Every season, worthy players do not make the initial Pro Bowl roster. The Pro Bowl degrades in stature almost every year, and the voting follows the same trend. Players with significant followings are more likely to make the Pro Bowl than less known players, no matter how their seasons play out.
So, just like one of my articles did last season, this piece will give credit where it is due, and support ten Pro Bowl snubs from each conference.
*Numbers accurate as of start of Week 16
1. Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
It’s no surprise that a player like Simmons would lose a popularity contest to other safeties, but he’ll have a shot at making an All-Pro team later this year. The fourth-year safety set career-highs this season with four interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner put Simmons on his midseason All-Pro team, and the site gave Simmons a 90.7 grade. For reference, Earl Thomas, who made the Pro Bowl, received a 74.9 grade.
2. Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders
The hype around Mark Andrews and the Baltimore Ravens is understandable, but Waller should be the tight end joining Travis Kelce in Orlando. Waller has more receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,001) than Andrews, and it’s not even close. 22 receptions and 242 yards separate the star tight ends, but Andrews has a five-touchdown lead and is on a more popular team. That gave him the spot that should’ve belonged to Waller.
3. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
The black and silver sensation and Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner should take issue with being left off of the Pro Bowl roster. Jacobs is sixth in rushing yards this season, but he’s fourth in rushing yards per game (88.5). Meanwhile, Mark Ingram is only averaging 68.8 rushing yards per game, but he got a Pro Bowl nod.
4. Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
Five years ago, Mathieu almost won the Defensive Player of the Year award, but injuries halted his climb to the top of NFL stardom. Now, the Honey Badger is in the midst of the second-best season of his career. The versatile defensive back does it all for Kansas City, and he’s become a leader in the usually vulnerable secondary.
5. Jordan Phillips, Buffalo Bills
Another more obscure name, Phillips is one of the league’s premier defensive tackles. He’s tied for the 13th-most sacks in the NFL this season with 9.5. Among defensive tackles, that only trails Aaron Donald’s 11. In comparison, Geno Atkins only has 4.5 sacks this season. Phillips isn’t as active in the run game as I’d like, but he should get a nod over Atkins.
6. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
It’s hard to argue with any of the quarterbacks going to the Pro Bowl for the AFC, but Tannehill deserves more consideration. Tannehill received a 90.9 grade from PFF, which outclasses Lamar Jackson’s 90.5, Patrick Mahomes’ 82.0, and Deshaun Watson’s 83.6. Since taking over the Titans in Week 7, Tannehill leads the NFL in yards per pass attempt and is 6-2.
7. Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
The rookie defensive end started his career off with a bang. Allen has ten sacks and 19 quarterback hits, despite only getting four starts in his first 14 games. Allen out dueled Yannick Ngakoue in both sacks and quarterback hits this season. He also topped Calais Campbell‘s 6.5 sacks, but the veteran beat him in quarterback hits.
8. Justin Houston, Indianapolis Colts
The long-time Kansas City Chief transitioned to defensive end for the Colts this year. After a slow start, Houston has consistently reached quarterbacks. He has nine sacks this season along with three fumbles recovered and 16 quarterback hits. In comparison, Kansas City’s Frank Clark only has six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Clark had a better Pro Bowl candidacy last year, but he’s underserving of the accolade in 2019.
9. Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers
Playing for the Chargers hasn’t been rewarding for many players in recent years. However, Hayward is playing at a Pro Bowl level. While he’s not the stud he was in 2016 and 2017, Hayward is pulling his weight on a sinking team. In Michael Renner’s ranking of the top cornerbacks after Week 8, Hayward ranked sixth and currently has an 84.1 grade. In comparison, Marlon Humphry ranked 14th, and his current grade is 72.5.
10. Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
The aging defensive back started this season on the right foot. He quickly amassed five interceptions, his most since 2012. McCourty’s seven passes defensed are his most since 2016, which was his last Pro Bowl season. McCourty also has two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
1. Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints
With two games left, Williams is tied for his career-high in interceptions with four. The 2017 second-round pick also blew his previous personal best in terms of passes defensed out of the water, recording 13 this season. PFF gave Williams a 90.1 grade while Chicago’s Eddie Jackson made the Pro Bowl with a lowly 64.8.
2. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
After a disappointing 2018 campaign, Cousins has changed his fortunes in Minnesota. The former Washington Redskin is completing 70.5 percent of his pass attempts and has a 111.1 passer rating. His greater efficiency has translated to more wins. However, they did not translate to a Pro Bowl bid, and Aaron Rodgers received the honor instead.
3. Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
The former first-round pick from Oregon finally broke out this season. After posting nine total sacks in his first four seasons, Armstead thrived alongside Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and Dee Ford in 2019. His ten sacks, 16 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and 49 tackles are all career-highs. That production easily outpaces Fletcher Cox’s 3.5 sacks.
4. Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
The former second-round pick has transitioned from being a solid starter to a Pro Bowl talent. Kept in the shadows of a dominant defensive line, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith, the public overlook Kendricks’ growth. This season he already has 110 tackles and a career-high 12 passes defensed. PFF gives him a 90.7 grade, which is comparable to most of the dominant linebackers in the NFC.
5. Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Committed to Tampa Bay, David does not receive big-market coverage. Fans and voters overlook his greatness, especially when it comes to accolades like the Pro Bowl. While David isn’t in the middle of a career year, he’s posting yet another tremendous season. The outside linebacker regularly posts middle linebacker numbers, which contributes to his Pro Bowl dilemma. Tackles aren’t as sexy as sacks. So, despite the 89.4 grade he received from PFF, David was passed over for Shaquil Barrett (78.0), Chandler Jones (79.7), and Khalil Mack (87.7).
6. Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
The best right tackle in football two years ago, Johnson put together another solid season in 2019. On a beat-up Eagles team, Johnson received an 88.8 grade from PFF, ranking him higher than Terron Armstead (77.7), David Bakhtiari (75.3), and Tyron Smith (74.8). Those three tackles made the Pro Bowl, and Johnson did not.
7. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Detroit’s best wide receiver since Calvin Johnson, Golladay is in the midst of his best season as a pro. Through 14 games, the third-year receiver has 56 receptions, 1,052 yards, and a league-leading ten receiving touchdowns. While it’s near impossible to make a case against the other top receivers in the NFC, Golladay is also deserving of making the Pro Bowl.
8. Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints
While he isn’t a flashy brand-name player, Davis is one of the most complete linebackers in the NFL. Serving behind Cameron Jordan and in front of Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams, Davis is a critical cog in New Orleans’ defense. PFF gave Davis an 89.9 grade this season, which outranks Luke Kuechly’s 85.2 and Bobby Wagner’s 68.5.
9. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2016, yet he missed the cut this season despite setting personal bests in passing yards and passing touchdowns. His 99.3 passer rating is his highest since his rookie season, and he could conceivably throw for 5,000 yards this season.
10. Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints
While Tyron Smith continues to rack up Pro Bowls, he hasn’t been a dominant force in the league since a few years ago. His streak of seven made Pro Bowls should have ended this season. While Smith scored a 74.8 from PFF, Ramczyk received an 88.3. Ramczyk has yet to make a Pro Bowl.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Another wide receiver who missed the cut, Cooper already has three Pro Bowl selections to his name. However, voters passed over the Dallas receiver this year, despite him pacing the best season of his young career. Cooper’s 5.1 receptions per game and 76.6 receiving yards per game are both career-highs.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Jones ran into stiff competition at the running back position in the NFC. He could’ve made it in the AFC, but great running backs are plentiful in the NFC. Jones’ 14 rushing touchdowns lead the NFL, and he currently has 1,255 yards from scrimmage.