Here are the selections:
QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings (unanimous), Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks.
FB: Vonta Leach, Ravens.
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons.
WR: Calvin Johnson, Lions; Brandon Marshall, Bears.
OT: Duane Brown, Texans; Ryan Clady, Broncos.
OG: Jahri Evans, Saints; Mike Iupati, 49ers.
C: Max Unger, Seahawks.
DE: J.J. Watt, Texans (unanimous), Cameron Wake, Dolphins.
DT: Geno Atkins, Bengals; Vince Wilfork, Patriots.
OLB: Von Miller, Broncos; Aldon Smith, 49ers.
ILB: Patrick Willis, 49ers; Navorro Bowman, 49ers.
CB: Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Charles Tillman, Bears.
S: Earl Thomas, Seahawks; Dashon Goldson, 49ers.
P: Andy Lee, 49ers.
K: Blair Walsh, Vikings.
KR: Jacoby Jones, Ravens.
Some quick thoughts:
- Manning, my choice for MVP, is the obvious choice for first-team All-Pro at quarterback, although one could have at least argued for Robert Griffin III (led league in yards per attempt and yards per carry) or Tom Brady (harder schedule).
- No one could argue with Peterson’s inclusion, and he deserved to be a unanimous pick. And while I won’t argue with choosing Lynch, I also would have been fine with Alfred Morris (second in rushing), Jamaal Charles (5.3 yards per carry on 285 carries), C.J. Spiller (6.0 yards per carry), or Doug Martin (second in yards from scrimmage).
- There have now been 3 quarterbacks (Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Manning) and six running backs (Arian Foster, Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy, Peterson, and Lynch) selected as first-team All-Pros in the last three years. On the other hand, Leach was named first-team All-Pro for the third straight season.
- As you probably suspect, I wholeheartedly endorse Marshall getting recognized for his historic season. Andre Johnson had a magnificent year, too, and was a worthy second-team selection.
- What left is to be say about Gonzalez? Ignoring kickers, quarterbacks, fullbacks, and offensive and defensive lineman, Gonzalez is just the fourth player to be selected first-team All-Pro at the age of 36 or later. He joins Rod Woodson (defensive back, 37, 2002), Sam Mills (linebacker, 37, 1996), and Ken Riley (defensive back, 36, 1983). More recently, Brian Dawkins was a second-team All-Pro choice at age 36 in 2009. Rob Gronkowski led all tight ends in touchdowns, and Jason Witten led in receptions and receiving yards, but Gonzalez was the only tight end with 90 catches, 900 yards, and 8 touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Gonzalez’ skills as a run blocker fell off completely this year (he was ranked as the second worst among tight ends), but it’s not hard to see why the AP selected him. It’s his sixth such selection for what should be the first tight end to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
- There were a lot of good tackles this year — in addition to Brown and Clady, Joe Staley, Michael Roos, and Joe Thomas had their typical strong seasons, and Andre Smith finally fulfilled his mammoth potential for Cincinnati. But no complaints with the choices.
- Pro Football Focus loves Evan Mathis, ranking him as twice as valuable as its next best guard (Marshal Yanda). Grading guards is not easy, but I have no problem with the choice even if it feels like Evans might be getting these on reputation for a long time going forward.
- Nick Mangold is no longer a mainstay selection at first-team All-Pro, and he had another (for his standards) down year in 2012. Unger is a fine choice, but I would have preferred Minnesota’s John Sullivan. I’m not shocked that Maurkice Pouncey was the second-team choice, but it was an entirely name-brand choice.
- In the front seven, Watt, Smith, and Miller were obvious choices. Watt and Miller broke the sack records at their positions, while Aldon Smith established himself as the premier edge rusher in the game. Atkins was a similarly obvious choice, as he was (in my opinion) the third best defensive player in the NFL. The AP selected eight players in the front seven, so that left four spots. I support the inclusions of Wilfork (although Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy would have probably been a more deserving candidate) and Wake (the top 4-3 defensive end this year, an honor DeMarcus Ware may steal as he transitions to the position in 2013), who had dominant years despite not getting much publicity. And we’re getting to the point where the 49ers inside linebackers are going to be mainstays on this team for years. Willis has been a first-team All-Pro choice by the AP in five of his first six seasons, while Bowman has now made it two years in a row (his only two years as a starter). Since 1960, only Lawrence Taylor (6), Eric Dickerson (5), Jerry Rice (5), Gale Sayers (5), Reggie White (5), and now Willis have been first-team AP All-Pro NFL selections five or more times in their first six seasons.
- I’ve argued that the Seahawks have the best secondary in the league and the 49ers one of the most underrated, so it’s not too surprising to see their stars take up three of the four spots. And no one can complain about Peanut Tillman being selected after his dominant first half of the season.
- I’m not going to talk about punters, but Walsh, who kicked the Vikings into the playoffs and was a record 10-for-10 on field goal attempts of 50+ yards, is a worthy choice. However, Justin Tucker was just as good, and at a minimum, should have been the second-team choice. In fact, because of his value on kickoffs, Tucker probably was even more deserving than Walsh of first-team honors.
- Jones and Wilson seem like fine choices as returners. I’ll just note that Percy Harvin, who had just 16 kick returns in both 2011 and 2012, has not led the league in kick return average two years in a row.
Finally, here are the second-team selections:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Packers.
RB: Alfred Morris, Redskins; Jamaal Charles, Chiefs.
FB: Jerome Felton, Vikings.
TE: Jason Witten, Cowboys.
WR: A.J. Green, Bengals; Andre Johnson, Texans.
OT: Joe Thomas, Browns; Joe Staley, 49ers.
OG: Marshal Yanda, Ravens; Logan Mankins, Patriots.
C: Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers.
DE: Justin Smith, 49ers; Julius Peppers, Bears.
DT: Justin Smith, 49ers; Ndamukong Suh, Lions; Haloti Ngata, Ravens.
OLB: Chad Greenway, Vikings; Ahmad Brooks, 49ers; Clay Matthews, Packers; and DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys.
ILB: Daryl Washington, Cardinals; London Fletcher, Redskins.
CB: Champ Bailey, Broncos; Tim Jennings, Bears.
S: Eric Weddle, Chargers; Jairus Byrd, Bills.
P: Thomas Morstead, Saints.
K: Phil Dawson, Browns.
KR: David Wilson, Giants.
Here is the full voting breakdown:
Fullbacks: Vonta Leach, Baltimore, 26; Jerome Felton, Minnesota, 12; Marcel Reece, Oakland, 4; Michael Robinson, Seattle, 3; Mike Tolbert, Carolina, 2; Bruce Miller, San Francisco, 1; John Kuhn, Green Bay, 1.
Wide receivers: Calvin Johnson, Detroit, 49; Brandon Marshall, Chicago, 23; A.J. Green, Cincinnati, 16 ½; Andre Johnson, Houston, 8 ½; Demaryius Thomas, Denver, 1; Wes Welker, New England, 1; Julio Jones, Atlanta, 1.
Offensive tackles: Duane Brown, Houston, 27; Ryan Clady, Denver, 19; Joe Thomas, Cleveland, 17; Joe Staley, San Francisco, 11; Russell Okung, Seattle, 6; Andre Smith, Cincinnati, 5; Trent Williams, Washington, 5; Anthony Davis, San Francisco, 3; Tyson Clabo, Atlanta, 2; Phil Loadholt, Minnesota, 2; Eric Winston, Kansas City, 1; Matt Kalil, Minnesota, 1; Sebastian Vollmer, New England, 1.
Guards: Mike Iupati, San Francisco, 38; Jahri Evans, New Orleans, 23; Marshal Yanda, Baltimore, 17; Logan Mankins, New England, 7; Evan Mathis, Philadelphia, 5; Josh Sitton, Green Bay, 5; Alex Boone, San Francisco, 2; Chris Snee, New York Giants, 2; Wade Smith, Houston, 1.
Kick returners: Jacoby Jones, Baltimore, 37 ½; David Wilson, New York Giants, 3; Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo, 2 ½; Leon Washington, Seattle, 2; Darius Reynaud, Tennessee, 2; Randall Cobb, Green Bay, 1; Marcus Thigpen, Miami, 1; Josh Cribbs, Cleveland, 1.
Defensive ends: J.J. Watt, Houston, 50; Cameron Wake, Miami, 28; Justin Smith, San Francisco, 6; Julius Peppers, Chicago, 5; Chris Clemons, Seattle, 4; Jared Allen, Minnesota, 3; Elvis Dumervil, Denver, 1; Aldon Smith, San Francisco, 1; Charles Johnson, Carolina, 1; John Abraham, Atlanta, 1.
Defensive tackles: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati, 42; Vince Wilfork, New England, 27; Justin Smith, San Francisco, 17; Haloti Ngata, Baltimore, 5; Ndamukong Suh, Detroit, 5; Henry Melton, Chicago, 2; Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay, 2.
Inside linebackers: Patrick Willis, San Francisco, 30; NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco, 26; Daryl Washington, Arizona, 20; London Fletcher, Washington, 7; Luke Kuechly, Carolina, 5; Jerod Mayo, New England, 4; Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh, 3; Derrick Johnson, Kansas City, 2; Lance Briggs, Chicago, 1; Bobby Wagner, Seattle, 1.
Safeties: Earl Thomas, Seattle, 28; Dashon Goldson, San Francisco, 20; Eric Weddle, San Diego, 19; Jairus Byrd, Buffalo, 7; Stevie Brown, New York Giants, 6; Ed Reed, Baltimore, 3; Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta, 3; Donte Whitner, San Francisco, 2; T.J. Ward, Cleveland, 2; Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay, 2; William Moore, Atlanta, 1; Eric Berry, Kansas City, 1; Reshad Jones, Miami, 1; Devin McCourty, New England, 1; LaRon Landry, New York Jets, 1; Morgan Burnett, Green Bay, 1; Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati, 1; Tyvon Branch, Oakland, 1.