Top 10 Patriots Players Worthy of Playing in Pro Bowl
Now that the NFL's Pro Bowl voting is well underway, it's time to look at which players on the 9-1 New England Patriots team are worthy of representing the AFC in Orlando, FL for the Pro Bowl this season.
Not surprisingly, there are plenty of Patriots players that you can make a case are one of the best at their position in the AFC. Let's run down the list starting with the least likely candidates, then trickle down to the unanimous decisions.
10) Tom Brady
Surprisingly, the Patriots' future Hall of Fame quarterback may have the toughest time making a Pro bowl Roster from this list of players. Though he is 8th overall in the league in passing yards and 4th overall in the AFC, Brady ranks in the teens when it comes to completion percentage (63.7) and passing touchdowns (14), and ranks 20th overall in QB rating (90.1).
It has undoubtedly been a down year for Brady. Luckily for him, a fan vote decides which players make it to the Pro Bowl, which means the 42 year old's popularity might still give him the nod over his AFC rivals at the position. Whether or not he will actually attend the Pro Bowl is a completely different story.
When you take into consideration Brady's production despite the struggling talent around him, and the fact that he is listed as PFF's 7th best QB this season, Brady is worthy of yet another Pro Bowl selection in 2019, though player's like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson will likely prevent that from happening.
9) Shaq Mason
After a shaky start to the season, veteran right guard Shaq Mason has positioned himself once again as one of the top offensive guards in the NFL. His 73.0 overall grade by PFF ranks as 9th best amongst guards in the league, and his contributions to New England's offensive line have been tremendously helpful in a down year for the unit.
Week 12 is the best example of how dominant Mason has been at times this season. Let PFF explain:
"Mason led all Patriots players in overall grade at 88.1 in the team’s 17-10 win over the Eagles in Week 11. He earned an 84.5 run-blocking grade and allowed just one pressure from 50 pass-blocking snaps."
It would likely take a couple absentee's from the Pro Bowl for Mason to make his way onto the AFC's roster. But that doesn't make him less deserving of a spot in the Pro Bowl.
8) Julian Edelman
As the No. 1 option in the Patriots offense, Julian Edelman is in the midst of a career year at 33 years old. His 68 receptions through 10 games is 4th best in the league, and he has 716 yards and four touchdowns, which puts him on pace to finish the 2019 season with career highs in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns..
Despite teams knowing how valuable he is to New England's offense, passing defenses through 11 games have still not found a way to eliminate Edelman from the passing game. But even though he has caught his fair share of passes, he has dealt with his fair share of drops as well, which has caused him to be ranked 97th overall in the league in catch percentage (68%).
Edelman always falls under the radar when it comes to discussions about the top receivers in the league, which may cause him to not be voted into this year's Pro Bowl.
*These next two Patriots players have a better shot to make the Pro Bowl compared to the bottom three players on this list. However, their chances aren't great*
7) Jake Bailey
Patriots punter Jake Bailey has come out hot to start off his NFL career. Drafted in the fifth round of this year's draft, Bailey has proven time and time again why New England drafted him so early despite already having a very capable punter in Ryan Allen. Now Allen is gone, and Bailey has made fans and others forget about how elite Allen was in Super Bowl LIII.
Bailey ranks as PFF's 6th best punter, and 3rd best in the conference. His efforts in last Sunday's win over the Eagles may have been his most meaningful effort to date - the rookie pinned Philadelphia's offense inside their 20 yard line six different times during the game, which forced the Eagles to work with a long field many times. That translated to many non-scoring drives and just 10 points for New England's NFC East rivals.
It's also worth mentioning that Bailey has won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice this season and is the only AFC punter to win that award multiple times so far in 2019.
6) Jonathan Jones
Hiding within the shadow of All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore is New England's other talented CB, Jonathan Jones. The former undrafted Tiger has found his niche in New England, becoming a premiere nickel cornerback in Bill Belichick's defense.
Jones is ranked as PFF's 2nd best cornerback, which shows how exceptional his play has been in 2019 despite not getting the hype he deserves. His ability to not only play in the slot, but to shadow an opposing team's fastest, and sometimes biggest receiver anywhere on the field makes him a tremendous jack-of-all-trades for New England's secondary.
The one reason Jones won't make the Pro Bowl is because the regular fan does not how elite Jones has been playing compared to Stephon Gilmore, which is why many New Englanders will likely vote solely for Gilmore and not for Jones.
*While the aforementioned players have tough odds to make this year's Pro Bowl, we have reached the part of the list where it would be surprising if these next five players were not selected for the 2019 Pro Bowl*
5) Devin McCourty
The player that is tied for the league-high in interceptions this season is Patriots safety, Devin McCourty. The 32 year old captain has seemingly turn back the clocks and is in the midst of one of the best seasons to date in his NFL career.
McCourty's ability to play center field at an elite level in New England has been a large part of the reason why the Patriots handily lead the league in turnovers and have the best overall secondary in the NFL. McCourty ranks 9th overall at the position, according to PFF, and if he can expand upon his interception total, that should lock up a spot for him in the Pro Bowl.
4) Joe Thuney
Despite being sandwiched between two backups on the starting offensive line for most of the season, Patriots starting left guard Joe Thuney has shined thus far in 2019.
Thuney has earned a 84.0 grade by PFF as a pass blocker, which is No. 1 at the position in the NFL. His standalone ability has protected Brady and helped a rather dismal left side of the offensive line ever since David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn landed on IR early in the season. The fourth-year guard is undoubtedly one of the top starting offensive guards in the AFC.
3) Jamie Collins
Linebacker Jamie Collins has found himself back in All-Pro form at the age of 30. Collins jumps off the screen every week on gameday, which has led to him being the 9th best linebacker, according to PFF, with coverage and pass rush grades that have him in the top 5 amongst his position.
Collins' ability to rush the passer and drop back in coverage make him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks who are trying to read what a defense will do pre-snap. The versatility he brings to the position is one of the main reasons why New England's defense can run Cover 0 effectively along with exotic looks that require less down lineman. Collins' 48 tackles, six sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles through 10 games shows how big plays and turnovers happen for the Patriots defense when Collins is on the field.
The backflip he performed during practice should alone make him a selection for this year's Pro Bowl.
2) Matthew Slater
One player that has helped rookie punter Jake Bailey perform so well this season is special teams standout and captain, Matthew Slater.
The seven-time Pro Bowler can be seen downing a ball inside the opponents red zone on any given Sunday, and can also be found tackling returners frequently if they do build up the courage to return a punt against the Patriots' elite special teams unit. He also scored his first NFL touchdown this season, which came courtesy of a blocked punt scoop-and-score against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.
It was a travesty that 2018 broke Slater's streak of consecutive Pro Bowl selections. 2019 should end the short drought and have him earning his 8th Pro Bowl nomination of his career.
1) Stephon Gilmore
Need I explain?
Stephon Gilmore has continued his All-Pro campaign into 2019, shutting down any No. 1 receiver that has faced him this season, which has earned him the label of best cornerback in the NFL. His ability to move anywhere on the field, cover an opposing player consistently and disrupt passes that come in his direction have made him worth every penny that the team gave him in his five-year, $65 million contract last year.
There's no better cornerback in the league, let alone in the AFC. It should be a unanimous decision to vote Gilmore into the Pro Bowl.