Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Eight wide receivers can make the Pro Bowl. It's difficult to pick just which ones should be rewarded for their play.
Josh Gordon and Calvin Johnson are locks, as they rank first and second, respectively, in the league in receiving yards and have been the most dominant players at their respective positions this season. Antonio Brown is third in both receptions (101) and yards (1,412), so it makes sense that he was added.
Rounding out the list were A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Brandon Marshall. Green (94 REC, 1,365 YDS, 10 TDs) and Johnson (103 REC, 1,358 YDS, 5 TDs) were well-deserving of their selections. Thomas does benefit from the game’s best quarterback, but his stat line (86 REC, 1,317 YDS, 12 TDs) certainly can hold its own, and he’s an incredibly physical receiver after the catch.
Marshall's receiving numbers (94 REC, 1,211 YDS, 11 TDs) are Pro Bowl-worthy, although he does rank second in the league in dropped passes (13). But he's been far and above the league’s best blocker, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and he's dealt with instability at the quarterback position as well.
Bryant's selection is the least deserving, as he probably made it more based on his name. His numbers (85 REC, 1,134 YDS, 12 TDs) are certainly terrific numbers. He’s just 10th in receptions and 14th in yards. Then again, he is tied among all NFL receivers with the most touchdown catches (12).
Jackson's numbers (79 REC, 1,304 YDS, 9 TDs) are right on par with the other receivers on the list. If you took Bryant or Marshall off and put Jackson on, no one would think twice. After all, there was almost a logjam of receivers fighting for the final spots, and it's almost a guarantee that a receiver or two will get injured and pull out (or advance to the Super Bowl), thus opening up a spot.
Perhaps the most surprising omission was that of Pierre Garcon. Garcon quietly leads the NFL with 107 receptions, and he’s done all that while being easily the focal point of his team’s passing game. Other players that deserved strong consideration are Alshon Jeffery (86 REC, 1,341 YDS, 7 TDs), Eric Decker (83 REC, 1,261 YDS, 10 TDs), and Vincent Jackson (74 REC, 1,189 YDS, 7 TDs with a rookie QB).
Deserving? Probably Not