10 biggest Pro Bowl snubs

Which deserving players won't be traveling to the Pro Bowl? Ben Stockwell breaks down the list of the biggest snubs.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

10 biggest Pro Bowl snubs

The announcement of the Pro Bowl roster every December brings with it three things: congratulations for roster spots well earned, questioning glances for puzzling selections, and commiserations for the deserving players snubbed by the process. Having predicted a few of the snubs a couple of weeks ago, I am now going to run the rule over the guys who were snubbed—at least in the initial selection process, before half the league winds up being selected as an injury or Super Bowl replacement down the line.

Thankfully, I was wrong when predicting Fletcher Cox’s omission, as the Eagles’ defensive end was deservingly elected to his first Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, the four other players I predicted two weeks ago did indeed miss out. You can read about the credentials of Terron Armstead, Anthony Barr, Darius Slay, and Doug Baldwin in my earlier article, but for now, I’ll go over new ground, because as always, there are plenty of deserving players who have been left on the outside looking in.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (89.1 overall grade)

Starting on the offensive side of the ball, we have a player whose raw numbers I expected to overcome the fact that breakout seasons are usually overlooked until a year later. His “base” numbers catch the eye, with 13 touchdowns now on the season, closing in on 1,200 receiving yards. Robinson has built his game around his work down the field. No one has more than his 17 receptions on passes 20+ yards in the air, and only Sammy Watkins can top his 559 receiving yards on deep targets. Name power has proven the downfall of breakout stars Robinson and Doug Baldwin this season, snubbed in favor of veterans like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans (93.6)

Staying in the AFC South—and in the passing game—Delanie Walker was squeezed out in a tight field at tight end, where receiving was weighted above all else. Even considering that balance, it’s still odd to see Walker snubbed after the two-touchdown display against the Patriots this weekend, proving that he is no mere blocker. At a position where the well-rounded tight end is a dying breed, Walker balances his threat in the passing game with strong work as a blocker, and his work this season more than deserved one of the four tight end nominations.

Weston Richburg, C, New York Giants (91.2)

This is one of the better put-together Pro Bowl rosters in recent seasons, but a couple of spots still reek of the name pushing certain players over the line; at center, that is certainly the case with Alex Mack (75.6) and Mike Pouncey (78.2) getting the nod after solid seasons when others have excelled. Weston Richburg is our highest-graded center this season, equally adept as a run blocker, pass protector and even working in front of screens. Richburg has proven, with his elite play this season, that he probably should have been at center for the Giants from day one of his rookie season, and if he keeps up this level of play, the accolades will soon follow.

Richie Incognito, G, Buffalo Bills (90.8)

A fellow snub in the trenches (and in the same state) comes in the shape of the returning Richie Incognito, who has been one of the league’s elite guards this season, only behind Marshal Yanda (93.0) in our grades. Now, I am hard-pressed to say that any of the six guards selected are undeserving—all six selected have had excellent seasons, with all earning a grade of 85.2 (David DeCastro) or higher to this point in the season. However, there seems to have been little appetite to give credit to Incognito’s excellent level of play this year in Buffalo, which has been exemplary and well-rounded, earning a top 10 grade as both a run blocker and a pass protector.

Joe Berger, C, Minnesota Vikings (90.0)

Rounding out our five offensive snubs is Berger, who has once again found playing time as an injury replacement, but this time around has excelled with an extended run on the field in John Sullivan’s absence. It is rare to be able to replace a top-tier talent and not see a drop off in play, but that is precisely what Berger has provided for the Vikings this season, especially as a run blocker, currently sitting comfortably atop our run block rankings. A journeyman backup coming in and excelling at a position that few notice, you could see this snub coming a mile off, but that doesn’t make it any less noteworthy.


Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins (92.5)

Shifting over to the defensive side, and we find Olivier Vernon, who perhaps started his run (at a crowded spot on the ballot) a little too late to earn recognition, but his second-half form has been remarkable. Filling the void for the injured Cameron Wake as the Dolphins’ top pass rusher, Vernon’s performance level and production since Week 10 has been astonishing. In the last six weeks, Vernon is our top-graded edge defender by a wide margin, and has recorded 20 hits on opposing quarterbacks in that time frame. To put that in perspective, only J.J. Watt (31) and Muhammad Wilkerson (21) have more than that in the entire season. Too little too late is perhaps the case for Vernon, but we can but hope his late-season surge is rewarded if roster spots open up due to injury or Super Bowl participation.

Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints (91.6)

A late season surge is something that you could definitely not level at Cameron Jordan, who has been ultra productive on a bad Saints’ defense since the start of the season. That last point is perhaps what has held Jordan off of the roster; unfairly overlooked on an individual level due to the failings of the defensive unit around him. What more Jordan could have done than rack up 66 defensive pressures, five batted passes, and 30 stops to help those around him, I’m not quite sure. A crowded pack on the edge for certain, but Jordan’s play this season is absolutely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

Mike Daniels, DI, Green Bay Packers (91.8)

Given the recognition of a new contract, it turns out that the dual recognition of a first Pro Bowl selection was too much to ask for Daniels. There are a host of deserving interior defenders this season, and while you cannot argue with five of those selected, this was not a season for Gerald McCoy (73.6) to be punching his ticket to Hawaii. Perhaps falling victim to the sack count, Daniels loses out to McCoy in the first (and for some, only) stat that many look at for defensive linemen, with only five to McCoy’s eight. In reality, Daniels’ all-around play far exceeds McCoy’s, with more total pressures and a higher grade as a pass rusher, and a far higher grade in run defense, a crucial aspect of an interior defender’s game. There weren’t many glaringly wrong selections this year in the Pro Bowl, but McCoy’s selection over Daniels and Ndamukong Suh was one.

K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle Seahawks (90.7)

The Pro Bowl selection process pits off-the-ball linebackers against rush linebackers, and still that methodology has no merit at all. Anthony Barr, as I expected, missed out, and K.J. Wright joins him as exactly the kind of elite, off-the-ball linebacker who unfairly misses out on recognition of his play for being pitted against the likes of Von Miller and Justin Houston, who execute completely different roles. The Pro Bowl desperately needs to re-think how they assign positions, because this year, they have essentially selected 10 edge defenders to pair with six linebackers. Even if you were to combine outside linebackers with inside linebackers Wright would still be deserving of a nod ahead of Clay Matthews (73.2), whose nomination appears to be for simply changing positions rather than on the merit of how well he is playing at his new position: good, but not great.

Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills (87.1)

One rookie cornerback made the Pro Bowl roster, and one rookie cornerback deserved to make the Pro Bowl roster—but I am not describing the same player in this sentence. As Sam Monson and I discussed in the PFF Podcast earlier this week, Marcus Peters (69.7) is having a strong and eventful rookie season, but his performance level is not among the league’s very best. That distinction among rookie corners belongs to Ronald Darby, who in spite of a couple of shaky games in recent weeks, is still outperforming Peters in a very similar man-coverage role. Only shaded by Peters in terms of interceptions, Darby shows a similar knack for playing the ball (13 pass defenses), has surrendered three fewer touchdowns, and 343 fewer yards on only 19 fewer targets. Peters is having a noteworthy rookie season, standing up to a barrage of targets, but Darby has been overlooked merely based upon one statistic that accounts for 0.75 percent of Marcus Peters’ snaps this season.

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Scott Kohler

    Terron Armstead?

  • Mnstorm99

    Linval Joseph?

    • Mnstorm99

      Yes, I am a Viking fan, but Joseph and Smith have been top players at their positions all year.

      • Rodrigo

        they just didn’t make the list,chill.Broncos defense is the best in the league and got just 4 guys in.

        • Mnstorm99

          Was I being aggressive? I asked a question and even admitted my allegiance.

          Vikings have a top 10 (pushing the top 5, save for the Seahawks game) defense in the league, and got nobody in. Just a question about their top players.

        • enai D

          Vikings are the only team in the NFL with a winning record to have 1 or fewer players in the Pro Bowl this year (Adrian Peterson their sole Pro Bowler), and Linval Joseph is having the best season out of ANY defensive tackle in the NFL not named “Aaron Donald”. That was as brutal a snub as you’ll ever see.

      • derek lundeen

        The reason those 2 didn’t make it is because fans don’t look at how good they are, all they do is vote Patriots in or just vote in the popular players like Calvin Johnson

    • DaStrongSKRAWN

      VERY surprised to not see Harrison in over Nelson. I know he missed some games but that boy has been playing lights out since his rookie season. Vikings have a young, hungry team. NFL better watch out for all of those young guys down there

  • GFletcher

    Reshad Jones?

  • Gundersens_Nuts

    Wow, Reshad Jones is even being snubbed in the guys who got snubbed list…

    • crosseyedlemon

      I guess that would make him the front runner for the Rodney Dangerfield “I tell ya I just can’t get any respect” award.

    • Peter F Football

      You aren’t lying. Hell, they have K.J. Wright on the list and he is rated lower than Derrick Johnson, who also didn’t get selected to the Pro-Bowl.

      I often wonder, if the writing is so poorly checked on this site, how poorly are the stats checked?

      • Ben Peterson

        Derrick Johnson was an alternate at least, Wright didn’t even get that.

    • TheDolfan

      Lol, so true.

    • Brit

      I guess being 4th in the NFL in tackles, 5 INTs, and 2 TDs isn’t what it used to be.

  • DelusionalMan

    Where’s Mo Claiborne? He’s been stellar this season.

    • Tim Edell

      That’s funny!

    • DallasCowboy fan 80

      STFU bitchdelusionalman Claiborne is trash like eric rowe on the eagles.

  • Vikes167

    So Smith? And Joseph aren’t top five snubs on defense? The best safety in football and arguably the best Nose in football shouldn’t be in the pro bowl? Smh

  • Ashraf Aidruss

    Doug Baldwin? Sean Lee?

    • Greg Mueller

      Jesus, Doug Baldwin, no no no

      • Blaine Johnson

        Why not? He’s been balling out

      • osoviejo

        44th in targets. 1st in touchdowns. He sucks.

        • Sam Doohan

          Baldwin doesn’t suck but he certainly hasn’t been snubbed. He’s got a lot of TDs because he has good chemistry with Wilson and defenses typically have to stack the box in the red zone, giving him man coverage. That doesn’t make it less impressive; he’s playing well to beat that coverage; but to put a guy with 64 receptions (on par with such dynamic receivers as Kamar Aiken and Willie Snead) into the conversation as guys with 90 or 100 just doesn’t work.

          It doesn’t even fit if you argue that the Hawks don’t throw the ball as much. If you compare Baldwin to Hopkins you’ll see the Texans average only 7 more pass yards per game but Hopkins has 30 more receptions and 400 more yards; and that’s playing on a pretty bad team with far worse QB play.

          Of course there is more to it than just stats but, in general, a truely great WR should be good enough that the QB can throw to him over and over and beat the coverage most of the time; even being successful against double coverage. Baldwin is an excellent WR in the Hawks system but he isn’t some transcendent talent who would have 1500 yards somewhere else.

          • osoviejo

            “…he isn’t some transcendent talent who would have 1500 yards somewhere else.”

            When you start asserting the unknowable, or dismissing performance for mystical chemistry or system reasons, you’ve lost me. Let’s try facts instead.

            Baldwin is very efficient and very productive. Among receivers, he is ranked second in both DYAR (total value) and DVOA (value per play). With twice the targets, Antonio Brown is ranked first in DYAR, but only 10th in DVOA.

            No modern statistical analysis of players or teams uses raw yards anymore, because it ignores context. DYAR tells us that Brown’s particular 1500 yards and 9 touchdowns is more valuable than Baldwin’s 900 yards and 13 touchdowns (by a good margin), but that Baldwin’s production is more valuable than –every other receiver in the league–.

            I’d add one other note. Baldwin is a willing and effective blocker in the run game. Not going to show in his stat sheet, but he is a complete football player.

  • Joe Minx

    Malcolm Jenkins? Isn’t he PFF’s 2nd ranked safety? How the heck doesn’t he make this list?

  • Keatonisballin

    Doug Baldwin. Tied for the league lead with 13 TDs. He’s 16th in the NFC in receptions with 65, which isn’t amazing but is ninth in receiving yards with 905. Oh and has only 1 drop all year. Dude is the definition of consistency.

  • DJ

    pro bowl is a joke, they talk about how many pro bowls guys made at the end of their career yet they got voted there by almost only fans of that team

  • http://escapefromzombies.com/ escapezombie

    Andy Dalton!

  • andy

    How about Doug Baldwin?

    • Tim Edell

      Read the start of the article!

  • Mike Riley

    Pro Bowl is a joke & yet people still get up in arms about their favorite players getting snubbed. It really is a waste of time & energy.

  • sofford

    How the hell can they say Marshall isn’t deserving of the pro bowl?!!! 11 TD’s and 1100 yards and counting, has anyone heard of fitzgerald since week 5? I get run blocking is a big thing, but that’s not what gets wide receivers to the pro bowl. All this PFF is bullshit

    • Jordan

      I looked at the pro bowl list the other day and b Marshall is literally the first name on the Wr list, and his run blocking has always been very good. No idea what you’re talking about

      • Sofford

        That’s not what I’m saying. If you read the Allen Robinson section they made a comment regarding Marshall making the pro bowl when others deserved it more. I’m saying he deserved it 1000%, and that they should have questioned other receivers for their places.

  • Trenton Halstead

    Cam Heyward, anyone?

    • Mark Erickson

      3-4 DEs that aren’t JJ Watt get completely overlooked in pro bowl voting, I’d assume PFF gives him more credit than the masses, but apparently not enough to make this list.

  • http://wzlx.cbslocal.com/tag/matt-dolloff MattyD929

    I think Dont’a Hightower could have deserved a spot too, but I can’t complain about seven Patriots making the Pro Bowl so I guess it’s OK.

  • enai D

    You forgot Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith, possibly the two biggest snubs this year, at least on defense.

  • Stephen Carroll

    Reshad Jones has stats that far exceed all the other Safety selectees proving that the pro bowl is not about talent.

  • Backinmd

    Don’t get into the Pro Bowl anymore athough most players picked deserve it .. It’s the game itself that I take issue with …The last 20 + years it’s nothing more than a glorified flag football game and most of the players play NOT to get hurt …

  • Felton51

    Terron Armstead?

  • king diamond

    Jordan Reed or kirk Cousins