|Yes, almost all of these guys had solid seasons. But were they the best at their position? (US Presswire)|
Jeff Saturday, C, Packers
Look, it's not Jeff Saturday's fault that he's immensely popular, although he had a lot to do with getting benched last week. So, yeah, it's a surprise to everyone -- Saturday included, we'd imagine -- that he's on the NFC squad ahead of the Vikings' John Sullivan or the Redskins' Will Montgomery.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
Welker had had another solid season, breaking 1,100 receiving yards for the fifth time in six years. But in terms of value per play, he ranked 33rd among all NFL wideouts, according to Football Outsiders. Put differently: Brandon Stokley was third. And while we're not advocating for Stokley, teammate Demaryius Thomas should've made the AFC roster ahead of Welker. Thomas ranked sixth in FO's total value metric, behind Calvin and Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Eric Decker, and Dez Bryant.
(Yes, we see Decker's name there, too. Not only was he fourth in total value, he was eighth in value per play. Still, we're taking Thomas. But if we're going to look the other way when talking about Welker, who is clearly the beneficiary of playing with Tom Brady, then we have to do the same thing with Thomas and Decker, right?)
Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens
By all accounts, Ngata had an off-year. We're guessing some of that had to do with battling shoulder and knee issues for most of the season. And while his numbers don't look much different from previous years -- 51 tackles, 5 sacks -- he hasn't dominated the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the Bills' Kyle Williams is a victim of circumstance; Buffalo isn't on anyone's radar, especially this time of year, but he's regularly a headache for interior offensive lines and probably earned a free trip to Hawaii. Then there's the Titans' Jurell Casey who ProFootballFocus.com describes as "more consistent" than Vince Wilfork, and a player who "produces week-in and week-out."
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
Victor Cruz had a good year -- 82 catches, 1,042 yards, 9 touchdowns -- but was he better than Bryant or White, or more dynamic than Randall Cobb? Heading into Week 17, Cruz ranks seventh in the NFC in receiving yards and receptions (behind two tight ends headed to the Pro Bowl -- Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez). And Football Outsiders ranks Cruz 32nd in total value among all NFL wideouts and 42nd in value per play. Plus, as Judge points out, "Cruz's yards per catch dropped significantly from 18.7 a year ago, when he deserved to go, to 12.7 this season."
LaRon Landry, S, Jets
The Jets' defense was easily the best part about the 2012 team, but that had little to do with LaRon Landry. And yet he made the Pro Bowl over the Chargers' Eric Weddle, the Bills' Jairus Byrd and the Browns' T.J. Ward. We think this tweet pretty much sums it:
Eric Weddle didn't make Pro Bowl roster. Weddle calls it "a slap to the face." Teammate Quentin Jammer: "Pro Bowl is a [expletive] fluke."— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) December 26, 2012