ATL's Pro Bowl ballot; Ray Rice, Doug Martin snubbed
- By Gregg Rosenthal
- Around The League editor
- Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 at 08:07 p.m.
So the editors at NFL.com asked me if I could fill out a Pro Bowl roster for a layout coming Wednesday. My picks -- and picks from five smarter analysts -- can be seen here. The reasons for my picks are below.
Quarterbacks: AFC: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck; NFC: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III
I debated putting Ben Roethlisberger over Luck. The missed games were too hard to ignore, but Big Ben would have received the nod if he stayed healthy. The third NFC spot was tough. Eli Manning and Drew Brees were the losers.
Running backs: AFC: Jamaal Charles, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster; NFC: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore.
I absolutely hated leaving Ray Rice and Doug Martin off my list. Spiller was too explosive to leave off. Gore was more consistent and a better blocker than Martin.
Wide receivers: AFC: A.J. Green, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker; NFC: Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson
Demaryius Thomas got left off in a talented AFC field. There were a ton of NFC receivers, like Marques Colston and Victor Cruz, who were close. Leaving Percy Harvin off for injury was painful. At least for me.
Tight End: AFC: Rob Gronkowski, Owen Daniels; NFC: Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham
It felt strange not including Antonio Gates, but even all-time greats eventually slow down. Graham wasn't as explosive this season, but he still creates more problems than Jason Witten.
Fullback: AFC: Marcel Reece; NFC: Bruce Miller
I love that Reese finally got a chance to carry the ball more. It wasn't a surprise he did well.
Tackle: AFC: Duane Brown, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Clady; NFC: Joe Staley, Trent Williams, Russell Okung
Matt Kalil almost snuck on as a rookie. Joe Thomas got left off because I wanted one right tackle somewhere.
Guard: AFC: Marshal Yanda, Willie Colon, Andy Levitre; NFC: Mike Iupati, Jahri Evans, Josh Sitton
Colon and Iupati might be the two guys I would least want to block me. That's worth something, right?
Center: AFC: Mike Pouncey, Chris Myers; NFC: Jonathan Goodwin, Max Unger
Nick Mangold probably won't be unseated in reality, but he just misses my nod.
Defensive End: AFC: J.J. Watt, Cameron Wake, Corey Liuget; NFC: Jason Pierre-Paul, Charles Johnson, John Abraham
AFC defensive end was one of those positions without enough great players. Liuget took the final spot after a much improved season. Chris Clemons almost got a spot in the NFC.
Defensive Tackle: AFC: Geno Atkins, Vince Wilfork, Kyle Williams; NFC: Gerald McCoy, Nick Fairley, Justin Smith
AFC defensive tackle, unlike end, has too many great players. Haloti Ngata was left off in a slight down year. Fairley isn't officially listed by the NFL -- the teams actually submit the names -- but we're including him here anyway. Henry Melton was next on my NFC list.
Inside linebacker: AFC: Derrick Johnson, Brandon Spikes; NFC: Daryl Washington, Patrick Willis
With all due respect to Johnson and Spikes, it's a crime I had to leave off Navorro Bowman because there are just two inside linebacker spots in the NFC. Bowman is a better player overall than most of my Pro Bowl picks, but the rules are the rules.
Outside Linebacker: AFC: Von Miller, Justin Houston, Robert Mathis; NFC: Aldon Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews
The AFC is very thin at outside linebacker. Mathis has done a nice job converting. Matthews narrowly got the third spot over Ahmad Brooks.
Cornerback: AFC: Champ Bailey, Alterraun Verner, Antonio Cromartie; NFC: Charles Tillman, Antoine Winfield, Richard Sherman
AFC cornerback was perhaps the thinnest position in the entire league. No one was dominant. The NFC, on the other hand, left off very deserving players like Tim Jennings and Cortland Finnegan
. Strong safety: None
It's silly that the NFL requires a strong safety in 2012. The game has changed. Just ask for two safeties. I'm going to have to email Roger Goodell about this. Really, there were no great options this year.
Free safety: AFC: Eric Weddle, Reshad Jones; NFC: Earl Thomas, Dashon Goldson
Jones makes an insane amount of plays every time I watch him. Thomas' range and greatness don't always show up in the stats, but he's a huge difference-maker.