While we’ve taught ourselves never to be shocked by the Pro Bowl, we couldn’t help but raise our eyebrows when the roster was announced. Three of our top five contenders from last week’s Defensive Player of the Year didn’t make the roster.
What is that all about?
So we’ve put together another list of our candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, and as ever it’s proved the toughest of lists to do. So many legitimate candidates, and all deserving of a mention. If only my editor would let me change it to the top 20 candidates, my life would be guilt free and I’d sleep easy.
Alas he won’t, so here’s the top 10.
1. Kyle Williams, DT, Bills (+46.7)
Had his worst game of the year against a well drilled Patriots offensive line, but everyone is allowed the occasional off day. Especially when you lead defensive tackles in quarterback disruptions and defensive stops. Last week: 1st
2. Trent Cole, DE, Eagles (+45.9)
Another glaring omission from the Pro Bowl roster, Cole is a player who has never got the respect he deserves. No defensive end has harassed the quarterback as much as Cole. Last week: 2nd
3. Justin Smith, DE, 49ers (+39.9)
If I was an official I wouldn’t get in Justin Smith’s way. Heck if I was a offensive line-man I’d probably do my best to avoid him as well; at times Smith is so dominant you almost get that impression. Gave the Rams interior a torrid time. Last week: 5th
4. Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs (+50.4)
If I want a guy rushing the passer then I’m giving Hali a call. There simply isn’t another player out there who has matched his production when it comes to putting pressure on the QB. And yet he’ll be sitting at home while the Pro Bowl is going on. Last week: 4th
5. James Harrison, OLB, Steelers (+42.4)
When Mike Tomlin says Harrison is an MVP type candidate he’s not wrong. The one thing that is against him (and badly) are those penalties. Doesn’t stop him being this high up, because his play has been tremendous. Last week: Not ranked
6. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears (+41.8)
Was Peppers at his best against the Jets? No. Does that mean he’s not had a tremendous year? No again. We’ll settle for dropping him some spots on this occasion. Last week: 3rd
7. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Chiefs (+32.5)
While some of our top ranked linebackers struggled, Johnson had another good outing and is really putting a case forward for being the most complete middle linebacker in the league. Last week: Not ranked
8. Quintin Mikell, S, Eagles (+17.0)
We’re starting to think there’s an agenda against Eagles defenders, almost a belief that the schemes make them and thus any credit is taken away from them. It’s not the case, and I’m confident saying Mikell is the best safety in the league. Last week: Not ranked
9. Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers (+38.6)
Despite the horror show of a season the Panthers have put forth, Johnson has just got better and better. He now leads defensive ends in stops, and is second in quarterback disruptions. Not a glaring omission from the Pro Bowl, but really darn close to being one. Last week: Not ranked
10. Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings (+22.7)
How can you not like Antoine Winfield? A truly complete corner, it was nice to see the Vikings start using some zone blitzes to take advantage of him in a new way. With the play of Winfield and Champ Bailey it’s been a year for the defensive backs many had written off. Last week: 10th
Dropped Out: Haloti Ngata (Ravens), Terrell Suggs (Ravens), Cameron Wake (Dolphins) and Patrick Willis (49ers)
In The Mix: DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys), Lawrence Timmons (Steelers), Bart Scott (Jets), Kevin Williams (Vikings), Champ Bailey (Broncos) and Michael Huff (Raiders)