The Pro Bowl rosters of 2021 were hilariously awful. While they are snubs every season, this season had some genuine head-scratchers.
Here is what the rosters should have looked like:
An asterisk indicates that the player was not included in the Pro Bowl roster.
NFC Defensive Tackles: Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams, Grady Jarrett – Atlanta Falcons, Leonard Williams* – New York Giants
Lost Spot: Fletcher Cox – Philadelphia Eagles
Cox is a stellar player, but Williams had a sensational season for the Giants. Williams was more effective as both a pass rusher and a run defender, achieving a higher pressure rate despite playing in a less talented defensive front. Williams was second among NFC interior defenders in pressures while Cox was down in ninth. His final showcase against Dallas pushes him into this spot.
NFC EDGEs: Khalil Mack – Chicago Bears, Chase Young – Washington Football Team, DeMarcus Lawrence* – Dallas Cowboys, Brandon Graham – Philadelphia Eagles, Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints, Za’Darius Smith – Green Bay Packers
Lost Spot: Jason Pierre-Paul – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For semantics, the defensive end and outside linebacker positions were combined to form EDGE so both can be judged against similar players.
Lawrence had an excellent year as both a pass rusher and run defender. In a year that Dallas was commonly mentioned as the worst defense in football, Lawrence had one of the best EDGE seasons. Lawrence had one less pressure than Pierre-Paul despite Pierre-Paul having 178 extra pass-rushing snaps and being on a better defense. He got a lot of hate from the media in 2019, but Lawrence responded with a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
NFC Linebackers: Fred Warner – San Francisco 49ers, Eric Kendricks* – Minnesota Vikings
Lost Spot: Bobby Wagner – Seattle Seahawks
The best three linebackers in football were in the NFC, meaning one of them cannot make the Pro Bowl. Kendricks gets the nod over Wagner because his skill, coverage, is more valuable than Wagner’s run-stopping. Both are elite linebackers, and Demario Davis should be recognized as well, but Kendricks and Warner were the two best linebackers in the NFL in 2020.
NFC Cornerbacks: Jaire Alexander – Green Bay Packers, Jalen Ramsey – Los Angeles Rams, James Bradberry – New York Giants, Darious Williams* – Los Angeles Rams
Lost Spot: Marshon Lattimore – New Orleans Saints
Williams allowed a passer rating below 60. Lattimore allowed a passer above 100. Williams also had more pass breakups in 11 fewer targets. While Williams did not have to cover the quality of corners that Lattimore did, he faced a strong cast of No. 2 options, and he locked them down. Lattimore has quite the reputation of locking down the stars and forgetting how to defend lower-quality wide receivers, but Lattimore did not have a strong year unless Mike Evans was lined up across from him.
NFC Safeties: John Johnson* – Los Angeles Rams, Budda Baker – Arizona Cardinals, Jamal Adams – Seattle Seahawks
Lost Spot: Quandre Diggs – Seattle Seahawks
The Rams add their third defensive back with Johnson. Johnson had a well-rounded season, producing as a tackler, run-stopper, and cover player while Diggs was poor in coverage. Johnson (and teammate Jordan Fuller) enabled the Rams to play lots of two-high coverage looks. This conservative style prevented teams from lighting up the scoreboard. Johnson and Fuller allowed few big plays, and they had some of their best performances against the various elite offenses they played.
NFC Special Teams: Tyler Ott (long snapper) – Seattle Seahawks, Jack Fox (punter) – Detroit Lions, Younghoe Koo (kicker) – Atlanta Falcons, Cordarrelle Patterson (return specialist) – Chicago Bears, Cody Barton* (special teamer) – Seattle Seahawks
Lost Spot: Nick Bellore (special teamer) – Seattle Seahawks
Pick your poison here. Barton and Bellore are both deserving selections.