In case you were unaware, last night ESPN hosted their annual award ceremony, dedicated to the top teams, individual athletes, and sporting moments of the past year. The event started in a joking tone, highlighted by a mocking song entitled, “Honorable Mentions,” which led to this iconic line: “Colin Kaepernick, you know I love to see you flex. It’s just a damn shame Michael Crabtree can’t catch.” The event turned from side-splitting to tear-jerking, when St. Louis Rams rookie, Michael Sam, was honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for courage and Stuart Scott, an analyst for ESPN, was given the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, for his inspiring battle against cancer. The night was filled with stars from all over the sporting and entertainment world. However, more than anything else, the award show reminded us of why we love sports; the excitement, the unity, the moments.
To end the night, the Seattle Seahawks were brought to the stage to claim the final award of the ceremony; the Best Team. While it may be tough for rival fans within the division to enjoy the particular moment, the mere presence of so many Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and even St. Louis Rams on the red carpet reinforced the fact that the NFC West is the “toast of the NFL.”
Keeping that overflow of divisional talent in mind, we wanted to shift back the All-NFC West rosters that Ramblin’ Fan has been gradually unveiling over the last couple of days. At this point in the reveal, we have announced the entire starting offensive roster, including the top voted quarterback, running back, three wide receivers, tight end, and the offensive line. Here is that list:
QB- Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
RB- Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
WR- Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
WR- Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
WR- Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
TE- Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
OT- Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers
G- Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers
C- Max Unger, Seattle Seahawks
G- Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams
OT- Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks
If you were keeping count, that list includes five Seahawks, four 49ers, one Rams, and one Cardinals player. Logically, that makes sense, with Seattle and San Francisco both playing deep into January, facing off in the 2013 NFC West Championship game, while Arizona and St. Louis were watching from their couches. Aside from a handful of selections, the editors of all four divisional sites were able to come to a consensus decision on the players listed on the offensive side of the All-NFC West roster.
Easiest Selections- Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Staley, Max Unger, and Mike Iupati were the only players that were unanimous, “first-ballot” decisions for the final roster.
Toughest Position to Select- There were at least six wide receivers that received votes for one of the three starting spots on the All-NFC West roster. Anquan Boldin was a close second to Percy Harvin on the list, and actually tied in the preliminary vote casting with both Harvin and Michael Crabtree. However, in the end, Harvin and Crabtree took the majority count in the re-vote for the position.
Biggest Surprise -Greg Robinson was easily the biggest surprise inclusion, been voted in by three-fourths of the voters, despite having never taken a snap in the NFL. The decision by the voting editors was undoubtedly based on his limitless potential along the offensive and unmatched athleticism, which drew comparisons to Hall-of-Famers like Orlando Pace and Johnathan Ogden. Hopefully, Robinson can make us look brilliant by playing at an All-NFC West level this upcoming season…
Biggest Snub- While Russell Okung may have dominated during his 2012 campaign, Jake Long has been a Top 5 offensive tackle in the NFL since he was taken ahead of Chris Long as the No.1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Despite ending the season on the injury reserve (IR), Long still graded out No.2 in run blocking, No.26 in pass protection, and No.7 overall in the league among tackles (via Pro Football Focus); Okung ranked No.29, No.56, and No.39 in those respective categories in 2013. Jake Long has not only consistently performed at a high level, but has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can play through and come back from injury. Russell Okung has one above-average season. If Percy Harvin can make the cut, despite his injury history, so should Jake Long.