As always, the AP All-Pro selections need to come with a few disclaimers.
- As the great historian John Turney points out, the AP is just one source of NFL awards, and not the source.
- The way the AP selects its second team is dumb. Well, that’s being kind, because it assumes the AP actually selects a second team. It doesn’t.
- The way the AP selects its first team is kind of dumb, too. Voters can vote for the same player at different positions! That can lead to odd “splitting the ballot” scenarios, and also to the crazy result that happened in Oakland this year. Kudos to Jason Lisk for shining some light on this topic every year.
With that said, let’s get to the results.
No surprise here, although given the way Palmer was more consistent than Newton, I would have thought this race would have been closer.
Peterson was on all 50 ballots, and for two voters, he was the only All-Pro running back in the league! Yes, two voters decided not to select two players, because, why not? Peterson and Martin seem like pretty clear choices, although Freeman seemed to have been hurt by putting up his numbers at the start of the year. He finished within 100 yards from scrimmage of both Peterson and Martin, and scored more touchdowns and had fewer fumbles than both players.
Let’s not pretend that much thought went into this one. Tolbert is now a two-time selection, and he’s one of the few fullbacks who is a real part of his team’s offense. He was on the field for 38% of Panthers snaps this year, compared to 34% for Juszczyk, 32% for DiMarco, 27% for Kuhn, 24% for Reece, and 22% for Line.
No complaints here, as Gronk is the best tight end in the league. The best argument for Olsen is the Patriots ranked 5th in pass attempts, while the Panthers ranked 27th, and the two put up very similar stats. But given Gronk’s edge as a blocker, no complaints here.
Brown and Jones were outstanding this year, and it’s hard to think that any voters legitimately thought another wide receiver was more deserving. I’d view the other 10 votes as protest votes, but then again, Beckham, Marshall, and Hopkins all had outstanding seasons that are worthy of some recognition, so in this case, a second-team All-Pro nod feels appropriate.
Joe Thomas, Cleveland, 32; Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati, 27; Tyron Smith, Dallas, 19; Trent Williams, Washington, 9; Marcus Gilbert, Pittsburgh, 4; Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland, 4; Jason Peters, Philadelphia, 1; Sebastian Vollmer, New England, 1; Jared Veldheer, Arizona, 1; Zach Strief, New Orleans, 1; Terron Armstead, New Orleans, 1.
Not much to say here, other than Thomas has now been a 1st-team All-Pro in six of the last seven seasons, and only one swing vote prevented it from being seven straight. Also, Smith was the first-team choice (over Whitworth) by both The Sporting News and the Pro Football Writers of America, but fell to the second team here.
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore, 37; David DeCastro, Pittsburgh, 13; Josh Sitton, Green Bay, 11; Zack Martin, Dallas, 10; Mike Iupati, San Francisco, 10; Trai Turner, Carolina, 8; Richie Incognito, Buffalo, 8; Brandon Scherff, Washington, 2; T.J. Lang, Green Bay, 1.
Years from now, we’ll know that DeCastro was an AP first-team All-Pro guard in 2015, Martin was a second-team selection, and Turner got no recognition at all. Yet in reality, just five votes separated these players. Also, like his teammate, Martin was a first-team All-Pro choice (over DeCastro) by both TSN and PFWA.
No big surprises here: Kalil has been a big part of the Panthers success for years, and deserves to get some recognition for Carolina’s great season.
Gostkowski now has two All-Pro selections, with his first coming way back in 2008.
Not much to add here, but these four are worthy choices. The AP does not name a separate punt returner, but the PFWA and TSN selected Lockett as the All-Pro KR and Sproles as the All-Pro PR.
J.J. Watt, Houston, 50; Khalil Mack, Oakland, 24; Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets, 8; Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit, 7; Chandler Jones, New England, 3; Michael Bennett, Seattle, 3; Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia, 2; Olivier Vernon, Miami, 1; Aaron Donald, St. Louis, 1; Calais Campbell, Arizona, 1.
Watt was a unanimous choice, of course. Mack got 24 votes at defensive end, and 17 votes at outside linebacker, which means 9 ballots kept him off the team entirely. I can understand the voters confusion here. Mack was an outside linebacker last year, but he started at defensive end for his first 10 games of the year.
During that stretch, Aldon Smith started at outside linebacker for the Raiders most of the time; after he was suspended, Mack began starting at OLB, with Denico Autry moving into the starting lineup at DE. And, frankly, there’s often not much of a difference between a DE and an OLB, especially in obvious pass-rushing situations. Many edge-rushers who are labeled linebackers line up with their hands in the dirt on third down. I don’t know that Mack belongs in the DE box or the OLB box for the 2015 season, but I do know it’s silly to have him eligible for both slots on the team.
Aaron Donald, St. Louis, 47; Geno Atkins, Cincinnati, 23; Kawann Short, Carolina, 14; Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia, 9; Calais Campbell, Arizona, 4; Damon Harrison, New York Jets, 1; Linval Joseph, Minnesota, 1; Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets, 1.
Note that Cox actually received two votes at DE, and Donald, Campbell, and Wilkerson each got one vote either here or at defensive end. At a high-level, Watt, Donald, Mack, and Atkins are all deserving on being on an All-NFL defense, and the voters did get that part correct.
Von Miller, Denver, 41; Khalil Mack, Oakland, 17; Thomas Davis, Carolina, 17; Jamie Collins, New England, 8; Justin Houston, Kansas City, 7; K.J. Wright, Seattle, 3; Lavonte David, Tampa Bay, 2; Whitney Mercilus, Houston, 1; Tamba Hali, Kansas City, 1; D’Qwell Jackson, Indianapolis, 1; Deone Bucannon, Arizona, 1.
Mack’s selection here didn’t technically come at the expense of anyone, as Davis was still a first-team All-Pro OLB because of the tie. But my favorite would be the selection of a Cardinals safety turned inside linebacker (or $ILB) here at outside linebacker (he also earned a vote at ILB). Miller was a unanimous pick by all three organizations, while Houston was a first-team choice by TSN and the PFWA also choice Mack at both DE and OLB.
Luke Kuechly, Carolina, 49; NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco, 14; Bobby Wagner, Seattle, 12; Derrick Johnson, Kansas City, 9; Clay Matthews, Green Bay, 4; Brandon Marshall, Denver, 3; Jamie Collins, New England, 2; Anthony Barr, Minnesota, 1; Deone Bucannon, Arizona, 1; Thomas Davis, Carolina, 1; Sean Lee, Dallas, 1; K.J. Wright, Seattle, 1; Telvin Smith, Jacksonville, 1.
Kuechly was an obvious choice, while Bowman and Wagner feel like legacy choices (TSN and PFWA only select one inside linebacker). Lee plays like an inside linebacker but is technically an outside linebacker, I think. He would have been a solid choice, as would have several of the other players on the above list. At a high level, figuring out who is an OLB or an ILB sounds easy, but in practice, it can be pretty complicated.
Josh Norman, Carolina, 43; Patrick Peterson, Arizona, 26; Richard Sherman, Seattle, 13; Chris Harris, Denver, 6; Marcus Peters, Kansas City, 6; Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona, 2; Malcolm Butler, New England, 2; Aqib Talib, Denver, 1; Darrelle Revis, New York Jets, 1.
Norman and Peterson were worthy choices, and also were selected by TSN and PFWA. Then again, Mathieu — who received two votes here — was likely ignored at this position by most voters, despite that being where he played most of his snaps in 2015.
Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona, 31; Eric Berry, Kansas City, 16; Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati, 13; Charles Woodson, Oakland, 11; Earl Thomas, Seattle, 9; Harrison Smith, Minnesota, 8; Reshad Jones, Miami, 8; Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia, 2; Kam Chancellor, Seattle, 1; Rashad Johnson, Arizona, 1.
TSN chose Thomas to go along with Mathieu here, while PFWA agreed with putting Berry on the team. Everyone agrees that Mathieu was a dominant player in the secondary in 2015. Berry won a tight vote here over Nelson, while Woodson receiving 11 votes at age 39 is pretty incredible.
Hekker was a unanimous choice as the best punter in the game. McAfee was shut out of the awards this season, despite being in the discussion for most valuable special teams player in the game once you include his kickoff prowess.