Atlanta Falcons: 10 Players That Deserve the Most Pro Bowl Consideration
With players on both sides of the ball leading projected statistical categories for their positions, it would not be shocking to see the Falcons with as many as seven Pro Bowl players. We'll explore the top 10 options for the Falcons to send to Hawaii this season.
QB Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan has been in the discussion for MVP voting this season and rightfully so. He's led the Falcons to four comeback wins this season in the fourth quarter and has the Falcons sitting pretty at 9-1 going into their 11th game.
His overall leadership on the field is only surpassed by his much-improved passing ability. He's tied for third in completion percentage, second in yards per game and tied for sixth in the NFL in touchdowns.
WR Roddy White
Roddy White has been a one-of-a-kind player his entire career. He's just 21 catches, 207 yards and two touchdowns away from his sixth straight season of at least 83 catches, 1,153 yards and six touchdowns—a feat only previously completed by Jerry Rice and Torry Holt.
However, statistically, White is on pace for a much better year. He's on pace for a 100-catch, 1,500-yard and seven-touchdown season. If he has a year that he is projecting out to have right now, it would be the best year in his career.
The craziest part about that is he is also on pace to be targeted much less than previous years. The 148 projected targets would be his fewest since 2008 and show that he can truly be productive even if he isn't targeted close to 180 times a year.
TE Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez is an ageless wonder and the best tight end of all time. He's also having arguably the best season of his career. The 102 projected catches would tie his best year, while the projected 1,050 yards would be the fourth or fifth best season.
And if he gets the projected 10 touchdowns by the end of the year, it will be the fourth time in his career that he has done that as well. Those stats would also put him just behind Jason Witten in the NFC for yardage and catches and would make him an obvious choice for his 13th Pro Bowl selection.
DE John Abraham
In terms of sacks, John Abraham is in the lead for all NFC defensive ends and is tied for sixth overall for all NFL defensive players with 9.0 on the year. He's also created some of the most pressure of any defensive lineman in the league not named J.J. Watt.
However, Watt is in the AFC and as the best defensive end pass-rusher in the NFC, Abraham deserves to have a spot in Hawaii. Add in the fact he's a defensive leader and the combined versatility of him being able to play end, linebacker or even tackle and Abraham should be on his fifth trip to Hawaii this year.
LB Stephen Nicholas
Sometimes you don't need to be a statistical leader to make it to the Pro Bowl. That's the case for the Falcons linebackers pairing. Stephen Nicholas has been a tremendous player as both a starting strong-side linebacker and the primary nickel linebacker with Weatherspoon.
His all-around play this season is indicative of how you can see his worth. While he isn't a tackling leader, he has 60 tackles. But the big-play ability that Nicholas has is what makes him worth the selection.
He has one fumble forced, two sacks, one interception and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Add in his three pass deflections and his solid coverage to the mix, and the Falcons have one of the better all-around strong-side linebackers in the league. He may not make the Pro Bowl, but he deserves it.
LB Sean Weatherspoon
Sean Weatherspoon is arguably the best 4-3 outside linebacker in the entire NFC. He's a solid run defender with 23 stops and has been an excellent coverage player. However, he truly thrives as a blitzer on the edge with three sacks at this point in the season.
He's also forced a fumble and knocked away two passes. But the big thing that makes "Spoon" worth the Pro Bowl selection is his leadership on and off the field. While he was injured the past three games, he was on the sidelines cheering his guys on.
When the defense was off the field, he was acting like a coach trying to help Akeem Dent fill in his role by showing him where he would make mistakes on the field. The 24-year-old may miss a Pro Bowl this season, but the Cornelius Bennett clone will get into a bunch by the time he hangs up his cleats.
S Thomas DeCoud
Thomas DeCoud deserves to be the NFC representative for free safety because he's the best coverage safety in the NFL today. While, yes, he is a sure tackler and someone who can play well in the run game, DeCoud's new role as the center fielder has brought out the best in his play.
He's only been targeted 16 times all season and allowed a completion percentage of just 43.8 percent—or seven catches. Of the nine incompletions, four of the passes have been intercepted while three have been knocked away.
He also hasn't been burned for a touchdown and has allowed just 83 yards all season—good for 5.19 yards per target. This gives him a passer rating allowed of just 20.6. It's the lowest allowed by any safety who has played over 75 percent of the snaps this season.
What helps his case even more is that over the past four games, quarterbacks have targeted him just once, a 5-yard completion in the Cowboys game. For his coverage skills alone, DeCoud deserves to be in the Pro Bowl.
S William Moore
William Moore is an all-around beast at the safety position. While Thomas DeCoud is the true center fielder every team loves to have for free safety, Moore is the free-roaming, hard-hitting back breaker teams love to have at strong safety.
He's excellent against the run and has saved multiple plays from becoming easy touchdowns. But the biggest thing Moore does that makes him worthy of a Pro Bowl is his unique ability to separate a receiver from the ball as they are coming down with a catch.
By doing this, he not only kept the momentum in favor of the Falcons, they could very well be 7-3 instead of 9-1 without those two big hits. Game-winning plays are a way to earn a Pro Bowl in my eyes.
K Matt Bryant
Matt Bryant has been one of the best kickers in the NFL over the past three years in terms of his overall percentage. He was top five in the NFL for field-goal percentage in 2010 and 2011, and this year he has been the most clutch kicker in the league.
On game-winning attempts versus both Carolina and Oakland, his kicks didn't just go right through the middle of the uprights. They also had another 5-10 yards on them each. That's the kind of stone cold player you want in that situation.
His 25-for-28 on the year includes a perfect 3-for-3 from 50 yards or more and his only misses are from 43, 37 and 43 yards respectively. Including two in a game against the Cowboys that looks to be more of an off day than anything else.
This veteran kicker definitely deserves a Pro Bowl bid before he finishes his career though, and hopefully, it's this year.
ST Kroy Biermann
While he's listed as a special teams player for the Pro Bowl voting, Kroy Biermann plays a bit of everything for the Falcons. He's been lined up at linebacker, at defensive end, at defensive tackle and also as a gunner and blocker on the special teams units. As JTFalcon804 tweets, the only way to get more out of him is this:
His all around versatility combined with his overall heart and talent level deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. Biermann has endeared himself to Falcons fans because of these qualities. And with the kind of versatility, a special team designation for him would be perfect as he is one of the players who can do it all.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.