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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
NFC South Pro Bowl analysis

By Pat Yasinskas

NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: Drew Brees’ sixth Pro Bowl selection is no surprise. He’s already thrown for more yards in a season than any player in history and has led the Saints to a 12-3 record. The only downer here is that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was selected as the starter ahead of Brees. Consider that a likely precursor to what will happen with the Most Valuable Player award. But, hey, I’m sure Brees would rather start the Super Bowl than the Pro Bowl. The other slam-dunk choice in the NFC South was New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. He’s only a second-year, pro, but this former college basketball player is on his way to one of the best statistical seasons ever for a tight end. This is Graham’s first Pro Bowl selection. There probably will be a lot more in the future.

Made it on rep: When you’re playing on a great team, you sometimes can ride the coattails of your teammates. I have to think that’s what happened in the case of New Orleans left tackle Jermon Bushrod. Brees’ numbers certainly show the Saints are doing some good things on the offensive line. But those are coming mostly from guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, who just happen to be the starters for the NFC. Bushrod has turned into a solid left tackle, but he’s far from elite. In fact, Carolina’s Jordan Gross, even though he missed some time with injury, would have been a much better choice. Some scouts also will tell you Tampa Bay’s Donald Penn, at least at times, is better than Bushrod.

Got robbed: Rodgers and Brees were the obvious choices as the first two quarterbacks. But I seriously thought Carolina rookie Cam Newton had a very real chance to be the third quarterback. He’s not. Eli Manning ended up on the roster. Manning’s decent, but he’s not a special player. Newton is a special player. He’s already thrown for more yards than any rookie quarterback in history and has run for more touchdowns than any quarterback in history. You can also make the case that New Orleans’ running back/return man Darren Sproles should be on the roster. Sproles was only on the ballot as a return man and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson got the nod there. But I think there’s a good chance Sproles will be added at some point as a “need’’ player because any team could use a guy like Sproles.

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.