Every year in the NFL, an assortment of players have tremendous seasons that ultimately aren't rewarded with an All-Pro distinction because of even more tremendous seasons turned in by other, more high-profile players sometimes on more high-profile, winning teams.
Sure, the Associated Press typically does a fine job identifying the league's best players for the All-Pro team, but with a limited amount of spots available, there's always an unfortunate number of guys, who, in almost any other campaign, would garner an All-Pro honor.
The following players *won't* be First-Team All-Pros in 2013. But let's call them glorified honorable mentions.
Quarterback - Drew Brees
Peyton Manning will be the First-Team All-Pro quarterback. As he should. Heck, he's probably going to take home the MVP award. As he should. But, damn, Drew Brees has had an All-Pro / MVP-caliber season thus far. He's completing 68 percent of his passes and is averaging 340 yards per game. He's fired 25 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. His Saints are 7-2. He's on pace to fall just shy of his own single-season passing yard record of 5,476.
Running Back - Reggie Bush
Some combination of LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles and maybe even Adrian Peterson will be the two First-Team All-Pro running backs. That stinks for Reggie Bush. We've said it many times during his NFL career, but only now is he reaching what was thought to be his ceiling all along. He's averaging a robust 4.7 yards per carry, and he's already caught 34 passes for 343 yards with two receiving touchdowns. At this rate, Bush will finish the season with over 1,100 rushing yards and over 1,700 yards from scrimmage with a handful of scores. USC Reggie Bush was so fun, and he's playing in Detroit this year.
Fullback - Bruce Miller
Not quite sure who'll win this award—probably Anthony Sherman of the Kansas City Chiefs or maybe Mike Tolbert of the Carolina Panthers if he's still considered a fullback. But Miller's been on the field often for the San Francisco 49ers and paves the way for many of Frank Gore's big runs.
Wide Receiver - DeSean Jackson
Get used to seeing the names A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson as the First-Team All-Pro wide receivers. It happened in 2012, it'll happen in 2013, and it's bound to happen in the future. Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant are other candidates here, but DeSean Jackson simply has been better than both those larger, more physically imposing wideouts. He has a better catch percentage than Johnson and Bryant, he has more yards than Johnson and Bryant and averages more yards per catch than Johnson and Bryant. If he keeps it up, Jackson will catch around 80-85 passes for over 1,400 yards and should reach the double-digit touchdown mark. That's All-Pro worthy.
Tight End - Jordan Cameron
Jimmy Graham is the First-Team All-Pro tight end this year. No questions asked. But Jordan Cameron's having one hell of a year in Cleveland for the Browns. He's caught 50 passes on only 71 targets for 600 yards and six touchdowns on a team that's dealt with its fair share of quarterback issues.
Offensive Tackles - Zach Strief
Trent Williams and Nate Solder will probably be the First-Team All-Pro offensive tackles. Jake Long of the St. Louis Rams could even get some consideration, as could Carolina Panthers' left tackle Jordan Gross and Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns. But do right tackles get love on the All-Pro team? Eh. Sometimes. Blocking for Brees, Zach Strief, New Orleans' right tackle, has been an absolute wall. According to Pro Football Focus, he's allowed only one sack, one quarterback hit and 12 hurries.
Guards - Josh Sitton
If you've watched the Green Bay Packers this season, you've noticed two things; they need Aaron Rodgers back and their running game is miles ahead of where it was even last season. Eddie Lacy will get the pub, but guard Josh Sitton has been a wrecking ball on the interior. He's also PFF's highest-rated pass-blocking guard right now.
Center - Stefen Wisniewski
Chris Myers, Nick Hardwick or Dominic Raiola will be the First-Team All-Pro center. He's on a bad team, but Stefen Wisniewski has rounded into form as one of the game's most versatile, punishing centers. He's been a fine run-blocking pivot and has only allowed four quarterback hurries. That's it. No sacks. No hits. According to PFF, of course.
Defensive End - Greg Hardy
What a log-jammed position. This will be the second of MANY First-Team All-Pro honors for J.J. Watt, and Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams—technically a 4-3 defensive end—is having one hell of a season. But forgotten amid the slew of terrorizing, household-name pass-rushers is the Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy. He has only five sacks, but generates some form of quarterback pressure every 6.5 snaps. That pressure rate is one of the best in all of football. He's a stud, but not many know it.
Defensive Tackle - Jurrell Casey
Take your pick from Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, Randy Starks and Ndamukong Suh for the First-Team All-Pro's two defensive tackle spots. Please don't forget Jurrell Casey. Who? Yeah, Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans. He's a third-year pro from USC and already has accumulated seven sacks. He creates pressure on the quarterback every 8.5 snaps, a super-efficient figure for a defensive tackle. On a per pass-rush snap basis, Casey creates pressure more frequently than Chandler Jones, Jared Allen and Carlos Dunlap.
Outside Linebacker - Lavonte David
Either Tamba Hali, his teammate Justin Houston, and ageless wonders Robert Mathis and Terrell Suggs will likely be the final candidates to get the two First-Team All-Pro outside linebacker spots. While all four of those defenders are piecing together remarkable seasons, it's a shame that 4-3 outside linebackers, guys who don't necessarily finish the year with 12 sacks and bunch of forced fumbles, usually get disregarded for their flashier, 3-4 brethren. Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a sideline-to-sideline animal who does it all. He's comfortable in coverage, he's a menacing downhill run-stopper and he gets after the quarterback with ease thanks to quick-twitch athleticism and a high football IQ. He already has five sacks.
Inside Linebacker - Sean Lee
Had Sean Lee not gotten hurt, he'd have been a lock for one of the two First-Team All-Pro inside linebacker spots. Now, in all likelihood, Derrick Johnson, NaVorro Bowman or Luke Kuechly will earn those distinctions. Lee is the middle linebacker version of David. He's a three-down Mr. Reliable who excels in coverage, something that's vital in today's pass-happy NFL. Before he tweaked his hamstring against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, the former Penn State star—yes, Penn State is still Linebacker U—had 93 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. Watch how Dallas' defense struggles mightily without him.
Cornerback - Marcus Cooper
Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman and maybe Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans will be the First-Team All-Pro cornerbacks this year. But Marcus Cooper, the 252nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been the best cornerback on the Kansas City Chiefs this season and one of the most effective in the entire league. He has two interceptions and, according to ESPN, he's defended 14 passes this year. Damn.
Safety - T.J. Ward
The safety position is loaded with big-name players who've been magnificent over the first 10 weeks. Venturing a guess here—some combination of Devin McCourty, Eric Berry, or Earl Thomas will be the First-Team All-Pro safeties. However, T.J. Ward of the Cleveland Browns has been outstanding with 64 tackles, two interceptions—one pick six—and 1.5 sacks. He's a young, blossoming player in the traditionally defensive-minded AFC North.