The season was filled with breakout performers. Young stars on both offense and defense stepped up in unexpected ways and made huge impacts on their respective squads. This is a major reason why there was very little disparity in the NFL this season.
While the game itself hasn't always been compelling, being selected to the Pro Bowl is an honor that many NFL stars strive for. There were multiple guys slighted in this year's voting, and here are just a few.
Arguably the top defensive rookie this season, Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso was snubbed from this year's festivities.
NaVorro Bowman, Vontaze Burfict, Luke Kuechly and Patrick Willis were the four middle linebackers voted in.
Alonso has been stellar for the Bills this season, totaling 145 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble and two sacks. The 23-year-old has started all 15 games entering Week 17 and is a serious candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
What sets Alonso apart from some other rookie defenders are his instincts when pursuing the quarterback or ball-carrier. Alonso rarely falls for the play-action pass and runs straight lines when in pursuit. He doesn't back down and delivers strong hits as a result.
If Alonso keeps this performance up, he'll see a few Pro Bowl selections come his way in the future. It's just shocking that his first one didn't come this season.
Chicago Bears standout wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was left out of the Pro Bowl fantasy draft in favor of teammate Brandon Marshall. While both receivers were stellar this season, one can easily argue that Jeffery was far more exciting and dynamic.
Even Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller was confused by the snub.
Jeffery amassed 1,341 yards and seven touchdowns on 86 catches through 15 games. He played without starting quarterback Jay Cutler for several games, and the numbers he posted were compiled in just 13 starts. If that doesn't scream "Pro Bowl," I don't know what does.
Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Marshall was hoping Jeffery would join him in Hawaii. "It’d be a shame if he was not in the Pro Bowl."
Like Alonso, there will likely be future Pro Bowls for Jeffery. He is one of the best receivers in the vertical passing game in the NFL and has the hands to make tough catches look easy.
Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was a disruptive force for his team this season, and his exclusion from the Pro Bowl is a head-scratcher.
He was, however, named an alternate, according to Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com.
Wilkerson posted 10.5 sacks in his third year in the NFL, and it's hard to believe that Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers was more deserving. Bills lineman Mario Williams doesn't even have as strong a case as Wilkerson.
On a Jets team that was stingy against the run, one would assume that the team's best run defender would earn enough votes to play in the Pro Bowl. For Wilkerson, though, it's likely a matter of fans simply not being aware of his talent.
The Jets aren't usually praised for what they do well, and Wilkerson's successes this season were overshadowed by the struggles of Geno Smith and the rest of the offense.
Nick Foles threw 25 touchdowns and two interceptions in just nine games (seven starts) and is a huge reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are in position to win the NFC East with a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Apparently that's not Pro Bowl-worthy.
Tom Brady's inclusion ahead of Foles is confusing. Brady making the Pro Bowl is a testament to how he has performed in the past, meaning that the vote was still mired by those making it a popularity contest. Foles has certainly posted better numbers this year than Brady.
While it may be unlikely that Foles will post the same efficiency in future seasons, he has shown enough this year to convince many analysts that he'll have a solid NFL career. Philadelphia is the perfect place for him given the weapons he has at his disposal, and head coach Chip Kelly continues to put him in positions to succeed.
If Foles can maintain his high level of play, there's no doubt he'll be announced as a Pro Bowler next year.
Who do you think was snubbed from the 2014 Pro Bowl rosters? Let us know in the comments below!
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