Every National Football League player wants to be selected to the Pro Bowl even if very few actually want to play in the game. Rarely does the league get the most deserving players at each position as fans, coaches and players vote and there are certain biases. We are going to look at the Pro Bowl rosters and point out some of the players who should be making the trip to Hawaii but aren’t.
AFC Quarterbacks- Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.
No snubs among this group. In a surprisingly weak AFC quarterback class these were the best three signal callers (still healthy) from the beginning of the season until now.
NFC Quarterbacks- Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning
Rodgers and Brees are no brainers, but you can make a legitimate case for Matt Stafford in place of Eli. Apparently there’s a one Manning minimum for every Pro Bowl. Assuming either Rodgers or Brees represents the NFC in the Super Bowl, Stafford will likely get in.
AFC Running Backs- Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster
No snubs here. The NFL’s leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew should be the starter but it’s difficult to add anyone else to this roster.
NFC Running Backs- LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Frank Gore
Out of sight and out of mind, Matt Forte was having a great year before he went down with his knee injury. A case can be made for Michael Turner or the epitome of “Beast Mode” itself, Marshawn Lynch. One of the two will likely replace Forte.
AFC Fullback- Vonta Leach
Leach is an absolute beast as a blocker and he’s helped Ray Rice tremendously. Jacksonville’s Greg Jones should get a mention as a punishing blocker and all around tough guy.
NFC Fullback- John Kuhn
Kuhn is somewhat of a folk hero in Green Bay, but 49ers rookie Bruce Miller has had a great season, as has Jed Collins of New Orleans.
AFC Wide Receivers- Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green
I think they hit the nail on the head as it’s difficult to argue with any of the selections. Antonio Brown or Vincent Jackson have had nice seasons, but not as good as the players listed above.
NFC Wide Receivers- Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and Greg Jennings
The players above have had nice seasons, but aside from Calvin Johnson, cases can be made for the following snubs: New York’s Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Atlanta’s Roddy White, and Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson.
AFC Tight Ends- Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates is a borderline Hall of Famer but he took a step back this season. New England’s Aaron Hernandez is every bit as deserving, and Houston’s Owen Daniels and even the Jets Dustin Keller deserve mention.
NFC Tight Ends- Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez
It’s difficult to argue these two selections as Graham was outstanding and Gonzalez is still very good. Jason Witten should be the next choice.
AFC Offensive Tackles- Jake Long, Joe Thomas and D’Brickashaw Ferguson
The offensive line is really where the reputation selections begin to occur. All three of these players were drafted in the Top 5, but they certainly weren’t the best in the AFC at their positons. Houston’s Duane Brown, Oakland’s Jared Veldheer and Tennessee’s Michael Roos all had superior seasons to the players selected.
NFC Offensive Tackles- Jason Peters, Joe Staley and Jermon Bushrod
As bad as the Eagles offensive line was this year, Jason Peters was rock solid. Some of the more deserving players for the other spots are Cowboys rookie Tyron Smith and San Francisco’s Anthony Davis.
AFC Guards- Logan Mankins, Brian Waters and Marshal Yanda
Logan Mankins is purely a reputation pick as his season has been subpar. It’s difficult to think Maurice Jones-Drew could lead the NFL in rushing without any of his linemen having an elite season. Jags guard Uche Nwaneri has been rock solid as has Houston’s guard Wade Smith and Denver’s Chris Kuper.
NFC Guards- Carl Nicks, Jahri Evans and Davin Joseph
The two Saints guards are good picks, as both are at the top of their profession but the selection of Davin Joseph is a mystery. Green Bay’s Josh Sitton would have been a much better selection.
AFC Center- Maurkice Pouncey and Nick Mangold
It’s very difficult to argue with Pouncey’s selection as he has been excellent since his first day as a Steeler. Maurkice’s twin brother Mike Pouncey has been very good in Miami, as has Chris Myers in Houston.
NFC Center- Ryan Kalil and Scott Wells
I’d love to argue these two selections, but I really can’t. Kalil is as good as it gets and Wells has had a very good season.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie