Oakland Raiders: Who belongs in the Pro Bowl?
Possibly the greatest punter in league history. He’s already been chosen six times to the Pro Bowl, an eight time All-Pro and now holds the franchise record for longest punt, set earlier in the season. Lechler leads the NFL with a 50.7 average per punt. More importantly, he has placed 27 punts inside the 20-yard line. The clear choice to represent the AFC in another Pro Bowl, anyone else would just be insulting.
VERDICT: LOCK TO BE SELECTED
Sebastian Janikowski, PK
Oakland’s place-kicker has attempted a league high 9 kicks from 50-yards or beyond. He has connected on six of them and is 9-of-10 from 40-49-yards out. His long of 63-yards on opening night tied the league record. This has been Janikowski’s finest year, despite suffering through a hamstring injury during the middle of the season. I said it early in the campaign, this may be the best tandem in league history for one season. In 1991, Jeff Jaeger and Jeff Gossett made the Pro-Bowl together as members of the Silver & Black. It should happen again in 2011.
VERDICT: LOCK TO BE SELECTED
Richard Seymour, DT
He has 6.0 sacks and two season saving field goal blocks versus Kansas City last weekend. The veteran should get the nod based on his past credentials, but in my opinion…
VERDICT: WILL LIKELY BE SELECTED, BUT TOMMY KELLY DESERVES IT MORE BASED ON HIS BODY OF WORK IN 2011.
Tommy Kelly, DT
Only Geno Atkins of the Bengals has more sacks (8.0) than Kelly (7.5) at defensive tackle. Kelly has been a quiet but steady presence. The problem is, the Raiders run defense allows 135.0 yards per game and Seymour’s notoriety gets him votes that maybe he shouldn’t get.
VERDICT: Kelly will miss the Pro Bowl, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the conference’s best tackles.
Tyvon Branch, SS
He leads the team in total tackles, has a sack and an interception. Always fiery and very good in run support, Branch has improved his game greatly with his coverage skills.
VERDICT: Not likely to make his first Pro Bowl. Eric Weddle, Reggie Nelson, George Wilson, Jon McGraw, Mike Adams and others, due to numbers, may sway the voters. It doesn’t help that Oakland’s defense ranks poorly.
Stanford Routt, CB
Only two other cornerbacks in the AFC have more interceptions. According to Football Outsiders, only Darrelle Revis ranks better in cornerback success rate.
VERDICT: Again, hard to pick an Oakland defender based on their defense, but if one of them does get in, it will be Routt.
Marcel Reece had a fine year in 2010, but this year he didn’t have the impact or the numbers to warrant a Pro Bowl bid over Vonta Leach, who has been very good for the Ravens. Jon Condo always has a shot to make it due to his long-snapping prowess and defending on kicks and punts, and Darren McFadden would have been a lock if not for his foot injury.
FINAL PREDICTION: Three Raiders should make the Pro Bowl: both kicking specialists and either Seymour or Routt. I would be very surprise if others made it.