Playbook Pro Bowlers: Our NFC picks

While it takes a full season of work to be regarded as a Pro Bowler, voting has started on NFL.com for this year’s squads.

Since we expect all of you to vote, we thought it would be prudent to gather what we have seen on coaching tape and offer our opinion on who is playing at Pro Bowl-level in the NFC in 2011.

A few of the most interesting picks:

QB Cam Newton, Panthers — Newton is playing at such a high level, we just had to put him on our team. The rookie has made the most of his opportunities and the personnel he has around him. While he may not be a traditional pocket passer, his style has been more than effective. He should only get better as the season progresses.

FB Jed Collins, Saints – The “T-1000,” as we have dubbed him, has been a key piece of New Orleans’ resurgence this season as one of the NFL’s better rushing teams. He has proven to be a weapon on the goal line with three TDs (two rushing, one receiving) as well as leading the way for Sproles, Thomas, and Ingram.  Collins’  fearless blocking and ability to annihilate opposing LBs makes him our choice.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants – JPP has played worlds above his performance as a rookie last season. He has 9.5 sacks in nine games and has been stout against the run as well with 40 tackles. JPP is starting to apply the size and athleticism that made him a first-round pick in 2010 to the game, and it is paying off big time.

DT Ray McDonald, 49ers – The 49ers’ superb defensive play is the primary reason for their hot start. Their success begins up front with McDonald and Justin Smith, who usually don’t put up numbers in the 3-4 or get much attention. But McDonald and Smith have combined for 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles while also setting the stage for a phenomenal linebacking corps (see ILB Patrick Willis below, and we debated Navorro Bowman as well).

Carlos Rogers, 49ers – Considered to be a colossal disappointment by most Redskins’ fans, Rogers has gotten a fresh start in San Francisco and it has paid off in a big way. He already has 5 INTs – more than he had in any full season with the Redskins – including one he brought back for a TD.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Drew Brees, Saints
Cam Newton. Panthers

Running backs
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Matt Forte, Bears
LeSean McCoy, Eagles

Fullback
Jed Collins, Saints

Wide receivers
Calvin Johnson, Lions
Greg Jennings, Packers
Steve Smith, Panthers

Tight ends
Jermichael Finley, Packers
Jimmy Graham, Saints

Tackles
Jordan Gross, Panthers
Jason Peters, Eagles
Anthony Davis, 49ers

Guards
Harvey Dahl, Rams
Carl Nicks, Saints
Davin Joseph, Buccaneers

Center
Ryan Kalil, Panthers

Kicker
Dan Bailey, Cowboys

DEFENSE

Defensive ends
Jared Allen, Vikings
Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants
Julius Peppers, Bears

Defensive tackles
Ray McDonald, 49ers
Justin Smith, 49ers
Ndamukong Suh, Lions

Inside linebackers
Patrick Willis, 49ers
Desmond Bishop, Packers

Outside linebackers
DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
Clay Matthews, Packers
Lance Briggs, Bears

Cornerbacks
Charles Woodson, Packers
Carlos Rogers, 49ers
Brent Grimes, Falcons

Strong safety
Amari Spievey, Lions

Free safety
Morgan Burnett, Packers

Punter
Michael Koenen, Buccaneers

Kick returner
Devin Hester, Bears

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET (AFC) and 9 p.m. ET (NFC) on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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