Despite the fact that he’s having a career year – and that he’s top-10 in many NFL receiving categories – Julian Edelman was snubbed from the Pro Bowl.
It’s one thing for Julian Edelman to have a career year for the New England Patriots and not make the Pro Bowl.
It’s quite another thing altogether for Julian Edelman to have one of the best years of a wide receiver in the AFC – let alone the entire NFL – this season and still not make the Pro Bowl.
That’s exactly what unfolded Tuesday night, however, when the NFL revealed its rosters for the Pro Bowl.
The Patriots had three players – cornerback Stephon Gilmore, inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and special teamer Matthew Slater – selected to the Pro Bowl. And while the biggest headline of the night might have been Tom Brady missing the Pro Bowl nomination for the first time in over a decade, that wasn’t as big a story (or a surprise) as Edelman missing out on the Pro Bowl yet again.
To date, the reigning Super Bowl MVP has never been named to a Pro Bowl in his 11 years in the NFL. While he’s never scored double-digit touchdowns during the regular season before, he’s eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark three times now as a receiver. Not to mention, he’s already the second most prolific wide receiver in postseason history ever behind the immortal Jerry Rice.
But in previous years where Edelman stood out during the regular season – and remained healthy for the majority of it – you could easily understand why certain other marquee wideouts in the AFC got named to the Pro Bowl over him. Players like A.J. Green, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Edelman’s old teammate Wes Welker… they all were worthy selections.
This year’s AFC Pro Bowl roster also has a player in Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins who absolutely deserves to be where he is. But outside of Hopkins? It’s a little bit dicey at the WR position.
Keenan Allen of the L.A. Chargers, Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns, and Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs all made the Pro Bowl instead of Edelman. Perhaps an argument can be made that Allen deserved his spot as a starter, but Landry and Hill as backups behind Hopkins and Allen just don’t make sense with Edelman still on the table.
Edelman has more receptions than any of the three of them, more targets than any of the three of them, more receiving yards than Landry or Hill, and more receiving touchdowns than Landry or Allen. If you add in the touchdown pass Edelman threw against the Eagles in Week 11, then he has the same number of total touchdowns this season as Hill.
In the AFC, there are only two wide receivers who currently rank top-10 in targets, top-10 in receptions, top-15 in receiving yards, and who have scored six or more receiving touchdowns. Their names are DeAndre Hopkins and Julian Edelman, and they should be the top-two wideouts on the AFC Pro Bowl roster and the designated starters.
Edelman has been every bit as valuable to his team this season as Allen has been to the Chargers. And while Landry has had a terrific year for Cleveland, statistically it’s still been inferior to the season Edelman’s had with New England. Frankly, Hill shouldn’t have even been considered for this list at all, given the time he missed due to injury.
The only silver lining for the Patriots and their star wide receiver is that this is far from uncharted territory in Edelman’s NFL narrative. He’s been underrated ever since college, when he came to New England as an unheralded seventh-round draft pick out of Kent State who played quarterback.
Since that point 10 years ago, Edelman has worked his tail off to become one of the most productive and consistent wide receivers in the NFL. His accomplishments in the regular season – and especially in the postseason – have left many intelligent football fans, players, former players, and analysts considering him worthy of the Hall of Fame one day.
If and when that happens, Edelman will probably not care one iota about whether or not he ever got nominated to the Pro Bowl during his career. All that will matter to him is that gold jacket and the bust of him in Canton – plus those three Super Bowl rings (and counting) and that Super Bowl MVP award.
Besides… it’s not as if he was actually going to play in the Pro Bowl this year anyway. Edelman surely has his sights set on appearing in another Bowl… the Super one, down in Miami.