Posted September 04, 2013

The Audibles Preseason All-Pro team

AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins
Simply put: The only thing that can stop Calvin Johnson is an injury.

Simply put: The only thing that can stop Calvin Johnson is an injury. (John W. McDonough/SI)

The predictions just keep on coming, as Chris Burke and Doug Farrar assess which players will be noted as the NFL’s best with All-Pro nominations at the end of the 2013 season.

MORE COVERAGE: Division predictions | Playoff crashers | Crystal Ball predictions

Quarterback

Doug Farrar: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

As long as he’s healthy, Rodgers is the NFL’s most dominant offensive force. No single player is better able to dissect defenses, given his combination of mobility, velocity and accuracy.

Chris Burke: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

I started with Aaron Rodgers here, but Brady got my MVP pick for SI’s preseason awards so I would be remiss to exclude him. Brady finds a way to make the talent around him better, and he’ll do it (again) this year with a depleted cast.

Running Backs

Consensus: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Farrar: Martin was impressive in his rookie year, but I think he’ll be even better in 2013. He gained almost 1,500 yards with both of his guards (Carl Nicks and Davis Joseph) out of the lineup for lengthy stretches, and he’s got everything it takes to be the center of an offense — much like Peterson has been in Minnesota. The only question about Peterson is whether he’ll be able to overcome the typical decline in production after a 2,000-yard season.

Burke: Peterson’s a gimme if he stays healthy. And the Bucs plan to use Martin even more than they did in 2012, when he racked up 368 touches (319 carries, 49 receptions). Should Tampa Bay stick to that scheme, Martin should soar over 2,000 total yards.

Fullback

Farrar: Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens played contract chicken with Leach this offseason, but there’s no doubt about his value on the field. He’s an imposing lead blocker, especially in the red zone, and his re-signing allows Baltimore to use the more versatile Kyle Juszczyk as an H-back.

Burke: Greg Jones, Houston Texans

Jones was a steady, if underappreciated, member of the Jaguars’ offense from 2004 until he signed with Houston this offseason. He’ll get the job done there, too, playing under a brighter spotlight.

Tight End

Consensus: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

Farrar: The Saints’ receiving corps is in turmoil, which makes Graham all the more valuable to quarterback Drew Brees. Graham has rare talent, and even more importantly, the former Miami basketball player understands that he still has some growing to do as a football player. Now that coach Sean Payton is back from his suspension to “yell at me again, making sure that I am perfect on every play,” as Graham recently put it, expect him to be even better in 2013.

Burke: Graham was a Pro Bowler in 2011, but then suffered a bit of a statistical drop-off during New Orleans’ lost ’12 season. He could be the most dominant tight end in football this season, especially since he’s in line for a new contract next summer.

Receivers

Consensus: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Farrar: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Burke: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Farrar: There’s not much we can say about Megatron that hasn’t already been said. At his best, he’s impossible to cover, and if quarterback Matthew Stafford can be more consistent, who knows how ridiculous Johnson’s stats will be? Thomas has all the attributes common to the best NFL receivers, and he should get more isolated coverage on downfield routes with Wes Welker running slants over the middle.

Burke: Picking Megatron is like picking Peterson — if he stays on the field for 16 games, there is little evidence opposing defenses can stop him. Jones has been building toward superstardom throughout his first two seasons. He gets there in Year 3.

Offensive Tackles

Farrar: Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos/Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks

Clady is the best pass-blocking tackle in the league, and he’s got a quarterback in Peyton Manning who knows how to make his linemen look even better. Okung has a rare combination of power and agility — he’s had medical issues, but when he’s fully healthy, he simply erases edge-rushers.

Burke: Duane Brown, Houston Texans/Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots

Brown earned his first All-Pro nod last year, in his fifth NFL season. Vollmer’s on the same career arc — after four years of pretty steady development, the Patriots’ tackle is set to make the leap into the NFL’s elite.

Offensive Guards

Consensus: Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints
Farrar: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
Burke: Logan Mankins, New England Patriots

Farrar: Yanda doesn’t get enough credit (even though he plays for a Super Bowl-winning team) but he’s the one who sets the tone for the Ravens’ offensive line. Evans has more upfield speed than any other guard in the NFL — he will frequently be seen blocking 15-20 yards upfield, with authority, on the Saints’ litany of complex passing plays.

Burke: Evans has made the last four All-Pro teams, and with the Saints set to improve offensively in 2012, there’s no reason to think that his streak will end in 2013. Mankins will join Vollmer as an All-Pro, as the Patriots’ elite offensive line gets its due.

Center

Farrar: Stefen Wisniewski, Oakland Raiders

Wait — a Raiders lineman as an All-Pro? No, this is not a joke. Wisniewski has shown impressive strength, agility and consistency, especially considering that there’s so little talent around or behind him. If Oakland continues with Terrelle Pryor as their starting quarterback, Wisniewski will learn a new challenge — blocking the middle for a QB who will run himself into sacks.

Burke: Chris Myers, Houston Texans

Myers has been in the middle of the Texans’ impressive line for five seasons, but has not one All-Pro honor to show for it. That changes in 2013, as voters continue to warm to what Houston has cooking.

Defensive Ends

Consensus: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Farrar: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
Burke: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins

Farrar: Johnson was boom-and-bust as a pass-rusher last year, but the addition of Star Lotulelei on the Panthers’ defensive line will free things up for him to force pressure more consistently. Watt is simply the NFL’s best defensive player — there’s nobody else more capable of creating havoc from so many different gaps and angles.

Burke: About as easy a position to pick as there is. Watt and Wake were the First Teamers here in 2012, and they are two of the most dominant defenders in all of football. Teams have not figured out how to stop either guy yet.

Defensive Tackles

Consensus: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Farrar: Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys
Burke: Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions

Farrar: Little-known fact — as a 3-4 defensive end in 2012, Hatcher had as many quarterback hits (11) and nearly as many hurries (20.5) as did Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Hatcher will force similar pressure as a tackle in new Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s fronts. No interior lineman splits more double teams and causes more anarchy between the guards than Atkins — he’s a rare force in power situations.

Burke: Atkins, with a loaded new contract, has developed into a complete wrecking ball on the defensive line. Fairley’s closing the gap, though, and he is primed to leapfrog teammate Ndamukong Suh in the defensive tackle pecking order.

Outside Linebackers

Consensus: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Farrar: Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins
Burke: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

Farrar: David is the most athletic example of the NFL’s new wave of smaller, faster linebackers, and he’s ready to become the leader of the Bucs’ upgraded defense. Kerrigan had a great season in 2012 without Brian Orakpo as a bookend — look for him to take his place among the elite at his position in 2013.

Burke: Rolling the dice a bit that David, off a stellar rookie year, continues to develop as an all-around linebacker. Matthews missed out on First Team honors last season, despite registering 13 sacks in just 12 games.

Inside Linebackers

Consensus: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Farrar: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Burke: Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens

Farrar: In an amazing preseason performance against the Ravens, Kuechly showed that he is already the league’s most versatile and effective linebacker. Nobody else sets the edge against the run or plays the pass as well (in the same package) as he does — but Wagner’s coming close.

Burke: Anyone who saw Kuechly in 2012 or this preseason knows that he’s the real deal, even if he is not yet finished developing. Smith is one of my All-Pro wild cards. He fits in with Baltimore’s imposing defense well and should be better in 2013 than Ray Lewis was in ’12.

Cornerbacks

Consensus: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Farrar: Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans
Burke: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

Farrar: Sherman became an elite cornerback in trail coverage last year; he’s nearly impossible to beat on deep seam and sideline routes. He’s now refining his game in new ways. In 2012, Jackson was the best cornerback that nobody ever talked about — and it’s time for that to change.

Burke: Peterson has one All-Pro berth under his belt as a kick returner. He will add another as a lock-down CB this season. But Peterson may only be the second best cornerback in his division, with the confident Sherman patrolling Seattle’s secondary.

Safeties

Consensus: Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers
Farrar: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Burke: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers

Farrar: Thomas has replaced Ed Reed as the NFL’s prototypical center-field safety — he covers so much ground, and he’s improving as a tackler in the box. Weddle isn’t in Thomas’ class as a pass-defender, but he crashes down on run plays with force and precision and reads routes very well.

Burke: Weddle is among the league’s most underrated players — that he wasn’t a Pro Bowler or First Team All-Pro in 2012 was a travesty. Polamalu may be in line for Comeback Player of the Year honors, if he has the impact I expect him to have in Pittsburgh.

Punter

Farrar: Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars
Burke: Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts

Farrar: The Jags have to wonder what might have been — they took Anger with the 70th overall pick in the 2012 draft with some guy named Russell Wilson still on the board. But hey — at least they have a punter who ranked sixth in the league in gross average (47.8) and forced 29 fair catches, second in the NFL behind the Cardinals’ Dave Zastudil. One thing’s for sure — Anger will have his share of punting opportunities in 2013.

Burke: The Colts’ franchise player, McAfee downed 26 punts inside the opposing 20 a year ago. He’s extremely good at his craft … and at age 26, he may only be getting better.

Kicker

Farrar: Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
Burke: Matt Prater, Denver Broncos

Farrar: Walsh wasn’t just great as a field-goal kicker — he also greatly affected the Vikings’ kickoff and opponent field-position numbers in a positive sense. He made 10-of-10 tries from 50 yards or more, and nailed 11-of-12 field goals in December, as Minnesota was charging to the playoffs. Not bad for a rookie.

Burke: Prater has a huge leg (aided by Denver’s thin air) and continues to be about as clutch as they come late in games — he is 28-of-29 on field goals in the fourth quarter or in overtime.

Returner

Farrar: Darius Reynaud, Tennessee Titans

Farrar: The Titans put Reynaud on the field after regular returner Marc Mariani suffered a shoulder injury, and Reynaud responded by ranking in the top 10 in kick-return average, by running one kickoff back 105 yards for a touchdown and by finishing third in punt-return average. Tennessee signed Reynaud to a one-year, $1 million contract in the offseason, and knows that he’s the guy now.

Burke: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings

Burke: This is where you can bank on Patterson really making an impact as a rookie. He averaged 28 yards per kick return and 25.3 on punt returns last season at Tennessee, and he might help Minnesota fans forget Percy Harvin.

18 comments
JohnnyRusso
JohnnyRusso

Ravens fan here, this writer just lost all credibility for not having Patrick Willis on the team. Dude plays like Ray Lewis in his prime

Thallo
Thallo

So let's get this straight, the Niner's have the best team going into the year yet have 0 all pro's? Can writers please put away your garbage East coast bias one time before you write something on a national site? Just because Patrick Willis has been the best LB in the league for 3 years and has a stud in Bowman playing next to him doesn't mean you can just skip him for fun. He is still hands down the most consistent and dynamic ILB the NFL has seen since '99-05 Ray Lewis. Justin Smith is also a clear all pro DE and Iupati a clear all pro guard. The only even debatable Niner would be Anthony Davis at tackle, but if he progresses again as much as he did last year (the guy is 23 years old) there won't be much debate by the end of the season.

JeffCrosthwaite
JeffCrosthwaite

Good thing U saved the Safeties for last.  Because when I saw Polamalu I stopped reading.  That's garbage.  Like picking Urlacher a linebacker.

jeremyvillano
jeremyvillano

Speaking as a Broncos fan, Prater is TERRIBLE on kicks 30-40 years out.  I can't believe he made this list, while our punter B. Colquitt has top three stats almost across the board.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Wonder how long it will take before the Niner fans are in here screaming bloody murder that these two guys shut their team out.  lol   Not ONE all pro on the Niners this year.  Well of course the Niner fans will just call them both total idiots.  lol

OraPike
OraPike

QB---there is only one--Peyton.  RB Peterson yes.

Blazersfan7
Blazersfan7

@Thallo Dont think there was much of an east coast bias, plenty of seahawks on here...

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@jeremyvillano   Uh, not quite.  On field goals between 30 to 40 yards in his career, he's made 39 out of 43 attempts for 91%.

So from 30 to 40 yards out, he's one you want to kick it for you.

However, from 40 to 50 yards, which you didn't mention, he is TERRIBLE.  For his career, he's only made 26 of 45 attempts for 58%.

He is 75% in his career from 50 plus yards out (15 of 20).


He should not have made this list though...

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@randomdeletion No because they're not idiots. They provided valid reasons for all selections and I am confident they watch their share of film.

Why would a Niners fan even care that much? If they were picking LB units or OL units Niners would grade higher. They have more depth than individual standouts. 

The only idiot here is someone named randomdeletion.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@OraPike Sorry I trust the guys who are paid to watch and analyze all the teams to tell me who's the best - not some homer. 

Thallo
Thallo

@Sportsfan18 @jeremyvillano  

 Hi, welcome to the NFL, field goals from 30-40 yards, unless in a blizzard, should be automatic. This is not your high school team. 90% is not anywhere close to great

Thallo
Thallo

@WCoastPro @randomdeletion 

 Providing incorrect justification behind their picks doesn't make it acceptable for them to be wrong, And yes don't make any mistake about it, they are WRONG in an OPINION column. Deal with it.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@WCoastPro @OraPike   Look up yr to yr at these guys who are paid to watch and analyze and you'll see they miss a lot of their predictions...

Many of the better writers even publish an article at the beginning of the season reminding us of what they predicted the season before and they make fun of themselves for the many they missed.

You know what?  Just because people are paid to watch and analyze doesn't mean they are perfect.

Our politicians are far from perfect... as are our police forces etc...

Lastly, those running our companies, the VP's, CFO's, CEO's are often wrong many times too...

Just because one is in a position of power or authority does not mean that they are always right.

Part of what's great about this country is that we get to speak out.  Now I don't think we need to call people names like idiots and homer etc... but we should speak up and say what we feel...

jeremyvillano
jeremyvillano

@WCoastPro @OraPike Heh...

Chris Burke in 2011, predicting the 2012 season:

- Matt Flynn will be the league's breakthrough quarterback

Philadelphia will contend for the NFC's best record

Chris did get a bunch of predictions right, but he also gets a bunch wrong.  You could basically trust a coin flip and get similar results to these "guys who are paid to watch and analyze all the teams." It's a great scam, when you think about it.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@jeremyvillano The better scam is where you guys wait until time has passed, cherry pick the predictions, and tell us how wrong this guy was.    See you this time next year when you tell us which of this year's picks were wrong.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@WCoastPro @jeremyvillano @OraPike   OK, if you want to stick to analyzing and evaluating then... let's use numbers...  Matt Prater is currently the 45th most accurate field goal kicker of all time...  The problem is that there are 27 still active field goal kickers in the NFL who are more accurate than him.  Uh, 27 is a big number when there are only 32 teams in the NFL.

Additionally, 11 of the top 12 all time most accurate field goal kickers are still active... as are 14 of the top 16 and  16 of the top 19 are still active and finally 17 of the top 21 most accurate Field goal kickers of all time are still active.

So how does an analyst select the 45th most accurate kicker of all time as the best in the NFL right now?  Especially when there are still 27 kickers more accurate than him still active...

Oops...

My stats came from football reference dot com. 

When I paste links here they take you back to the article that we are reading but if you copy and paste this link into your browser, it will take you there...


http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/fg_perc_career.htm

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@jeremyvillano @WCoastPro @OraPike I'm referring to this specific piece about projecting the best at each position not so much worried about who the vague breakthrough guy is. Predicting is one thing, analyzing/evaluating  is another