Breaking Down the 2013 NFL All-Pro Team
The All-Pro Team
On Friday afternoon, the Associated Press released its NFL All-Pro team. The team is comprised of players from each position, including special teams, and is voted on by 50 members of the Associated Press.
While the Pro Bowl is the league’s All-Star game, the All-Pro team is the true measure of worth in the NFL. With the Pro Bowl viewed more and more as showcasing the league's most popular players instead of the best, the All-Pro vote carries much more weight. It truly is a roster of the best of the best in the NFL today.
The AP All-Pro team can be related to that of the NCAA's All-American teams. It is comprised of the top players from across the sport's landscape as voted on by their peers. It isn't uncommon for people, including myself, to put more stock into a players All-Pro appearances than his Pro Bowl appearances.
On this list, you'll find one player making the list for a seventh time, tying the record at his respective position. The record for the most appearances on the All-Pro team belongs to Jerry Rice, who has been on the team 10 times. But you'll also find two rookies who made the cut after exceptional first seasons.
On the following slides, you’ll find a complete position by position breakdown of the 2013 NFL All-Pro team. You’ll find statistics to go along with analysis. Check out my colleagues’ articles around RantSports.com for more analytical breakdowns of the latest All-Pro teams.
First Team: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
It’s hard to argue with this selection. Manning threw for 5,477 yards this season to go along with 55 touchdowns, both NFL records. His 115.1 passer rating isn’t too shabby, either. There's no question that Manning deserved this honor. It's the seventh time that he's been named to the All-Pro team and that ties him with Otto Graham for the most selections at the quarterback position.
Second Team: N/A
Arguably the league’s top two running backs, McCoy (1,607 yards) and Charles (1,287) both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground. They have both been critical to the success of their respective teams. There's no question that McCoy deserves the honor, but I have questions about Charles. Even though Adrian Peterson didn't play a full season, he still made a strong case for the first team.
Peterson didn’t do that bad for missing two games this season. He still rushed for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns. For Lacy, his rookie year was a success as he rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. While Lacy did play well, I think that Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris made a strong case for a second-team All-Pro selection.
First Team: Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
There were times this year where Tolbert appeared to be a featured back for the Panthers. He can block, catch and run the ball well. The six-year veteran is well deserving of this honor.
Second Team: Marcel Reese, Oakland Raiders
On a Raiders team that struggled throughout the season, Reese was a constant performer that shouldn’t have gone unnoticed. He had four total touchdowns (two rushing and receiving) and contributed to the offense week in and week out. Finding good fullbacks are tough to do and the Panthers and Raiders have both found long-term players at fullback.
First Team: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
2013 was Graham’s best season yet and his second with at least 1,000 yards receiving (1,215). He caught a career-high 16 touchdowns and averaged 14.1 yards per catch. Not a bad year for the four-year veteran. Graham has been a dominant force in the NFL since he entered the league. The fact that he's a first-team All-Pro selection is no surprise at all.
Second Team: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Vernon Davis has been a constant and reliable target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Davis finished the regular season with 850 yards receiving (his most since 2010) and 13 touchdowns which ties a career best. Davis was the next most consistent tight end, so there's really no surprise that he earned the second-team honor.
Hard to argue with this duo. Johnson (84 receptions, 1,492 yards) continues to find success and Gordon (87 receptions, 1,646) had a breakout year in his second season. They were the top two receivers this past regular season and were dominant week in and week out. The AP got this one right.
The AP has put together quite a slew of players at wide receiver for their All-Pro team. Green, Thomas and Brown all had seasons worthy of first-team votes, but Johnson and Gordon were definitely the two best receivers in the NFL this year. It just goes to show you that the NFL is truly becoming a pass-oriented league.
Joe Thomas continues to be an anchor for the Browns' offensive line. For Peters, he helped clear the way for the league's best rushing attack while still protecting his quarterback. When it comes to finding annually reliable offensive lineman, the Browns and Eagles have struck gold.
For the second time in his career, Tyron Smith started all 16 games of the season for the Cowboys. In San Francisco, Joe Staley started all 16 games of the season for the third-straight year and for the fifth time in his seven seasons. Along the offensive line, consistency is important and these guys emulate that. Much like the two first-teamers, Smith and Staley have bright careers ahead of them. The AP didn't go wrong with these four selections.
Vasquez has been crucial in keeping Manning upright so he can do the incredible things that he’s done. In Philadelphia, Mathis has been one of the most important pieces for Chip Kelly and has been a part of an offensive line that has really turned it around from last year. If you eliminate either of these two players from their respective teams, they certainly have a much harder time finding success.
It’s no secret that Tom Brady has found success thanks to his offensive line, and they get some well deserved recognition here. Josh Sitton, on the other hand, is a bit of a stretch selection.
First Team: Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers
After only playing in five games last year, Kalil returned to form in 2013 and started all 16 games for the Panthers. When it comes to naming NFL centers, most people can only come up with Jeff Saturday. However, you should add Ryan Kalil's name to your list as he's one of the best in the business.
Second Team: Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns
Mack headed a Browns’ offensive line that only improved as the season went on. In five seasons, he’s started every single game for the Browns at center. For as bad as the Browns have been, it's interesting that two of their offensive lineman made the All-Pro team. Hopefully, it wasn't just because of the number starts they have at their positions.
While he didn’t reach his goal of 20 swats, Watt still played pretty well this season for the struggling Texans. He finished with 80 tackles, including 10.5 sacks. This season wasn't as strong as last year, but Watt earned his spot on the All-Pro team, just maybe not on the first-team. At 19 sacks on the season, Quinn fell a sack short of winning the inaugural Deacon Jones award. Quinn has been a dream come true for the Rams. He should have been a unanimous first-teamer.
Williams posted his highest sack total since 2007 with 13 this past season for the Bills. Greg Hardy has only gotten better of his four years in the NFL and posted a career-high 15 sacks for the Panthers in 2013. These two made the cut because of their sack totals. In a league where it's all about rushing the passer, that's not surprising.
McCoy was a monster for the Buccaneers defense totaling 50 tackles and nine sacks. Yet again, Suh was a menace with 5.5 sacks and 49 total tackles, the most since his rookie year. Suh's play is starting to fall off and he has yet to elevate his game from his rookie year. Personally, he's a second-teamer at best.
In his second season, Poe totaled 4.5 sacks for the Chiefs. Wilkerson was a bright spot on a bleak Jets team with 10.5 sacks, and Casey totaled 10.5 sacks for an underachieving Titans team. Justin Smith was also solid for the 49ers posting 6.5 sacks this year. Picking defensive linemen is tough because their stats vary depending on the system their in, but I think the AP got this one right.
Mathis won the inaugural Deacon Jones Award by leading the NFL in sacks with 19.5. Mathis was also a candidate for the league's MVP award and for good reason. At 32 years old, he's still dominating for the Colts. For David, he was a tackling machine in 2013 totaling 144 tackles, 106 of them solo. If you haven't gotten yourself acquainted with him, read up on him now. He's got a very bright future.
Hali scored his first career touchdown on his second career interception for the Chiefs this year. He also totaled 46 tackles and 11 sacks. Brooks was part of a linebacking corps that ruled the middle of the field and finished with 60 tackles and 8.5 sacks. No surprise here. Hali helped lead a defense that dominated the NFL and Brooks is just a consistently good player for the 49ers.
Luke Kuechly totaled 156 tackles for the Panthers in 2013, but he’ll likely be remembered for the no-call pass interference penalty on Rob Gronkowski. Bowman finished with 145 tackles, but he’ll be remembered for his pick-six in the final minutes of their game against the Arizona Cardinals that propelled San Francisco to the playoffs. While they may only be remembered for those things, they've played incredible seasons for the respective franchises and are more than worthy of this honor.
Second Team: Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals; Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
In his second year in the NFL, Burfict totaled a whopping 171 tackles, 114 of them solo. In Arizona, Karlos Dansby continues to be a solid defender with 122 tackles on the year. Once you get past Kuechly and Bowman, the quality really drops off. However, the AP picked it right with these two. Vontaze Burfict is a young player with a bright future and Karlos Dansby has a nose for the football.
Sherman is a guy you hate to love, but give him and his eight interceptions some credit. For Peterson, he quietly had a lockdown year for Arizona with 40 solo tackles and three interceptions. How can you argue with selecting Sherman? He's a lockdown corner that shouldn't be toyed with. Peterson, well, he's been quietly dominating for a Cardinals team that surprised people this year. Nice choices by the AP.
All three of these players deserve this honor. Talib played a total of 10 games between 2011 and 2012, yet still played well in 2013. For Haden, he continues to play well on an inconsistent defense, and Verner has been a constant that the Titans need on defense. While two of them, Haden and Verner, are on teams that struggled, don't overlook their individual performances.
Thomas covered center field well for Seattle totaling eight pass deflections with five interceptions and was a no-brainer for this team. Berry was a ball-hawking safety for the Chiefs with three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. Berry's numbers don't scream "All-Pro," but that's because of the system he plays in. But when a pass came over the middle, Berry was in position to defend it. Good choice.
Second Team: Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers; Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks; Jarius Byrd, Buffalo Bills; T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns; Devin McCourty, New England Patriots; Antrel Rolle, New York Giants
Personally, this is just too many defensive backs getting recognized, however, they are deserving of it. Again, it's interesting how the Browns, a team that played poorly this season, had two players from the secondary named to this list. Also, Antrel Rolle could have been left off this list. It wasn't until later in the season that he really turned things on for the Giants.
First Team: Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams
Hekker averaged a whopping 46.3 yards per punt and pinned 19 inside the 20-yard line.
Second Team: Brandon Fields, Miami Dolphins
Fields averaged 48.8 yards per punt, pinned 33 inside the 20-yard line and had a long of 74 yards.
It seems to me as though this is completely backwards. Field's numbers were way better than Hekker and he punted the ball just seven times more. If it were me making the votes, I would have flipped them. They've got the right two guys, just in the wrong order.
First Team: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Nobody defined consistency from a kicking standpoint more than Tucker. He made 30-of-33 field goals including 17 from at least 40 yards away. Is it possible to have a kicker get unanimous votes? If so, this might've been the year to do it.
Second Team: Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
Prater missed just one field goal this year, going 25-for-26 -- including an NFL record 64-yarder -- and made all of his extra points. He also booted 81 kickoffs for touchbacks. Well, maybe that's why Tucker didn't get all 50 votes. If you go based on percentages, it's hard to find someone who bettered Prater's 96 percent. Either one of these two could have been the first-team All-Pro.
First Team: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
In just his first year in the NFL, Patterson established himself as a game changer on special teams. He returned 43 kickoffs for 1,393 yards and two touchdowns. With kickoffs going into the end zone for touchbacks more and more, it's important to find someone that can flip the field for you on special teams. Patterson can be that guy for the Vikings.
Second Team: Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
McCluster was a do-it-all player for the Chiefs, but his money was made mostly on special teams. He returned 58 punts for 686 yards and two touchdowns. Much like Patterson with the Vikings, McCluster can flip the field in favor of the Chiefs and he did it numerous times this year. It's hard to decide who should get the first-team vote, but ultimately they got it right since it's hard to perform as well as Patterson did on kickoffs.