Quarterback: Tom Brady, Patriots; Drew Brees, Saints; Peyton Manning, Broncos; Cam Newton, Panthers; Philip Rivers, Chargers; Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Brady, Brees, Manning, Rivers, and Wilson will get no arguments from me. I voted for all 5 of them. I had Nick Foles over Cam Newton. I like Cam Newton. I thought the criticism he took early in his career was baseless, but there’s no way he had a better year than Nick Foles. I don’t think Newton has significantly improved from last year to this year. He was underrated last year. Now he might be overrated. Of course, Foles didn’t make it onto the ballot until late November because he wasn’t a week 1 starter, so you can’t blame the public for not voting him in.
Wide receiver: Antonio Brown, Steelers; Dez Bryant, Cowboys; Josh Gordon, Browns; A.J. Green, Bengals; Andre Johnson, Texans; Calvin Johnson, Lions; Brandon Marshall, Bears; Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Wide receiver might have been the toughest position for me to pick as there were at least 12 guys I thought were deserving for 8 spots. Actually 6 of the guys I voted for made it, with only Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson getting left out. I didn’t vote for Demaryius Thomas, but you can’t argue he doesn’t deserve this. The only one I have a slight issue with is Dez Bryant. He wasn’t one of the 12 or so guys I was choosing from. He definitely had a good year, but Jackson and Jeffery would have been better options.
Tackle: Branden Albert, Chiefs; Jason Peters, Eagles; Tyron Smith, Cowboys; Joe Staley, 49ers; Joe Thomas, Browns; Trent Williams, Redskins
Staley, Thomas, and Williams were guys I voted for. Jason Peters and Tyron Smith definitely got strong consideration from me. The only one that’s kind of weird is Branden Albert. He’s not having a bad year or anything, but I think Jordan Gross and Andrew Whitworth have definitely been better players this season.
Guard: Jahri Evans, Saints; Ben Grubbs, Saints; Mike Iupati, 49ers; Logan Mankins, Patriots; Louis Vasquez, Broncos; Marshal Yanda, Ravens
Louis Vasquez and Ben Grubbs were guys I voted for. The rest is a little off, but it consists mostly of guys who have been really good in the past, but just aren’t having as good of seasons this year. The only one that’s glaringly bad is Mike Iupati, who is having a very average season, struggling through injuries. Josh Sitton and Evan Mathis are easily the best guards in the NFL this season, in my opinion. They’re major snubs. Larry Warford is a big omission as well.
Center: Ryan Kalil, Panthers; Alex Mack, Browns; Mike Pouncey, Dolphins; Max Unger, Seahawks
Max Unger is another player who has been very average in an injury plagued season. He’s been better in the past through. Alex Mack and Mike Pouncey are both guys I voted for and Ryan Kalil gets no argument from me. Chris Myers should have been in this group, but it’s not a huge deal.
Tight end: Jordan Cameron, Browns; Vernon Davis, 49ers; Jimmy Graham, Saints; Julius Thomas, Broncos
He’s not definitely a top-4 tight end or anything, but how did Tony Gonzalez not get voted in? He played well enough and it’s weird to have the Pro-Bowl without him in his final season. I would have voted him over Jordan Cameron for that reason, but Cameron is hardly a bad choice. The other 3 are guys I voted for.
Running back: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs; Matt Forte, Bears; Frank Gore, 49ers; Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks; LeSean McCoy, Eagles; Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Charles, Lynch, McCoy, and Peterson all got my vote. Matt Forte was right on the border, so I’m not going to argue that. Frank Gore is a pretty weird choice, as he ranks close to last in elusive rating and only averages 2.1 yards per carry after contact. Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray were both better runners this season.
Fullback: Marcel Reece, Raiders; Mike Tolbert, Panthers
I had Anthony Sherman instead of Marcel Reece, but I’m not going to argue fullbacks. Reece has had a very good season once again.
Defensive end: Greg Hardy, Panthers; Cameron Jordan, Saints; Robert Quinn, Rams; Cameron Wake, Dolphins; J.J. Watt, Texans; Mario Williams, Bills
Jordan, Quinn, Wake, and Watt all got my vote. Greg Hardy was right on the border. Mario Williams has had a very solid season, but I just think there were better choices. Calais Campbell is the best player on one of the best defenses in the NFL in Arizona and has 10 sacks and 17 quarterback hits from the 5-technique defensive end spot. Mario Williams has 14 sacks and 7 hits, but he’s not nearly the run player Campbell is and he plays from an easier spot to get to the quarterback
Interior lineman: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers; Haloti Ngata, Ravens; Dontari Poe, Chiefs; Justin Smith, 49ers; Ndamukong Suh, Lions; Kyle Williams, Bills
Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, and Kyle Williams were all very well deserved and got my vote. Dontari Poe didn’t have a bad year at all, but I feel like there were better choices. Damon Harrison from the Jets is the best nose tackle in the NFL this season. Justin Smith and Haloti Ngata get in on name value. Jurrell Casey is the biggest snub among defensive tackles. Also, I voted in all 3 of the Jets’ defensive lineman, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Damon Harrison and not one made it. I don’t get it. Why do people think the Jets are by far the best run stopping team in the NFL, allowing 3.3 YPC?
Outside linebacker: John Abraham, Cardinals; Ahmad Brooks, 49ers; Tamba Hali, Chiefs; Justin Houston, Chiefs; Robert Mathis, Colts; Terrell Suggs, Ravens
Jurrell Casey was a big snub, but Lavonte David was the biggest. He’s probably a top-5 DPOY candidate in my book and I’d argue he’s the best linebacker in the entire NFL, even over media darling Luke Kuechly. John Abraham and Terrell Suggs have had good seasons, but you can’t tell me they are better football players than Lavonte David. Ahmad Brooks is probably the weirdest pick. The San Francisco Bay Area is known for stuffing the ballots for all-star games and that’s really the only reason he’s going to Hawaii. The only one of these 6 I actually voted for was Robert Mathis, though I’m not going to argue Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Hali almost got my vote and Houston only didn’t get my vote because he was hurt. However, he would probably be a top-3 defensive player of the year candidate if he hadn’t gotten hurt and he’s still PFF’s #1 ranked 3-4 outside linebacker despite missing significant time. Thomas Davis, Brian Orakpo, and Elvis Dumervil are other big omissions.
Inside/middle linebacker: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers; Vontaze Burfict, Bengals; Luke Kuechly, Panthers; Patrick Willis, 49ers
I’m not going to argue anything here except how Vontaze Burfict got voted in as a middle linebacker when he was on the ballot as an outside linebacker and has played outside linebacker all season. All 4 of these guys got my vote, though Burfict did at outside linebacker. My middle 4th middle linebacker was Derrick Johnson, who is having a very good season. Stephen Tulloch and Karlos Dansby are also having very good seasons at a loaded middle linebacker position this year.
Cornerback: Brandon Flowers, Chiefs; Brent Grimes, Dolphins; Joe Haden, Browns; Patrick Peterson, Cardinals; Darrelle Revis, Buccaneers; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Aqib Talib, Patriots; Alterraun Verner, Titans
Grimes, Peterson, Revis, Sherman, and Verner all got my vote. Joe Haden got strong consideration. Aqib Talib has been in and out of the lineup too much for my taste and I feel like he got voted in based on a strong start to the season. Brandon Flowers is having by far the worst season of this bunch. Oddly enough, he was a big snub last season, so I guess this balances out, but he’s one of PFF’s lowest ranked cornerbacks this season, allowing 66.7% completion and a 103.9 QB rating. Vontae Davis (50.6% completion and PFF’s highest coverage grade) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (NFL best 44.1% completion) were big omissions.
Free safety: Jairus Byrd, Bills; Earl Thomas, Seahawks; Eric Weddle, Chargers
I don’t understand why 3 free safeties and 3 strong safeties are going when we were only able to vote for 2, but okay. Thomas and Weddle both got my vote and Byrd only didn’t because he missed significant time. No arguments here, just confusion.
Strong safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs; Kam Chancellor, Seahawks; Troy Polamalu, Steelers
Devin McCourty, for my money, is the best safety in the game. PFF agrees. He was on the Pro-Bowl ballot as a strong safety even though he’s played the vast majority of the season at free safety, playing within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage on a league low 9.1% of snaps. He’s a big omission. Eric Berry got my vote and TJ Ward would have gotten my vote if I were allowed to vote for 3 or if I were allowed to vote McCourty at free safety, so he’s a snub. Kam Chancellor and Troy Polamalu are both having very good seasons though.
1. Lavonte David (Tampa Bay)
2. Jurrell Casey (Tennessee)
3. Devin McCourty (New England)
4. Evan Mathis (Philadelphia)
5. Calais Campbell (Arizona)
6. Vontae Davis (Indianapolis)
7. Josh Sitton (Green Bay)
8. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver)
9. Jordan Gross (Carolina)
10. Damon Harrison (NY Jets)
11. Andrew Whitworth (Cincinnati)
12. TJ Ward (Cleveland)
13. Brian Orakpo (Washington)
14. Larry Warford (Detroit)
15. Elvis Dumervil (Baltimore)
One note: I thought it was very interesting my top-15 snubs all play for different teams. No real pattern.