2013 Pro Bowl roster analysis: AFC
- By Marc Sessler
- Updated: Dec. 26, 2012 at 09:45 p.m.
The 2013 Pro Bowl rosters were announced Wednesday night. Rosenthal unpacked the NFC side and broke down the biggest snubs, so let's go position-by-position through the AFC roster:
Wide receiver: A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker
No one expected Wayne to make another Pro Bowl at age 34 behind a rookie quarterback after such a down season last year. The storyline that Welker was being phased out of the New England Patriots' offense seems like lifetimes ago and amounted to nonsense. Demaryius Thomas was left off the list, but this is a hard group to bicker over.
Tackle: Joe Thomas, Duane Brown, Ryan Clady
The game's best tackles do it year after year, and that's Thomas. He has been a rock on some highly uneven Cleveland Browns teams. Brown's fine work in the Houston Texans' zone-blocking scheme is worthy of a Pro Bowl nod, and Clady was outstanding protecting the Denver Broncos' royal treasure, Peyton Manning. Jake Long fell off this list after a down year.
Guard: Logan Mankins, Marshal Yanda, Wade Smith
I'd argue more Patriots linemen should have made the team. Mankins is part of a group running 90-plus plays per game in New England. They're asked to do more than most of their peers. Yanda, meanwhile, rebounded from offseason surgery to grade out as ProFootballFocus.com's No. 2 guard in the league.
Center: Maurice Pouncey, Chris Myers
I'm reminded of Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game, when Pouncey painfully went down in a pile -- it looked treacherous -- but was back on the next play. He's one of the toughest centers -- honestly, players -- in football and deserving of the Pro Bowl. Who can argue with Myers? He's the glue that keeps Houston's line together.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Heath Miller
Gronk has battled injuries this season, but there's nobody doing what he does from the position. The Patriots can use him in so many ways, and he's an underrated blocker. When Miller tore his knee up against the Bengals on Sunday, one teammate after the other huddled around him. He's the heart of the Steelers' locker room. He won't play in the Pro Bowl, but he's a very worthy selection. If this list went three-deep, I'd argue Owen Daniels would be a fitting choice.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub
Manning's season is a work of art. We take him for granted, but what he has accomplished after questions if he'd ever play again is stunning. Brady -- maybe not as athletic as he once was -- is fascinating to watch and continues to evolve. I have issues with Schaub here. He's not a guy who produces signature wins. Rosenthal and I are Big Ben apologists (on the field), and the Steelers star was on track for MVP consideration before the injuries set in.
Running back: Arian Foster,
Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice
What's not to like? Foster long ago answered his doubters. Charles is a poor man's Adrian Peterson after what he did post-surgery. Rice would have been even more productive if the Ravens knew how to use him better late in games.
Fullback: Vonta Leach
The fullback position isn't exactly in its golden age. Leach is one of the few rock-solid entries in the AFC, but we also liked what Marcel Reece did in Oakland, especially when Darren McFadden was lost to injury.
Defensive end: J.J. Watt, Cameron Wake, Elvis Dumervil
If Watt doesn't win Defensive Player of the Year, something is wrong with our society. Watt has been as dominant a lineman as we've seen in some time and a multiple-tool player who lines up all over the place. Wake is a quarterback nightmare, and Dumervil -- teamed with Von Miller -- gives the Broncos so many options on defense. These guys arguably are the best position group on the AFC roster.
Interior lineman: Geno Atkins, Vince Wilfork, Haloti Ngata
Atkins isn't a household name, but he will be if he keeps this up. He set a Bengals record for sacks by an interior lineman, and his speed is something to behold. He devastated Big Ben in Week 16. Wilfork keeps on chugging for the Patriots. Ngata is going to get Pro Bowl votes every year, and he's deserving, but we also liked Buffalo's Kyle Williams here.
Outside linebacker: Von Miller, Tamba Hali,
Miller has become as disruptive as anyone from the outside. He's one of the game's great pass rushers and a joy to watch on Sundays. I'd argue Justin Houston deserves the nod. Mathis fully belongs here. Like Wayne, Mathis threatened to vanish off the radar on a transitioning Colts team but instead remains an anchor for a winner.
Inside linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Derrick Johnson
I wouldn't have scoffed at Mayo teaming with fellow Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, but New York Jets fans might have. Johnson is a popular pick and deserving. You could make a case for D'Qwell Jackson, whose work often is overlooked on a struggling Browns team.
Cornerback: Champ Bailey, Johnathan Joseph, Antonio Cromartie
Cromartie is more than a placeholder for Darrelle Revis here. He put forth his best season yet and mostly kept his mouth shut in a combustible Jets locker room. Cro lined up against No. 1 wideouts week after week and won battles. Joseph is the anchor of Houston's secondary, and we saw how that team suffered when he was out of the lineup. Champ Bailey is Champ Bailey -- an ageless wonder.
Free safety: Ed Reed
Sort of predictable, sort of agitating. Reed wins out in a relatively weak class. He's a surefire Hall of Famer, but Jairus Byrd had a better season.
Strong safety: Eric Berry, LaRon Landry
Does anyone else have a problem with five Kansas City Chiefs making the Pro Bowl? Berry admirably returned from ACL surgery, but he only recently has looked like the player he was before. Landry has been durable enough and productive for the Jets. He's a bruiser.
Special teams: Dustin Colquitt, Phil Dawson, Jacoby Jones
A Chiefs punter? That I can get behind. Colquitt was asked to pin back defenses from all over the field. Dawson -- the only Browns player still remaining from the 1999 expansion team -- has been an absolute rock. He kicks in any type of weather, and his long-range accuracy has improved with age. The Ravens hit the mark by signing Jones during the offseason.
Notes: Question for you: How many of these picks would have been any different in August? Very predictable field. ... I want information and details on the Kansas City-based voter campaign that netted as many Chiefs as Broncos in this game. ... It would have been nice to see Andrew Luck added to the list. The Colts couldn't be happier with their rookie QB's play, and what he has done for that team is nothing short of special. ... I would have loved to see C.J. Spiller set free against a watered-down Pro Bowl defense. ... It'd be nice if we could vote for coaches the next time around.