The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl rosters have been announced, and four Patriots made the cut. I think that all four guys who made it deserved to be on the team, but there are also a few Patriots that got cheated big time.
1. Julian Edelman
I know that Edelman doesn’t have the talent of a Calvin Johnson, or an A.J. Green, but he has been as good as anybody this year. He has caught 96 balls on 140 targets (a better percentage than Megatron, A.J. Green, and Josh Gordon), amassed 991 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. Edelman is a nightmare matchup for just about every cornerback in the NFL, which is why quarterback Tom Brady keys in on him so often. Edelman has also had to replace Wes Welker, a man that destroyed a lot of wide receiver records in his tenure with the Patriots. But this didn’t faze Edelman, as he has out-done Welker here in 2013. A big positive of Welker’s game was his durability, and a concern of Edelman’s skill-set was his ability to stay on the field. But Welker has missed three games this year, while Edelman has yet to miss a contest.
2. Stephen Gostkowski
While I don’t disagree with the selections of Matt Prater and Justin Tucker, I definitely think that Gostkowski could have beat out both of them. Not only has he hit 34 of the 37 field goals he has attempted this year, but he has drained some incredibly clutch kicks. In week one, he made a 35 yard game winning field goal to beat the Bills, in week 12 he made a game winning 31 yarder against Denver, and a week later he hit two late 53 yard shots to beat Houston (not to mention a perfect onside kick to beat the Browns in week 14). I can’t argue with Tucker’s incredible run, or Prater’s giant leg, but Gostkowski has a really good case, and it is a shame he didn’t get in.
3. Devin McCourty
I was tempted to go with Chandler Jones for this final spot, but even though he has had a very good 11.5 sack season, he still doesn’t compare to the likes of Robert Mathis, J.J. Watt, Tamba Hali, and Robert Quinn. So this final “snub spot” goes to safety Devin McCourty. McCourty’s stats don’t look Pro Bowl worthy, but if you watch the game tape, you will come away thinking that he is a top safety in the NFL. His ability to read where the ball will be going, and have enough speed to get there is very impressive, and while he dropped two easy interceptions last week in Baltimore, his ball skills are solid as well. Ever since Bill Belichick opted to move McCourty to safety last year, New England hasn’t given up many big plays, and most of the credit has to be given to McCourty. Rarely does he get baited into biting on a short route, and allow an explosive play down the field. He has a very disciplined playing style, and up until last week’s concussion, one of his strongest traits was his ability to stay on the field. You certainly can’t argue with the selections of Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd, but I think McCourty has had a much better season than Eric Weddle, especially considering the records of their respective squads (11-4 to 8-7).