The NFL just released its Pro Bowl roster for 2016. Honestly, not a bad job by the voters this year. In naming my Pro Bowl snubs, I do keep in mind that the Pro Bowl is not the All-Pro team. In other words, the Pro Bowl shouldn’t be a strict naming of the best players in the league for each position. The Pro Bowl is an All-Star team after all, and good players who had memorable seasons should be rewarded. However, problems arise when players who had bad seasons are voted in solely based on name recognition, or when lesser-known players who had big-time seasons are blatantly overlooked. With that said, here are this year’s Pro Bowl snubs.
The voting for quarterbacks was perfect in my opinion, though it is the easiest position to get right. Brady, Rodgers, Newton, Wilson, Palmer, and Roethlisberger: These are certainly the league’s top six. Somehow, Rodgers seems to be the small fish of the six.
Selections: Jonathan Stewart, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Todd Gurley, Devonta Freeman, Doug Martin
Martin, Gurley, Freeman, Stewart—these guys all deserved to be rewarded in a weak running back year. As for LeSean McCoy, a case can be made for fellow division runner Chris Ivory. Some numbers:
Chris Ivory: 951 yards, 7 touchdowns
LeSean McCoy: 895 yards, 3 touchdowns
Selections: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall
Johnson did have another 1,000-yard season, but this is not his year. For the snubbed Allen Robinson, don’t look at how he’s on the Jacksonville Jaguars—he has had an incredible year, and is virtually unguardable in the vertical passing game. Again, let’s set up a comparison.
Allen Robinson: 69 rec, 1,141 yards, 13 touchdowns, 26 plays of 20+ yards (league-leading, by a long shot no less)
Calvin Johnson: 72 rec, 1,000 yards, 7 touchdowns, 12 plays of 20+ yards
One can also consider making a case for Doug Baldwin. For all the talk about Russell Wilson going off, Baldwin has caught 10 touchdown passes in the past four weeks and is the No. 1 wideout on the current top passing attack in the league.
Selections: Mike Tolbert, Marcel Reece
No issues here.
Selections: Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas, Andrew Whitworth, Trent Williams
Pretty impressive offensive tackle voting this year. There’s always room for debate, but all six guys on the roster are worthy, though they’re all pretty well-known.
Selections: David DeCastro, Mike Iupati, Zack Martin, Josh Sitton, Trai Turner, Marshal Yanda
I like the recognition of DeCastro. Much is said about the skill position players on the Steelers offense, but the line has performed well all year, with DeCastro being a standout there.
Sitton is another big-name player who gets votes off name recognition. Don’t get me wrong, he’s had yet another great season. I just wonder how many votes Richie Incognito had in a remarkable comeback season with the Bills.
Selections: Travis Frederick, Ryan Kalil, Alex Mack, Mike Pouncey
Pouncey and Mack had Pro Bowl-caliber seasons in the past, but they were quite pedestrian this year. Vikings fans all want some recognition for Joe Berger. The journeyman has surprisingly had a ridiculously good season filling in for fellow Pro Bowl-worthy Vikings center John Sullivan.
The Bills’ Eric Wood and Giants’ Weston Richburg (Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 rated center) also deserve some recognition for great seasons. I would say that even someone like Chiefs rookie Mitch Morse had a more memorable year than Pouncey or Mack this season.
Selections: Tyler Eifert, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen
Not too many qualms for the tight end position. In a top-heavy year for tight ends, Gronkowski is the clear No. 1 and Eifert the clear No. 2. Kelce of the Chiefs did get some much-deserved recognition. However, overlooked is Gary Barnidge’s monster season, and the Titans’ Delanie Walker.
Selections: Ezekiel Ansah, Michael Bennett, Chandler Jones, Khalil Mack, J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson
A pretty solid list. Fellow Seahawk Cliff Avril could arguably be put in over Bennett.
Selections: Geno Atkins, Calais Campbell, Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Gerald McCoy, Kawann Short
This is not the year for the Bucs star McCoy. Linval Joseph on the Vikings may just be the best tackle in the league. Brandon Williams of the Ravens is a black hole in the middle of line that swallows up running plays. Even fellow draft class star Ndamukong Suh had a more upstanding season than McCoy this year.
Selections: Jamie Collins, Thomas Davis, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware
It’s nice to see Davis get some recognition after a decade of solid play in the league. But alas, there are just so many elite outside linebackers this year. Players whose names scream snub are the Cowboys’ Sean Lee, the Vikings’ Anthony Barr, and the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright. I would also like to see the Redskins’ Ryan Kerrigan get some credit.
Selections: NaVorro Bowman, Luke Kuechly, Clay Matthews, Bobby Wagner
Matthews is your standard name-recognition pick. Denver’s inside linebacker duo of Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall have both played lights out. Derrick Johnson may just be the best inside linebacker in the league behind Luke Kuechly. Wagner—while deserving in previous seasons—has not particularly had a standout season.
Selections: Malcolm Butler, Chris Harris, Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib
Malcolm Butler probably shouldn’t have gotten in over fellow Patriot Logan Ryan. Likewise, the Chiefs’ Marcus Peters probably should not have gotten the nod over fellow Chief Sean Smith. Peters is targeted a lot, so he is more recognizable, but that is only because Smith blankets the over side of the field.
Brashaun Breeland of the Redskins also deserves some love. The Bills’ Ronald Darby is probably the best defensive rookie in the league, and he had a better season than Peters or Butler.
Selections: Tyrann Mathieu, Reggie Nelson, Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, Kam Chancellor, Charles Woodson
This was the most error-filled position in my opinion. The Seahawks’ safeties and Reggie Nelson are entirely recognition picks. Though I love Charles Woodson, and though he is retiring after this season, he did not deserve this spot. There are just so many great safeties who don’t get any credit.
Harrison Smith of the Vikings, Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles, and Reshad Jones of the Dolphins are the most blatant absences. The Panthers’ Kurt Coleman, and the Patriots’ Devin McCourty or Patrick Chung also had Pro Bowl-worthy years. Let’s set up another stat comparison.
Reshad Jones: 124 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns)
Kam Chancellor: 74 tackles, 0 sacks, 2 interceptions
Punters: Sam Koch, Johnny Hekker; Kickers: Stephen Gostkowski, Dan Bailey; Return Specialists: Darren Sproles, Tyler Lockett; Special Teamers: Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel
Finally, congrats to the following players for making their first Pro Bowl.
- Devonta Freeman
- Todd Gurley
- Jonathan Stewart
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Tyler Eifert
- Travis Kelce
- David DeCastro
- Trai Turner
- Muhammad Wilkerson
- Khalil Mack
- Chandler Jones
- Ezekiel Ansah
- Jamie Collins
- Thomas Davis
- Marcus Peters
- Fletcher Cox
- Kawann Short
- Malcolm Butler
- Josh Norman
- Reggie Nelson
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Dan Bailey
- Sam Koch
- Tyler Lockett
- Michael Bennett