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Pro Bowl Roster 2012: Aldon Smith and Defensive Stars Who Got Snubbed

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Aldon Smith celebrates after sacking quarterback A.J. Feeley #4 of the St Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 26-0. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2011

Every year, when the Pro Bowl rosters are announced, fans and analysts are always up in arms about someone who missed the cut.

It is a no-win scenario because there are always going to be snubs.

I am interested in some of those snubs—players that truly deserve to be in the game and who they should replace. 

Most people who argue for a player who should be added to the Pro Bowl fail to include in their opinion the player who should be left off the roster in order to make that happen.

This article will tell you about the players who unequivocally belong on the Pro Bowl roster, and will mention which players stole their spots and should be kicked off the team. 

Specifically, we are going to look at the defensive side of the ball.

Just because the NFL appears to give the offense all the advantages in the Pro Bowl game, doesn't mean there weren't plenty of great performances on the other side of the ball. 

 

Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers

When the 49ers made Smith the seventh pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, it was met with a collective groan. Fourteen sacks and a presumed Defensive Rookie of the Year later, Smith he looks like a steal. He has given this team the dominant pass rusher that they have needed for years. 

Yet, for all his hard work, Smith was still not given the courtesy of being placed on the alternate list for the Pro Bowl.

He will not be able to showcase his ability against the best players in the NFL, which is a shame because he has earned the right to represent himself and his team in Hawaii. 

Who Should He Replace: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers in action during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Matthews is a terrific linebacker who is not asked to be the pass-rushing monster that Smith is, but in no way did he have as strong a season as the 49ers rookie. He was good, but not worthy of a Pro Bowl selection. 

 

London Fletcher, ILB, Washington Redskins

Fletcher might be the most underrated defensive player in the NFC.

He is leading the league in tackles with 163. He has also contributed two sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and seven passes defended. 

The inside linebacker position is a crowded one in the NFC, but for Fletcher to be ignored is a travesty. He has been the best and most consistent performer all season.

Who Should He Replace: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04:  Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears looks over an offensive alignment against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field on December 4, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chiefs defeated the Bears 10-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Part of the problem with Pro Bowl voting is that the players are picked more based on their past reputation than what they currently do on the field.

Urlacher is not having a great season, but because he has the name and plays for the Bears, he is going to be given more credit than he deserves. 

 

Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Defensive back Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates with Kaluka Maiava #56 after their 14-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ma
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Playing in Cleveland is not the best way to showcase your abilities to a mainstream audience.

But, after just two seasons in the NFL, Haden has established himself as one of the premiere defensive backs in the game. 

He has 61 tackles this year, but the real number that jumps out are his 19 passes defended—which is also why he only has one interception.

He has great ball skills and understands how to read opposing quarterbacks, and he deserved to be recognized for his efforts this season. 

Who Should He Replace: Jonathan Joseph, Houston Texans

BALTIMORE - OCTOBER 16:  Jonathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans celebrates his interception against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 16. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Texans 29-14. (Photo by Larry French/Getty
Larry French/Getty Images

It is hard to argue with Darelle Revis and Champ Bailey starting the game, but Haden is certainly a more qualified backup than Joseph is.

That is not to say that Joseph is a bad choice. On the contrary, in most seasons he would be a perfectly logical pick. But Haden had a better season overall and should be on the roster ahead of the Texans cornerback. 

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