After much anticipation, the NFL released the 2014 Pro Bowl roster on Friday night. Like every year, the voters — comprised of equal parts fans, players, and coaches — left a handful of worthy candidates sans a ticket to Hawaii.
The usual suspects (Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, etc.) made the cut for the new, conference-less Pro Bowl format. But there’s a bigger case to be made for those who were robbed of the honor.
So without further ado — and in no particular order — here are my 10 biggest snubs of the 2014 Pro Bowl roster:
Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David. They say the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, and this notion might explain why David was not chosen. The 23-year-old plays under-the-radar for one of the league’s worst teams, but managed to rack up 137 tackles, six sacks, and five interceptions from his WILL linebacker spot. David, who’s equally effective in coverage, is arguably the biggest snub of the bunch.
Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. Following an underrated 2012 campaign, Wilkerson made himself a household name in 2013, thanks to his 10.5 sacks, an unheard of total for a 3-4 DE. The third-year stud anchors the league’s third-best run defense, and helped rookie lineman Sheldon Richardson, a frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year, explode onto the scene.
Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The voters mostly got it right with this positional group, but I would’ve liked it better if Jeffery joined teammate Brandon Marshall on the Pro Bowl docket. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound beast has hauled in 86 passes for 1,341 yards, and seven touchdowns, consistently using his big frame and freakish athleticism to win a ton of “50-50” passes.
Patriots free safety Devin McCourty. You could say politics was the reason for McCourty’s snub. The Patriots list McCourty as a free safety, despite him also playing strong safety and, at times, cornerback. Nevertheless, he’s been a driving force behind the Pats’ revamped pass defense and deserved a spot over, say, Troy Polamalu, who made the squad purely on name recognition.
Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby. Dansby revived his career this season, returning to Arizona following three unspectacular seasons with the Dolphins. The tenth-year pro is among the most well-rounded ‘backers in the NFL, registering 117 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, and an eye-popping 18 passes defensed. That he mans the middle of the league’s stingiest run defense should’ve cemented his Pro Bowl spot, but alas …
Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis. Much like David, Davis is a complete, three-down linebacker (117 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions) who needed to make the trip to Honolulu. Even more impressive is Davis has suffered three career ACL tears, yet hasn’t lost a lick of talent.
Redskins running back Alfred Morris. There are a number of quality NFL backs, but none play in a more one-dimensional offense than Morris. Facing constant eight-man fronts, the hard-running 25-year-old has churned out 1,213 yards and seven scores. He has a higher yards-per-carry average (4.7) than Peterson, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, and Frank Gore, all of whom locked up a Pro Bowl berth.
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. D-Jax began his sixth season on a warpath, recording three 100-yard outings in the first five weeks of the season. Although he’s had some down weeks in coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense, Jackson’s numbers can’t be understated — 79 receptions, 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns. Let’s not forget the double and triple teams he’s faced with no veritable number two opposite him.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Jackson is the perfect segue for Foles. While most probably disagree with this snub, the proof is in the pudding. Foles leads the league in quarterback rating (118.7), is the owner of a sparkling 25:2 TD/INT ratio, and in all likelihood will have won the Eagles a NFC East title by Sunday’s end. If Foles started the entire season, you wouldn’t even be reading these words.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Yes, I’m aware there are no more kickoff returns in the Pro Bowl, but Patterson has made a distinct impact in his rookie season, returning 105 and 109-yard kickoffs to the house. I’d give him a spot over Dexter McCluster, though this snub is admittedly nitpicky.