Evan Silva

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NFL Midseason All-Pro Team

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I wrote NBC Sports' Midseason All-Pro team this year, and figured it was worth posting on Rotoworld, as well. Here you go:

 

Quarterback Peyton Manning, Broncos.

Forget Comeback Player of the Year. Let's talk MVP. Getting better by the week, Manning has strung together five straight games of 290-plus yards and three touchdown passes, and his NFL-best 69.5 completion rate would be a career high. If Manning has arm-strength limitations at age 36 after four neck surgeries, they aren't affecting his on-field play. He's a top-three quarterback in passing yards, yards per pass attempt, touchdowns, and 20-plus-yard completions. Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger also warranted consideration for midseason All-Pro QB.

Running Back Adrian Peterson, Vikings.

Ferocious power. Space-creating jukes. Ankle-rattling cuts. Freak of nature Peterson tore his ACL and MCL with damage to both meniscuses late last December. Not even a full year removed from a supposed career-threatening injury, Peterson is the best runner in football again. He leads the NFL in rushing yards and 20-plus-yard runs, and only underutilized C.J. Spiller out in Buffalo has averaged more yards per attempt among tailbacks. Hitting his stride midyear, Peterson has 767 yards and four TDs on his last 115 carries (6.67 YPC). He's shredded the top-11 run defenses of Tampa and Seattle in consecutive games. Peterson is also on pace for a career-high 47 catches.

Running Back Arian Foster, Texans.

The league leader in offensive touches -- and a fantasy footballer's dream -- Foster is on pace for 384 rushing attempts, 1,694 all-purpose yards, and 22 touchdowns, at times literally carrying the Texans' offense on his back. Although Foster's yards-per-carry average (4.01) is down behind an offensive line mixing and matching on the right side, Foster remains the most valuable offensive player for the AFC's premier team. No NFL player finds pay dirt with more regularity. Another plowhorse back having a terrific season, Marshawn Lynch was strongly considered over Foster.

Fullback Henry Hynoski, Giants.

Hynoski has touched the ball only nine times on offense, but he's emerged as a difference-making lead blocker for a Giants ground attack that ranks in fourth in rushing scores, eighth in yards-per-carry average, and sixth in 20-plus-yard runs. Giants G.M. Jerry Reese has struck gold the past few years with undrafted free agents. Hynoski, linebackers Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger, and wide receiver Victor Cruz have all been unearthed by Reese off the post-draft scrap heap.

Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne, Colts.

For over a decade, Wayne served as strictly an "X" receiver in vanilla Colts offenses, running down the left sideline bookended by Marvin Harrison and Pierre Garcon. Used much differently by new playcaller Bruce Arians, Wayne's career has been rejuvenated at age 34. A "move" receiver now, Wayne roams all across the formation and plays heavy snaps in the slot. More difficult to double team, Wayne leads the league in receiving yards and first-down catches, and ranks second in receptions and 20-plus-yard grabs. He's rookie sensation Andrew Luck's go-to guy.

Wide Receiver Percy Harvin, Vikings.

Harvin quietly bypassed Wes Welker as the NFL's best slot receiver down last year's stretch. He's finally getting credit this season. Generating MVP buzz, Harvin has racked up 112 catches, 1,496 offensive yards, and 11 all-purpose touchdowns over his last 16 games. He leads the league in receptions this year, doing the heavy lifting in Minnesota's otherwise anemic pass offense. Harvin is the most versatile receiver in football, and no one is tougher to tackle. If the All-Pro team had a three-wideout set, Harvin would man the slot with A.J. Green at flanker and Wayne at split end.

Tight End Rob Gronkowski, Patriots.

Gronk emerged as the league's most physically dominant receiving tight end last season. This year, his game has reached new heights as a punishing run blocker. New England ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts, and Gronkowski is wiping defensive ends and linebackers clean out of plays. Still not too shabby a pass catcher, he's third among tight ends in receptions, and first in yards and touchdowns. There aren't many positions in the NFL where you can say there is a clear-cut best player. But Gronkowski holds that distinction for tight ends. No one else is close.

Tackle Joe Staley, 49ers.

Taking his game to another level in his sixth pro season, 6-foot-5, 315-pound Staley has kept Alex Smith's blindside clean enough for San Francisco's signal caller to pace toward career highs in completion rate (69.4), touchdown passes (24), quarterback rating (102.1), and yards per pass attempt (7.94). Staley butters his bread in the running game, though. When he gets his hands on a defensive lineman, it's over. Staley is the most overpowering backside run blocker in the game.

Tackle Joe Thomas, Browns.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has experienced ups and downs, but his blindside blocking has been a constant. Supremely athletic and durable -- Thomas hasn't so much as missed a practice since entering the league six seasons ago -- the Browns' left tackle has allowed one sack this year while rarely receiving "help" blocks from backs and tight ends. It's no secret Thomas has been the NFL's top pass protector several years running. He's headed to a sixth straight Pro Bowl.

Guard Mike Iupati, 49ers.

6-foot-5, 331-pound Iupati has feet like a left tackle, and he engulfs defensive linemen with 35-inch vines for arms, and nearly 11-inch paws for hands. A massive athlete, he routinely dominates as both a pass and run blocker. Iupati hasn't surrendered a sack in pass protection yet this year, and San Francisco ranks first in the league in both rushing yards per game and yards per carry.

Guard Chris Snee, Giants.

The Giants are the only team left to have allowed single-digit sacks on the season. Stalwart right guard Snee is the rock and leader of the unit, having missed one start over the past eight years. Perhaps most impressively, Snee is dominating nose tackles despite playing with a partially torn labrum in his hip. He's keeping Eli Manning clean and clearing gaping holes for Ahmad Bradshaw.

Center Mike Pouncey, Dolphins.

Pouncey is a special young center, having surpassed Jake Long as Miami's top offensive lineman as a second-year pro while consistently halting backfield penetration. The Dolphins have a top-13 rushing offense, and their 20th-ranked passing attack is on the rise with rookie Ryan Tannehill at the controls. Pouncey has proven an ideal fit for rookie coach Joe Philbin's zone-running scheme.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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