The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl rosters are hereand a couple of very big names didn’t make the cut.
Before we get into that, it should be noted that this year’s Pro Bowl will be very different from the previous ones. For one, there won’t be a traditional game anymore. The league replaced that with a skills competition week that concludes with a flag football game with the players.
OK, now to the snubs. Some exclusions were odd given how well these players fared in the fan voting (which only counts towards one-third of the decision-making process) and how some seemed to have been discounted despite almost equally impressive performances on the field.
While there could be more, here are six notable snubs:
The Dolphins quarterback actually led the league in fan votes prior to the team selections with 306,861 votes on Monday. That beat out Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurtswho both were named starters.
But, Tagovailoa missed three games this year with a concussion, which affected how his stats compared with the two other quarterbacks who made the AFC roster — Buffalo Bills‘ Josh Allen and Cincinnati Bengals‘ Joe Burrow. Tagovailoa actually has a better competition percentage than Allen, a better quarterback rating than both and fewer interceptions than both, but slightly fewer yards per game.
Similar to Tagovailoa. this one is clearly a case of there being too many good players at the same position in the AFC. Despite a very satirical video from the Chargers‘ social media team, Ekeler lost out on a Pro Bowl nod to Cleveland Browns‘ Nick Chubb, Las Vegas Raiders‘ Josh Jacobs and Tennessee Titans‘ Derrick Henry.
Ekeler finished with around half as many rushing yards as all three but only slightly fewer rushing touchdowns. But, Ekeler dominated as a pass-catcher with twice as many receptions as Jacobs and more than three times as many as Chubb and Henry. He also almost doubled Henry and Jacobs in receiving yards and caught five touchdowns to none between the other three. I guess it’s a matter of opinion as to whether than makes him a better running back or not.
Another victim of his position, McCaffrey wasn’t named to the NFC Pro Bowl team despite averaging 110.7 scrimmage yards per game and currently ranking third in scrimmage yards this season. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Dallas Cowboys‘ Tony Pollard and Philadelphia Eagles’ Miles Sanders beat him out.
Barkley makes sense — he’s right behind McCaffrey in scrimmage yards and more than 200 yards ahead in rushing yards — but McCaffrey only has 42 fewer rushing yards than Pollard and 313 more receiving yards. Sanders is having a career year on the ground and is fifth in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. McCaffrey is simply one of the most dynamic players in the NFL even after switching teams mid-season.
Brown missed some time with an ankle injury but is still one of the best pure receivers in the NFL. The second-year St. Brown likely wasn’t going to beat out Justin Jefferson or A.J. Brown, but he had a case against Terry McLaurin and CeeDee Lamb. St. Brown has more receptions than both, the same number of touchdowns as Lamb and twice as many as McLaurin and only slightly fewer receiving yards than both.
All three are great receivers in their own right, but St. Brown still might not be a household name yet.
It would have been impressive if both Dolphins receivers made the Pro Bowl, but alas, Waddle was left out despite ranking sixth in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The four players who made the roster — Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams and Ja’Marr Chase — are arguably the four best players at their position in the AFC, but statistically, Waddle should be included in that list as well.
Highsmith is tied for seventh in the NFL with 11 sacks this season but failed to make the Pro Bowl. New England Patriots pass rusher Matt Judon rightfully made the roster as the NFL’s sack leader and Los Angeles Chargers’ Khalil Mack has seven sacks and 10 quarterback hits, but Highsmith likely deserved the spot over teammate T.J. Watt, who is great in his own right but missed seven games this season.