We noted earlier today that the Associated Press has declined to release the full list of 50 members of the media who vote on the NFL’s All-Pro team. But we have been able to identify some of the voters behind some of the more surprising votes.
The oddest choice on the entire AP All-Pro team may have been listing Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch as a fullback, rather than a running back. The one voter who put Lynch at fullback was Boomer Esiason, the former NFL quarterback who now works as a TV and radio commentator.
Another former NFL quarterback, Troy Aikman, stood out with another odd vote: Aikman was the only one of the 50 voters who didn’t place a punter on his All-Pro team. We’ve been told Aikman “preferred not to vote for a punter.”
And in yet another sign that great former players don’t alway make for great All-Pro voters, we have James Lofton’s vote at guard. Lofton, the Hall of Fame wide receiver who’s now a broadcaster, voted for Seattle’s James Carpenter as an All-Pro guard. Carpenter is just not a good guard and that vote is hard to understand.
Evan Mathis of the Eagles is a good guard, but it was surprising to see that he got two All-Pro votes even though he spent half the season on short-term injured reserve. No matter how good Mathis was on the 50 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps that he played, did he really deserve to be chosen ahead of guards like Marshall Yanda of Baltimore and Zack Martin of Dallas, both of whom also played at a very high level while playing 99 percent of their teams’ offensive snaps? Hub Arkush and Nick Pavlatos thought so, because they were the media members who voted for Mathis.
Green Bay’s Clay Matthews got five votes as an All-Pro outside linebacker, which was not surprising. But it was surprising that Matthews also got one vote as an All-Pro inside linebacker. Matthews did get some playing time at inside linebacker, but according to Pro Football Focus, Matthews played more on the outside than on the inside in all 16 games this year, and overall Matthews played 84 percent of his snaps at outside linebacker. It’s hard to see how a player who spends so little time on the inside can get an All-Pro vote over linebackers who play on the inside full-time, but John Czarnecki voted for Matthews at inside linebacker.
Another voter who cast an outside-the-box vote was Dan Pompei, the one voter who kept Antonio Brown from being a unanimous selection at wide receiver. Pompei voted for Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson, both of whom had very good seasons as well, at wide receiver.
For NFL players, there’s no higher honor at the end of the season than to be named the best player at your position in the league, and for the most part the players on the All-Pro team are the best players at their positions. But it’s disappointing, when going through the vote counts, to get the feeling that some voters don’t take the job of All-Pro voter seriously enough to do the necessary homework to really learn which players are deserving. The AP could stand to overhaul its list of voters, which would give the league a better list of All-Pros.