Each year, the Associated Press polls a select group of 50 journalists and sportscasters to name who they think are the best players at their respective positions. After the regular season is over the result – the AP All Pro team – is officially announced.
The 2016 team was made public today and it features the following New England Patriots:
ST Matthew Slater
That’s it. Slater, who has been voted to the 2016 Pro Bowl and will receive the Bart Starr Award on Super Bowl weekend, is the lone member of the 14-2 Patriots to be named first team All Pro. He is one of 17 newcomers on the revamped team which includes the special teams designation for the first time.
While Slater made the first team, six Patriots were named to the second team:
QB Tom Brady
RT Marcus Cannon
LB Dont’a Hightower
CB Malcolm Butler
S Devin McCourty
ST Nate Ebner
Brady was edged out by the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan, who received 29 votes compared to Brady’s 15. It is the fourth time that the NFL’s best quarterback has made an All Pro team: He was voted to the first squad in 2007 and 2010 and was on the second team in 2005.
Marcus Cannon received six votes, which was not enough to beat out first teamer Jack Conklin (Tennessee Titans, 27.5). It did, however, tie him with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Mitchell Schwartz for second most among right tackles. It is the first time that Cannon has been voted to an All Pro team – and also the first time that right tackle was its own voting category.
Nate Ebner, who also has not yet been voted to an All Pro team, joins Brady and Cannon on the second team. He received 12 votes and trailed only Slater (14) in the newly created special teams category.
Devin McCourty (4 votes) tied for 3rd place and Malcolm Butler (8 votes) tied for 4th place and are the starting safety and corner on the Second Team All Pro roster, just like LB Jamie Collins was Second Team All Pro as 4th place at his position last year.
Dont’a Hightower only received 1 vote, but he was in a eight-way tie for 6th place. Since the new All Pro team features three linebackers, Hightower is technically Second Team All Pro at the position.
In addition to the seven players named above, the following members of the Patriots also received votes at their respective positions but not enough to make either the first or the second team (votes and position ranking in parenthesis) :
TE Rob Gronkowski (1/3)
ST James Develin (3/t-4)
Butler and McCourty also received votes in the newly created "defensive back" category – five and one, respectively.