The latest list of 2019 Pro Bowl voting leaders was released Wednesday, and it featured exactly zero New England Patriots.
With just one week remaining before fan voting closes, the Patriots do not have a single player who has garnered the most votes at his position, nor do they have any who rank in the top 10 overall. Of the 12 teams currently holding playoff spots, they’re the only one not represented.
Should they be? We took a look at the Patriots’ roster and identified six players who at least deserve Pro Bowl consideration.
Tom Brady, quarterback
Brady definitely has taken a step back statistically this season, but can you name three AFC quarterbacks who should earn Pro Bowl nods over him? Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers will be shoo-ins, but beyond them, most of the top signal-callers this year are in the NFC (Drew Brees, Jared Goff, etc.). This could wind up being a three-way battle between Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck for the third and final spot.
Current AFC voting leader: Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Stephon Gilmore, cornerback
Outside of one rough outing against Tennesee’s Corey Davis, Gilmore has been absolutely dominant this season, neutralizing the likes of Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Davante Adams and, most recently, Stefon Diggs. He’s currently Pro Football Focus’ second-highest-graded cornerback behind Desmond King of the Los Angeles Chargers. His 15 pass breakups rank second behind Chicago’s Kyle Fuller. He’s allowed more than 50 receiving yards just once in 12 games (the aforementioned dud vs. Davis). That’s a Pro Bowl résumé, if not an All-Pro one.
Current AFC voting leader: Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
Trey Flowers, defensive end
D-end is one of the NFL’s deepest positions in terms of high-end talent, and Flowers’ uninspiring sack total (4 1/2 in 11 games) will make it difficult for him to separate himself in a group that includes names like J.J. Watt and Myles Garrett (11 1/2 sacks apiece). Odds are he gets left out once final Pro Bowl votes are tallied. Numbers don’t paint an accurate picture of Flowers’ effectiveness this season, though. He and Gilmore easily have been the Patriots’ best defensive players, and both should be in the Pro Bowl conversation.
Current AFC voting leader: Watt, Houston Texans
James White, running back
White no longer is on pace to set the NFL record for receptions by a running back, but he’s still having an excellent season, ranking second or tied for second among backs in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He doesn’t have the gaudy rushing totals, though (76 carries, 329 yards, four touchdowns), and players like that rarely make the Pro Bowl cut.
Current AFC voting leader: James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Shaq Mason, right guard
Mason was a Pro Bowl snub in 2017, and he’s continued to play at an extremely high level this season. Considered one of the league’s top run blockers, he’s currently PFF’s highest-graded guard despite missing two games and part of a third with a calf injury. (New England’s left guard, Joe Thuney, whom coach Bill Belichick called one of the team’s best players last month, also is having a career year.)
Current AFC voting leader: David DeCastro, Steelers
James Develin, fullback
Not many NFL teams employ a fullback nowadays, but Develin is one of the best in the business. A first-time Pro Bowler last season, he’s continued to provide the Patriots with powerful run blocking while also taking on goal-line ball-carrying duties in recent weeks. Develin has three rushing touchdowns in New England’s last three games and already has set single-season career highs in carries (five) and receptions (nine).
Current AFC voting leader: Anthony Sherman, Chiefs
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images