Pac-12 Football Alumni All-NFL Team

Aaron Rodgers is the easy choice for quarterback of the All-Pac-12 Alumni Team

A lot of the fun of being a college football fan (at least on Sunday) is watching your favorite college players go on to have great careers in the NFL and fans of the Pac-12, no matter which team they are a fan of, have plenty of players to keep track of.

While USC does have far and away the most players of anyone in the conference (all of these numbers are according to ESPN) with 57, many would be surprised that Cal actually has the second most, followed by Arizona State. Despite recent successful programs such as Oregon and Stanford having fewer players than underachieving programs like Cal and Arizona State, a program's success can easily be traced to how many players they have in the NFL. It shouldn't be surprising that the much maligned programs of Washington, Washington State and Colorado are at the bottom of the list, all with less than 20 players. Another interesting surprise would be that Utah, which had been in a non-BCS conference up until last year, is actually tied with Oregon for fourth.

While the sheer numbers of how many NFL alumni programs have, it is interesting to see which players from the Pac-12 are the best at their position, an All-Pac-12 Pro Bowl team of sorts.

Offense

QB Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Cal

The obvious choice, Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and one season removed from winning Super Bowl MVP. If you could pick any quarterback in the league to start your team, it would be hard not to pick Rodgers.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew Jacksonville UCLA

Last season's leading rusher, Jones-Drew is a back unlike any other because of his height, but also because of his extreme toughness combined with breakaway speed and elusive quickness. Jones-Drew has superstar potential but has been buried in Jacksonville playing for the worst franchise in the league.

RB Marshawn Lynch Seattle Cal

Started strong in Buffalo before floundering and ending up on the Seahawks where he has rejuvenated his career and literally has put the team on his back. After a strong playoff performance in 2010-11, Lynch put up more than 1,200 yards last season and tied for second in rushing touchdowns.

T Jordan Gross Carolina Utah

A Pro Bowl regular and All Pro in 2008, Gross has started every single game he has been healthy during his NFL career, and though he doesn't fit the mold of the massive left tackle but has established himself as one of the best tackles in the league.

G Zane Beadles Denver Utah

The Broncos are known for having tough, road grating offensive linemen who pave the way for a stable of backs and Beadles fits the mold perfectly.

C Ryan Kalil Carolina USC

A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Kalil has grown into one of the best centers in football, taking home All Pro honors in 2011 and recently signing a contract that made him the highest paid center in the history of the league.

G Andy Levitre Buffalo Oregon State

Has started every game since he came into the league and made the All-Rookie team in 2009. The powerful guard is a key part of an underrated Bills running game.

T Tyron Smith Dallas USC

Immediately showed why the Cowboys made him a top 10 pick in his first season, starting each game and flashing enough potential for the Cowboys to move him from right tackle to left tackle.

WR Steve Smith Carolina Utah

The explosive Smith bounced back in 2011 after having back to back disappointing seasons and has regained his spot as one of the best receivers in the league.

WR DeSean Jackson Philadelphia Cal

One of the most exciting players in the league, Jackson is actually coming off a disappointing season where he put up the lowest numbers of his career. However, he should bounce back as his struggles in 2011 could be attributed to the overall disaster that was the Eagles last season.

TE Rob Gronkowski New England Arizona

The season that Gronkowski put together in 2011 might very well be the best ever for a tight end in the NFL. His receiving numbers would be ridiculous for a wide receiver, let alone a tight end.

K Jason Hanson Detroit Washington State

The oldest player on the team, Hanson holds a number of NFL records, including most games played with one team, Hanson is still accurate, hitting 82 percent of his field goals in 2011.

Defense

DE Andre Carter New England Cal

Coming off the best season of his career and first Pro Bowl selection, Carter was one of the few standouts on the Patriots defense in 2011 and was key in helping the team get to the Super Bowl.

DT Haloti Ngata Baltimore Oregon

Ngata has firmly planted himself as the best nose tackle in the league, earning All Pro honors each of the last four seasons and is a big part of why the Ravens defense is so vaunted.

DT Jurrell Casey Tennessee USC

Made a huge impact as a rookie, starting nearly every game and recording more than 70 tackles.

DE Frostee Rucker Cleveland USC

A reserve for most of his career, Rucker stepped out into the spotlight last season as a Bengal with more than 40 tackles and four sacks.

LB Terrell Suggs Baltimore Arizona State

Unfortunately, last season's Defensive Player of the Year, tore his achilles this off-season, so fans likely won't be able to watch one of the most dynamic linebackers in recent history play in 2012.

LB Clay Matthews Green Bay USC

Sometimes it seems like Matthews is best known for his wild mane of hair, but the young linebacker's play is what should really command attention as he has made three straight Pro Bowls and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

LB Lance Briggs Chicago Arizona

It's almost tragic that Briggs has been overshadowed by Brian Urlacher because he has been one of the best linebackers in the league for nearly 10 years now and is still going strong.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha Philadelphia Cal

Had a disappointing year in 2011, his first with the Eagles, but he has been regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league throughout his career, named All Pro four times.

CB Brandon Browner Seattle Oregon State

Came out of nowhere and was named to the Pro Bowl last season after having spending years in the CFL. Massive for a cornerback, Browner picked off 6 passes in 2011.

S Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh USC

One of the most recognizable players in the league, Polamalu is one of the best safeties to ever play in the league and the leader of the perpetually dominant Steelers defense.

S Eric Weddle San Diego Utah

Has been a solid safety his entire career, but broke out in 2011 with 7 interceptions and was named to his first Pro Bowl.

P Chris Kluwe Minnesota UCLA

Is more well known for his eccentric behavior and comments on last year's labor dispute, but he has been a solid punter for the Vikings throughout his career.

2nd Team

Offense

QB Alex Smith San Francisco Utah

There is a huge drop off from 1st team to 2nd team here, but Smith completely rejuvenated his career last season, leading the 49ers to their best season in years while putting up good numbers.

RB Steven Jackson St. Louis Oregon State

One of the toughest and most consistent backs in the league and has fought through injuries and playing behind a weak line. Unfortunately has suffered from playing for a recently hapless franchise.

RB Reggie Bush Miami USC

Has battled injuries, high expectations and controversy during his career and finally had a breakout season in 2011, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and starting almost every game of the season for the Dolphins.

T Khalif Barnes Oakland Washington

An athletic veteran, Barnes started every game last year for the Raiders at right tackle and is key in the Raiders ground attack.

G Adam Snyder Arizona Oregon

The veteran guard was a standout with the 49ers for the past seven seasons, paving the way for Frank Gore and was added by the Cardinals in hopes that he can help jump start their running game.

C Alex Mack Cleveland Cal

One of the best young offensive linemen in the league, having started every single game of his three year career with the Browns and being named to the Pro Bowl in 2010.

G Geoff Schwartz Minnesota Oregon

Stepped it up as a Panther, starting every game in 2011 and was signed by the Vikings in the off-season to help improve the line for Adrian Peterson.

T Eben Britton Jacksonville Arizona

Has battled injuries the last few seasons, but when healthy, he is very adept at opening up holes for Jones-Drew.

WR Damian Williams Tennessee USC

Broke out as a starter for the Titans last year and had more than 500 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns.

WR Doug Baldwin Seattle Stanford

Is just one of many under the radar Pac-12 alumni whose career Pete Carroll has jumpstarted. Baldwin went undrafted in 2011 but ending up being the Seahawks leading receiver in 2011 with more than 700 yards.

TE Tony Gonzalez Atlanta Cal

One of the greatest tight ends of all time also seems to be ageless as he put together one of the best seasons of anyone at his position last year with 80 catches, more than 800 yards and 7 touchdowns.

K Mason Crosby Green Bay Colorado

Gets plenty of chances to kick extra points with the Packers high octane offense but is also a solid field goal kicker, knocking in 79 percent in 2011.

Defense

DE Kenyon Coleman Dallas UCLA

A veteran, Coleman started his second stint with Cowboys last season and is a great run stuffer.

DT Sione Pouha NY Jets Utah

A tough, run-stuffer, Pouha has been a standout up front for the Jets the last three seasons , racking up a large amount of tackles for a defensive tackle.

DT Brandon Mebane Seattle Cal

Had the best season of his career in 2011 and was part of a vastly underrated Seahawks defense.

DE Lawrence Jackson Detroit USC

Came on slow with the Seahawks but has turned it up with the Lions and recorded 10.5 sacks in the last two seasons.

LB Desmond Bishop Green Bay Cal

Emerged as a starter in 2010 and has grown into one of the better linebackers in the league, racking up more than 100 tackles each of the last two seasons.

LB Brian Cushing Houston USC

Broke out immediately as the NFL Defensive Rookie of Year and an All-Pro selection but was suspended in 2010 because of steroid accusations. Cushing bounced back in 2011 by getting selected All-Pro for the second time in his three year career.

LB Nick Barnett Buffalo Oregon State

Was a starter and standout for the Packers for eight years and rejuvenated his career last year with a solid season with the Bills.

CB Antoine Cason San Diego Arizona

Hasn't quite turned into the shutdown corner that the Chargers thought he was going to be, but he has started the majority of the games for them in the last two years and has grabbed 6 interceptions.

CB Richard Sherman Seattle Stanford

Only played a year at cornerback at Stanford but was still drafted in the 5th Round of the 2011 draft by the Seahawks and used his big body and physical play to emerge as a standout corner, grabbing 4 interceptions in his first season.

S Dashon Goldson San Francisco Washington

A versatile safety who is both hard hitting and ball hawking, Goldson stepped up last season and was a big part of the resurgence of the 49ers defense and was named to his first ever Pro Bowl.

S Jairus Byrd Buffalo Oregon

Came out of the gates strong with 9 interceptions in 2009 and has remained one of the best safeties in the league with amazing ball skills.

P Nick Harris Carolina Cal

Has been punting in the league for more than 10 years and holds a 35 yard average for his career.

Honorable Mention

Some of the decisions were very tough to make so I wanted to note some guys who were really close to making the team. I guess these guys would be like injured reserve.

QB - Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Matt Moore - All of these guys are about on the same level skill wise as Alex Smith, but Smith gets the nod for leading the best team in 2011.

T - Sam Baker, Will Svitek - Baker had a strong start to his career but injuries have led to him playing less in recent seasons and Svitek is actually getting more playing time with the Falcons but still not a full time starter

G - Shawn Lauvao, Deuce Lutui - Lauvao is a solid starter for the Browns but still hasn't fully established himself and Lutui spent a few years as a starter for the Cardinals but has slipped in recent seasons.

C - Max Unger - Has started every game for the Seahawks that he has been healthy for but with Kalil and Mack being Pac-12 alumni 1st and 2nd team at center are pretty tough to crack.

TE - Fred Davis, Ed Dickson, Marcedes Lewis - Davis and Dickson had big years in 2011 while Lewis had a very down year but is an elite talent. However, like center, tight end is a tough position to crack with Gronkowski and Gonzalez in the league.

DE - Cameron Jordan, Tyler Brayton, Everson Griffen - This was actually one of the weakest position for Pac-12 alumni and stats separated these guys just a little bit.

DT - Mike Patterson, Brian Price, Tyson Alualu - Not much top depth here for the conference other than Ngata so not much separated these guys from making 2nd Team other than stats.

CB - Alterraun Verner - Really struggled between Verner and Sherman, but chose Sherman because of what he brings to one of the best defensive backfields in the league.

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