NFL Pro Bowl 2014 Votes

I’ve watched countless preseason games over the years. In fact, I haven’t missed a single Week 1-3 exhibition contest in more than six seasons. Despite this, I’ve never seen the Pro Bowl. Not one second of it.

The Pro Bowl is just so meaningless, and unlike the preseason, you can’t learn anything from it. The players seldom try hard because they don’t care who wins, so why even bother tuning in?

Roger Goodell recently discussed canceling the Pro Bowl. I wouldn’t be against that, but I still think Pro Bowl rosters should be announced. Perhaps those who qualify would get a free trip to Hawaii or something.

I’ve been asked many times over the years to post whom I wanted to see in the Pro Bowl, given that I make a habit of criticizing the voters for sending undeserving players to this game and leaving better ones out of it. So, here are the my 2014 NFL Pro Bowl votes (players listed alphabetically by position):

Quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Saints; Peyton Manning, Broncos; Cam Newton, Panthers; Philip Rivers, Chargers; Matthew Stafford, Lions; Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are obvious. Cam Newton definitely deserves a spot for his improved play, so look for more arrogant Superman poses in Hawaii. I won’t have to because I won’t be watching the game.

Philip Rivers needs to be rewarded for bouncing back from two miserable seasons. Many thoughts Rivers would be done for good, but he has proven everyone wrong.

Matthew Stafford is having another dominant season. Russell Wilson doesn’t have the passing yardage, but despite the fact that he has no receivers to work with (prior to Percy Harvin’s return), he just finds a way to win.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush, Lions; Jamaal Charles, Chiefs; Matt Forte, Bears; Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks; LeSean McCoy, Eagles; Adrian Peterson, Vikings

Reggie Bush has been awesome in Detroit’s offense, and he’s been able to stay healthy for a change. Jamaal Charles deserves MVP consideration, though I wouldn’t vote for him over Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Ruskell Wilkens.

There isn’t much to be said about the other four running backs on this list. I kind of wanted to include Knowshon Moreno, but these six deserves to be ahead of him.

Wide Receivers: A.J. Green, Bengals; DeSean Jackson, Eagles; Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers; Andre Johnson, Texans; Calvin Johnson, Lions; Brandon Marshall, Bears; Demaryius Thomas, Broncos; Wes Welker, Broncos

These receivers fall under two categories. The first are wideouts who are producing monstrous numbers with their starters. This list is comprised of A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson and the two Bronco players.

The second category are receivers who are still playing extremely well despite dealing with backup quarterbacks. DeSean Jackson (Nick Foles), Vincent Jackson (Mike Glennon), Andre Johnson (Case Keenum) and Brandon Marshall (Josh McCown) are too good not to be weighed down by any signal-caller.

Fullback: Bruce Miller, 49ers; Anthony Sherman, Chiefs

Both Bruce Miller and Anthony Sherman are doing a great job of blasting open huge holes for their running backs.

Tight Ends: Jordan Cameron, Browns; Vernon Davis, 49ers; Jimmy Graham, Saints; Julius Thomas, Broncos

Jordan Cameron has made huge improvements this year and emerged as a force in Norv Turner’s offense. Vernon Davis, meanwhile, has made a huge impact when on the field in terms of Colin Kaepernick’s ability to be functional. Kaepernick’s QBR has a 60-point differential depending on whether Davis is playing or not.

Jimmy Graham is an unstoppable force, and Julius Thomas is quickly becoming one.

Offensive Tackles: Brandon Albert, Chiefs; King Dunlap, Chargers; Jordan Gross, Panthers; Joe Staley, 49ers; Joe Thomas, Browns; Trent Williams, Redskins

Unlike No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, Branden Albert has played well this year. And staying in the AFC West, I never imagined I’d vote King Dunlap into the Pro Bowl, but he has been a major reason why Philip Rivers has improved this year.

The other four tackles are mainstays. They’re all having dominant seasons.

Guards: Jon Asamoah, Chiefs; Ben Grubbs, Saints; Evan Mathis, Eagles; Josh Sitton, Packers; Louis Vasquez, Broncos; Larry Warford, Lions

Another lineman for the Chiefs; Jon Asamoah has been excellent this year, as has Ben Grubbs. Evan Mathis is the best guard in pro football.

Josh Sitton and Louis Vasquez are both talented veterans, while Larry Warford has been good enough, in my opinion, to qualify for the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Centers: Nick Hardwick, Chargers; Ryan Kalil, Panthers; Chris Myers, Texans, Manny Ramirez, Broncos

Nick Hardwick has been the one constant for Philip Rivers throughout the years, so it’s great for him that the team is playing well again. Ryan Kalil and Chris Myers have managed the game well for young quarterbacks this season, while Manny Ramirez has been awesome as a replacement at center, which was once seen as a big problem area for the Broncos when J.D. Walton was lost for the year.

Defensive Ends: Cameron Jordan, Saints; Charles Johnson, Panthers; Robert Quinn, Rams; J.J. Watt, Texans; Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets; Mario Williams, Bills

Cameron Jordan is one of the main reasons the Saints are so potent defensively this year. Charles Johnson has terrorized quarterbacks all season, and Robert Quinn has even been more effective in doing so.

J.J. Watt continues to be a beast, but he hasn’t been the top 3-4 defensive end in 2013. That distinction belongs to Muhammad Wilkerson. Mario Williams has 11 sacks.

By the way, I should note that I really wanted to include DeMarcus Ware and Greg Hardy on this list, but I just couldn’t fit them in.

Defensive Tackles: Jurrell Casey, Titans; Jason Hatcher, Cowboys; Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers; Dontari Poe, Chiefs; Randy Starks, Dolphins; Ndamukong Suh, Lions

Jurrell Casey has been a monstrous force, making great improvements each season. Jason Hatcher has made a smooth transition into the 4-3, while Gerald McCoy is the top 4-3 defensive tackle, outside of Geno Atkins, who would be on this list if he weren’t out for the year.

Dontari Poe is the best nose tackle in the NFL. Randy Starks has made himself a ton of money this year, while Ndamukong Suh is who we thought he was.

Inside Linebackers: Kiko Alonso, Bills; Derrick Johnson, Chiefs; Sean Lee, Cowboys; Patrick Willis, 49ers

This is was difficult. There were five inside linebackers I wanted to vote for. I ended up leaving Daryl Washington off, only because he missed the first four games of the season. However, it could be argued that Washington is the top inside linebacker in the NFL, so anyone who wants to slot him over one of these four definitely has a strong case.

Outside Linebackers: Lavonte David, Buccaneers; Tamba Hali, Chiefs; Justin Houston, Chiefs; Robert Mathis, Colts; Von Miller, Broncos; Brian Orakpo, Redskins

I realize that it may seem hypocritical that I’ve put Von Miller on this list and kept Daryl Washington off the other one, but I didn’t sacrifice a Pro Bowl spot for anyone else who was worthy. If there were four slots available as there are for inside linebackers, I probably wouldn’t have voted for Miller.

At any rate, Lavonte David has been a beast for the Buccaneers. And speaking of beasts, the two Chiefs deserve to be in. Robert Mathis is threatening the single-season sack record, while Brian Orakpo (along with Ryan Kerrigan) is the lone bright spot in Washington’s defense.

Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes, Dolphins; Joe Haden, Browns; Captain Munnerlyn, Panthers; Patrick Peterson, Cardinals; Darrelle Revis, Buccaneers; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Aqib Talib, Patriots; Alterraun Verner, Titans

Brent Grimes has been terrific coming off his torn Achilles. Joe Haden has been a true shutdown cornerback, as usual. Captain Munnerlyn had a rocky debut in 2013, but has been lights out ever since.

Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman are obvious choices, but the man sandwiched between them may seem like an odd selection. Darrelle Revis has been great this year when playing man coverage. He hasn’t been very good in zone, but it’s not his fault that his coaches were too dumb to know how to utilize him early on.

Aqib Talib has been great this year and has earned himself a ton of money. The same could be said about Alterraun Verner, who will also be hitting the market in March.

Strong Safeties: Devin McCourty, Patriots; T.J. Ward, Browns

Ugh. Why is the NFL still separating strong and free safeties? This is 2013.

Free Safeties: Jairus Byrd, Bills; Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Jairus Byrd missed a ton of time this season, but he’s still better than any other free safety on this ballot, save for Earl Thomas.

Kickers: Nick Folk, Jets; Steven Hauschka, Seahawks

Nick Folk hasn’t missed a field goal all year (23-of-23). Steven Hauschka was no good from just one, but that attempt happened to be blocked.

Punters: Brandon Fields, Dolphins; Shane Lechler, Texans

I don’t really care about punters. I’m just picking the guys with the highest average.

Return Specialists: Devin Hester, Bears; Darren Sproles, Saints

I voted for Devin Hester because of all the memories. Darren Sproles doesn’t have a great average, but this is a good way to get him into the game without voting him in as a running back.

Special-Teamers: Justin Bethel, Cardinals; Robert Golden, Steelers

Two of the better special-teams aces.

Follow me @walterfootball.

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