But the midseason all-pro teams have become popular barometers of who is playing well at the halfway point of a season. And this year, for a change, most media outlets actually waited until the 2011 campaign reached its midpoint -- we are now slightly beyond it, with 131 of 256 games having been played as of Thursday night-to select the midseason teams.
Who are we to, even with our contrarian leanings, quibble with popularity, right?
So we spent the last few days surveying general managers, personnel directors, pro scouts, head coaches and assistant coaches -- a group of nearly 20 NFL executives -- about the players who stuck out over the first half of the campaign. Typically, some of the choices were relatively easy: Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, probably on his way to most valuable player honors, was a unanimous pick at quarterback, the lone player cited by every voter.
Several other "skill position" players, like wide receiver Calvin Johnson, tight end Jimmy Graham, and cornerback Darrelle Revis, had very sparse competition.
There were other positions, however -- like running back (where Fred Jackson and Adrian Peterson were just behind Matt Forte), offensive left guard (Mike Iupati just edged out Rob Sims and Carl Nicks), 3-4 inside linebacker (Patrick Willis was nearly as popular as San Francisco teammate NaVorro Bowman), and both safety spots (perennial choices Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed had plenty of support) - that were difficult to parse.
The results might prompt plenty of debate, particularly at positions where statistics aren't necessarily available as a measuring stick, but the ballot recount has already been done. So, for good or bad, The Sports Xchange midseason all-pro team:
WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit
WR: Steve Smith, Carolina
TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
LT: Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati
LG: Mike Iupati, San Francisco
C: Eric Wood, Buffalo
RG: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
RT: Eric Winston, Houston
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
RB: Matt Forte, Chicago
FB: Vonta Leach, Baltimore
LE: Jason Babin, Philadelphia
DT: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Detroit
NT (3-4): Sione Pouha, New York Jets
RE: Jared Allen, Minnesota
SLB: Von Miller, Denver
MLB (4-3): Curtis Lofton, Atlanta
ILB (3-4): NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco
WLB: Lance Briggs, Chicago
OLB (3-4): DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
CB: Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
CB: Corey Webster, New York Giants
FS: Eric Weddle, San Diego
SS: George Wilson, Buffalo
K: Josh Scobee, Jacksonville
P: Andy Lee, San Francisco
KR: Joe McKnight, New York Jets
PR: Patrick Peterson, Arizona
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