NFL Nation: 2011 NFL All-Pro Team

The AFC North was well represented on the Associated Press' All-Pro Team, with six players on the first team, which ties the NFC West for the most.

It should be noted that the AFC North had all of its players come from either offense or defense. The NFC West placed three on special teams.

The All-Pro Team is formed by votes from 50 media members.

On offense, the Ravens' Vonta Leach was the runaway winner at fullback, receiving 42 votes. Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas had the second-most votes at his position (which gets two on the first team) with 19. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey narrowly beat out Carolina's Ryan Kalil, 13-11.

On defense, the Ravens' Terrell Suggs was a near unanimous selection with 47 votes. The Ravens' Haloti Ngata was the highest vote-getter at defensive tackle with 38. The Steelers' Troy Polamalu led all safeties with 29, which was 12 more than second-team safety Ed Reed.

Here are the AFC North representatives on each unit:

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

Fullback: Vonta Leach, Baltimore

Tackle: Joe Thomas, Cleveland

Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

Tackle: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore

Outside linebackers: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore

Safety: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

Running back: Ray Rice, Baltimore

Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore

SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE

Tackle: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati

Safety: Ed Reed, Baltimore
The Associated Press has released its annual All-Pro Team, and the NFC East has four players on the first-team roster and three on the second team. It breaks down about the way you'd expect.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is one of two first-team running backs, along with Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew. McCoy's teammate, left tackle Jason Peters, is one of the two first-team tackles, along with Cleveland's Joe Thomas.

The New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul claims one of the two first-team defensive end spots, along with league sacks leader Jared Allen of Minnesota. And Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is one of the two first-team outside linebackers, along with Baltimore's Terrell Suggs.

You'll want to know where the Giants' Victor Cruz and the Washington Redskins' London Fletcher are, and the answer is: on the second-team roster, along with the Eagles' Jason Babin.

Cruz and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald are the second-team wide receivers. The first-team wide receivers are Detroit's Calvin Johnson and New England's Wes Welker. Hard to take one of them off for Cruz, no matter how electric he was.

Fletcher and Brian Cushing of the Texans are the second-team inside linebackers. The first team has three for some reason -- Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs. I know Fletcher is usually criminally underrated, but I'd be lying if I said I knew whether he'd played better than those other three guys this year. Just haven't see enough of them.

And Babin is one of two second-team defensive ends, along with Justin Smith of the 49ers. I agree with ranking him behind Allen and Pierre-Paul.
This was indeed a special season for the San Francisco 49ers and, by extension, the NFC West overall.

The Associated Press All-Pro Team, announced Friday, includes five 49ers, a league high for any team. Arizona's Patrick Peterson made the team as the return specialist, joining the 49ers' David Akers and Andy Lee to give the NFC West all three specialists.

The 49ers' Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman made it as inside linebackers. Teammate Justin Smith made it as a defensive tackle. He also got votes at defensive end. Smith moves around the line, playing end in the base 3-4.

Aaron Rodgers won 47.5 out of 50 votes at quarterback, a strong indication Rodgers will emerge as the leader in MVP balloting. Those results have not yet been revealed, but they draw from the same group of voters.

The chart shows All-Pro counts by division.

Also making the team: fullback Vonta Leach, center Maurkice Pouncey, guard Carl Nicks, guard Jahri Evans, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, running back LeSean McCoy, tackle Joe Thomas, tackle Jason Peters, tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Wes Welker, receiver Calvin Johnson, cornerback Darrelle Revis, cornerback Charles Woodson, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end Jared Allen, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Derrick Johnson, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware safety Troy Polamalu and safety Eric Weddle.
Four NFC North players were named Friday to the Associated Press' All-Pro Team, and three were elected by nearly unanimous votes. That's the upshot of an honor that, to me, is far more prestigious than the Pro Bowl rosters that always seem to get more attention.

The All-Pro Team combines players from the NFC and AFC onto one all-star team, requiring more difficult choices from the 50 media members who vote. So it's quite newsworthy to me that Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen each received 49 votes at their respective positions. It's the fourth All-Pro Team for Allen and the first for Johnson.

And in what could be a preview of MVP voting to be announced next month, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers easily topped New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in All-Pro voting. Rodgers received 47 1/2 votes to Brees' 2 1/2 to be named first-team quarterback.

The Packers' Charles Woodson was one of two cornerbacks elected to the team, along with Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets.

Note: Not that this would compare in any way to the All-Pro Team, but for those who are asking: Rest assured that we will compile a 2011 All-NFC North team after the Super Bowl. As always, I'll seek your input on tough choices. Hang tight.

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