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The 7 worst snubs for the 2020 Pro Bowl

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Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, and a couple of veteran stars from the league’s top defense all stand out.

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The NFL announced the full rosters for the 2020 Pro Bowl. The list is full of deserving players, including a whopping 18 of them from the Ravens and Chiefs combined. But while it’s hard to argue against any of the chosen 88, you can bet we have some thoughts on those who should have joined them.

Last year, we also put together a list of snubs and a number of them made the Pro Bowl this year. That includes Christian McCaffrey, Chris Jones, David Bakhtiari, Darius Leonard, Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce, Chandler Jones, Russell Wilson and Will Lutz.

There are, of course, limited spots available and guys with rock-solid resumes miss out each year. Let’s go over some of the players we thought should have made the initial cut for the trip to Orlando.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Coming into the season, Prescott’s detractors consistently harped on his lack of success throwing the deep ball in 2018. This year, Prescott has aired it out with the best of them. He’s third in the league in air yards per completion, and second overall in completed air yards — Pro Football Reference metrics that track how far a ball went before being caught.

While the Cowboys as a whole have struggled, it’s certainly not Prescott’s fault. He’s first in Football Outsiders’ DYAR stat, which measures a quarterback’s total value. He’s second in the NFL with 4,334 passing yards. He’s also fifth in on-target percentage, at 79 percent, and fifth in the league in yards per completion with 12.7. His numbers are the best he’s had in his career, and not only does he deserve a fat new contract, he deserves some Pro Bowl recognition.

Darren Waller, TE, Raiders

The Ravens have a record 12 Pro Bowlers, and by and large, they clearly belong. However, we have some issues with Mark Andrews making it over Darren Waller at the tight end position.

Waller had a rocky start to his career that saw him spend more time suspended than on the field. This year, he’s been active all season and has looked great in the process, earning a long-term contract extension.

Waller is second among all tight ends in yards (1,131), seventh in catch percentage (77.7), and second in yards per target (9.72). He’s ahead of Andrews in all of those stats, and he is one of only a few reliable playmakers the Raiders have.

Justin Simmons, S, Broncos

Simmons is the top-ranked safety in the league according to Pro Football Focus, and there happens to be another iffy decision ahead of him on the roster: Earl Thomas. Of course, Thomas is one of the best to ever play the game, but this feels like Ravens hype trumping what we saw on the field.

And what we saw was Simmons being dominant week in and week out. He leads all safeties in pass breakups with 14 and is second in interceptions with four. He’s tied for first in the league in forced incompletions, per PFF. He was all over the field and has quite possibly been the best safety in the entire NFL this season.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

Aaron Rodgers got the nod for the 2020 Pro Bowl, and he hasn’t even been the best quarterback in his own division. That honor goes to Cousins, who overcame a slow start to look every bit a quarterback worth a fully guaranteed $84 million contract.

Since Week 4, he’s thrown for 275 yards per game and recorded a 22:3 TD:INT ratio as Minnesota has gone 8-2. He’s setting career highs in virtually every statistical category available. He ranks among the league’s top five quarterbacks in completion rate (70.8), interception rate (1.2), adjusted yards per attempt (9.4), and passer rating (111.1).

Sure, he’s struggled in big games and still hasn’t won a game on Monday night — though check back after Week 16. He’s still got the Vikings in position for a return to the postseason and commands the NFL’s fifth-ranked scoring offense. He’ll eventually get an invitation to Orlando as an alternate once other QBs start dropping out, but Cousins deserved to be among the first crop of NFC passers.

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

Rodgers’ struggles have placed an even bigger emphasis on the Green Bay running game. Jones has responded with the best season of his career. The former UTEP star may only have three 100+ yard rushing games, but he’s got five with multiple touchdowns — all of which were Packer wins.

Though his 14 rushing touchdowns are tied with Christian McCaffrey for the league lead, his most valuable asset this season has been a leveled-up receiving game. Jones’ 7.2 yards per target are a career high (as are his three-plus catches per game) and more than noted pass-catching backs like McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, James White, and Duke Johnson. While other tailbacks have done more this fall, there are few who’ve been more important for a 10+ win team in 2019 than Jones.

Devin McCourty, S, and Jamie Collins, LB, Patriots

The Patriots field the league’s top defense when it comes to both points and yards allowed. But other than well-deserved bids for Stephon Gilmore and Dont’a Hightower, that unit was snubbed when it came to Pro Bowl invitations. Three different New England defensive backs have at least five interceptions, a list that includes McCourty and his record-tying four-game pick streak to start the season. The veteran safety has allowed just a 41.6 passer rating in coverage this season; throwing the ball into the turf every play would net a QB a 39.6.

McCourty has been great, but he’s not the Pats’ biggest comeback story of 2019. Collins was shunted aside by the Browns and returned to New England this spring on a make-good, one-year, $2 million contract that left him in danger of not making the club’s final roster.

Instead, he’s been one of the team’s most important defenders. He’s got a career-high six sacks despite being asked to rush the passer in roughly one-third of his snaps — giving him the league’s top sack rate among inside linebackers. Per SIS, he ranks third among all linebackers — behind only Pro Bowl pass rushers Shaquil Barrett and T.J. Watt — in points saved.

Yes, crying “snub” for the Patriots is a plea that will largely fall on unsympathetic ears. But if the Ravens — the league’s hottest team — can send a dozen players to Orlando, shouldn’t the league’s hottest defense get at least three representatives?