Ira Kaufman Shares His 2016 All-Pro Ballot

January 4th, 2017



Making the Pro Bowl is a nice honor. Making the All-Pro team is more challenging — and ultimately more rewarding.

It’s the difference between a People’s Choice Award and an Oscar.

As one of 50 media members on the Associated Press panel, I submitted my All-Pro ballot earlier this week. The AP will reveal the winners on Friday, but our loyal readers shouldn’t have to wait that long to see who your humble servant selected as the best of the best for the 2016 regular season.

And yes, the Bucs are represented.

The big awards won’t be revealed until the night before the Super Bowl, but my selections are spelled out in this column.

On to the All-Pro picks:

At quarterback, I went with Matt Ryan, who has been outstanding since Week 1. Ryan directed the top scoring attack in the league and he isn’t surrounded by extraordinary talent, other than Julio Jones. Ryan has been as good as Tom Brady — and he didn’t miss a quarter of the season.

Ezekiel Elliott is an easy choice at running back and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce has been the best tight end in the league.

Mike Evans got Ira Kaufman's vote for All-Pro. Kaufman is one of 50 voters nationwide. No,, Joe has no influence on Ira's picks for the prestigious honor.

Mike Evans got Ira Kaufman’s vote for the 2016 All-Pro team. Kaufman is one of 50 voters nationwide. No, Joe has no influence on Ira’s picks for the prestigious honor.

My two wide receivers are the incomparable Antonio Brown and Tampa Bay’s own, Mike Evans. The competition was fierce, with Odell Beckham, Julio Jones and Jordy Nelson coming up a little short in my book to Evans, who kept moving the chains and reaching the end zone.

AP added a “flex” position this year and I selected David Johnson, the most versatile back in the NFL. Johnson did it all for the Cardinals, a modern-day version of Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James or Roger Craig.

My offensive line from left to right is former Buc Donald Penn, his Raiders teammate, Kelechi Osemele, center Travis Frederick, Dallas teammate Zack Martin at right guard and Tennessee rookie Jack Conklin, who paved the way for DeMarco Murray’s stellar season.

On defense, Khalil Mack and Vic Beasley are my edge rushers and I went with Aaron Donald and Giants run-stuffer Damon Harrison as interior linemen.

My three linebackers are Von Miller, Bobby Wagner and Sean Lee, and I’ve got Marcus Peters and Malcolm Butler at corner.

At safety, Landon Collins was an easy choice and I gave the other spot to Patriots veteran Patrick Chung, an exceptional tackler.

The AP added an additional spot at defensive back and I chose Denver stalwart Chris Harris over Aqib Talib.

That leaves special teams, where Baltimore’s Justin Tucker was the league’s premier kicker. Johnny Hekker narrowly beat out Tampa Bay’s Bryan Anger at punter and Los Angeles teammate Chase Reynolds was the choice among players who stood out on coverage units.

Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings is my kick returner. Electrifying Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill was an easy choice at punt returner.

And now for the awards …

MVP: Ryan has been my pick as MVP for a while, and he never faltered in leading Atlanta to the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed. And to think, a year ago many Falcons fans were ready to move on from Ryan, who was admittedly disappointing in 2015.

Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett wins a tight battle as my Coach of the Year, edging Jack Del Rio, Bill Belichick, Adam Gase and several other worthy candidates. When you win 13 games with a rookie quarterback, you’ve done a heck of a job.

My top assistant is Kyle Shanahan, who worked wonders as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. The Falcons were unpredictable and innovative and Shanahan will likely move on soon to fill one of the many NFL head coaching vacancies.

Comeback Player of the Year: Cameron Wake made a remarkable rebound from a torn Achilles. He beats out Jordy Nelson

Rookies of the Year: I’m going with Prescott over Elliott as my top offensive rookie while Joey Bosa edges Keanu Neal and Jalen Ramsey on defense.

Offensive Player of the Year: After lavishing all this praise on Ryan, whose average of 9.3 yards per passing attempt dwarfs any competitor, including Brady, how could Atlanta’s veteran QB not be my pick?

Defensive Player of the Year: I took Mack over Miller in a close call, with Landon Collins also in the mix. Mack doesn’t get a lot of help on Oakland’s pedestrian defense, but he can wreck a game plan all by himself. Keep your eye on him during Saturday’s playoff matchup at Houston and see just how much attention he demands.

13 Responses to “Ira Kaufman Shares His 2016 All-Pro Ballot”

  1. LakeLandBuc Says:

    I would make the same picks.

  2. Make America Brate Again Says:

    Look folks. There’s uncertainty about the future of the franchise. There’s over $70 mil in cap space. Together, we are going to Make America Brate Again!

  3. gotbbucs Says:

    I watched ever home game of David Johnson’s college career spotting from the booth, that kid deserves everything he gets in life. An all time awesome human being and incredible football player. I would love to see him get All Pro honors.

  4. Artemis Rand Says:

    Cameron Brate = Ron Hall, but with a better smile…

  5. OneBucPerson Says:

    I don’t know why you would pick Cameron Wake over Melvin Gordon for Comeback Player. Wake was having a great season last year before he got injured. While Gordon went from a guy who scored 0 touchdowns and made no difference to having over 1400 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. I don’t see anyone who has had made as big of an improvement/comeback from 15/16 to 16/17 then Melvin Gordon.

  6. Trubucfan22 Says:

    Matt ryan isnt surrounded by talent? Devonta Freeman and tevin coleman are the best 1-2 rb duo in the league. Both are home run threats. Julio jones, nuff said. Mohammad sanu and taylor Gabriel are both really good, with the latter being a homerun threat any time he touches the ball.

    I’d say he has some pretty darn good talent around him. If the bucs had those weapons we’d be in the playoffs too.

  7. unbelievable Says:

    Trubuc I was thinking the exact same thing.

  8. BucsFanInChina Says:

    How far out was Kwon from being your All Pro pick? Just curious

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    I agree with pretty much all of your picks Ira.

    But – how could you not pick Brian Anger as an All Pro after watching him punt nearly perfect week in and week out? Dude was money and practically the Bucs team MVP this year

    And for league MVP – as good a season as Matt Ryan had, I’d say what 39 y.o. Tom Brady did in only 12 games was more impressive – (28TD – 2 Ints – 3554 yds – 11 wins)

  10. BostonStrong Says:

    Brady has just as many wins as Ryan (in 4 less games as you constantly remind us), the best TD:INT ratio in league history, and the leagues best record. Brady owned the top spot for highest QBR for the majority of the year until he played Denver, and he played well vs Denver…Blount just logged all the TDs. Brady deserves one of the two awards, either MVP or Offensive Player of the year.

    And Evans made your pro-bowl nod over OBJ or Julio Jones? What a joke. We see the bias coming out of your pours. Blount led the league in rushing TDs…I dont see him on your all pro list. Le’veon Bell is the best RB in football, easily, and doenst at least make your flex pick? SMH!

  11. Capt.Tim Says:

    Would it have killed you to be a Homer?
    Like all of your co- conspirators?
    No one would have been stunned, if you had given McCoy and Grimes a vote.
    Kwon Alexander also has a legitimate resume to get votes.
    Ali Marpet? Sure!

    Hope next Christmas , Someone gives you a map.
    Just so you can see what Area and team you should be giving a little loyality.

    I bet you you that your peers are giving their teams respect

  12. Capt.Tim Says:

    You wanna take your ass back to P.O.S Boston- and hop back on some frozen Patriots D*+¥.
    Your head will be shaking ,and shivering, in the Cold

    And We will still be living a Pirates life.
    Blizzards and Baked Beans
    Or Bikinis and tequila

    You pick Boston?
    To dumb to post here

  13. jerseybuc Says:

    Calling Evans over OBJ a joke is a joke. Pull their numbers this year. They are almost identical. separated by 5 catches and maybe 40 yards. Evans had two more TDs.
    The only thing worse than a homer is a front running homer. Go troll somewhere else. And who will you be rooting for when Brady and Bellicheck retire?