QB: Brady and Manning were fantastic this season (again...we are spoiled to have 2 of the greatest QBs ever playing the position right now) and their spots need no explanation. However, due to what Manning has done in terms of switching teams and coming back from an even more horrific injury than Brady had to deal with (knee), it needs to be said that Manning's year is the most impressive of all the quarterbacks in the league. The selection of Schaub for the Pro Bowl could be debated but it's not a serious debate. Roethlisberger, Dalton, Flacco, and Andrew Luck are probably the only serious contenders for this position yet none have guided their team to as good as a record and really have no better numbers than Schaub. Luck has lots of interceptions but is in the picture because of his late game heroics, the fact that he is a rookie standout, and the impressive job he has done of guiding a terrible team to a playoff spot. Even with the interceptions, Luck probably has the best reason to feel snubbed. Palmer and Rivers have decent numbers but many of those numbers have been compiled in garbage time or in games without much meaning. Each have made critical mistakes that have cost their teams multiple games.
Analysis: They got all 3 selections right.
RB: The only slam dunk in this conference is Jamaal Charles. If the Chiefs had a better team and if Adrian Peterson wasn't grabbing all the attention for coming back off injury with maybe the best year ever by a running back, Charles would be the story of the year at the position. He's probably going to end the year with over 1500 yards and with nearly a 5.5 yard per carry average His team has played from behind a lot and yet he still gets serious yards. Arian Foster's spot on the all star roster is hard to argue with due to his TD numbers (14) and his yardage (1300 +) yet I think his numbers are bloated due to a better offensive team that puts him close to the goal line a lot and the numerous carries he gets. He has around 80 more carries than Chris Johnson and over 100 more carries than C.J. Spiller and yet they each have around 1100 yards compared to Foster's 1300 or so. Steven Ridley has great numbers as well for the Patriots and Ray Rice had another solid year with similar numbers to Ridley, Johnson. Still, C.J. Spiller is the guy who stands out after Charles and I believe he was robbed of a justified position on this Pro Bowl Roster. He has similar numbers in yards to Ray Rice (who was selected) but he has a 6.5 yard per carry average with twice the number of 20+ yard runs and only 3 fewer TDs. It seems Rice got in on reputation this year rather than production. He was no slouch to be sure, but after Charles, Spiller was the most feared back in the AFC this year and deserves the spot.
Analysis: 2 out 3 ok, but Spiller was robbed.
Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Reggie Wayne, and Wes Welker are all worthy picks. Johnson and Green are "no question" all stars but you could make a case for Demaryius Thomas over Welker or Wayne. But how do you leave off the team the guy (Welker) who led the conference in receptions (110)? Well, you ask which player was more impressive this season out of Welker, Thomas, and Wayne. Thomas and Wayne answer the bell in that category. In comparison to Welker, Thomas and Wayne both had more yards, a higher yard per catch average and over 20+ catches of 20 yards or more. Welker had 11. Despite a stellar season again, Welker is only the 5th best receiver among this lot and should unfortunately be left off the roster.
Analysis: Switch Denver's Thomas for New England's Welker and all would be well.
Brandon Myers, Dennis Pitta, Jermaine Gresham, and Owen Daniels all had solid years but the selections of Rob Gronkowski and Heath Miller are good ones. Gronkowski only played in 10 games and maybe that should disqualify him but despite that he had slightly overall better numbers than the other tight ends except Miller. Imagine what Gronk would have done with another 4 or 5 games on his resume.
Analysis: No arguments.
NFCQB: Yards apparently don't mean as much this year. Drew Brees, Mathew Stafford, and Tony Romo lead the conference in yardage but none were selected. And I think it's true that Brees and Stafford really didn't have great years despite the yardage. They played from behind a lot and in the case of Brees I think not having his coach around and having to make up for a terrible defense led to a down year for him personally. Many QBs would kill for his down year. 4700+ yards passing, 39 TDs, 62% completions. Those are great numbers. And yet I'll bet Brees wouldn't argue that Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Robert Griffin III had better seasons. Ryan had 4,400+ yards and 31 TDs and a passer rating of 100. Granted, passer rating isn't always the best measure for QBs (see Andrew Luck) but check out who's at the top of the ratings each year and you'll notice most of the good QBs have high ratings. Rodgers has the highest rating this year with 106.2, with 3,900+ yards and 35 TDs. With teams that also did well, Rodgers and Ryan had great personal years. Griffin may be debatable for the Pro Bowl since Romo has led his team to the exact same record, has 7 more TDs than the rookie and 1,500 more yards passing. He does have more interceptions and a lower rating and it's really the excitement level that gives Griffin the edge. Romo and Griffin had comparable years in many ways but Griffin had the wow factor. In fact, rather than Romo it may be Russell Wilson that has more of an argument to challenge Griffin on the all-star roster. The Seattle rookie has done many of the things that Griffin has in terms of being new to the league and producing some great wins and memorable plays. Pete Carroll clearly made the right choice on his QB and Wilson may end up being the best rookie of the class down the road. It will be fun to watch what happens in the years to come.
Analysis: Good choices with Griffin slightly debatable.
RB: Adrian Peterson has me setting my DVR each week just so I can watch him. I could care less about the Vikings but I figure Peterson will do something awesome each week. He didn't disappoint. He has nearly 1,900 yards with a chance for over 2,000 and the possibility of breaking Dickerson's record in his last game. That tells you all you need to know. He has had one of the best years ever for a running back. His TDs are down (11) but that's the result of an offense that doesn't get him close to the goal line much. He has to do his damage from afar. And boy did he. He has a 6 yard per carry average and and his number of 20+ yard runs is amazing. He had 23 of these type of runs. C.J. Spiller was 2nd with 12. He had 11 more than anyone else!
Marshawn Lynch is a no brainer for the Pro Bowl as well. He's 2nd in yardage to Peterson (nearly 1,500 yards) and he just runs through and around defenders. They call him the Beast and it fits.
Frank Gore had a great year (1,100 yards, 4.8 yard per carry) but this is definitely a controversial pick. Alfred Morris had a fantastic rookie season with more yards than Gore (1,400+) and a yard per carry average that was similar (4.7). They both have 7 TDs and have been critical for the success of their team. Gore seems to get the nod due to experience and reputation. Even rookie Doug Martin has some better numbers (1,300+ yards, 9 TDs) and a respectable 4.5 yards per carry.
Analysis: Peterson and Lynch are obvious selections but Morris should get the call instead of Gore.
WR: Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the league and is pretty much unstoppable. His numbers are ridiculous (1,800+ yards, 117 receptions). He has 39 receptions of over 20 yards. The next closest guy in the conference was Vincent Jackson with 23. If it wasn't for Megatron's year we would be talking about Brandon Marshall more (1,400+ yards, 11 TDs). Marshall is a great talent and if he has his head on straight (which he doesn't always have) he is one of the best in the business. Johnson and Marshall are easy to call for this roster but the next two selections of Victor Cruz (82 receptions, 1,040 yards, 9 TDs) and Julio Jones (76 receptions, 1,142 yards, 10 TDs) are more debatable. They had great years but Dez Bryant's season was better than both of these guys (88 receptions, 1,311 yards, 12 TDs). Next to Calvin Johnson, Bryant may be the most feared guy in the league when he's on. Even Roddy White has a better case than his teammate Julio Jones as White has more catches (87) and yards (1,309). Vincent Jackson also has a case here as he is 3rd in the conference with 1,300+ yards. He didn't have as many receptions (66) due to a more inept offense but when he caught them, he caught them deep (19.3 yards per catch....3 more yards than his closest competition).
Analysis: Johnson and Marshall are automatic but Cruz and Jones should be replaced with Dez Bryant and Roddy white.
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, and Jimmy Graham were the class of this conference. Witten had 103 receptions and over 900 yards. Gonzalez had over 800 yards and 88 catches. Jimmy Graham could make a case for the roster with nearly as many yards as Gonzalez and the same number of TDs (8) but he has about 10 receptions less. With nearly identical numbers to Gonzalez, Graham deserves consideration but not the nod. Tony Gonzalez has said he's done after this year. He's crazy. He should play at least a couple of years more and see if he can't get a ring.
Analysis: Good picks.
Overall: Fun to debate the picks but the actual game is a joke and I won't be watching. A football all-star game doesn't work because to play it competitively and make it watchable you also create a game where the risk of injury is too great. Nobody wants to see Adrian re-injure his knee or Payton Manning end his career with another neck injury over a meaningless game. They should just do skill competitions and call it good.