Sometimes a football player not being selected to the Pro Bowl makes me think of the late Rodney Dangerfield, who couldn't get no respect. While the Pro Bowl may be a "just for fun" kind of affair, and is possibly the most criticized all-star game in all of professional sports, a selection is still seen as a badge of honor in the NFL community.
There are enough reasons to criticize the game. The rule changes make for a much less entertaining product than even NFL preseason games, as the fear of injury in a pointless game leads to soft hits, and sadly, every year, an innumerable amount of fans are disappointed that their favorites were not selected. Fan voting was supposed to help this problem but anyone who thinks this is a reality is lying to themselves.
At the end of the day though, the Pro Bowl, in spite of all its shortcomings and problems, is still infinitely better than the vast majority of inexcusable garbage on television, so people will still show up to the stadium and fans will still watch at home. As previously noted however, many of these fans will be quietly grumbling under their breath about all the talent that did not get selected to play in the game. They have a point and this article will explore our own top fifteen NFL players who were not selected to the upcoming Pro Bowl on January 25th.
While some selections may end up playing in the Super Bowl and will thus miss the game, this article will not deal with substitute or alternate players. The Pro Bowl roster as it exists on NFL.com will be used. If your favorite player didn't make the Pro Bowl and isn't on this list, kindly direct your hatred and fury to the comments section.
15 Russell Wilson
Depending on who you talk to, Russell Wilson is either the most overrated or underrated player in the league. Looking at his passing stats, it is easy to see why he was not selected to the Pro Bowl, but there are several reasons for which he belongs in the game. He is the best rushing quarterback in the league today. A large part of Seattle's success on offense can be attributed to having one of the best running backs in the league, but 849 rushing yards belong to Wilson in the 2014 season, along with six rushing touchdowns. Add to these the fact that the Seahawks share the best record in the league and are once again a Super Bowl favorite, and Russell Wilson should have been selected to the game, even though he will probably miss it anyway.
14 Harrison Smith
This is funny because at the time of writing, Harrison Smith's Wikipedia page has him listed as a 2014 Pro Bowl selection, which he is not. Underneath it says: "Or at least should have been in the Pro Bowl, I mean come on! 5 INTS, 3 Sacks, and has produced MUCH more than Earl Thomas or Patrick Peterson." This clever Wikipedia editor has a point. The 2012 first rounder was a gem for the Vikings in 2014, despite the team's year being a rough one overall. 92 total tackles, plus three sacks, which leads the league in terms of defensive back sack totals. He also had five interceptions, along with a single pick-six and a forced fumble. At this point, his nine defended passes are just icing on the cake.
13 Emmanuel Sanders
I guess the Pro Bowl voting Gods didn't want three Broncos receivers in the Pro Bowl this year. Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas made it, but the league's number five in both receptions and receiving yards, Emmanuel Sanders, gets no love. Nine touchdowns on the year (16th in the league) and 69 first downs also did little for Peyton Manning's number two. What can I say, 1,404 receiving yards in a season just doesn't do it anymore.
12 Paul Worrilow
While he made the NFL's All-Rookie team in his first year, Worrilow has not been selected to a Pro Bowl in either of his two seasons with the Falcons. He has been a surprise for the team, who signed him undrafted out of Delaware. At six feet tall and just 230 lbs, Worrilow is also somewhat undersized for an NFL linebacker (he bulked up for 2014, but 245 still isn't huge). Nonetheless, the guy is all over the field. He was fifth in tackling in 2014, leading his team with a total of 143 between solo tackles and assists. Three passes defended and two forced fumbles are a nice addition to his resume as a reliable inside linebacker with top notch effort and work ethic. After a somewhat rocky start to the season, he looked like his 2013 self, shedding blocks and making tackles.
A criticism of Worrilow is that his tackle total is inflated by assists. Look at it this way, no receiver or running back in the league got there because they are easy to take down, so assists definitely matter. Anyone who criticises a linebacker for having nearly 60 tackle assists in a year is just being silly.
11 Eddie Lacy
The first of three running backs in this article, Eddie Lacy had a rough start to what actually turned into a slightly better season than his first. He failed to rush for more than 50 yards in each of his first four games in 2014 but found his rhythm in week five when he rushed for 105 and two touchdowns against the Vikings. He would go on to rush for nine touchdowns on the year, two less than 2013, but he made up for it by increasing his receiving from 2013 and catching four touchdown passes.
His 4.6 yard per carry average is significantly better than LeSean McCoy's 4.2 and Lacy also rushed for over 100 yards more than Jamaal Charles in 2014.
10 Drew Brees
There are two crucial things that tarnished what was actually a decent year for the Saints' quarterback. Record and interceptions are those two. The team went 7-9 on the year and Mr. Brees put up his fourth highest interception total in his career. 17 picks is a tough number to get past, but Brees also threw 33 touchdowns, led the league in completions and shared the lead with Ben Roethlisberger for overall passing yards. His 69.2% pass completion percentage is also second among all starting quarterbacks, behind only Tony Romo who had 69.9%.
He had a rough year, but he's been to eight Pro Bowls before, so we doubt he'll be crying over this one.
9 Charles Woodson
First off, we'd like it to be known that Charles Woodson deserves a medal for still starting at age 38. Aside from just playing, he was actually the best defensive player for the Oakland Raiders this year, and quite possibly the best player on their team (sorry, Khalil Mack fans).
Woodson had 112 total tackles, making him tied for number four among defensive backs. He added a single sack, a fumble recovery and four interceptions in 2014. Watching him in coverage or while making a hit, he's still able to keep up with players over a decade younger than he is and he can hit running backs with thirty pound advantages. Get this man to Glendale!
8 Ryan Kerrigan
In terms of the 2015 Pro Bowl roster, we would swap Ryan Kerrigan for Clay Matthews. While we don't want this to sound like Matthews' contributions to the Packers' defense wasn't substantial this year, we do believe that his best play, and his play that most impacted the team's success, occurred after he had been switched to the inside. Basically, Matthews was largely ineffective for the first half of the season, while Kerrigan was strong throughout.
Kerrigan made 13.5 sacks this season (over a third of the Redskins' total) and led the league with five forced fumbles. He was the Redskins' only consistently competitive pass rusher for what was a rough 2014 season.
7 Randall Cobb
The second Packer on the list is Aaron Rodgers' second favorite target, who led the league in receiving touchdowns for a few weeks early on and had the best year of his young career in 2014. Cobb lost two fumbles but that is the worst thing one can say about his season. After missing much of 2013 due to a leg injury, Cobb racked up 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He added versatility to the offense and frequently showed that he was on exactly the same page as his quarterback, making a few key plays for touchdowns, and of course the 3rd and 4 catch against the Patriots, after which Tom Brady was seen red-faced and cursing on the sidelines.
6 Jason Pierre-Paul
There are a few defensive ends that were snubbed this year, but we hold that JPP should have been in without any shadow of a doubt. There is a strong group of defensive linemen going to the Pro Bowl this year, but Pierre-Paul's absence is almost a travesty. He was second to only J.J. Watt in terms of tackles by a defensive lineman and third in sacks, with 12.5 on the year. Add on three forced fumbles and one recovery, it was his best year since 2011.
Unfortunately for him, it is tough to get much love when you're the shining star on the 29th ranked defense (total yards) in the league.
5 Matt Forte
There are two reasons Matt Forte's absence from the 2015 Pro Bowl roster may be warranted. His 1,038 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry are low numbers for top-tier NFL running backs. He ranked fifteenth in the league in terms of yardage. But Forte had a record year, catching the most receptions of any running back in NFL history, with 102.
With his 808 receiving yards, Forte was third among all offensive players in terms of yards from scrimmage. Only Le'Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray were ahead of him in that category.
4 DeAndre Levy
The NFL's number two tackler for 2014 needs to be on this list. The Lions had the second best defense in the league and Levy is one of the main causes of their success. While his 2.5 sacks, one interception, one safety and five defended passes are good stats for the year, he led the league in solo tackles with 117. Many people argue that the Lions' defensive prowess is primarily from Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the line, but the linebackers, and especially Levy, deserve equal credit.
3 Justin Forsett
After Ray Rice's incident before the season, the Ravens needed a replacement, badly. Bernard Pierce was thought to be the likely answer, but started just two games due to injuries. In 2008, Forsett was picked in the 7th round by the Seahawks and went on to play for them and three other teams before landing in Baltimore. For those who missed Forsett's season, he killed it.
His 1,266 rushing yards more than doubled his previous best year, and was good enough for fifth in the league. 263 yards on 44 receptions isn't bad, but where he really stood out was his 5.4 yards per carry, which was number one among starting running backs. On top of that, he only had one fumble on 235 carries for 2014. Jamaal Charles averaged five yards per carry, and while he had more touchdowns than Forsett, he fumbled five times, and rushed for 200 fewer yards. LeSean McCoy rushed for 4.2 yards per carry, had just five touchdowns, fewer receiving yards and three lost fumbles, but he's still going to the Pro Bowl.
2 Antonio Gates
2015's Pro Bowl will have some very solid tight ends, but it truly is a shame that the 34 year old Charger is missing the game. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski belong on the list, but we question the voters in their selections of Julius Thomas and Greg Olsen. Julius Thomas had 12 touchdowns but under 500 yards, while Greg Olsen had over 1000 yards but just 6 touchdowns. Antonio Gates had 821 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Gates had the second highest receiving yards total on his team but still had more touchdown catches than Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen put together.
1 Odell Beckham Jr.
The New York Giants' rookie wide receiver was 10th in the league in receiving yards for 2014. He played in only 12 games and had 12 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green were both selected to the Pro Bowl despite having fewer touchdowns and over 200 yards less apiece. we're just going to leave it at that.
2014 saw some of the best rookie wide receivers the league has seen in a while, featuring names like Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins. Beckham, the guy who not only made the catch of the year but also left no question about who was the best rookie receiver of the year, can't get a Pro Bowl appearance.