Falcons’ All-Pros Have Been Rare


How do you determine a player’s greatness? Pro Bowl’s are largely popularity contests and not a solid indicator of true success. The number of championships won weighs heavily but not as much as in the NBA where one player can make the difference. I think the best indicator of an individual player’s talent is their inclusion on a First Team All-Pro (FTAP) list.

We know that Jim Otto (Raiders) and Jerry Rice (49ers/Raiders/Seahawks) have earned more FTAP berths (10) than any other player in history but what about NFL teams as a whole?

Which teams have not only had the most FTAP players but also the highest ratio of FTAPs? Hit the jump to dig into all the delicious statistical data and discover how the Atlanta Falcons’ FTAPs stack up against the rest of the league.

Since not all NFL teams began playing in 1920, we will use a ratio to ensure all data is judged equally. For example, the Packers have had 56 FTAPs while the Ravens have only had nine. However, the Packers have been playing football for 89 years – the Ravens only 14. Using some quick third grade mathematics we divide the FTAPs by the years the franchise has been active to arrive at our ratio.

Ravens – 0.64
Packers – 0.63

So even though the Packers have 47 more FTAPs than the Ravens, Baltimore has had more FTAPs, on average, per year of existence.

Remember this is based on individual players and not multiple All-Pro selections. We’ll get to the whole list in a minute, but for now – the division rankings.

Using the current divisional alignment, let’s see which teams can claim the highest ratio of FTAPs in ascending order.

"#8 – NFC South – The Panthers are the only NFC South team in the top half of the league. The Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers are in the bottom of the league when it comes to FTAPs.#7 – AFC North – This is a bit of a surprise as I would have expected the Steelers to carry this division, but it’s actually the Ravens with the highest ratio.#6 – AFC South – This division is buoyed by the Oilers/Titans and the Colts but almost nearly sunk by the lack of FTAPs for the Texans and Jaguars.#5 – NFC West – You’d expect the Seahawks and Cardinals to struggle in this category but I was surprised the Rams finished higher than the 49ers.#4 – AFC East – All four teams have had solid success in getting their players onto the FTAP lists.#3 – NFC East – The Redskins and Eagles have struggled to keep up with the Cowboys and Giants but as a whole this division is near the top.#2 – NFC North – The league’s oldest division – in terms of years played by each team – is carried by the Bears and Packers. No surprise there.#1 – AFC West – All four teams began play in 1960 and, as a division, they have represented (on average) the FTAP lists more than any other."

The Conferences

The National Football Conference (NFC) has more total FTAPs (562-445) but they’ve also played more combined seasons (995-721). With three of the top four teams, the American Football Conference (AFC) has been the superior FTAP conference.

The Individual Teams (Full List)

The Falcons are 30th in the NFL when it comes to FTAPs. They’ve had 13 in their 44-year history. The Saints are only slightly better and the Buccaneers are slightly worse. The Panthers are actually the NFC South leader with 10 FTAPs in only 15 years.

Is there a bias towards certain teams regarding First-Team All-Pros? Both of the NFL’s southern divisions are in the bottom three of the rankings – is that coincidence?

The Falcons have averaged an FTAP every three seasons. Michael Turner was a FTAP in 2008, so the Falcons should expect another one in 2011. Which Falcon player has the best chance to improve Atlanta’s low ranking?

-All-Pro Data obtained from Pro-Football-Reference