Pro Bowl Roster 2013: Analyzing Why Richard Sherman and Other Snubs Missed Team

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 23: Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks fires up the crowd during the fourth quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle,Wa. The Seahawks won the game 42-13. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

By the time the Pro Bowl actually happens on Jan. 27, the players snubbed from the initial selections will be ultimately meaningless. Enough players will drop out of the game due to circumstance or injury that everyone who deserves a spot (and some who don't) will get their bonus check.

Instead, when taking a look at the initial rosters, it's far more important to look at why these particular players were snubbed. Is it the dreaded East Coast bias rearing its ugly head? Or do these voters simply look for the biggest names and blindly vote accordingly?

Oftentimes it's more complicated than that and here we'll try to look for more nuance than overwrought tropes. With that in mind, here is a look at why a few Pro Bowl snubs missed the team, starting with the biggest of all, Richard Sherman. 

Richard Sherman (CB, Seattle Seahawks)

Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Performance-Enhancing Drug Allegations

Based on his play on Sundays alone, Sherman is the player with by far the biggest gripe among "snubbed" players. There is nary a soul alive who should question the fact that Sherman has been among the best (if not the best) cornerback in the NFL this season.

The 24-year-old Seahawks star has 61 tackles, seven interceptions and three forced fumbles heading into the season's final week. He's been the best corner on a Seattle team that ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards against and first against opposing WR1's, according to Football Outsiders. Alongside Brandon Browner, there probably isn't a better duo of cover corners in the game today.

One problem: A positive test for Adderall has hung over Sherman's season and his appeal lasted well past the voting period ended. While he may have won his appeal in the end, it had to weigh on the minds of many when casting their ballots. 

In today's day and age, it's presumed guilt before innocence in regards to performance-enhancing drugs. Too many times fans and pundits have been burned by giving players the benefit of the doubt. 

Obviously, we have to presume Sherman's innocence and allow him to play on Sundays without question. However, offseason voters were undoubtedly wary of Sherman's status (and his Ryan Braun-esque excuse) enough to avoid awarding him with a trip to Hawaii.

Alfred Morris (RB, Washington Redskins)

Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Robert Griffin III and Anti-Rookie Bias

If Morris wants to know the overarching reason he won't be making a trip to Hawaii, all he needs to do is look forward in the backfield. Fellow scintillating rookie Robert Griffin III was the only non-specialist rookie to make the Pro Bowl roster and deservedly so. He's been unbelievable all season behind center and is the latest in a group of guys who are redefining the quarterback position.

Griffin has also taken much of the spotlight away from Morris. Despite the Redskins running back being just 87 yards away from 1,500 on the season and scoring 10 touchdowns, Morris has taken a backseat to RGIII.

Morris can also blame the strong crop of players at his position in the NFC.

Obviously, one cannot argue with Adrian Peterson making the team over Morris. He's 208 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record (2,106 yards) and has propped the Vikings into playoff contention despite Christian Ponder's woes. It's also impossible to pound desks about Marshawn Lynch's inclusion either, as he's 10 yards away from 1,500 heading into Sunday's action.

However, the voters selecting Frank Gore over Morris comes with a wildly apparent "he can get it next year" narrative. Gore will be 30 years old next season and heading into the twilight of his career while Morris just turned 24 and will ostensibly have plenty of other opportunities.

It's not a representative decision about who has played better this season, but instead is more emotional. When you have human beings voting, this happens—especially to young guys. Morris wasn't the first and he won't be the last. 

Dez Bryant (WR, Dallas Cowboys)

Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Surged Too Late

At this point in the season, are there five receivers you'd take ahead of Bryant for the next half-decade? With a scintillating sprint to the finish, the third-year Cowboys wideout surged to stardom and is finally making good of his potential.

He has touchdowns in seven-straight games and three multi-touchdown performances in that period. Unfortunately, while that ascent has come at the perfect time for the Cowboys, Bryant's pre-Week 10 mediocrity put him behind the proverbial 8-ball.

Just for reference, here's a look at Bryant's first-half and second-half splits:

First Half: 42 REC, 503 YDS (12.0 YPC), 2 TDs

Second Half: 46 REC, 808 YDS (17.6 YPC), 10 TDs

Now keep in mind Bryant still has another game to go in his second half and the reasoning for his snub becomes apparent. At the season's midpoint, Bryant had seemingly plateaued in his development and was nowhere near worthy of a Pro Bowl.

It's likely that early votes and preconceived notions took Bryant out of the running, while making Victor Cruz an attractive option. When looking at Cruz's splits, you'll notice a very interesting contrast to Bryant's:

First Half: 52 REC, 650 YDS (12.5 YPC), 7 TDs

Second Half: 30 REC, 390 YDS (13.0 YPC), 2 TDs

When considering Pro Bowl ballots opened in late October when Cruz was at his peak and Bryant was languishing in the middle tier, it's pretty obvious why the Giants star will be salsaing his way to Hawaii over his division rival.

AFC Offense

Position Player Team
QB Peyton Manning* Denver Broncos 
QB Tom Brady New England Patriots 
QB Matt Schaub Houston Texans 
RB Arian Foster* Houston Texans 
RB Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs 
RB Ray Rice Baltimore Ravens 
FB Vonta Leach* Baltimore Ravens 
WR A.J. Green* Cincinnati Bengals
WR Andre Johnson* Houston Texans 
WR Reggie Wayne Indianapolis Colts 
WR Wes Welker New England Patriots 
TE Rob Gronkowski* New England Patriots 
TE Heath Miller Pittsburgh Steelers 
T Joe Thomas* Cleveland Browns 
T Duane Brown* Houston Texans 
T Ryan Clady Denver Broncos 
G Logan Mankins* New England Patriots 
G Marshal Yanda* Baltimore Ravens 
G Wade Smith Houston Texans 
C Maurkice Pouncey* Pittsburgh Steelers 
C Chris Myers Houston Texans 
P Dustin Colquitt Kansas City Chiefs 
PK Phil Dawson  Cleveland Browns 
KR Jacoby Jones  Baltimore Ravens 
ST Matthew Slater New England Patriots 

*Denotes starter


AFC Defense

Position Player Team
DL J.J. Watt* Houston Texans 
DL Cameron Wake* Miami Dolphins 
DL Geno Atkins*  Cincinnati Bengals 
DL Vince Wilfork*  New England Patriots 
DL Elvis Dumervil Denver Broncos 
DL Haloti Ngata  Baltimore Ravens 
LB Von Miller*  Denver Broncos 
LB Tamba Hali*  Kansas City Chiefs 
LB Jerod Mayo* New England Patriots 
LB Robert Mathis  Indianapolis Colts 
LB Derrick Johnson  Kansas City Chiefs 
CB Champ Bailey* Denver Broncos 
CB Johnathan Joseph*  Houston Texans 
CB Antonio Cromartie  New York Jets 
S Ed Reed* Baltimore Ravens
S Eric Berry*  Kansas City Chiefs 
S LaRon Landry New York Jets 

*Denotes starter


NFC Offense

Position Player Team
QB Aaron Rodgers* Green Bay Packers
QB Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons 
QB Robert Griffin III  Washington Redskins 
RB Adrian Peterson*  Minnesota Vikings 
RB Marshawn Lynch   Seattle Seahawks 
RB Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers 
FB Jerome Felton*  Minnesota Vikings 
WR Calvin Johnson*  Detroit Lions 
WR Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears 
WR Julio Jones  Atlanta Falcons 
WR Victor Cruz  New York Giants 
TE Tony Gonzalez*  Atlanta Falcons 
TE Jason Witten  Dallas Cowboys 
T Russell Okung*  Seattle Seahawks 
T Joe Staley* San Francisco 49ers 
T Trent Williams  Washington Redskins 
G Mike Iupati*  San Francisco 49ers 
G Jahri Evans*  New Orleans Saints 
G Chris Snee  New York Giants 
C Max Unger*  Seattle Seahawks 
C Jeff Saturday Green Bay Packers 
P Thomas Morstead  New Orleans Saints 
PK  Blair Walsh Minnesota Vikings 
KR Leon Washington Seattle Seahawks 
ST  Lorenzo Alexander Washington Redskins 

*Denotes starter


NFC Defense

Position Player Team
DL Jason Pierre-Paul* New York Giants 
DL Julius Peppers*  Chicago Bears 
DL Justin Smith* San Francisco 49ers 
DL Henry Melton*  Chicago Bears 
DL Jared Allen  Minnesota Vikings 
DL Gerald McCoy  Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
LB Aldon Smith*  San Francisco 49ers 
LB DeMarcus Ware*  Dallas Cowboys 
LB Patrick Willis*  San Francisco 49ers 
LB Clay Matthews  Green Bay Packers 
LB NaVorro Bowman  San Francisco 49ers 
CB Charles Tillman*  Chicago Bears 
CB Tim Jennings*  Chicago Bears 
CB Patrick Peterson  Arizona Cardinals 
S Dashon Goldson*  San Francisco 49ers 
S Donte Whitner*  San Francisco 49ers 
S Earl Thomas Seattle Seahawks 

*Denotes starter



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