Gerald McCoy is in the Pro Bowl and Vincent Jackson, a first alternate, could eventually join him. There is an even more exclusive honor than the Pro Bowl (though it comes without a trip to Hawaii): The All-Pro team.
The official All-Pro squad is the one recognized by the Associated Press, and it’s a tougher draw because, rather than an entire game-ready squad like the Pro Bowl, it is the selection of just the very best players at every position. When it’s all said and done, 94 players will take part in the 2013 Pro Bowl. AP named 37 All-Pros last year.
Will McCoy or Jackson or any other Tampa Bay players warrant All-Pro honors? That remains to be seen. But the video-analysis crew over at ProFootballFocus.com obviously feels that those two Buccaneers should at least be in the discussion.
PFF, which breaks down tape to evaluate every player in the league every week of the season, has unveiled its own All-Pro team for 2012. Jackson and McCoy got prominent attention, though neither one was the first player at his position.
The PFF team includes 12 players each on offense and defense (allowing for such things as a third receiver and a slot cornerback), and also lists a second choice at each spot. That was where both Jackson and McCoy were slotted, which is still an impressive acknowledgment.
With two choices and two alternates, PFF picked a total of four receivers as potential starters out of all the candidates in the NFL, across both the AFC and the NFC. Those four: Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall. (The team also included a “third receiver” spot which went to Reggie Wayne and A.J. Green.)
The defensive situation was a little more complicated. Taking into account the differences between 3-4 and 4-3 defensive fronts and what a term such as “defensive end” might mean in each one, the PFF crew named players to the following front-seven categories: Edge Defender, Defensive Interior, Outside Linebacker, Middle Linebacker.
At one of the Defensive Interior positions, PFF selected J.J. Watt, a serious Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and backed him up with the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson. At the other spot, the site named Cincinnati’s breakout star Geno Atkins the top choice and backed him up with McCoy. Clearly, the two positions were differentiated between 3-4 and 4-3 defenders, because the PFF write-up referred to McCoy as the “second overall defensive tackle” behind Atkins.
By the way, while Buccaneer rookie Lavonte David wasn’t chosen to the PFF All-Pro team, he obviously still made a big impression on videotape. In a pre-All Pro teaser article listing one interesting stat for each of the NFL’s 32 teams, David was the subject of the Buccaneers’ note. Click on the link to find out why. (Hint: It has a lot to do with his run-stopping ability.)