Usually at this time of the year when the Pro Bowl rosters are revealed, I write an article about the changes I would make, but since this is one of the years where I mostly agree with the results, I decided to just broaden this topic and talk about the most underrated players at every single position. To determine that I obviously look at this year’s Pro Bowl rosters, but also consider public perception and coverage they receive among fans. Because they will make the trip to Orlando, I still took off guys like Grady Jarrett, Matt Judon and Budda Baker, who I didn’t expect to make the cut. So I always present my top candidate for a player who deserves more recognition and then offer three alternative names, who I think don’t get their due. I excluded rookies here, because people might not have really gotten around to watch them yet. So this is my list:
With the regular season wrapped up and a full 16-game schedule for the first-year players in the books, I decided to name my All-Rookie team for 2018. To do so I put together starting lineups on offense, defense and the specialists, plus I added key substitutes for each unit. While I did want to put the best 11 players out there respectively, the full body of work for these players had to be considered and I could not go with a couple of players I liked but simply didn’t play enough. So here are my starting lineups:
Every year the Pro Bowl rosters are revealed at this time and every year I have a problem with the voting process. While NFL defenses get more hybrid players every year that don’t have a clearly defined position, the league hasn’t adapted the categories people can vote for. That leads to stand-up 4-3 linebackers like Anthony Barr being compared to 3-4 outside linebackers, who primarily get upfield, like Jadeveon Clowney, five-technique defensive ends in a 3-4 being compared to true edge rushers in fronts with four down-linemen and other stuff. My solution would be differentiating between interior D-linemen, edge rushers, stand-up linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. This would make things easier in terms of comparing job descriptions and not tag players for one specific alignment and responsibility. Offensively I don’t understand why there are only three running back and four wide receiver slots and we also need more depth on the D-line, but let’s work on one issue at a time. Since these are the parameters to work within, I tried to make appropriate exchanges of one player at that position with another and then I listed a few other players I think deserve a trip to Orlando. So instead of just listing snubs, I actually tried to provide solution. I don’t blame the fans too much for some of these mistakes because they are obviously biased for their team, but players and coaches contribute to this with a third of the votes each as well. So I would expect a more objective outcome.
No matter if you like the AFC-NFC format or the Pro Bowl draft better, if the best four or six players at each position make the cut it, the results are just more accurate. Regardless of that, I won’t take any respect away from the guys, who were selected, but instead I want to make a case for why the members of this list should have. For the most part, I thought fans got it right, but the NFL ballot makes it pretty hard to really put the best players on the respective conference’s roster. Most importantly they should start differentiating between positions they way scouts and I do – interior defensive linemen, edge rushers and stand-up linebackers. You just can’t compare guys like Von Miller and Anthony Barr. Their job description is just completely different and if you consider the Pro Bowl teams play with four down-linemen and no blitzes for the most part, what sense does it make having an edge-setting and rushing linebacker in the line-up playing off the ball when you already have two defensive ends? This is my take on the voting process. The fact I personally favorized the Pro Bowl draft is a different topic. Now here’s who I thought deserved to go to Orlando:
Since it’s the season of giving rather than taking I don’t want to take anything away from the players who made the cut, but rather list the guys I think would deserve a trip to Orlando. The problem with the decision to split up AFC and NFC rosters again is that you have the same amount of players at each position respectively and if you have three great quarterbacks or running backs in one conference but another one would be deserving of a spot he can’t get in even if less impressive fellows get chosen to the other conference’s roster. Therefore I’m not going to simply tell you I’d take that guy out to put another one in. For the actual Pro Bowl rosters visit here.
With the Pro Bowl rosters set and the time to evaluate the regular season performances of the players around the league starting, I decided to come up with a roster I think features the NFL’s best players based on what they did this season and who I think give me the best chance to win ball games. On offense I can go with two tight ends, I can go five wide, but also bring in a fullback. On defense I can line up in a 3-4 as well as a 4-3. I can play man, zone, I can blitz a lot of different guys and push the pocket with only four guys rushing.
My roster doesn’t feature guys like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, who have missed a couple of games and couldn’t help their teams.
The margin of air between the players on the roster and the ones who just didn’t make it is very slim, but I had to come up with 53 names. So here they are: