Voting is in full swing for the 2020 Pro Bowl. MVP contenders Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson will undoubtedly receive their invitations. Aside from the fanfare this pair are creating, there are some less spoken of names out there that deserve consideration.
The harsh reality is there’s only a limited amount of spaces available.
With this in mind, let’s explore five possible rejects that should garner some respect and attention to make a challenge for the 2020 Pro Bowl.
It’s hard to think of a more unfairly targeted player in the NFL, there is no shortage of Kirk Cousins critiques out there that’s for sure. What is often glossed over is the fact that the Vikings are in with a great shot of winning the NFC North. This has been made possible by some smart complimentary QB play.
This is not a quarterback that necessarily lights up box scores or delivers clutch plays. Generally speaking it’s often solid if unspectacular whenever Cousins takes to the field. When tucking into some film, it becomes clear he is one of the league’s better signal callers. Cousins can be depended on to deliver success from a varied playbook.
When crunching the numbers, the case for Kirk Cousins to make the Pro Bowl gets stronger. He trails only Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson in passing TD’s and in fact leads this duo in passer rating. Cousins also places in the top five for pass completion rate and average pass yards per attempt. Put simply, he often keeps the chains moving for his team.
What seemingly seems to be hurting his Pro Bowl bid is the lack of prime-time heroics. Following the loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Monday, Cousins now has a career record of 0-10 when playing on MNF. Stats like this are a death sentence to be considered an all-pro. Perhaps if he can shake this monkey off his back, Kirk would earn more of the kind of respect he deserves.
RB – Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
The only running back taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s fair to say Josh Jacobs has lived up to his pre-draft grade; the rookie has led the Raiders rushing attack with aplomb. Replacing Marshawn Lynch was never going to be an easy task, but such has the quality of play Jacobs has produced, Beast Mode’s stint with the Raiders has largely been forgotten.
Now the likely recipient of the offensive rookie of the year award, barring a Gardner Minshew renaissance, Jacobs should also be credited an all-pro status. At the season’s dawn, the Raiders did not feature in many expert playoff predictions. These talking heads looked to be destined to eat humble pie at one stage, but now the season has rather capitulated for Oakland.
Heavy losses to the Jets and Chiefs looked to have ended any lingering playoff hopes. This dismal run has hurt Jacobs’ push for a pro bowl ballot, but he should still earn serious consideration. Ranking in the top ten in rush yards per attempt, rushing touchdowns and breaking into the top five in yards per game, Josh Jacobs has the hallmarks of a true bell-cow back.
He has certainly proven to be the most efficient player on the team’s offence. With this productivity comes his ability to produce a big play. Alongside Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb, he is tied for 2nd in the league for runs of 20+ yards. Consistency and breakout potential, a great player for any NFL offence.
It’s certainly been a challenging season for Denver. Joe Flacco‘s brief tenure as QB1 for the Broncos was tumultuous to say the least. Now on IR, this is rookie Drew Lock‘s offence to lead, following a handful of starts for Brandon Allen that yielded equal success as the ‘Flacco era’.
Despite the QB merry-go-round at Mile High, one constant has remained, this being the sheer talent and efficiency of Courtland Sutton. He has been on the receiving end of TD passes from all three of the quarterbacks mentioned, highlighting the consistency of his play. If he was able to build a season long rapport with any of these QBs, perhaps his final stat-line would be all the more impressive.
Nonetheless, he is still on the fringes of the league’s top 10 in receiving yards. Sutton does place in the top five for plays of 20+ yards, showing he is a serious threat in stretching the field. His six receiving TDs puts him just three off the league leading group.
He is certainly a player who would walk into the first string of offences up and down the league. Such is the strength of the other wide receivers in the AFC, it’s a great compliment to Sutton to even be in the conversation to make the Pro Bowl. What will possibly hold him back however is the anonymity of the Broncos offence. The young Courtland Sutton is a diamond in the rough.
OLB – Harold Landry III , Tennessee Titans
A sneakily impressive defensive unit, Harold Landry III is the cherry on the top. The playoff push for the Titans continues as they attempt to keep pace with the Texans. The defence has been solid all year long and the change at quarterback seems to have lit a match under the franchise. A tense final quarter of the season awaits the new QB1 and the defensive squad.
Sitting just half a sack away from the league’s top ten, Landry is amongst the elite. From this top ten, only Landry and three others have recorded an interception. Further to this, alongside Chandler Jones and T.J. Watt, he is part of an illustrious group that has recorded at least nine sacks with multiple fumble recoveries.
All of this adds up to a highly effective disrupter of the game. A true force in the passing game with quick feet and an eye for the ball, he deserves votes aplenty to make the AFC roster.
The aforementioned T.J. Watt looks to be the main competitor for a starting spot. A mammoth task for Landry to overcome, but plenty of days remain for any swing in the voting to come. The OLB spot will remain competitive right up until polls close.
ILB – Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans
A defence normally known for names like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, there is another emerging linebacker on this roster that should be getting more attention. Following the season ending injury to Watt, other members of the Texans defence have had to step up. Zach Cunningham is one of those who has made his chance count, so much so he has earned Pro Bowl recognition.
Currently with a mighty 102 tackles to his name, this is enough to rank Cunningham 8th in the league. Supplement this with 1.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries, it equates to a well-rounded inside linebacker. He is certainly within the upper echelon of the NFL’s inside rushers.
Since being drafted 57th overall back in 2017, Cunningham has proven to be an effective contributor. His final statline numbers and snap counts have been steadily increasing and so should his reputation as top twenty league-wide ILB.
Expect a sizeable contract extension heading his way in the not too distant future, which no doubt will be incentive laden. The asking price will certainly rocket if he can add a 2020 Pro Bowl apperance to his resumé.