Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Jan 2009

NFL All-Pro Team Announced

The AP's released their NFL All-Pro team for the year.

There's some weird ones. Naming Tony Gonzalez at TE and Le'Ron McClain at FB despite the fact that they played wide receiver and halfback, respectively, for a good chunk of the year seems very odd.

I thought they actually nailed the offensive line, which is shocking. Jason Peters getting any votes this year is sorta silly, but the starters are spot-on.

One of the defensive backs profiles as overrated this year. We'll reveal who in the AFC preview that comes out later today (Hint: It's not Asomugha).

Whoever voted for Terence Newman clearly didn't watch football this year. I don't mean that as hyperbole. I literally do not believe they watched professional football this year.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 09 Jan 2009

52 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2009, 10:43pm by KDDM


by Independent George :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:14pm

Ok, I'll bite. If it's not Asomugha, the other three AFC DBs are Cortland Finnegan, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu. Since I can't fathom anyone calling Reed or Polamalu overrated, I'm guessing it's Finnegan (whom I've only seen twice).

I respect Wes Welker, but I can't see him as an All-Pro, even on the second team.

by brett ratliff (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:27pm

i sort of feel the same about welker. but maybe like the difference between 4-3 and 3-4 DE's, we should distinguish between slot and outside WR's? he's clearly the top slot receiver, right? and he's led his team in catches 3 straight years now with a host of different QB's.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:07pm

The question then would be are there other players who would be more productive if they were lined up in the slot and were covered by nickel backs and linebackers? Larry Firzgerald for example.

I do think there is an underrated point here, Belichick has used a undersized slot receiver in his offense for several years now, beginning with Troy Brown. He clearly feels that there is an advantage to be gained by using a player with that specific skill set and noone else seems to be attempting to emulate this innovation, despite the outstanding production that Welker and Brown have provided.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:12pm

I take exception to the idea that no one is trying the same ideas. They just aren't as successful. The Giants drafted two players with the small and quick skill set in Steve Smith and Sinorice Moss, the Colts use Anthony Gonzalez, the Bears have tried with Rashied Davis (but then they are generally too scared to run 3-wide).

I think having Randy Moss clearing things out helps Welker quite a bit, in addition to having a very good offensive line to get their QB upright.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:31pm

OK I kind of agree with that but I still think that more teams could use the player type, mainly because it seems to be so productive.

by Independent George :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 1:06pm

But I think they're effective as complements to a primary receiver, not as the focus of the offense. Welker and Smith run underneath routes opened up by a big-time deep threat (or, alternately, draw coverage away from the deep man). To see what an offense looks like when you have only those underneath guys without the deep man, you need look no further than Philadelphia. It's a productive, but not game-changing.

by Theo :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 1:20am

Polamalu is maybe not overrated, but he's pretty bad near the line of scrimmage.

by Crabbie (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:18pm

It's interesting but unsurprising that all of the votes cast for outside linebacker except for one (Derek Brooks) went to guys who play in a 3-4. Meanwhile, all the votes at defensive end except for 3 (two for Aaron Smith, one for DeMarcus Ware) went to 4-3 players.

I'd suggest something along the lines of opening new categories, but that would probably be unwieldy and difficult to pull-off succesfully. So I guess we'll continue to be stuck with the current system, where chicks dig the sack.

by MCS :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:43pm

Yes. Chicks do indeed, dig the sack.

by Rob (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 6:35pm

Intentional or not, that's the first time I have laughed out loud at an FO comment.

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:19pm

Is there really any point in having a fullback category anymore? Same deal to a certain extent with Tight End. If you're just going to vote for these positions based on running/receiving numbers, why not just fold all those players into a running back or general receivers catagory?

by DFJinPgh (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:48pm

UT, good question, but folding into a general RB category pretty much eliminates the FB category entirely.

How about, to add to Crabbie's point, we open things up. PFR did a series on the best players in a team's history, and what he did was allow 4 d-linemen and 4 linebackers, to account for the difference between 3-4 and 4-3 defenses over history. I think the All-Pro should be like that.

FB is just such a position that should be on its own, at least I guess until no team uses one, which I doubt is ever going to happen.

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 6:21pm

I love the Fullback, personally, and love watching Mike Sellers play. I just wish there was some way they could get people to stop voting for FB based on running abilities unless they're actually running out of the FB position. If no one's actually going to take the time to figure out who's the best at run-blocking, I'd rather just see the fullback of the best tailback who runs out of the I formation win, rather than the best tailback listed as fullback.

by David Frizzell (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:21pm

McClain really is the new Alstott. Big guy who mostly plays tailback but gets called a FB because he is big, and gets voted to Pro Bowl/All Pro because the stats blow away those of the blocking FBs.

by jonnyblazin :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:34pm

McClain was a pure fullback in college, was the #1 rated fullback in the 2007 draft, and played fullback exclusively in his first year for the Ravens. He is a fullback, he's also really good at carrying the ball. Since McGahee was AWOL for most the season and Ray Rice was inconsistent, McClain ended up with a lot of carries. Not only that, but the Ravens added Lorenzo Neal and started using a jumbo package with an unbalanced line early in the season, so there are plenty of reasons why he got a lot of carries. He is NOT a fullback in name only.

I don't see why people think its a negative of a FB that he is good at running with the ball. Would you rather have a guy who can block, or a guy who can block and run?

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 6:30pm

The objection here is the same as with Dallas Clark. If a guy is playing at slot or tailback, they're going to rack-up stats more like receivers or running backs, and should be considered as such. It doesn't really have much to do with blocking, cuz none of these voters has bothered to look at either player's blocking. They may be the best blockers in the league, but that's not the criteria being used.

by David Frizzell (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 6:44pm

How many of his carries came with a tailback in the backfield? Very few from what I saw. I don't see 2007 factoring in to the 2008 All Pro Team.

I don't think it is negative that he can run with the ball. I know his background, and I know he can play FB, but he didn't make the team for playing FB.

by Ed (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 11:02pm

Would McClain have been voted all-pro if he never carried the ball from the tailback position? That seems to be the question we should be asking.

by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:27pm

Nice to know Asante Samuel still plays for the Pats.

by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 3:41pm

He was their best cornerback this year.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:09pm


by Temo :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:09pm

I bet the unnamed DB is Finnegan.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:15pm

I don't see how six-yard-Welker made the 2nd team over Calvin Johnson. Welker isn't even the guy who draws the double coverage on his own team. Johnson led the league in receiving touchdowns despite playing for the Lions and is much more deserving than Wesley.

As for Beason over Willis, if Willis was playing behind the 700+ lbs of DT in the Panthers line (and Peppers) then P-Willy would be unstoppable.

I thought Peters recovered his usual form in the later stages of the season but probably didn't deserve the nomination.

Overall not a bad side though.

by Jets fan in misery (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:19pm

Kevin Mawae must be ageless -- this guy has been dominating his position since I was 5

by Alvin Mullins (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:20pm

If Finnegan is over rated how come after about the 5th game no one throws against him?

by Temo :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:57pm

Don't know what you're talking about-- I saw the Jets throw all around, over, under, and through him when they played.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:14pm

The Bears went right after Finnegan too, although not with much success. Of course we had Grossman, so that doesn't really say anything about Finnegan.

by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:42pm

I vote for Polamalu as the surprise overrated DB. (Not that I think he is overrated, mind you, but all the top DB's are clearly very, very good, so obviously it'll be a bit of a surprise whoever it is.)

by Tim Rattay DVOA God :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:54pm

How was Trent Cole left off? Given how good he is against the run, he definitely should've been there.

by c_f (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:57pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2008 NFL All-Name Team!

QB: Cleo Lemon, Byron Leftwich
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, P.J. Pope
FB: Madison Hedgecock
WR: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Limas Sweed, Chansi Stuckey, David Clowney
TE: Alge Crumpler, Darnell Dinkins
OL: Mansfield Wrotto, Richie Incognito, Gosder Cherilus, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Guy Whimper

DL: Orpheus Roye, Elvis Dumervil, Johnny Jolly, Frostee Rucker
LB: D'Qwell Jackson, Cato June, Coy Wire, Channing Crowder
DB: Atari Bigby, Nnamdi Asomugha, Quentin Jammer, Domonique Foxworth, Cortland Finnegan, Reggie Corner

P: Dave Zastudil
K: Mason Crosby
KR/PR: Yamon Figurs

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 6:25pm

Oh man, how did I miss "Guy Whimper" until now. That name is either epic win or epic fail for a lineman, but I can't decide which.

by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:07pm

3-4 OLBs and 4-3 DEs always win because sacks and tackles are the only stats sportswriters understand.

by tuluse :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 2:13am

Well there is no stat for "double-teams drawn" or "offensive-lineman pushed backwards". The NFL doesn't even officially track tackles for a loss.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 5:39pm

As a TEN fan, and the primary game charter, a couple thoughts:
1. I wouldn't be surprised to see Finnegan end up with average or even somewhat below YPA and SucRate. A couple teams, most notably the Jets, threw at him with some success. Andre Johnson also ate him also, though HOU #80 was an equal opportunity destroyer that game in Houston.
2. I wouldn't be surprised to see Finnegan end up with a clearly lower Target% than Nick Harper on the other side.
3. My preseason pick is that Finnegan would be about the same as he was last year-a starting caliber, but not great and definitely beatable corner. My subjective opinion is he's been clearly better than that, but also hasn't been Pacman the last 8 or so games of 2006 (minus BUF-I don't think Mr. Jones liked the cold).
4. I would be distrustful of any charting numbers that suggest average or below play and close to average Target% for Finnegan.

Personally, I'm guessing it's Polamalu-he's a very good player, but my Stillers observation says he freelances too much to be a disciplined cover guy.

by Harris :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 7:24pm

I love Q and I think Bradley is going to be a great MLB, but even as an unabashed Philadelphia homer I thing giving those guys All-Pro votes is a bit ridiculous. Of course, it's equally ridiculous that Sheldon Brown, who went unpenalized and unscored upon in the regular season, didn't draw a single vote.

Hail Hydra!

by bubqr :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 8:52pm

You stole my post.

I'd like to add that Trent Cole is underrated. If John "nowhere to be found in big games" Abraham can get 17 votes and Peppers 20, Trent getting only one is clearly a shame. He's a 10 sacks DE, and one of the best in the league playing the run.

by Aloysius Mephistopheles (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 7:29pm

I like the idea of taking fullback off the all-pro team and having two running backs instead. People don't know who the good 'pure' fullbacks are because the position is less important than the other offensive positions. Are there many teams that line up with a blocking back on 1/3 or more of their offensive snaps? The giants, maybe. Any others? Admittedly having two running backs is unrealistic, since teams like New York that have two 'primary' runners don't use them together. But I think it makes more sense than arbitrarily assigning a roster spot to any running back who's designated as a fullback, and whose numbers are decent enough to get him noticed but not prolific enough to make people identify him as a featured runner.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 9:08pm

Since I don't watch, Tivo-assisted to allow seeing plays more than once, about 10 games a week, I'm not really qualified to say who has played the best at each position. This puts me on equal footing with the AP writers, of course. I'd love to read a poll of the pro personnel scouts from all the teams (with the exception of the Bengals, of course, since that might be Mike Brown) to get their selections on who has played the best. They might be the only folks who have seen enough football in detail to have a qualified opinion.

Having said that, it's nice to see recognition, with 33% of the First Team All-Pro linemen, of how terrific the Vikings were on the line of scrimmage this year. This really was, in my opinion, the best Vikings team in the trenches since Bud Grant's great teams of 1969-1975. It had to be, to go 10-6 against a strong schedule, with absolutely hideous quarterbacking and mediocre receiving.

by BlueStarDude :: Fri, 01/09/2009 - 10:21pm

RE: "x-one voter selected only one running back.
y-one voter selected only one inside linebacker."

Nice to see that Dr. Z was well enough to vote. I'm sure going to miss his breakdown of the offensive and defensive linemen.

I'd also like to see who he chose opposite Asomugha. I remember he singled out Winfield and Woodson for their good play at the mid-way point. With Woodson moving to safety for the latter part of the year, I'd have to lean toward Winfield. Vikings fans?

by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 1:47am

Great catch.

That is the man's signature. I wonder if he voted for Ware as DE as that is how he would do his lineup?

He is still pissed about Buffalo introducing a starting FB in the Superbowls I think.

by Cabbage :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 12:13am

Really? No mention of Lance Briggs?

He wasn't a sack artist, but there are few better all-around Outside linebackers. He is one of the best in coverage and excellent at shooting the gaps against the stretch run -- and against the run generally. He's not the best blitzer, but I'll go ahead and call him solid.

by TomC :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 2:27am

Agreed. The Bears got nearly shut out (1 lone vote, and that was for Maynard), but Briggs was the only name I was surprised not to see.

by Dice (not verified) :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 12:35am

I thought Finnegan was pretty good in the six Titans games I saw, save the Houston game where Johnson ate him alive and the Jets game.

by Yaguar :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 8:45am

Anyone want to put together an all-suck team?

The only mortal locks are Chris Perry and Brian Russell, I think. I'm not sure who from the Lions defense to include, since they're all so awful except for Sims and Redding, who are mediocre.

by shake n bake :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 2:01pm

OT Ryan Diem, say what you want about Marvin, but Marv is a distant second for most washed up player on the Colts O.

by Bobman :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 12:59am

Don't forget about Jake Scott--he did NOTHING for the Colts all year!

What's that? Oh, never mind.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 4:22pm

This year's All-Suck team is hamstrung by the loss of perennial starter CC Brown to IR, but here goes . . .


QB: Gus Frerotte (MIN)
RB: Chris Perry (CIN)
FB: Terelle Smith (AZ)
WR: Justin McCareins (TEN), Roy Williams (DAL)
TE: Ben Watson (NE)
OT: Levi Jones (CIN), Willie Colon (PIT)
OG: Stephen Peterman (DET), Richie Incognito (STL)
C: Dominic Raiola (DET)


DE: Jay Richardson (OAK), Turk McBride (KC)
DT: Chartric Darby (DET), Shaun Smith (CLE)
OLB: Ryan Nece (DET), Morlon Greenwood (HOU)
ILB: Andra Davis (CLE)
CB: Leigh Bodden (DET), Brandon Macdonald (CLE)
S: Brian Russell (SEA), Corey Chavous (STL)

Special Teams

K: Matt Prater (DEN)
P: Chris Kluwe (MIN)
K/PR: Keiwan Ratliff (IND)

I can't quite fathom how not one single player on the second worst defense of the DVOA era made the team, but there we are. Almost equally strange is the presence of as many members of the 17th ranked Cleveland defense as of Epic Fail. Possibly the answer is that Shaun Rogers is worth 25 points of DVOA. A cursory glance at last year's Lions defensive performance as compared to this would appear to suggest that this is in fact plausible. Certainly Rogers would have been in my All-Pro team alongside Haynesworth. Yes, Matt Millen did in fact trade an All-Pro calibre defensive tackle, in his prime, for a 3rd round pick and an all-suck corner. That has to be one of the worst trades in NFL history.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sat, 01/10/2009 - 8:03pm

No Shawn Swisham?

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 1:06am

No, but if it's any consolation he did make the All-Photoshop team. Seriously, as bad as Suisham was with field goals, Prater was worse, and he was also pretty horrendous kicking off. Nothing's as much fun as Minnesota's punt DPAA though: Kluwe's line drives and his chums' sucky coverage have cost the Vikings 24.6 points compared to an average unit. That means the Vikings would have been a touchdown better off over the course of the season if they had fielded a league average punt unit and played the 2007 Chicago Bears every week. Now that's what I call special teams. We talk about why they didn't go after a better quarterback; maybe what they really needed to do to win the Superbowl was send their second round pick to San Diego for Mike Scifres.

by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 12:19pm

While I've seen mainly the Packers games this year, it's hard to imagine any cornerback playing better than Charles Woodson did. Regardless of Al Harris' Pro Bowl trip last year, Woodson has been the Packers best defensive player the past two years and rivaled Aaron Rodgers as the best player period on the team this season. Woodson's only stumble this season was the long pass to Steve Smith that set up the Panthers' winning score.

Woodson's awareness sets him apart. He reads plays so quickly. On half his picks, he dropped coverage on his man and undercut another receiver to make the interception. You might expect that from a safety; Woodson is doing that from a corner position. And he makes the right move every time.

I can't downgrade the top two guys as I don't watch enough Titans and Raiders games, but I'll certainly vouch for Charles Woodson.

by RobinFiveWords (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 8:34pm

Cincinnati and Jacksonville.

by KDDM (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 10:43pm

I thought this season's all suck team was the detroit lions lol