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Pro Bowl: Surprises and Snubs

Every year the NFL celebrates the top players in their league by playing the Pro Bowl. Votes by players, coaches, and fans determine who will be participating. Every year there are a couple surprises and snubs for people to debate, this year was no different. Even with the NFL getting rid of the old AFC-NFC format, which “should” eliminate most of the snubs because candidates happen to be in the wrong conference, there are still some big players that should be going that won’t be in Hawaii.

Quarterbacks selected: Peyton Manning – Den, Drew Brees – NO, Cam Newton – Car, Philip Rivers – SD, Tom Brady – NE, and Russell Wilson – Sea

This position is pretty stacked, not much too quibble with. Only one I would bring up would be Andrew Luck. He led his Colts to a 10-5 record with an AFC South title, however, who would you take out? Another player who played well was Tony Romo, but of course he wouldn’t have been able to play anyway because of his back injury.

Running Backs/Fullbacks selected: Jamaal Charles – KC, LeSean McCoy – Phi, Matt Forte – Chi, Marshawn Lynch – Sea, Adrian Peterson – Min, Frank Gore – SF, Marcel Reece – Oak, and Mike Tolbert – Car

I feel that Frank Gore was selected because of how respected he is by the fans, coaches, and players around the league. I have no problem with that, but if you are going purely based on what was done on the field, it’s tough not to reward Knowshon Moreno. He’s averaging over 100 total yards per game with 12 TDs. He is probably hurt by being on the same team as Peyton Manning. He never faces a stacked box.

Wide Receivers selected: Josh Gordon – Cle, Calvin Johnson – Det, Demaryius Thomas – Den, AJ Green – Cin, Antonio Brown – Pit, Brandon Marshall – Chi, Dez Bryant – Dal, and Andre Johnson – Hou

This is probably 1 of the positions that got the loudest grumbles because of Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery being left off the list. The only problem with that is who do you take off? Jeffery has had a GREAT year, over 1400 yards and 7 TDs, but all of the above WRs have had great years with more TDs except Andre Johnson, who is, like Gore, extremely well respected and his 1300+ yards weren’t too shabby. Jeffery will likely get in because of injury or 1 of the above 8 being in the Superbowl.

Tight Ends selected: Jimmy Graham – NO, Vernon Davis – SF, Julius Thomas – Den, and Jordan Cameron – Cle

The biggest snub here is Tony Gonzalez not getting voted in for his final year. He and Jordan Cameron’s numbers are pretty identical so I was surprised that the greatest Tight End in NFL history couldn’t get the nod by voted over the young Cleveland TE.

Offensive Linemen selected: Tackles – Joe Thomas – Cle, Brandon Albert – KC, Tyron Smith – Dal, Trent Williams – Was, Joe Staley – SF, Jason Peters – Phi, Guards – Jahri Evans – NO, Ben Grubbs – NO, Logan Mankins – NE, Louis Vasquez – Den, Mike Iupati – SF, Marshal Yanda – Bal, Centers – Mike Pouncey – Mia, Ryan Kalil – Car, Max Unger – Sea, and Alex Mack – Cle

Pretty hard to dispute any of these, but I was surprised to not see Carolina OT Jordan Gross and Detroit OG Larry Wolford. Both have had great years and I feel they deserved the spots over Trent Williams or Jason Peters at tackle and over Marshal Yanda at guard. Anyone that has seen Baltimore’s running game this year would agree.

Now that we’ve gone over the offensive positions, let’s move onto the side of the ball that is handicapped every year in the high scoring pro bowl, the defense.

Defensive Ends selected: JJ Watt – Hou, Mario Williams – Buf, Greg Hardy – Car, Cameron Wake – Mia, Robert Quinn – Stl, and Cameron Jordan – NO

Now don’t get me wrong JJ Watt is great as probably the best pass rusher in the league, but he had an off year like the entire Houston franchise.  Chandler Jones should have gotten his spot this year. He also could’ve been given the spot over Hardy, but I understand wanting to reward the best pass rusher on the best defense.

Defensive Tackles selected: Ndamukong Suh – Det, Gerald McCoy – TB, Dontari Poe – KC, Justin Smith – SF, Haloti Ngati – Bal, and Kyle Williams – Buf

I think this position had 2 very notable mistakes. It’s hard to argue with Suh, McCoy, and Poe with how well they played. It’s also nice for the voters to reward Kyle Williams for his very good year, but there is no way that you can name the top 6 DTs this year without naming Jurrell Casey of the Titans. He was good against the run and tied for the lead of all DTs with 10.5 sacks. Also another big snub here was Muhammad Wilkerson of the NY Jets, who was among the best run stuffers in the league at his position while matching Casey’s 10.5 sacks. Marcel Dareus of the Bills also had a good year, but it’s hard to justify 2 lineman from a team that wasn’t a top defense.

Outside Linebackers selected: Tamba Hali – KC, John Abraham – Ari, Robert Mathis – Ind, Terrell Suggs – Bal, Justin Houston – KC, and Ahmad Brooks – SF

I only have a problem with one person from this group — Ahmad Brooks.  I think most people would agree that Lavonte David of the TB Bucs had a superior year. With 137 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, and 10 passes deflected he did everything that anyone could possibly ask of a linebacker to do. Not only should he be a pro bowler, he should be a defensive player of the year candidate.

Inside Linebackers selected: Luke Kuechly – Car, Patrick Willis – SF, NaVorro Bowman – SF, Vontaze Burfict – Cin

Nothing to see here, just arguably the best middle linebacker group in the last 20 years of the pro bowl. I could name players with good years, but none come close to these 4. The voters got this one perfectly right.

Cornerbacks selected: Richard Sherman – Sea, Alterraun Verner – Ten, Darrelle Revis – TB, Joe Haden – Cle, Brandon Flowers – KC, Brent Grimes – Mia, Patrick Peterson – Ari, and Aqib Talib – NE

I have no problems with anyone here and the voters did a great job getting everyone correct. Everyone above are all shutdown corners and they all proved it this year.

Safeties selected: Free Safeties – Jarius Byrd – Buf, Earl Thomas – Sea, Eric Weddle – SD, Strong Safeties – Eric Berry – KC, Kam Chancellor – Sea, and Troy Polamalu – Pit

Antrel Rolle led all safeties in INTs, but he was a victim of how bad his defense was overall. I wouldn’t have put Byrd in, who only played 9 games nor Polamalu, who was burned numerous times this year. TJ Ward from the Cleveland Browns was probably the biggest snub here, as he got over 100 tackles, a couple INTs and a TD to boot. With the new-age heavy passing NFL, the safety position seemed very weak this year.

Special Teams players selected: Kickers – Matt Prater – Den, Justin Tucker – Bal, Punters – Brandon Fields – Mia, Johnny Hekker – Stl, Punt Returners – Antonio Brown – Pit, and Dexter McCluster – KC, Special teams – Justin Bethal – Ari, and Matthew Slater – NE

Only 2 names that come to mind here that are missing are Robbie Gould, the Kicker from the Chicago Bears and Cordarrelle Patterson, the KR from the Minnesota Vikings. I probably would have swapped them in for Prater and Brown, who already had a spot as a WR.

All in all, the voters did a good job with a few exceptions. It’s a game that’s meant to be fun and to have fans picture some of their favorite players all playing on the same squad to see the best vs. the best. As we come to the end of the regular season and the playoffs are about to begin, a lot of teams don’t have much to play for anymore, so it’s good that the ones who worked hard will at least get rewarded with a nice trip to Hawaii.  Enjoy the game!

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