Ends: Michael Strahan, Giants, and Bruce Smith, Bills. Strahan has been impressive all year, against both the ". run and the pass. Smith, who is double-teamed more than any end, gets the call over the Lions' Robert Porcher, who had a terrific season.
Tackles: Ted Washington, Bills, and Dana Stubblefield, 49ers. The Washington pick was a no-brainer. No one controls the middle the way he does. Stubblefield's running mate, Bryant Young, is the most technically sound tackle in the game, but when he got hurt, Stubblefield stepped up his game and the Niners hardly missed a beat.
Linebackers: Jessie Armstead, Giants; Levon Kirkland, Steelers; and Ray Lewis, Ravens. People snickered when I picked Armstead last season, but he's the best at playing the open side. Kirkland and Lewis line up inside, but when their teams go to the nickel, they have outside responsibilities. Kirkland has held Pittsburgh's front seven together. Lewis is a human tackling machine, always around the ball.
Cornerbacks: Deion Sanders, Cowboys, and Aeneas Williams, Cardinals. You tend to forget about Deion because teams refuse to test him. Williams has faced the top enemy receiver, man-to-man, every week, and he's had a fine season. So has the Redskins' Cris Dishman, my No. 3.
Strong safety: LeRoy Butler, Packers. He blitzes, covers, shakes up the opposing offenses; in short, he does it all. Dallas's Darren Woodson was having an excellent year until injuries hampered him.
Free safety: Marcus Robertson, Oilers. A crowded position, with Green Bay's Eugene Robinson and San Francisco's Merton Hanks both having typically good years, but the more I watched Robertson, the more impressed I was with his range and instincts.
Kicker: Pete Stoyanovich, Chiefs. He has missed only one field goal in 27 attempts, and his 54-yarder to beat the Broncos was the most dramatic kick of the season.
Punter: Matt Turk, Redskins. Averaged 4.63-second hang time in the 10 games I saw him, the best of anyone. Boots the ball high and deep when Washington is backed up, my No. 1 criterion for punters.