Four former B1G stars earn All-Pro nods
Despite playing for some of the NFL’s worst teams in 2015, a few former B1G stars had monster years and once again earned first-team All-Pro honors.
Marshal Yanda (Iowa), Joe Thomas (Wisconsin) and NaVorro Bowman (Penn State) all played for teams that failed to win six games. J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) was the only B1G All-Pro that earned a postseason berth.
Still, all managed to earn another place among the league’s best of the best.
Here’s why each B1G player was selected:
Joe Thomas (Cleveland, OT) — The former Wisconsin Badger earned an All-Pro nod for the sixth time playing for a bad Cleveland Browns team that lacked consistency at quarterback all year. Thomas allowed just 4.5 sacks and proved again that he’s one of the league’s best in pass protection.
Marshal Yanda (Baltimore, OG) — Arguably the top offensive lineman in the NFL right now, the former Hawkeye allowed just one sack all season blocking for the likes of immobile quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Clausen. Yanda made good on the $32 million extension he signed in October and was named Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 guard in 2015.
NaVorro Bowman (San Francisco, LB) — The tackling machine returned to form after a devastating playoff knee injury in 2013-14 and had his best statistical season to date. The former Lion racked up a career-high 154 tackles and 2.5 sacks playing in the middle of the 49er defense. It marked his fourth first-team All-Pro nod in his sixth year in the league.
J.J. Watt (Houston, DE) — The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year had yet another huge season wreaking havoc. The former Badger walk-on didn’t have one of his best sack years — though nobody would complain about 17.5 sacks — but he recorded 89 quarterback disruptions, according to Pro Football Focus. Watt’s title as the best defensive player in football only solidified itself in 2015.