Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brad Gagnon's 2006 Pro Bowl starting lineups

The NFL will announce the starting Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday. Brad Gagnon has his teams picked.


QB: Peyton Manning - Even Palmer's numbers and Brady's mystique don't get them past this obvious choice.
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson - No comment necessary.
FB: Lorenzo Neal - Send LT with his lead man.
WR: Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson - You could make the argument for BOTH Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and Laveranues Coles and Javon Walker will make a push, but the best numbers - especially when needed - lie here.
TE: Antonio Gates - Numbers couldn't be more identical to Tony Gonzalez, except the eight touchdowns.
OT: Jonathan Ogden, Shane Olivea - The beast Ogden is obvious. Olivea has been helped by LT, but he's still leading the way at most important line position for the most productive back in the game. Proof he matters: the numbers put up in garbage time by backup Michael Turner. Oh yeah, and Philip Rivers has only been sacked 24 times.
OG: Alan Faneca, Will Shields - Like Ogden, the sheer presence of Faneca (who can also play tackle if need be) gets him by. Shields led the way for LJ all year despite the loss of some of the most important parts to that KC line.
C: Jeff Saturday - Best part of a great offensive line in Indy.
K: Matt Stover - 23-25 speaks for itself.

Reserves at skill positions
QB: Carson Palmer, Tom Brady (sorry Rivers)
RB: Larry Johnson, Rudi Johnson (sorry Willie Parker, I'm filling this team with Johnsons)
WR: Coles, Harrison (Sorry Wayne, Walker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans)
TE: Gonzalez

DE: Jason Taylor, Aaron Schobel - The league's sack leaders. Both been money for years, the latter just hasn't been noticed yet.
DT: John Henderson, Vince Wilfork - With Marcus Stroud missing a chunk of the year, Henderson stepped up and helped the Jags defense to smother running backs all year long. Wilfork is simply a star for the Pats.
OLB: Shawne Merriman, Adalius Thomas - Merriman was incredible despite missing four games due to a steroids suspension. Thomas stood out on an already ridiculous defense in a contract year.
ILB: DeMeco Ryans - You might not have heard of him yet, but look at the stats! Maybe my choice for rookie of the year, too.
CB: Champ Bailey, Rashean Mathis - The biggest names put up the biggest numbers and gave up barely any big plays.
S: Ed Reed, Deon Grant - Grant has capitalized on a rough year from Troy Polamalu and the Steelers defensively.
P: Shane Lechler - If not for the secondary showing some strength, he'd be the only Raiders representative.
KR: Justin Miller - Two touchdowns and tied for the league-high in average yardage.


QB: Drew Brees - Almost less of a debate than the LT claim.
RB: Steven Jackson - Tiki Barber will be in this spot, but Jackson's productivity has been better.
FB: Mack Strong - The one constant in a rough year for Seattle's offense.
WR: Terrell Owens, Steve Smith - Donald Driver, where'd you come from to make it close?
TE: Alge Crumpler - Despite the three first-round picks, Crumpler has been the Falcons best receiver this season.
OG: Steve Hutchinson, Chris Samuels - Hutchinson needs no explanation, and did the job for Chester Taylor and, to a lesser extent, Brad Johnson that he did for Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle. As for Samuels, he led a Redskins attack that, despite losing star back Clinton Portis for the season, was one of the best rushing teams in the league.
OT: John Tait, Jammal Brown - Tait, paired with the man directly under this, was the key to keeping Rex Grossman alive (which, for some Bears fans, is a good thing). Brown will not be voted a starter, but the Saints line has been almost perfect at both protecting Brees and paving the way for Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. Brown, who had to make the transition from right to left tackle before the season, has been a huge part of the success, and deserves to represent the surprising group in Honolulu.
C: Olin Kreutz - Like Saturday, will be a Hawaii constant for some time still.
K: Robbie Gould - Slowed down as of late, but still had a quite a streak going and leads the league in points (among kickers, something we have to clarify nowadays the way LT goes).

Reserves at skill positions
QB: Marc Bulger, Tony Romo (that's how bad NFC quarterbacks were this season)
RB: Tiki Barber, Brian Westbrook (really really really sorry Frank Gore, but Jackson, Barber and Westbrook are not guys that can be left off the list. Gore will be the snub of the year)
WR: Driver, Torry Holt (no problems there)
TE: Jeremy Shockey

DE: Julius Peppers, Will Smith - Don't tell me Aaron Kampman or Leonard Little put the fear into opposing quarterbacks like these guys do.
DT: Tommie Harris, Kevin Williams - I don't care how many games he missed because of the hamstring injury, Harris downright dominated and stood out on the Bears defense. Pick a Williams, either Williams. Either way, Kevin and Pat deserve to be there for the Vikings.
OLB: Lance Briggs, Lofa Tatupu - That's three straight 100-tackle seasons for Briggs. Tatupu has had a bit of a down year after that spectacular rookie season, but he's here by default.
ILB: Brian Urlacher - He may never win it, but is consistently a major part of MVP debates. This year is no exception.
CB: Lito Sheppard, Ricky Manning - Sheppard has missed some time, but has been one of the best players on the field when healthy in that Eagles secondary. Manning is, of course, the token Bears representative. If he's not here, expect Charles Tillman to be.
S: Adrian Wilson, Dwight Smith - Roy Williams is still the hardest hitting safety and has five picks in Dallas, but Wilson's numbers have been simply incomparable in Arizona. Smith has been the bright spot on one of the league's worst pass defenses.
P: Mat McBriar - The best total and net average in the NFL.
KR: Devin Hester - The best season for a kick returner ever. Period.

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