After posting a regular All-Pro team, I decided that was a pretty boring post. Anybody can make an All-Pro team with Peyton Manning at QB. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to pick a team of relatively obscure players (some of them don’t even start for their teams!) that I think can take on any team with Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, and Chris Johnson on it. This is kind of like Gregg Easterbrook’s All-Unwanted team, but even he still picks Drew Brees for QB every year because he meets the definition of “unwanted” (the Chargers let him go in favor of Phillip Rivers). I wanted a little more of a challenge. And if you’re ever watching some random game on TV and don’t know any of the players, all of these guys are fun to watch, so keep an eye out for one of them.
Coach: Chan Gailey. BUF
Chan Gailey is master of the tin-can offense. Nobody in the league is better at designing an effective offense with whatever random talent he has around.
QB Kyle Orton, DEN, (Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF)
WR Brandon Lloyd, DEN (Steve Johnson, BUF)
WR Hakeem Nicks. NYG (Steve Breaston, ARI)
TE Dustin Keller, NYJ (Tony Moeaki, KC)
The more I watch him play, the more Orton reminds me of Tom Brady, back when Brady was really good. Lloyd plays the “Randy Moss” position about as well as Moss did himself. Josh McDaniels is a phenomenal offensive coordinator; he’s been a terrible head coach. As a Redskins fan I’m terrified of Nicks becoming the next Andre Johnson.
RB Peyton Hillis, CLE (Jamaal Charles, CK, Mike Tolbert, SD)
FB Vonta Leach, HOU (Mike Sellers, WSH)
Two of my running backs are “converted” fullbacks who are kicking ass and name taking in the power running game. The third is one of the most explosive backs in the league, who is inexplicably 2nd on the depth chart behind Thomas Jones. Both fullbacks are huge hitters, and Sellers is also just huge at 280 lbs. Sellers is underutilized by the Redskins, but Leach’s blocking is a big part of the Texans offense
LT Jake Long, MIA (Trent Williams, WAS)
LG Carl Nicks, NO, (Eric Steinbach, CLE)
C Nick Mangold, NYJ (Matt Birk, BAL)
RG Jahri Evans. NO, (Jake Scott, TEN)
RT Michael Oher, BAL (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, NYJ)
I didn’t change my offensive line from my first All-Pro team because nobody knows offensive linemen anyway, so anybody I pick is mostly an unknown.
I never thought it would actually happen, but the 3-4 has now overtaken the 4-3 as the most common defensive base in the NFL. I’ve picked two defensive fronts, one for 4-3, one for 3-4.
Coach: Jim Schwartz, DET
In only two seasons, Schwartz has just about finished cleaning up the mess that Matt Millen left for him. Not bad.
DE Trent Cole, PHI
DT Ndamukong Suh, DET
DT Jason Jones, TEN
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DET
The best 4-3 defensive ends in the league are Julius Peppers and Jared Allen, so they’re off the list. Same with Mario Williams. Trent Cole is rather unheard off outside of Philadelphia, I think, and he’s a rare DE that can rush the passer and play the run at a high level. Suh and Jones round out a still-badass line.
OLB Jon Beason, CAR
MLB Barret Ruud, TB (Rolando McClain, OAK)
OLB Michael Boley, NYG (Gino Hayes, TB)
This was the hardest position to pick; there are few good linebackers not playing in a 3-4!
Coach: Dick LeBeau, PIT
DE Justin Smith, SF
NT Aubrayo Franklin, SF
DE Ziggy Hood, PIT
Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata is the best 3-4 lineman in the NFL, so I’m forced to leave him off this list. Still, that’s a pretty damn good line.
OLB Clay Matthews, GB (Tamba Hali, KC)
ILB Patrick Willis, SF (London Fletcher, WAS)
ILB Lawerence Timmons, PIT (D.J. Williams, DEN)
OLB Brian Orakpo, WAS (LaMarr Woodley, PIT)
Have you heard of these guys? I don’t really know who the casual fan knows about. James Harrison was the defensive MVP a couple years ago, so he’s off. I thought about leaving off Willis, Orakpo, and Matthews. There is quite a drop-off in talent after those first four guys, with Woodley the only slap-up guy among a bunch of solid but unspectacular.
CB Corey Webster, NYG (Antonio Cromarte, NYJ)
CB Brandon Flowers, KC (Cortland Finnegan, TEN)
SS LaRon Landry, WAS, (Brian Dawkins, DEN)
FS Oshiomogho Otogwe, StL (Louis Delmas, DET)
Hey look, an All-Pro secondary that left off Nnamdi Asomugha, Darrelle Revis, and Troy Polamalu! Landry is playing as well as Polamalu or anyone else anyway; just think of all those years he lost because his coaches were holding him back. Dawkins is aging and fighting injuries, but he plays the same role as Polamalu and Landry for his defense, maybe just one half a step slower. And those cornerbacks are pretty bad-ass too.
Coach Al Everest, PIT
PR Devin Hester, CHI (Brandon Banks, WAS)
KR Leon Washington, SEA (Brandon Banks, WAS)
Kassim Osgood, Lorenzo Alexander
Banks may be Washington’s MVP so far this year. After four frustrating years of watching Antwaan Randle-El fair catch every punt every game every week, Banks has really demonstrated the difference a few yards and a few points from the special teams can make. Osgood and Alexander are long-time special teamers who’ve been getting some starting reps in their offenses and defenses, respectively, and are playing well for both units.
So next time you’re watching a football game, keep an eye on one of these players, and you might discover a whole new nuance of playing football!