The National Football League announced the 2023 Pro Bowl rosters on Wednesday. Most of the players named were not a surprise, but every year there are at least a handful with legitimate gripes. This year was no exception and if anything, the Pro Bowl snubs were even more egregious in 2022 than most years.
Players like Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson were no-brainers and locks to make their respective teams. There were also a number of surprises.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard was named to his fourth Pro Bowl team. But, if you look at his body of work this year, you would be left scratching your head. Howard has repeatedly been burned in man-to-man coverage, giving up a ton of big plays in the passing game. It appeared he was living off name recognition alone, but he wasn’t alone.
Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quentin Nelson also made it to the AFC Pro Bowl roster. He has now made it in all five of his seasons in the NFL, becoming the first player since Zack Martin to do so. But he, alongside his Colts teammates, have struggled mightily this year both in pass protection and win-block rate. Nelson is good, but there were certainly more deserving players on the board.
But that’s enough about the players that made it that shouldn’t have. Let’s talk about the 2023 Pro Bowl snubs.
5. Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks WR
Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett is having a Pro Bowl type year. He has 78 catches for 964 yards and eight receiving touchdowns this year. He has helped Geno Smith and the Seattle offense get back to becoming one of the better units in the NFL.
He ranks among the league leaders in wide receiver advanced metrics, per FiveThirtyEight.
The four receivers in the NFC that made it ahead of him are Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, AJ Brown and Terry McLaurin. The first three on that list I am not crazy enough to argue against. But as good as McLaurin is, he has 10 fewer catches, five fewer touchdowns and ranks much lower in the metics. Lockett deserved that spot.
4. Tremaine Edmunds – Buffalo Bills LB
Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmonds is having a fantastic season. But he fell victim to the inside linebacker curse. There are only two inside linebackers that make the Pro Bowl from each conference. Essentially, there are six edge rushers from each conference with three defensive ends and three outside linebackers.
In today’s NFL, outside linebacker is another way of saying ‘faster’ edge rusher.
Roquan Smith and CJ Mosley were the two inside linebackers named to the Pro Bowl team. It’s hard to make a case that either of those players do not belong. But all I know is that Edmunds is the best player on one of the best defenses in the NFL. He missed a few games with injury, which likely cost him a spot this year.
3. Jared Goff – Detroit Lions QB
I can’t believe I am going to state a case for Jared Goff to make the Pro Bowl in 2023. But that is exactly what I am going to do. Goff has been much better than almost anyone realizes this season. He has 23 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions and has led the Lions to a 6-1 record over their last seven.
His QBR is more than 10 points better than his division rival, Kirk Cousins. And he has done that with far fewer reliable weapons around him. Amon-Ra St. Brown missed a chunk of time due to injury, as did De’Andre Swift. It’s been special to watch the Lions offense, which ranks fifth in the NFL in points per game. If you had told me that to begin the year, I would have called you crazy.
2. Javon Hargrave – Philadelphia Eagles DT
This was a really big swing and miss. Eagles DT Javon Hargrave is having an exceptional year. He ranks 12th in the NFL with 10 sacks. But the only defensive tackles ahead of him are Chris Jones and Quinnen Williams with 11, both of whom made the Pro Bowl.
When the Eagles were hurt up the middle with Jordan Davis’ injury, it was Hargrave that held the fort down. He is second in the NFL in pass rush win rate behind only the aforementioned Chris Jones. He should be in the Pro Bowl this year.
1. Christian McCaffrey – San Francisco 49ers RB
The biggest Pro Bowl snub this year belongs to Christian McCaffrey. You can make the case that he belongs on the roster ahead of both Tony Pollard and Miles Sanders.
Both of those guys are having a slightly better year on the ground. But what McCaffrey does through the air is what truly separates him. He has 74 catches for over 600 yards receiving and four touchdowns. That is on top of his almost-1,000 yards rushing and six more touchdowns.
The fact that he has done it with two teams is even more impressive. Yet, it appears that was what knocked him down. CMC needs to be in this Pro Bowl.