The Pro Bowl is probably the most eyeroll-worthy event in professional sports but the rosters mean something. At the end of a player’s career, one of the first things that is highlighted is the number of times they made the Pro Bowl.
While the Minnesota Vikings have three players in this year’s Pro Bowl (Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith), even a quick look at the numbers reveals that there was a good case for at least four more — three of whom have never made a Pro Bowl. Let’s have a look at the arguments for each…
There isn’t any statistical angle you can take to say that Aaron Rodgers has been better than Cousins this year. The only quarterbacks who rank higher than Cousins by PFF’s grading system are Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson. Not that Rodgers has been bad, he’s 10th, but not in the same atmosphere as Cousins.
If you’re more into traditional numbers, the Vikings’ starting QB has the third highest QB rating, second highest completion percentage and No. 1 rating on deep passes. Cousins is even one of the best QBs under pressure this year, per PFF, ranking sixth in QB rating when hurried.
In past years there might have been a case against him based on wins and losses but Cousins has won on primetime and led a 20-point comeback against the Broncos.
There’s a few issues with Kendricks being shortchanged. One being that “linebackers” by Pro Bowl standards also includes players like Khalil Mack, who are much more defensive ends or “edge rushers” than they are linebackers. The only true LBs named were Luke Keuchly and Bobby Wagner. Both are deserving but neither compares to Kendricks, who ranks No. 1 by PFF overall, No. 2 in run defensive grade and No. 4 by coverage grade. He leads the NFL in pass breakups by a wide margin and has 17 QB pressures, which is tied for eighth among actual linebackers.
Kendricks has been an ascending player for some time and deserved recognition for his breakout season.
The NFL has an absurd number of great receivers right now so it isn’t stunning that Diggs was left off the list but he is the league’s No. 2 receiver in yards per catch with 17.9 and grabs 69.8% of the throws his way. You would be hard pressed to find any other receivers over the last decade who have that high of a completion percentage and yards per catch in the Julio Jones range. Diggs is 10th in QB rating when targeted and seventh in overall yards.
It would have been unusual to see two players at the same position from the same team make the Pro Bowl but Anthony Harris is deserving by the numbers. He’s second in the NFL in interceptions with five, ranks fourth overall by PFF’s grades and opposing quarterbacks have a 60.4 rating when throwing into his coverage. PFF scores him as the sixth bet tackling safety in the NFL as well.
We have come to assume that whoever plays alongside Harrison Smith will have success but Harris now has two straight years of ranking in PFF’s top five safeties. That’s not a fluke.