As one of the 50 Associated Press All-Pro voters, the two easiest selections were Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Apparently, 49 other people felt the same way because those were the two unanimous selections to this year’s first-team, which was released today.
I also thought Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was a no-brainer. He got 49 votes.
Meanwhile, Vikings kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was named second-team All-Pro two years after earning first-team honors as a rookie. In two of his three seasons, Patterson has had two touchdowns and led the league in kick return average. This year, his two scores came with a 31.8-yard average.
The 15-1 Panthers led the way with six first-team All-Pro picks, including quarterback Cam Newton, the leading candidate to win MVP when the major individual awards are announced the night before the Super Bowl.
New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Arizona and St. Louis were second behind Carolina with two All-Pro picks apiece.
Meanwhile, as clear as Peterson and Watt were at their positions, there was an equal amount of uncertainty over where to put Raiders defender Khalil Mack. But, in the end, he was so good that he made the first team at two positions: outside linebacker and defensive end.
Mack’s started games at both spots and his unique skill set enable him to be used in both roles as the Raiders used a variety of 4-3 and 3-4 looks. I voted for Mack as a defensive end. He played that role primarily against the Vikings and made the Pro Bowl team as an end.
I felt in November that the Vikings had two or three defenders trending toward All-Pro consideration. Linval Joseph definitely was the best nose tackle in the league and Anthony Barr was making splash plays as coach Mike Zimmer’s most versatile weapon. Safety Harrison Smith also, I thought, was playing to a level that would have gotten consideration.
But, unfortunately for all three players, they got hurt and missed significant time in December. If Barr in particular can stay healthy, he has a chance to compete and win multiple All-Pro honors before he’s done.
Here is the All-Pro team
QB: Cam Newton, Panthers
RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings; Doug Martin, Buccaneers
FB: Mike Tolbert, Panthers
WR: Antonio Brown, Steelers; Julio Jones, Falcons
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
T: Andrew Whitworth, Bengals; Joe Thomas, Browns
G: David DeCastro, Steelers; Marshal Yanda, Ravens
C: Ryan Kalil, Panthers
DE: J.J. Watt, Texans; Khalil Mack, Raiders
DT: Aaron Donald, Rams; Geno Atkins, Bengals
LB: Thomas Davis, Panthers; Luke Kuechly, Panthers; Khalil Mack, Raiders; Von Miller, Broncos; Navorro Bowman, 49ers
CB: Josh Norman, Panthers; Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
S: Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals; Eric Berry, Chiefs
K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
P: Johnny Hekker, Rams
KR: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks