The NFL announced who will be traveling to Orlando for the 2017 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Jan. 29. Although touted as a popularity contest by Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, the Pro Bowl will feature both the best offensive and defensive talent in the NFL. MVP candidates and superstars across the league were selected, but with few spots available there were many of the NFL’s finest that won’t be headed to the Pro Bowl.
In fact, there were so many players excluded from the Pro Bowl, that I was able to form an entire roster from them. An “All-Snub Team” that, if real, could easily compete with either the AFC or NFC teams chosen for the Pro Bowl.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
It was hard not to choose Matthew Stafford, who has had one of his best seasons and has positioned the Lions to first place in the NFC North, but the numbers just speak for themselves with Drew Brees. 419 completions, 4,559 yards, and 34 touchdowns, all league-leading stats through the first 15 weeks of the season. Brees has stated that he isn’t bothered by not being selected, but the league-leader in nearly every passing category should be in Orlando come January. As Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks said, Brees being left out “is just ridiculous.”
Running back: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Blount is used to being a bruising third-down back for the New England Patriots, but this season he has seen over 260 touches, a career-high and fourth-highest in the NFL. In fact, Blount hasn’t surpassed 200 carries since his debut season with the Tampa Buccaneers in 2010. His 15 rushing touchdowns this year is the most in the NFL and he has already passed the 1,000 yard mark with two games left in the regular season.
Wide Receiver: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
As the Packers march toward a spot in the playoffs after a 4-6 start to the 2016 season, the Green Bay offense has come alive. Jordy Nelson not only leads the Packers, but the NFL, with his 12 receiving touchdowns this season. Maybe he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl due to inconsistency from week to week (five game this year with less than 50 yards), but Nelson has passed the 1,000 yard mark and deserves a spot in this year’s Pro Bowl.
Wide Receiver: Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
The second wide receiver for the 2017 All-Snub Team is another player from the NFC. Brandin Cooks has benefited greatly from the Saint’s high octane passing attack with 1,056 yards and eight trips to the endzone this season. Maybe he was edged out due to the Saints’ mediocre record but this is Cooks’ second 1,000 year season and it’s only a matter of time before Pro Bowl voters take notice.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
I was shocked to see the Redskin’s Jordan Reed make the Pro Bowl after a good, but not great, 2016 campaign. I was even more shocked when he was chosen over Jimmy Graham, despite Graham logging 170 more yards and scoring just as many touchdowns. It hasn’t been his best year by any means, but Graham is undoubtedly one of the top four tight ends in the league.
Offensive Line: Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh Steelers Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans Weston Richburg, New York Giants
There’s a reason Ben Roethlisberger bought his entire offensive line new suits this Christmas. Villanueva and the rest of the Steeler’s “Big 5” are the reason that Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’veon Bell all earned pro bowl selections this year.
Chance Warmack and Pro-Bowl-selected teammate Taylor Lewan have put the Titans back into the playoff race as the season winds down. As seen in Dallas, DeMarco Murray does best when given time to get going in the backfield and Warmack and the Titans have been able to give him just that.
Rounding out the All-Snub Team’s offensive line is probably the least talked about center in the NFL. The New York Giant’s Weston Richburg has been under center for Eli Manning and in just his third year in the league, Richburg and the Giant’s O-line have only allowed 21 sacks this season.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter has been overshadowed by Pro-Bowl-selected teammates Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen, but he has been an integral part of the Vikings pass rush with a team-high 10.5 sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown.
2016 has been kind to Dallas linebacker Sean Lee. After battling back from injuries throughout his career, Lee has made 140 tackles this season, a career-high and second-best in the NFL.
Despite the preseason chatter and only having one interception this season, Josh Norman is the closest thing to a shutdown corner in the game right now. Ultimately, the Pro Bowl is for the fans and Norman is one of the most entertaining figures in the NFL.
In that same vein, Marquette King is undoubtedly the most entertaining punter not just this year, but ever. Whether it’s celebrating pinning a team deep or tackling punt returners himself, King brings excitement to one of the least exciting plays in football.