A record-setting season by Rob Gronkowski and consistent excellence from Wes Welker put both Patriots in the same spot – on the Associated Press NFL All-Pro first team.
Gronkowski and Welker were the only two Patriots selected to the 28-member first team, which was announced yesterday and is voted on by 50 members of the media who cover the league. Offensive guard Logan Mankins and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork were second-team picks.
Unlike the Pro Bowl selections, which recognize starters and back-ups by conference, the AP All-Pro team encompasses the entire league.
It’s Welker’s second time on the first team; he was also selected in 2009, and was a second-team choice in 2007 and 2008. It’s Gronkowski’s first time on the team.
Gronkowski, in his second year, set NFL records for single-season receiving yards (1,327) and receiving touchdowns (17) by a tight end.
Welker led the league with 122 receptions and was second in yardage (1,569), behind the other first-team receiver, Calvin Johnson of the Lions. In five seasons with the Patriots, Welker has eclipsed 100 catches and 1,000 yards four times.
The San Francisco 49ers put a league-high five players on the first team.
Here’s the teams:
Offense: First Team
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Running backs: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville; LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Fullback: Vonta Leach, Baltimore
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, New England
Wide receivers: Calvin Johnson, Detroit; Wes Welker, New England
Tackles: Jason Peters, Philadelphia; Joe Thomas, Cleveland
Guards: Carl Nicks, New Orleans; Jahri Evans, New Orleans
Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Placekicker: David Akers, San Francisco
Kick returner: Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Defense, First Team
Ends: Jared Allen, Minnesota; Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants
Tackles: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore; Justin Smith, San Francisco
Outside linebackers: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore; DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
Inside linebackers: Patrick Willis, San Francisco; NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco, and Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
Cornerbacks: Charles Woodson, Green Bay; Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
Safeties: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Eric Weddle, San Diego
Punter: Andy Lee, San Francisco
Offense, Second Team
Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans
Running backs: Ray Rice, Baltimore; Arian Foster, Houston
Fullback: John Kuhn, Green Bay
Tight end: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Wide receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona; Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Tackles: Duane Brown, Houston; Joe Staley, San Francisco
Guards: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore; Logan Mankins, New England
Center: Ryan Kalil, Carolina, and Nick Mangold, New York Jets
Placekicker: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland
Kick returner: Devin Hester, Chicago
Defense, Second Team
Ends: Justin Smith, San Francisco; Jason Babin, Philadelphia
Tackles: Geno Atkins, Cincinnatil Vince Wilfork, New England, and Richard Seymour, Oakland
Outside linebackers: Tamba Hali, Kansas City; Von Miller, Denver
Inside linebackers: Brian Cushing, Houston; London Fletcher, Washington
Cornerbacks: Johnathan Joseph, Houston; Carlos Rogers, San Francisco
Safeties: Ed Reed, Baltimore; Earl Thomas, Seattle
Punter: Shane Lechler, Oakland