The announcement of Pro Bowl rosters is usually an eye-rolling ordeal. Most of the picks are perfectly fine. There are several snubs, and social media generally overreacts to decent lists. However, the 2020 Pro Bowl rosters are an egregious mess to society. There are small examples across most of the league, but the team that was the most screwed over was the Cleveland Browns.
They have had a stellar offensive line by any metric known to man. From an indirect method, the Browns have one of the most efficient rushing attacks in the NFL, in large part due to their offensive line. Similarly, they are one of the more efficient teams through the air because Baker Mayfield does not get hit often.
The Browns legitimately deserved four Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. They got one. It wasn’t even the right one. J.C. Tretter is the best center in the AFC. Snubbed. Wyatt Teller is the best offensive lineman in football this year. Snubbed. Jack Conklin is the best right tackle in the AFC. Snubbed. Joel Bitonio made it. At least the NFL got one selection correct.
Moving to smaller examples, Matthew Judon and Calais Campbell were legitimately mediocre to below-average players in 2020. They also missed time due to COVID-19 and injuries. They also are playing on a team that is currently not in the playoffs. They made the playoffs.
Judon is tied for 24th in the AFC in pressures. He has no business sniffing the Pro Bowl in 2020. Campbell is 20th among AFC interior defensive linemen in pressures. He is an objectively awful choice. In all honesty, it is harder to find players less deserving than Judon and Campbell. Pick an EDGE or interior lineman from any team in the AFC, and they probably have a stronger argument for making the Pro Bowl than either Raven.
Evan Engram may not be able to catch footballs, but he can catch a Pro Bowl nod. Is the NFL on drugs? Sure, the NFC may be weak at tight end, but Robert Tonyan exists. Even Jared Cook or Hayden Hurst would have been a better selection than Engram.
Stephon Gilmore, while exceptional in 2019, does not deserve a Pro Bowl nod in 2020. His teammate, J.C. Jackson, does. However, the biggest snub of the whole experience is Jessie Bates. Bates has a 91.5 PFF grade. It is 10 points clear of any safety in the AFC and almost five points clear of any safety in the NFL (John Johnson, another snub). PFF has a spotty reputation, sure, and they are not a football gospel, but they are spot-on with Bates. He allows a 46.5 rating in coverage, second-best among safeties (Bobby McCain). It was senseless. It was dumb. It is stupid.
Josh Jacobs and his 3.7 yards per run do not belong either. Pick James Robinson or Jonathan Taylor instead.
Some positions are fine, however. AFC quarterbacks, for example, are perfect. NFC quarterbacks are fine, although Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins have compelling arguments over Kyler Murray. Fullbacks and wide receivers are fine for the most part. Andy Janovich over Patrick Ricard could be a complaint, but they are AFC FB1 and FB2. Tight ends in the AFC are perfect, although a third spot should have been added, just logically speaking. The offensive line, as mentioned earlier, was simply wrong.
The issue defensively is that defensive ends and linebackers are fundamentally different positions. Myles Garrett, a defensive end, and T.J. Watt, an outside linebacker, do many of the same things for their teams, but they have two different position designations. Watt is competing with players like Darius Leonard for linebacker spots.
To fix this issue, the NFL should have EDGE and linebacker designations. Watt competes with players like Garrett. Leonard competes with other linebackers. It is the most logical way to handle the situation.
As a whole, this is a new low for the Pro Bowl. Granted, there is not a real Pro Bowl that will be played as the game was replaced with Madden events. Stay tuned, I will be publishing a correct version of the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters in the coming weeks.