The 2013-14 Pro Bowl rosters were announced today, and one of the biggest snubs was New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson is becoming a breakout star in his third season in the NFL, and many observers consider him to be the one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in football. Wilkerson has recorded 62 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception this season while anchoring the Jets’ 3rd ranked run defense. Unfortunately, it seems that his tremendous season was not enough to earn a Pro Bowl berth.
The defensive ends that made the roster this season were Greg Hardy, Cameron Jordan, Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, J.J. Watt and Mario Williams. In my opinion, Quinn and Jordan are the only two of these players more deserving than Wilkerson, though I have no issue with Hardy, Watt and Williams making the roster. However, the idea that Wake has had a better season than Wilkerson is laughable, and it shows what a joke Pro Bowl voting is.
Wilkerson has more tackles, sacks, pass deflections and interceptions than Wake, and the two have the same amount of forced fumbles. Wake’s Miami Dolphins only have one more than win than the Jets, so there is no argument that he deserves it because he’s on a better team. Wake is a pure pass rush specialist who doesn’t even have close to the same impact in the run game that Wilkerson does (a fact that can be applied to four of the six ends who made the roster). The fact is that Wake is a bigger name than Wilkerson, and it is clear that Wake beat Wilkerson out simply based on reputation.
I have long been opposed to fan voting for the Pro Bowl (and All-Star games in other leagues) because many fans are too easily swayed by names they know or one stat that doesn’t tell the whole story. 10.5 sacks is a very impressive number from Wilkerson, but what fans don’t know is that he is even better as a run stopper than a pass rusher. Unfortunately, there aren’t any flashy stats to quantify his overall impact, and that simple fact has cost Wilkerson.
I would not be at all surprised to see Wilkerson on the All-Pro team at the end of the season, and in truth that is a much higher honor than the Pro Bowl. Hopefully Wilkerson gets the recognition he deserves there, because his absence from the Pro Bowl is ridiculous, and he is perhaps the biggest snub this season.