New Orleans Saints shut out in All-Pro voting

Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Paul Kruger (99),defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and free safety Vonn Bell (48) celebrate after they get a safety against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Paul Kruger (99),defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and free safety Vonn Bell (48) celebrate after they get a safety against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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I’m not here to champion New Orleans Saints players making the NFL’s All-Pro lineup.  When you go 7-9 AND play in a small market, you get what you get…

THAT SAID….

The NFL All-Pro list is the most prestigious honor one can receive.  The list is more or less singular at the very top – there is only one person at every position selected as the top talent in the league. It differs from Pro Bowl balloting quite a bit.  The Pro Bowl is a three-part deal, where the fans, coaches, and players all get a portion of the vote.

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The Pro Bowl vote can be manipulated.  But the All-Pro vote is cast by a panel of 50 Associated Press writers nationwide.

No votes for Drew Brees shows me that the 50 people who vote on this committee either don’t watch football enough or never get to watch Drew Brees play. I like Derek Carr, but he gets one vote over Brees? Hard to understand. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan deserves the nod as the NFL All-Pro quarterback, and Tom Brady, despite not playing 4 games this year, is always hard to beat as he was second in the voting. Aaron Rodgers got his votes on based on Green Bay’s late-season winning streak.

All these things are fine, but any way you slice it, Brees’ absence from even getting a vote is quite the snub…

Unfortunately, Zach Strief’s performance trailed off just a bit over the last quarter of the season. At one time, he was the highest rated right tackle in the game. I think the flexed game with Tampa Bay in Tampa hurt him. He didn’t perform well there, and that stuck out on a national stage in voters’ minds. Still, in all, he had a solid season. One of his better ones as a pro.

Cam Jordan is a victim of two things.

1. The defensive end position is no longer seen as a defensive end position – it’s the “edge rusher” thing that messes him up. Jordan was an ELITE defensive end this year. He was the 3rd rated “edge defender” in the league. But the league values sacks, pressures, and hurries over just playing the position and making tackles.

2. The position is dominated by guys like Khalil Mack, Von Miller, and J.J. Watt—guys with either extreme speed or brute strength.  It also helps that those guys play in large markets.  Jordan has the double whammy of not only playing in a small market, but also not being a “speed” guy or “strength” guy in particular.  He’s just a solid mix of both, who’s worked his way to being one of the best at his job.

Jordan was arguably the most complete defensive end this year.

Khalil Mack is definitely a better pass rusher, and plays the position well. Mack received 46 votes, Vic Beasley, Jr. got 30.  Beasley identifies as an outside linebacker, not a defensive end, so there again you have an issue. And as an edge rusher, Beasley ranked 38th through Pro Football Focus.  He only had 39 tackles, but he had 15.5 sacks. Next closest vote getters?  The four guys who tied for the second team spot with 4 votes each.  Jordan got 2.

So… you can be one of the top 3 guys at your spot, according to Pro Football Focus’ rankings, and still get outvoted by a guy who finished 14th on that same poll.  Eagles’ Brandon Graham deserves a nod as the only person between Mack and Jordan on Pro Football Focus’ list, who was a second-teamer.

There are so many issues with the voting for All-Pro, and it’s very important because often in players’ contracts there are bonuses for making these teams.  What is the difference between and edge defender (a title I prefer, because it encompasses more) and an edge rusher?  And what about the guys like Jordan and Graham who aren’t just pure pass rushers, but also play that position?  They just get left out of the vote?  With a situation like with Beasley, you make a case that you could have 4-5 linebackers on the All-Pro team. On top of the 3 LB’s already making the team, you have two in as edge rushers.

Other questionable issues:

Rob Gronkowski got a vote, despite playing in only 6 games this season.  That person’s vote should be taken from them.
Not saying there should have been anyone on the team from Detroit, but it’s questionable when a city that’s had a team for scores of years doesn’t have a voter.  Obviously, there were no voters from New Orleans either.

Why is there a “flex” spot on the roster?  And there are 2 corners and 2 safeties, but there’s also a defensive back… What does that mean?  Are we playing fantasy football?

As a cornerback, Chris Harris had 4 votes, and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie had 1.  Aqib Talib was the number one cornerback.  But as defensive backs, Chris Harris led the way with 14 votes and DRC had 6.  Talib had one.  What part of this makes sense?

Next: One on One with safety Vonn Bell

If the Saints wanted players on the All-Pro roster, they should have won more games.  And if the makers of the AP All-Pro team want to be taken seriously, their voting shouldn’t look like the NFL’s officials “what is a catch” rule….

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