The strike scrambled the 1982 All-Pro picture. The great runners—Earl Campbell. Walter Payton, Tony Dorsett, Billy Sims—were hardly heard from. The Cowboys' Randy White, everyone's automatic choice at defensive tackle, came back from the layoff heavy and ineffective. Through the first seven games of the season the Packers' feared receiving tandem of James Lofton and J.J. Jefferson had one touchdown catch between them. Crazy stuff.
Some picks were easy. Dwight Clark is the best possession receiver in football, Wes Chandler the top long-ball man. Kellen Winslow shades the Bengals' Dan Ross at tight end by weight of numbers.
Larry Brown finally has gotten the recognition he's deserved at offensive tackle. Mike Kenn was steady. Keep an eye on Card rookie Tootie Robbins. A budding superstar.
The guards are the same as last year. John Hannah was slightly hobbled with a knee injury, but he still dominated. Doug Wilkerson is just so pretty to watch.
Center was an agonizing choice. The Steelers' Mike Webster had another fine year, but we're going with a sleeper, Dwight Stephenson, who has given the Dolphins that muscle up the middle that Don Shula so dearly loves.
Dan Fouts can't be overlooked at quarterback. He had the kind of year you frame and hang on the wall. Both our runners are I formation tailbacks, read-and-react guys. That seems to be the coming style. Marcus Allen is the complete back—runner, receiver, blocker. Freeman McNeil has been consistently effective.
The NFL's leading sacker through eight games was Philly Defensive End Dennis Harrison with 10½, but we're going with Lee Roy Selmon on consistency, plus Lyle Alzado, who is once again a pass-rushing maniac.
The defensive tackle position looks strange without White, but he simply hasn't had the year that Doug English and Dan Hampton have had. Hampton made the switch from defensive end, returning to his old college position.
There's a crowd at outside linebacker. Lawrence Taylor of the Giants played hurt a lot but still made big plays. Atlanta's Joel Williams should have made the Pro Bowl roster, and so should the Jets' Lance Mehl. But no pair did as much for their overall defensive picture as Hugh Green, the dominating linebacker of 1982, and Mike Douglass.
With much grumbling, Jack Lambert adjusted to the 3-4. Sorry, but I can't pick inside linebackers who leave the field on passing downs. Watch the Patriots' Clayton Weishuhn as a future.
Cornerbacks are chalk: Mark Haynes and Everson Walls. Ronnie Lott got caught in the 49ers' collapse and tried to do too much. The Redskins came up with a sensational rookie in Vernon Dean. Tony Peters and Tim Fox were the most consistent safetymen. The Rams' Nolan Cromwell had a mysteriously disappointing year.
Mark Moseley is the kicker. Any arguments? Our punter. Rich Camarillo, caught tough weather conditions in six of the last seven games and still finished with the second-best net average.
Joe Gibbs was an easy choice as Coach of the Year, and Dwight Clark is our Player of the Year, narrowly shading Marcus Allen and Hugh Green.
DR. Z's ALL-PRO TEAM
WIDE RECEIVERS—Dwight Clark, San Francisco, and Wes Chandler, San Diego
TIGHT END—Kellen Winslow, San Diego
TACKLES—Larry Brown, Pittsburgh, and Mike Kenn, Atlanta
GUARDS—John Hannah, New England, and Doug Wilkerson, San Diego
CENTER—Dwight Stephenson, Miami
QUARTERBACK—Dan Fouts, San Diego
RUNNING BACKS—Marcus Allen, L.A. Raiders, and Freeman McNeil, N.Y. Jets
ENDS—Lee Roy Selmon, Tampa Bay, and Lyle Alzado, L.A. Raiders
TACKLES—Doug English, Detroit, and Dan Hampton, Chicago
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS—Hugh Green, Tampa Bay, and Mike Douglass, Green Bay
MIDDLE LINEBACKER—Jack Lambert, Pittsburgh
CORNERBACKS—Mark Haynes, N.Y. Giants, and Everson Walls, Dallas
STRONG SAFETY—Tony Peters, Washington
FREE SAFETY—Tim Fox, San Diego
KICKER—Mark Moseley, Washington
PUNTER—Rich Camarillo, New England
COACH OF THE YEAR
Joe Gibbs, Washington
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dwight Clark, San Francisco