To say that Ryan Clady's rookie NFL season with the Denver Broncos has been a success would be an understatement. It has not been merely a success. It has been an epiphany on the scale of the Pope finding GodTube.
Wrap your head around these numbers: Clady has started all 14 games for the Broncos, has incurred only three penalties, and has allowed exactly one-half of a sack, despite facing players like Julius Peppers, John Abraham, Derrick Burgess, Richard Seymour, and the NFL's leading sack man, Joey Porter.
Chances are good he might have literally killed a WAC defensive end if he had stayed around for his senior season with Boise State.
All of Clady's accomplishments have not gone unnoticed, either - at least not from the people who know their football. Perhaps the NFL's most knowledgeable site - Football Outsiders - placed Clady on their fake AFC Pro Bowl roster, as did the Pro Football Weekly team. All five of NFL.com's writing staff picked Clady as a shoo-in for the Pro Bowl, too.
And then he didn't make it.
Actual Pro Bowl voting is not done by the geniuses behind Football Outsiders and PFW. It is done in equal parts by players, coaches, and fans, and unfortunately for Clady, fans - especially Raider fans - are no geniuses. It appears that the fan vote put the screws to Clady this year, as he did not finish in the top five, making his inclusion on the Pro Bowl roster nigh impossible.
"I don't know if I deserve it," Clady said when asked about potentially gaining Pro Bowl recognition. "There's a lot of great players out there."
This may be true, but Bills OT Jason Peters is not one of them.
We're not going to sweat Clady's Pro Bowl snub for a couple of reasons: a) to many, the Pro Bowl matters only slightly more than the Champs Sports Bowl, and b) Clady will probably get in at some point. NFL players love the distinction of being chosen for the Pro Bowl, but they do not necessarily enjoy playing in it. As such, they are likely to make up injuries or excuses not to play, forcing the NFL to go to its second, third, or fourth options. We have to imagine that Clady is a second, third, or fourth option.
A much more deserving honor for the rookie offensive tackle would be winning Rookie of the Year. If only he could play quarterback for the team's final two games ...
The ROY is basically for skill players, and Atlanta QB Matt Ryan seems to be Clady's chief rival for the award. Ryan, along with Tennessee RB Chris Johnson and Houston RB Steve Slaton, are flashy rookies who have made names for themselves with big statistical seasons. Oh yeah? Well, have any of them done this to an NFL defensive end?
On the next play, Chauncey Davis tried all the speed and strength he had to get around and outside Clady. He appeared to have an advantage for a split second when he was side-by-side with Cutler, but then Clady dialed it back in and simply mauled Davis to the ground.
We think not.
No offensive lineman has ever won the Rookie of the Year award, so Clady has an awfully tall mountain to climb. Perhaps he needs his coach to put in a few good words for him.
... Mike Shanahan argues Clady might be the best left tackle in football, rookie or not. Since there are no stats, I asked for some specs. Shanahan obliged:
"Arm length," he said. "Size. Quickness. Speed. He moves his feet like he's 240 pounds, but he's 325. That doesn't happen very often. And he's competitive. Tough."
When is the best left tackle in all of football not the NFL's Rookie of the Year? When he's an offensive tackle.
Let's at least hope this Pro Bowl thing works out for him.
Read more: Broncos' Clady deserves rookie of the year consideration [Rocky Mountain News]