To be an NFL All-Pro the members of the media covering the season must vote you onto the team, making it a very prestigious honor when determining career accolades, especially with Hall of Fame voting. Here I look to predict the first and second team All-Pros this coming season.
First Team: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
With the addition of Wes Welker to the passing game, a definite upgrade over Brandon Stokley, Peyton Manning should continue to put up monster numbers. Another year away from his career threatening neck injury should allow Manning to attain more "zip" to his passes as well, only making him more lethal. Ryan Clady is also back to protect Manning's blind side, giving him plenty of time to deliver the football. Manning also plays in a weak division, which should allow him to further torch defenses.
Second Team: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Most people know I am very high on the Atlanta offense and Matt Ryan as a quarterback, but this prediction also hinges on some factors outside of Atlanta. The injury to Bryan Bulaga and loss of Greg Jennings will affect Aaron Rodgers, and the growing pains, though overstated, of the New England Patriots will bring Brady's numbers a little down. Both the Packers and Patriots will depend more on the running game as well, allowing Ryan to sneak onto his first All-Pro team.
First Team: CJ Spiller, Buffalo Bills; Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
CJ Spiller is going to put up breakout numbers this season. His carries are set skyrocket after his 6.0 YPC season last year and the inexperience of projected starter EJ Manuel. Spiller also catches the football out of the backfield and can be used all over the field.
Peterson is a workhorse and will put up another high quality season. Though I see his numbers taking a hit coming off one of the greatest seasons a running back has ever had, they will still be good enough to put him on another All-Pro team.
Second Team: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs; Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Charles is lightning quick and can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. People don't realize he had 1,509 yards rushing last year with 5.3 YPC. I think Charles has first team potential and talent, but with Andy Reid on the sidelines and Alex Smith brought into Kansas City, the Chiefs will look to pass a little bit more. Reid is known to use the passing game more than he has to, and they will negatively affect his star player.
Arian Foster is a touchdown machine that plays for a very good team. Foster, who's numbers due to usage will dip a little, is still extremely effective when healthy. He is a master at finding small creases and avoiding solid contact. Foster catches the ball enough to give him this spot as well.
First Team: Jerome Felton, Minnesota Vikings
This spot has belonged to Vonta Leach, who has paved the way for Ray Rice and Arian Foster, but Felton will replace him this year. Another year of Adrian Peterson putting up big numbers will gain Felton more respect among the media and praise of his peers. Felton has the toughness and blocking ability to flatten linebackers and open crevices for the monster behind him.
Second Team: Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens
Leech is loved by the media, players, and fans and will continue to get votes as an All-Pro. Leech has exceptional strength and build, and can actually put fear into an opposing defender's eyes when he comes through a hole. Rice often strays too far away from Leech, who if you follow, can make you a star.
First Team: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions; Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Calvin Johnson had 122 receptions and 1,964 yards receiving last year, the most yards in a season for a receiver all time, and Matthew Stafford had a "down" year. I think Johnson will have 10+ touchdowns next season and over 2,000 yards receiving. He's a freak and a future Hall of Famer.
Brandon Marshall is coming off 118 receptions and 1,508 yards himself. With the addition of offensive guru Mark Trestman as the Bears' Head Coach and his continued chemistry with Jay Cutler, Marshall will continue to put up huge numbers. He is always near the top of the league in receptions and will continue to dominate opposing defenses.
Second Team: AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals; Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
AJ Green, already an All-Pro, will continue that trend in his third season. Even with Andy Dalton's inconsistency Green has put up huge numbers as his go-to target. Green is one of the league's best route runners, has enough speed to stretch the field, and the toughness to go over the middle. He has excellent hands and will have his best season in his third year, a common trend among NFL wide outs.
Julio Jones, taken in the same draft as AJ Green, will continue his own upward trend. He stretches the field as well as anyone in the game and is one of the most athletic receivers in football. I am already very high on Matt Ryan as an elite quarterback and another season with Jones will provide the necessary increase in receptions and yardage to take Jones to his first All-Pro team.
First Team: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Jimmy Graham is the best athlete at the position, and in a pass-happy offense he sees a very large amount of targets. At 6'7", Graham is a massive red zone target and weapon in the passing game. With his basketball background, Graham has exceptional body control, especially in the air. Graham is not a solid blocker, but his value in the passing game overshadows this inefficiency especially in the Saints offense. With Sean Payton back, Graham will put up similar numbers to those of 2011, earning him his second All-Pro selection.
Second Team: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten is a complete tight end. He has great chemistry with Tony Romo, and though he lacks great speed, he is one of the position's top route runners and has the vision to find creases on the field to make big plays. He consistently puts up solid numbers and is a solid blocker, which helps in the run game. Witten will continue to build his legacy with another great season.
First Team: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns; Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos
I think Joe Thomas is the best pass blocker in the entire game. He has exceptional footwork and the best hands of any offensive tackle in football. He is a technician and a pleasure to watch. One of the problems is that he plays in Cleveland, a team that cannot showcase all he does as a player.
Clady, who earned himself a big contract this offseason, will repeat as an All-Pro protecting for Peyton Manning. Clady will get well deserved recognition for keeping Manning upright, and as the Denver offense begins to put up big numbers, the media will more and more recognize Clady as a part of it.
Second Team: Duane Brown, Houston Texans; Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers
Brown might be the most complete tackle in football. Not only does he do an excellent job protecting Matt Schaub's blindside, but he is great in the running game. Brown is very quick at the tackle position which helps in the zone scheme that the Texans use in the run game. There's a great chance he repeats as a first team All-Pro, but I'm higher on Thomas and Clady this season.
Staley, a physical tackle, will benefit from protecting one of the breakout stars of the season in Colin Kaepernick. Plenty of eyes will be on the 49ers, as they project to be one of the league's best teams, and Staley will get the recognition he deserves as a repeat All-Pro.
First Team: Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers; Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
Iupati is such an asset in the running game because of his versatility. He is extremely physical and aggressive, yet has some of the best feet at the position. Iupati can pull and lead the way better than anyone in the game right now. The scary thing is that he's still getting better.
Yanda is of a similar mold, yet is an exceptional pass blocker as well. Yanda has the strength to drive people off the line and the quickness to pull and lead in the run game. Yanda has the physicality and technique to dominate the line of scrimmage.
Second Team: Logan Mankins, New England Patriots; Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans
Watching Mankins as a fan of New England has been a pleasure. Mankins is willing to get dirty, but is the best moving guard in the game. Mankins has the ability to open holes and come through them to put a hat on linebackers and spring the running back. He has the ability to move to either side, as he will readily pull or trap to each side of the line.
Warmack was my #1 NFL draft prospect. He is the true form of a road grader. He has the ability to dominate from the guard position and was the most impressive player on the Alabama National Championship team. He has the size and physicality to overwhelm defenders. Though he is not as athletic a specimen as some people like in the NFL these days, he's an excellent football player. He's a future first team All-Pro to me.
First Team: Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns
Mack has the size, athleticism, and smarts to captain an offensive line. Mack is extremely consistent and uses leverage well. With Trent Richardson progressing as a back and Brandon Weeden as a passer, Mack will get more noticed for how good a center he is.
Second Team: Max Unger, Seattle Seahawks
Unger is the best offensive lineman on a team known for its power running game with Marshawn Lynch. Unger is extremely quick and is known for being able to make blocks at the second level. He was a first team All-Pro last season and will have another solid year.