Time to vote for the Pro Bowl

Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sure is making it sound like the Pro Bowl will cease to exist at some point in the future, the meaningless exhibition game will be played this season.

Balloting for this season’s Pro Bowl has begun.

You can make your own choices, but I’ll throw out same names of guys I think are at least making a decent case for the Pro Bowl. We’ll go by position:

Quarterback: Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is getting mentioned in MVP conversations. Despite New Orleans’ overall struggles, Drew Brees is putting up some big numbers.

Running back: I’d look outside the NFC South at this position.

Fullback: On ability alone, I’d like to say Carolina’s Mike Tolbert. But, then I look at his 2.5-yard average per carry and Carolina’s record and I can’t really justify this.

Wide receiver: Atlanta’s Roddy White would be my top choice and teammate Julio Jones also deserves some consideration. Same for New Orleans’ Marques Colston and Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson, if they keep producing like they have in recent weeks.

Tight end: Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez is having a tremendous season. If he gets healthy soon, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham is a possibility. Greg Olsen is one of the few bright spots in Carolina, but, again, the team’s record will work against him.

Offensive line: As far as tackles, maybe Carolina’s Jordan Gross, mostly based on reputation. At guard, Tampa Bay’s Carl Nicks and New Orleans’ Jahri Evans are strong candidates. With Carolina’s Ryan Kalil done for the season, I’m not seeing any NFC South centers that are worthy of going to the Pro Bowl.

Defensive end: Atlanta’s John Abraham is a strong candidate. Tampa Bay’s Michael Bennett is quietly having a nice season. If he can pile up some more sacks and the Bucs can win a few games, he could become a legitimate candidate.

Defensive tackle: Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy might be the only candidate at this spot.

Linebacker: Atlanta’s Sean Weatherspoon easily is the top choice here.

Cornerback: Not sure there are any strong candidates here, mainly because there are some very strong candidates at other positions.

Safety: If Atlanta keeps winning, Thomas DeCoud and William Moore will become legitimate candidates. Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber already is a very legitimate candidate.

Kicker: I don’t think Atlanta’s Matt Bryant ever has received the credit he deserves. With the Falcons winning, this could be the year Bryant gets some attention.

Punter: New Orleans’ Thomas Morstead is averaging 51.2 yards a punt.

Return man: New Orleans’ Darren Sproles has a chance to make it on reputation alone.