Colts anchor All-Pro offense picks
TE Clark and WR Wayne join perennial QB Manning; youth dominates offensive line
There were some glittering offensive numbers posted, as usual, in the NFL this year. But in addition to the skill-position players, offensive linemen stood out and it was difficult to parse the work of so many talented blockers.
My offensive All-Pro team for 2009 includes only two linemen who weren't on the midseason squad and, like that team, the unit is rife with youth. The average age of the five linemen is 25.4 years, and the average tenure is 3.8 seasons. Of the five, only right tackle Vernon Carey of Miami is older than 26 and has played more than four seasons.
More than any other position, the offensive line demanded considerable deliberation, and there were a lot of close calls. But as Hall of Famer Chuck Noll -- the first head coach I covered -- said, you build a team from the inside out, and I attempted to do that with the offensive line.
Here's a look at the offensive All-Pro team for 2009. For my defensive All-Pro team, including special teams, click here.
Reasoning: Despite not having a complementary wide receiver with more than 53 catches, Johnson managed a league-best 1,569 yards, only the second wideout in NFL history with consecutive 1,500-yard seasons. Had three games with 10 or more catches.
Reasoning: Double-teamed regularly because of the inexperience of his fellow wide receivers, but still caught 100 passes and scored 10 touchdowns. The four-time Pro Bowl player had 20 catches of 20 yards or more, the fourth-best mark in the league, and is always a clutch receiver.
Reasoning: Hardly your traditional tight end because he is rarely used in-line, but is a matchup nightmare for opponents and is tremendous on third down. First-time Pro Bowl player became only the second tight end in history with 100 receptions in a season.
Reasoning: A superb combination of size and technique, Clady has started all 32 games since being a first-round draft pick in 2008, and unofficially has allowed only three sacks in his career. Will be making his initial Pro Bowl appearance this year, which figures to be the first of many.
Reasoning: The third-year veteran and former first-round pick (2007) is also making his first Pro Bowl trip. Grubbs, who has started 48 straight games, is best known as in-line blocker, but is agile enough to pull and trap and has demonstrated consistent improvement in pass protection.
Reasoning: He has earned a Pro Bowl berth the past two seasons, and has become one of the premier snappers in the league. He holds up well against 3-4 nose tackles, is very bright and is the anchor of a blocking unit that helped the Jets lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2009.
Reasoning: Physical enough to play smashmouth football, but also very good on the move. Made his first Pro Bowl this season and teamed with tackle Jonathan Stinchcomb (also a first-time Pro Bowl choice) to provide the Saints with an outstanding strong side.
Reasoning: Tackle partner Jake Long was voted to his first Pro Bowl, but Carey might have had a more consistent '09 campaign. The sixth-year veteran and 2004 first-rounder is really developing as a strongside tackle, and also has elevated his pass blocking.
Reasoning: His 68.8 percent completion mark was even better than his previous career standard (64.4 percent), and he was second in the league in passing yards (4,500) and touchdown passes (33). It was his 12th straight season with at least 25 touchdown passes.
Reasoning: The fifth-year veteran is an impactful lead blocker, can really root a linebacker out of the hole and continues to make strides in pass protection. Only 60 carries the past two seasons, but has converted every third-and-1 situation in 2008-2009.
Reasoning: Broke NFL record for total yards from scrimmage (2,509), and became only the sixth player to crack the 2,000-yard barrier (2,006). Led league in carries (358), rushes of at least 20 yards (22, or 10 more than the nearest competitor) and at least 40 yards (seven), and averaged 5.6 yards.
For my defensive All-Pro team, click here.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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