Brees
RB Adrian Peterson
RB Brian Westbrook
RB Marion Barber
WR Terrell Owens
WR Marques Colston
WR Donald Driver
WR Torry Holt
TE Jason Witten
TE Chris Cooley
FB Korey Hall
T Chris Samuels
T Bryant McKinnie
T Chad Clifton
G Steve Hutchinson
G Chris Snee
G Shawn Andrews
C Matt Birk
C Jeff Faine
DE Aaron Kampman
DE Osi Umenyiora
DE Trent Cole
DT Pat Williams
DT Kevin Williams
DT Shaun Rogers
LB DeMarcus Ware
LB AJ Hawk
LB Michael Boley
LB Barrett Ruud
LB Patrick Willis
CB Anthony Henry
CB Terence Newman
CB Marcus Trufant
S Jermaine Phillips
S Sean Taylor
K Joe Nedney
P Andy Lee
KR/PR Devin Hester
ST Brandon Ayanbadejo

33
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:28pm

Some things I thought about while voting:
- The AFC doesn't have three RBs turning in Pro Bowl-level performances. Or actually, it does, but one of them isn't getting enough carries. Kenny Watson has joined the ever-growing list of criminally-underused running backs. He can commiserate with Maurice Morris, Jerious Norwood, Marion Barber, Laurence Maroney, Chris Brown, Maurice Jones-Drew, Najeh Davenport, and DeAngelo Williams, all of whom have to yield carries to inferior backs.

- The NFC has two talented centers who just can't snap the ball well. I'm not voting for either Kreutz or Gurode until they are consistent on snaps.

- I disagreed with MDS in a few other places. MDS choices I didn't vote for were Gurode, Gregg, Whitner, Douglas, and Bodden. I feel like this was one of Bodden's worst years in a while, and giving him a Pro Bowl berth this year is kind of like giving William Faulkner the Pulitzer for Fable because he deserved one for The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. It's not Bodden's fault that nobody noticed he was good because he was on the Browns. But I don't think awarding him an essentially retroactive Pro Bowl berth helps anything.

- I burst into laughter when I saw that I could vote for Bubba Franks or Jason David.

34
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 12:53am

Najeh Davenport, and DeAngelo Williams, all of whom have to yield carries to inferior backs.

Wille Parker inferior to Najeh Davenport? You must be kidding.

BTW, the ESPN link to the Pro-Bowl ballot says "Vote for you favorite players." So people cannot complain when that's what voters do.

35
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 1:48am

I should have chosen my words a little better. The 2007 version of Willie Parker, running in the 2007 Steelers offense, is not as effective as the 2007 version of Najeh Davenport in the same situation. That doesn't necessarily mean that Parker is inferior, but it does mean that Davenport should be used a lot more than he is.

36
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 7:57am

32,

You voted for Anthony Henry. JUst wondering why? He missed quite a few games and still isn't starting. Is it just becasue of tge INT's? He's not that good, and this is from a Dallas fan.

37
by Mystyc (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 3:18pm

35: Agreed - I've been calling for more Davenport for like two months now. Davenport has a better chance to make yardage after contact, and contact is basically inevitable behind that offensive line. (I also just want to see Parker getting beaten up less.)

38
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 5:02pm

36: I get plenty of Cowboys games (doesn't everyone?) so I see them a lot, but I'll admit I don't know them that well.

I see him gamble a lot but he's gotten lucky the vast majority of the time this year. I rarely see him get torched. I admit I could be wrong, but I think his gambling has paid off a lot this year. It could still be true that he isn't that good (think Deltha O'Neal a couple years ago) but you reward people for the seasons they've had, not the seasons they could be having if their luck were different.

39
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 5:35am

Yaguar, what? No love for Light in August? Regardless, it's good to see some Faulkner-Love here--I look to the right of my desk and see S&F about 4 feet away and it's a solid 22 years since I wrote a paper on him in college.

Back to the NFL, and no love for Jeff Saturday or Gary Brackett, who turned in another good game and caused David Garrard's 1st INT of the season? Wow, the man is ubiquitous, but Dom may have a point in #29 about The Sanders Effect.

40
by podpeople (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 10:23am

I would put a vote in for Sheldon Brown. The only eagles player on defense that has been playing consistently all year. Can anyone who has had a chance to watch more games than me tell me how Shawn Andrews has been playing? he was a beast last year, I'm wondering if he'll make the pro bowl again this year.

41
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 4:41pm

I think Andrews did a very good job in the Patriots game, and on the whole, I really like the Eagles run blocking. (They really should use it more often.)

42
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2007 - 3:23am

Derek Anderson, Pro Bowler, is a joke. Sorry. Anderson's the beneficiary of a seriously awesome offensive line and some very nice toys to play with at WR and TE. Anderson and his scattershot accuracy are holding the Browns offense back, not leading it to glory.

It's sad that one of David Garrard and Ben Roethlisberger has to miss out on the Pro Bowl, but if they both miss it because people thought Derek Anderson was better, that's a travesty. Roethlisberger, in particular, has been carrying the Steelers offense.

43
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2007 - 11:58am

I'm late to the party, but the best CB in football this season has been Rashean Mathis, and it really hasn't been close. Asante Samuel comes in at a distant second.

I think Aaron Smith is a great player, but Ty Warren has been absol-freakin-lutely outstanding this year and last.