Like it or not, as messed up as the voting process is, the Pro Bowl matters for NFL players. It matters to a degree in contract negotiations, it matters in discussing player legacy after their career is over and it matters when the committee meets to select Hall of Fame nominations each year. It’s a disastrous voting process that screws over deserving players every year, but unfortunately it does matter.
I haven’t endeavored to write about who will make the Pro Bowl for the 2020 Bucs, just who should make it, and who shouldn’t. I think it’s important to be unbiased when evaluating the team I cover, so I try to watch as much of the other 31 teams as I possibly can to be able to have a pulse on who is or isn’t deserving around the NFL. I wrote about the 2020 Bucs roster, the four players that should make it and the six players that probably shouldn’t make it this season, but might.
Should Make It
Table of Contents
QB Tom Brady
He’s comfortably at least the 3rd-best quarterback in the NFC, and he’s been the undisputed MVP for a Bucs team that looks playoff-bound. Brady’s raw numbers are also outstanding, as he’s thrown 32 TDs to just 11 interceptions while completing over 65 percent of his passes.
LG Ali Marpet
It’ll be Marpet’s first Pro Bowl if he makes it, and he’s been arguably the best guard in the NFL this season. Although he did miss three games, Marpet has been so dominant in the other 11 games he’s played in that he deserves a Pro Bowl nod. Marpet has allowed just 10 pressures and zero sacks this season, while committing just three penalties.
LB Lavonte David
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: USA Today
It’ll be an absolute shame if David doesn’t make the Pro Bowl in a year where the national spotlight has been on the Bucs more than ever before in his career. He’s had a great season by basically every measure, performing as one of the top coverage linebackers in the game, breaking up six passes and intercepting one, notching 11 tackles-for-loss and coming away with a sack-and-a-half as well. Unfortunately for David, competition in the NFC is stiff, with Fred Warner and Eric Kendricks having great seasons, and Bobby Wagner leading the way in fan voting despite falling off a bit this year.
Every year the Pro Bowl comes and goes without David’s name being called, and Bucs fans and media realize we’re watching a Hall of Fame-caliber career pass by without hardly anyone noticing it. It’s a crying shame.
CB Carlton Davis
The best four cornerbacks in the NFC this season have been James Bradberry, Jalen Ramsey, Jaire Alexander and Carlton Davis. For voters just checking raw numbers, 18 pass breakups and four interceptions are strong statistics that should help get Davis into the Pro Bowl, but it is his work against opposing No. 1 wide receivers that has me convinced Davis is a Pro Bowler in 2020. Everyone will point to the Chiefs game, but Davis works on an island against elite opposing competition every week, and he’s been far more shut down than not. Difficulty of assignment and level of competition should be a big determining factor for an event like the Pro Bowl.
Shouldn’t Make It
OT Tristan Wirfs
To come in as a rookie and be as good as Wirfs has been? It’s almost unheard of at offensive tackle. He’s the only player on the “Shouldn’t” list who has absolutely played at a level worthy of Pro Bowl honors. The problem with Wirfs isn’t what he’s done at all, it’s the fact that David Bakhtiari, Trent Williams, Terron Armstead, Taylor Decker, Duane Brown and Andrew Whitworth are all having insane years as well, although obviously Whitworth has been down with an injury for a few weeks now. Wirfs is as deserving as anyone and has been a dominant player this season, but I understand giving it to the older guys who have been doing it on units not quite as competent as the Bucs’ offensive line/quarterback. Wirfs will collect his fair share of Pro Bowls by the time his career is over.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronk has been a valuable addition to the Bucs offense this season, and he has a legit shot to get into the Pro Bowl after a strong year and very little competition at tight end in the NFC with George Kittle and Zach Ertz injured for much of the year. Still, T.J. Hockenson and Robert Tonyan should probably edge out the veteran tight end, as both are having slightly superior statistical years. Based on Gronkowski’s popularity and the lack of competition for a Pro Bowl spot however, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets in.
RB Ronald Jones
I know the rushing production is there, and he’s been good in that area of the game to be sure. But the passing game absolutely should matter for the running back position, and Jones has been dreadful in that capacity all season long. He’s not a Pro Bowl level player, even in an NFC without a clear No. 3 running back this year.
RG Alex Cappa
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs and RG Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Because his name appears alphabetically at the top of the Pro Bowl balloting for fans, Cappa was the top vote-getter in online balloting for NFC offensive guards this year. Yes, that’s how ridiculous this process is. Cappa has had an awesome season, but only three NFC guards make the Pro Bowl, and he’s not better than Marpet, Brandon Scherff or Zack Martin.
LB Devin White
The Pro Bowl is a stat-based award, which means that, as unbelievable as it sounds for those that watch and study every Bucs game, Devin White has a pretty good shot to make it. And if he does, it’ll almost certainly come at Lavonte David’s expense. White has 130 tackles (a stat that does not matter AT ALL without the context of the tape) and eight sacks this season. He’s been one of the worst linebackers in the league in coverage, still misses too many reads in run defense and has the most missed tackles on the team, but the pass-rushing stats and the LSU fanbase might be enough to put White in the Pro Bowl, despite the fact that he’s undeserving.
EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul
I can’t remember if Jason Pierre-Paul was even listed with the outside linebackers or the defensive ends in Pro Bowl voting, but in either category he has not been a Pro Bowl player. Is JPP a good player? Yes. Is he a great player? No, and those are the kind of players that should end up with Pro Bowl honors. JPP’s 9.5 sacks is a good mark, especially in the NFC, but he hasn’t been a more impactful player than Khalil Mack, Za’Darius Smith, Brian Burns or Trey Hendrickson. Still, JPP’s sack numbers plus four forced fumbles, two interceptions and four pass deflections in an NFC not exactly brimming with Pro Bowl edge rushers, could get him into the event anyway.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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