2014 Pro Bowl: Breaking Down the AFC All-Stars
The NFL has made a big deal this year that for the first time the Pro-Bowl rosters won’t be differentiated based on conference, as if that’s all of a sudden going to make the game watchable. So, for old time’s sake, let’s give you our version of each conference’s all-star team, starting with the AFC:
QB: Peyton Manning, Denver – This is an absolute no brainer; Manning had one of the greatest seasons of all time, and now he has his team in the Super Bowl.
RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City – Charles carried the Kansas City offense for much of the year, having another great season as one of the league’s best backs.
RB: Knowshon Moreno, Denver – There wasn’t a lot of depth at running back in the AFC this year, but Moreno was an essential part of the Denver offense as a runner, pass catcher, and pass blocker, so he gets the nod as the second AFC running back.
WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland – Despite a revolving door at quarterback in Cleveland, Gordon led the league with over 1,600 yards receiving averaging close to 20 yards per catch.
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver – It was a close call between Thomas and A.J. Green, but even with so many other options for the Broncos on offense, Thomas managed to finish 4th in the NFL in receiving yards.
TE: Julius Thomas, Denver – No other tight end was more dangerous or created more mismatches than Thomas, who was an integral part of Denver’s offense.
OT: Joe Thomas, Cleveland – Thomas was a rare bright spot for the Browns this year, turning in another solid season.
OT: Branden Albert, Kansas City – Albert didn’t allow himself to be overshadowed by last year’s first overall pick and had another great season.
OG: Logan Mankins, New England – There’s no doubt that he’s one of the best guards in the game.
OG: Louis Vasquez, Denver – The Denver offensive line kept Manning on his feet all season and Vasquez was a big part of that.
C: Alex Mack, Cleveland – Mack is one of the best centers around and he could be a hot commodity on the free agent market this year.
DE: Mario Williams, Buffalo – Williams turned in one of the best seasons of his career with 13 sacks.
DE: Chandler Jones, New England – In his second season, Jones has emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
DT: Dontari Poe, Kansas City – Poe finally broke out this year and was a big reason why the Chiefs were dominant on defense the first half of the season.
DT: Muhammed Wilkerson, New York Jets – Wilkerson had a great season and was a big part of the defense that made the Jets competitive this season.
OLB: Tamba Hali, Kansas City – With 11 sacks, Hali had another great season as one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.
OLB: Robert Mathis, Indianapolis – No Dwight Freeney, no problem; Mathis turned in a league high and career high 19.5 sacks in 2013.
MLB: Kiko Alonso, Buffalo – Alonso was 3rd in the NFL in tackles in his rookie season and regularly made plays all over the field.
CB: Aqib Talib, New England – Talib being able to shut down the opposing team’s top receiver was a huge reason why the Patriots continued to be one of the top teams in the AFC this year.
CB: Alterraun Verner, Tennessee – If you’re watching the games, you’ll see that Verner may have taken over the title of best cornerback in the NFL.
SS: Eric Berry, Kansas City – Injuries have derailed him in the past, but Berry turned in another outstanding season as one of the best defensive backs in the game.
FS: Jairus Byrd, Buffalo – There are a few options for this spot, but Byrd gets the nod after an impressive 2013 campaign and a key figure on an underrated Buffalo defense.