Ian O'Brien's 2010 Pro Bowl Ballot

Ian O'BrienCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 27:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts is pictured during the NFL game against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Manning and many of the starters were pulled from the game in the second half and the Colts went on to lose their first game of the season 29-15.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(Starters listed in bold, x indicates injured, and y indicates alternate.)




QBPeyton Manning, Colts; Philip Rivers, Chargers; Tom Brady, Patriots

Obviously, Manning should start his 10th career Pro Bowl. The Colts' 14-0 record and Manning's numbers don't lie. He has thrown 33 touchdowns and is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when he retires.

Rivers is enjoying a great season with the Chargers, having won nine in a row and very possibly earning a first-round bye. Rivers has thrown 25 touchdowns and has developed great chemistry with Vincent Jackson.

Brady has had somewhat of a shaky season, but he did excellent against the Jaguars yesterday. His rating was near perfect, and he completed 88 percent of his passes. He has 28 touchdowns on the season, and the Patriots clinched the AFC East title.

Just Missed: Vince Young, Titans; Matt Schaub, Texans


RBChris Johnson, Titans; Cedric Benson, Bengals; Ray Rice, Ravens

Johnson is the best RB in the NFL in my book, so step aside, Adrian. Johnson has 1,872 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, and he has greatly contributed to the Titans' amazing second half, along with Vince Young.

Benson is taking himself off the NFL busts list after his 2009 breakout season. He has 1,251 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and the Bengals have gone from being one of the worst teams in the NFL to AFC North champions. 

Rice leads NFL RBs in all-purpose yards. He has 1,269 rushing yards and 683 receiving yards. If it weren't for him, the Ravens' offense would be completely worthless, since the passing game is struggling with no reliable receivers other than Derrick Mason.

Just Missed: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars


FBLe'Ron McClain, Ravens

McClain is a great rusher and blocker. He has served as a great blocker for Ray Rice, and he is very reliable at the goal line.


WRAndre Johnson, Texans;  Reggie Wayne, Colts; Wes Welker, Patriots; Brandon Marshall, Broncos

Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL, despite not getting the most headlines like Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald. He has 95 catches and 1,504 yards for nine touchdowns. He consistently puts up big numbers, and he is a must-start.

Wayne is finally getting the recognition he deserves, now that Marvin Harrison has retired. You can always count on him to get at least 90 catches (maybe even 100) and 1,200 yards. He has 10 touchdowns this season and should start across from Johnson.

Welker may be the greatest NFL player in history to go undrafted. Ever since he joined the Patriots, he has always put up 100 catches. He is much more deserving of a Pro Bowl spot than Randy Moss, who has been slacking. He has 122 catches and 1,236 yards for four touchdowns.

Marshall is on pace to reach the 100-catch milestone for the third consecutive season with 93 on the season. He has 1,081 yards and will likely reach 1,200 like the past two seasons (1,325 in 2007, 1,268 in 2008). And who could forget his record-setting game of 21 catches, 200 yards, and two touchdowns?

Just Missed: Randy Moss, Patriots; Chad Ochocinco, Bengals; Santonio Holmes, Steelers; Vincent Jackson, Chargers

TEDallas Clark, Colts; Antonio Gates, Chargers

The starting AFC tight end is a very tough pick, but I decided that Clark should start because the Colts are undefeated, and he has more catches and touchdowns than Gates. He has 89 catches and 997 yards for 10 touchdowns. 

Gates deserves to start as well, but, with Clark in the AFC, the talent level is extremely high. Gates, like Welker, is arguably the greatest undrafted NFL player ever. The Chargers just clinched a first-round bye after winning 10 games in a row. Gates has 78 catches for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns.

Just Missed: Heath Miller, Steelers; Zach Miller, Raiders

TRyan Clady, Broncos;  Michael Roos, Titans; Joe Thomas, Browns

Clady anchors possibly the best offensive line in the NFL and may be the best tackle in the NFL. The Broncos have a great line, and Clady has proven to be a prize pick. He helped inflate Jay Cutler's stats before he got traded to the Bears.

The Titans have an amazing offensive line, too. Roos is an elite tackle just like Clady, and he has helped contribute to Vince Young's comeback season and Chris Johnson's huge season.

Thomas may be in the worst situation possible. He picks up pretty much all the slack for the Browns' offensive line, and the Browns still can't win games because Brady Quinn is a terrible QB and their defense allows too many points. But Thomas can't do anything about that. He still deserves a Pro Bowl roster spot for his excellent play.

Just Missed: Michael Oher, Ravens; David Stewart, Titans


G—Alan Faneca, Jets; Kris Dielman, Chargers; Ben Grubbs, Ravens

The Jets have an amazing offensive line and may be the best line in the NFL. (Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a broken record.) Faneca was a big loss for the Steelers, and he has been to eight Pro Bowls in a row, and the NFL should make it nine.

Dielman, like Faneca, is one of the highest-paid guards in the NFL. He was undrafted in 2003, but he broke out in 2007, was named a Pro Bowl alternate, and he started after the 2008 season.

The Chargers have dominated in their 10-game winning streak. Rivers is having an MVP-caliber season, and Dielman's excellent blocking and battering has helped a lot. 

Grubbs is one of the very few guards to ever be drafted in the first round, and he has lived up to his hype. The Ravens have a great line, and he is their best lineman. He has made Ray Rice's success possible.

Just Missed: Logan Mankins, Patriots


CNick Mangold, Jets; Kevin Mawae, Titans

Mangold is the best center in the NFL, and he is another big part of the Jets' dominant offensive line. He's young and has a long career ahead of him. Mark Sanchez is very lucky to have a reliable blocker like Mangold, along with Faneca.

Mangold had only 0.5 sacks in his rookie year, and he was drafted in the first round and considered for Rookie of the Year. How often do you see that in a center? And he has continued his greatness and will be a Hall of Famer at the rate he's going.

Mawae is 38 and nearing retirement, and he has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career. Travis Henry would never have rushed over 1,000 yards with a line other than the Titans, and Vince Young, Chris Johnson, and LenDale White have had the best stats possible.

While they are all great players, their stats are a little inflated with a dominant offensive line to play behind. Mawae can perform just as well as Roos.

Just Missed: Jake Grove, Dolphins; Jeff Saturday, Colts


DEDwight Freeney, Colts;  Mario Williams, Texans; Robert Mathis, Colts

Freeney is one of the NFL's elite DEs. He consistently puts up sacks. He has 13.5 total on the season. The Colts have a powerful rush defense, and he deserves his fifth career Pro Bowl selection.

Williams is consistently proving wrong all the critics who berated the Texans for picking him instead of Reggie Bush. He has eight sacks, and the Texans' rush defense has improved over the course of the season ever since Williams started going on a hot streak.

Mathis is an underrated DE with Freeney seizing the spotlight. He has 9.5 sacks, and he has contributed to the Colts' dominant rush defense along with Freeney. The Colts are 14-0, and it takes more than just Peyton Manning to win games, and the defense has done its part.

Just Missed: Aaron Schobel, Bills; Shaun Ellis, Jets

DTCasey Hampton, Steelers;  Haloti Ngata, Ravens; Tony Brown, Titans

The Steelers have the No. 3 rush defense in the NFL, even with Aaron Smith out for the season. Hampton has anchored the defensive line, and he has 2.5 sacks, which is good for a defensive tackle. 

Ngata has contributed greatly to the Ravens' rush defense, and the talent level isn't very high for DTs this year, so Ngata deserves to start.

Brown is one of the most underrated DTs in the NFL, and he has done well in filling Albert Haynesworth's shoes, who isn't doing that great with the Redskins and is continuing to be a dumbass.

Brown has five sacks, and he is only behind Kevin Williams in sacks among DTs. The Titans' rush defense is doing well, too, which makes up for their terrible pass defense.

Just Missed: Domata Peko, Bengals


OLBElvis Dumervil, Broncos;  James Harrison, Steelers; Tully Banta-Cain, Patriots

Dumervil leads the NFL with 17 sacks, is the best hybrid linebacker, and has transitioned to the Broncos' new 3-4 defense well, unlike most of the other Broncos' defensive linemen and linebackers. The Broncos should do all they can to re-sign him since he will be a free agent.

Harrison, last year's Defensive Player of the Year, is having another great season with 10 sacks. The Steelers' pass defense is struggling with Troy Polamalu injured, and that's why the Steelers aren't as dominant as last year, but Harrison is doing his part and deserves another trip to the Pro Bowl.

Banta-Cain is one of the greatest hybrid linebackers in the NFL, and he has 9.5 sacks. The Patriots made a great move in re-signing him, and the Patriots' mediocre defense would be poor without him.

Just Missed: LaMarr Woodley, Steelers; Joey Porter, Dolphins; Calvin Pace, Jets


ILBRay Lewis, Ravens; David Harris, Jets

Lewis is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, and he's still got it. He has 117 tackles, and the Ravens' defense continues to do very well with him on the team.

Harris isn't a big name, but he deserves a roster spot because he has 117 tackles and 5.5 sacks. The Jets have the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL, and Harris has been a big part of it.

Just Missed: DeMeco Ryans, Texans; Kirk Morrison, Raiders

CBChamp Bailey, Broncos;  Darrelle Revis, Jets; Leon Hall, Bengals; Johnathan Joseph, Bengals

Bailey continues to be one of the greatest CBs in the NFL, and the Broncos have the No. 2 pass defense. He can shut down even the best receivers. He isn't as dominant as he used to be, but he's still widely feared by wide receivers.

Revis is making a big name for himself. He's another big part of the Jets' top-ranked defense. He has six interceptions, and he deserves just as much publicity as Champ Bailey.

Hall is one of the most underrated CBs in the NFL, and he has six interceptions. The Bengals have improved a lot on defense, and Hall has been a big part of it.

Joseph is underrated just like Hall, and he has six interceptions as well. 

Just Missed: Cortland Finnegan, Titans

FSAntoine Bethea (y), Colts; Jairus Byrd (x), Bills; Ed Reed, Ravens

Reed is possibly the best safety in the NFL, and he has continued to dominate with his many interceptions. He did get injured in Week 12, but that should be long enough to qualify for a Pro Bowl berth.

Byrd had an incredible rookie year, but it has been cut short by a season-ending injury. I would have pegged him as a starter, but his injury is reportedly season-ending. He had nine interceptions in 14 games. He could have easily gotten double-digit interceptions. The Bills are a losing team, but they have the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL.

Bethea is my replacement for Byrd, and the Colts' outstanding defense wouldn't be where it is today without Bethea. He has four interceptions and has carried the Colts' secondary, despite Bob Sanders being the figurehead.

SSBrian Dawkins, Broncos

Dawkins isn't as dominant as he was with the Eagles, but he's still doing great. He has 100 tackles and two interceptions, and the Broncos' No. 2 pass defense was made possible by his free-agent signing.

Just Missed: Brandon Meriweather, Patriots; Dawan Landry, Ravens

KNate Kaeding, Chargers

Kaeding is the best kicker in the NFL. He can kick many field goals, and he has come through when he was needed. The Chargers won on Kaeding's winning field goal last week against the Bengals. He's 29-for-32 on FGs and 48-for-49 XPs.


PShane Lechler, Raiders

Lechler is very unfortunate to be on a losing team because he has a 51.1 punt average, and he punted a 70-yarder this season, and he has consistently punted very well in his career with the Raiders.

RSJosh Cribbs, Browns

Cribbs is super explosive. He has four return touchdowns, and he had two when the Browns beat the Chiefs, including a 103-yarder. He makes the Browns worth something in their otherwise terrible season.

STKassim Osgood, Chargers

Osgood makes most of the tackles on special teams for the Chargers, and they have won 10 games in a row.




QBDrew Brees , Saints; Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Brett Favre, Vikings

Brees is the clear-cut starting QB for the NFC. Even Saints haters can't argue that Brees is the greatest NFC QB. The Saints are 13-1, and Brees continues to post huge numbers. He has thrown for 4,288 yards and 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He gets my vote for MVP.

Rodgers is the most underrated QB in the NFL along with Rivers. He posted great numbers in his first year as a starter, and he has done even better his second year.

Now, the Packers are a winning team, they're headed to the playoffs, so no more excuses for saying that Rodgers isn't an elite QB. He has thrown for 4,199 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. That's tied with Favre for the lowest number in the NFL.

Favre has done very well with the Vikings, but he has been wearing down and throwing more interceptions than touchdowns in December, and it's not looking like he will perform well when it counts.

Plus, he would have struggled with the Packers' offensive line performance in the first half of the season. He has a great team around him, and Rodgers would do just as well, maybe better than him if he were the Vikings' QB.

Favre's age has caught up to him. He has thrown 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He did great in his two games against the Packers, but if they were to play each other a third time, Rodgers would do better than him. He deserves a Pro Bowl roster spot, but he's not better than Rodgers. He would've been in the past, but that's the past. 

Just Missed: Tony Romo, Cowboys; Donovan McNabb, Eagles


RBAdrian Peterson, Vikings; DeAngelo Williams, Panthers; Ryan Grant, Packers

Peterson has triggered the Vikings' excellent offense along with Favre, and he has 1,235 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He has been struggling recently, but his track record shows that he is an elite RB.

Williams is another elite RB, and he leads the Panthers' dominant rush offense while being assisted by Jonathan Stewart. They have had to carry the offense with Jake Delhomme having a terrible season, although Matt Moore has been filling in well.

Grant has had a great season with the Packers. He has 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Packers have a great offense with both Rodgers and Grant.

Just Missed: Steven Jackson, Rams


FBLeonard Weaver, Eagles

Weaver is having a career season, and Eagles fans are calling for him to get a contract extension. He has excellent blocking skills.


WRLarry Fitzgerald, Cardinals;  Sidney Rice, Vikings; DeSean Jackson, Eagles; Miles Austin, Cowboys

Fitzgerald is a clear starter with 94 catches for 1,075 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He isn't as dominant as last year in the Cardinals' NFC championship run, but he's still a reliable receiver that has helped the Cardinals win games.

Rice may be the biggest breakout star of the year, and he and Brett Favre developed great chemistry. He has 1,144 yards and five touchdowns. The Vikings have one of the best offenses in the NFL, and Rice is the No. 1 receiver on the team.

Choosing the second starter for the NFC was tough, but I had to go with Rice for his outstanding breakout season and the Vikings becoming an elite NFL team.

Jackson is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, and he had an amazing performance against the Giants. He has 1,120 yards and nine touchdowns, and the Eagles have been hot with his great performances. He's deserving of a Pro Bowl roster spot.

Austin is another breakout star receiver along with Rice, and Romo has found a No. 1 receiver he can rely on not named Roy Williams. He has 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's a clutch receiver, as he showed against the Eagles. 

Just Missed: Steve Smith, Giants; Greg Jennings, Packers; Donald Driver, Packers; Anquan Boldin, Cardinals; Steve Smith, Panthers

TETony Gonzalez, Falcons; Vernon Davis, 49ers

Gonzalez has continued to be a Pro Bowl-caliber TE since leaving the Chiefs. He leads NFC TEs with 80 catches and 837 yards for six touchdowns. His production has declined, but he's still one of the greatest TEs in the NFL.

Davis has had a big breakout season. He went from being a bust to an elite TE, and Mike Singletary did a great job in instilling discipline in him after he was lazy, which was why he wasn't producing his first three seasons in the NFL. He has 72 catches for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Just Missed: Brent Celek, Eagles; Jason Witten, Cowboys

TJammal Brown, Saints;  Jason Peters, Eagles;  Phil Loadholt, Vikings

Brown is one of the best tackles in the NFL, and the Saints have the top-ranked offense in the NFL. Their offensive line is a big part of their success, and Brown has been the anchor for the line.

Peters has done very well for the Eagles ever since being traded from the Buffalo Bills. With Stacy Andrews struggling, he has done great at holding up the left side of the line.

The talent level isn't that high this year for NFC tackles. Loadholt has had a great rookie year with the Vikings, and he has helped Brett Favre have a good season in a Vikings uniform, and Adrian Peterson is continuing to run well.

Just Missed: Kareem McKenzie, Giants


GSteve Hutchinson, Vikings;  Jahri Evans, Saints; Chris Snee, Giants

Hutchinson may be the best guard in the NFL. He used to be even more dominant, but he's still got it. The Vikings' offensive line has done very well this year, and Hutchinson has been the biggest part of it.

Evans has been brilliant with the Saints. Brees is having an MVP season, and he wouldn't be doing as well as he is without his powerful line, with the help of Evans, who is regarded as an elite lineman in the NFL. 

Snee continues to be one of the elite guards in the NFL, and he may be the best lineman on the Giants. He consistently blocks well for Eli Manning.

Just Missed: Josh Sitton, Packers

CJason Brown, Rams; Ryan Kalil, Panthers

Brown has improved the Rams' offensive line, and he is part of how Steven Jackson is having a great season and staying healthy. He was a great free agent signing.

Kalil is doing great with the Panthers, and their great offensive line contributes to the Panthers' rushing offense consisting of Williams and Stewart.

If the Panthers can get a good QB and a better defense, they could become Super Bowl contenders with what they already have in Kalil and the other offensive linemen.

Plus, Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah are both injured, so he carried the line yesterday against the Giants, as shown by Jonathan Stewart rushing for a whopping 206 yards.

Just Missed: Shaun O'Hara, Giants; Andre Gurode, Cowboys; Jeff Faine, Buccaneers 


DEJared Allen, Vikings;  Will Smith, Saints; Trent Cole, Eagles

Allen leads defensive linemen in sacks with 13.5, and he is the anchor of the Vikings' dominant rush defense. The Chiefs were really stupid to trade him. He has a Hall of Fame career ahead of him, and he is the best DE in the NFL.

Smith has 13 sacks, and the Saints' defense has improved significantly from last season. Soon, Will Smith will be a famous football name and not just a famous Hollywood name.

Cole has had a great season for the Eagles with 12.5 sacks, and the Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Just Missed: Julius Peppers, Panthers; Cullen Jenkins, Packers; Andre Carter, Redskins

DTKevin Williams, Vikings;  Ryan Pickett, Packers; Pat Williams, Vikings

Kevin Williams is the best defensive tackle in the NFL, and he is the heart of the Williams Wall. He leads NFL defensive tackles with six sacks, and the Vikings have one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the NFL with him in it.

Pickett is another underrated Packers player. The Packers have the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL, and Pickett has been a big part of it. He and B.J. Raji together provide amazing depth for the Packers.

Pat Williams is the other half of the Williams Wall, but he isn't as dominant as Kevin. He is on the decline, which is most likely due to his age. He is 37, but he is still performing well enough to make the Williams Wall feared by offensive linemen across the NFL.

Just Missed: Jay Ratliff, Cowboys; Jonathan Babineaux, Falcons

OLBDeMarcus Ware, Cowboys;  Clay Matthews, Packers; Brian Orakpo, Redskins

Ware is one of the greatest linebackers in the NFL. He didn't match his 2008 20-sack season, but he still posted 11 sacks, and the Cowboys are fifth in rush defense, so he definitely deserves a start.

Matthews is making a strong case for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he deserves to win the award, as he is on a winning team. He has 10 sacks for the Packers, and he stripped the ball from Adrian Peterson when the Packers played the Vikings. He's another part of the Packers' great defense. 

Orakpo is another front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but is unfortunate to be on a losing team, so that will likely cost him the award. He has 11 sacks and is a lone bright spot in an otherwise weak Redskins' rush defense.

Just Missed: Chad Greenway, Vikings; Lance Briggs, Bears 

ILBPatrick Willis, 49ers;  Jon Beason, Panthers; Nick Barnett, Packers

Willis is the best linebacker in the NFL. He leads the NFL in tackles with 147, and he is the leader for the second time in three seasons, placing 2nd in 2008. He has four sacks to go with his tackles. 

Beason is another elite linebacker in the NFL. He has 134 tackles and three sacks. He played very well against the Giants on national TV yesterday, along with his other consistently brilliant performances, so he deserves to start.

Barnett had a season-ending injury last year, and that hurt the Packers' defense significantly. They now have the No. 2 defense in the NFL, and he has 100 tackles and four sacks. This shows how important he is to the Packers' defense.

Just Missed: Karlos Dansby, Cardinals; Bradie James, Cowboys


CBCharles Woodson, Packers; Asante Samuel, Eagles; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cardinals; Sheldon Brown, Eagles

Woodson is a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, and he and Matthews could easily have the Packers sweep the defensive awards. He has eight interceptions with two of them returned for touchdowns, and he leads the Packers' powerful pass defense, which is ranked 11th but leads the league in interceptions.

Samuel is tied for the league lead with nine interceptions. He is having a Hall of Fame career, and he is the heart of the Eagles' defense. The Patriots are probably wishing they still had him.

Rodgers-Cromartie is having an incredible second season. He has six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Although the Cardinals' pass defense has been inconsistent, Rodgers-Cromartie has done very well for himself.

Brown is the most underrated CB in the NFL. Asante Samuel has all the spotlight for the Eagles, but Brown deserves just as much. The Eagles are third in the league in interceptions, and Brown has consistently performed well for the Eagles.

Just Missed: Mike Jenkins, Cowboys; Chris Gamble, Panthers


FSDarren Sharper, Saints; Nick Collins, Packers

Sharper is tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, but he leads the NFL with three interception return touchdowns, including a 99-yarder. The Saints' incredible season has been contributed to a lot by Sharper.

Collins has six interceptions. He made his first Pro Bowl last season, and he deserves another trip.


SSAdrian Wilson, Saints

Wilson is easily the best strong safety in the NFC. He has five interceptions, and he may be the best strong safety in the whole NFL.


KRyan Longwell, Vikings

Longwell has had a great season with the Vikings. He's 22-for-24 on field goals and 46-for-46 on extra points.


PBen Graham, Cardinals

Graham has been very valuable to the Cardinals. Out of his 82 punts, 39 have gone inside the 20-yard line. His average is 47.0.


RSPercy Harvin, Vikings

Harvin is a very explosive runner, and he is having an incredible rookie season. He has returned 36 kickoffs for 1,017 yards and two touchdowns. One of them was returned for 101 yards.


STDesmond Bishop, Packers

Bishop has done great on special teams for the Packers. He leads the team in special teams in tackles. The Packers' special teams has had a lot of success with him.