The Pro Bowl voters -- fans, players and coaches -- got it mostly right this season. There were fewer egregious mistakes this season than in years past and fewer veterans who made the team strictly based on reputation.
The lack of conferences in the Pro Bowl made a huge, positive difference. The running back list is a great example. Five of six running backs came from the NFC, and they all deserved to make it. Taking conferences out of the selection process led to fairer results.
1. Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker
David might be the most underrated defensive player in the NFL. If the Buccaneers had more wins, he would be getting love for Defensive Player of the Year honors. He got penalized in Pro Bowl voting because he's not a big name and because outside linebackers in 4-3 schemes now are grouped with all of the 3-4 outside linebackers who rack up huge sack totals. It's comparing apples to oranges. Rushing the passer is not David's primary job, and there was no one better than David at his position. Speaking of which ...
2. Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers outside linebacker
If you are going to call a player a "snub," you need to name Pro Bowlers to replace. At outside linebacker, David and Davis were superior picks to John Abraham, Terrell Suggs and Ahmad Brooks. Davis is everything you want out of a 2013 linebacker. He can cover receivers, and he pursues as well as any outside linebacker. He's done it all after tearing his ACL three times. Davis is one of the best stories of the season.
3. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals defensive end
The Cardinals had a lot of great defensive performances this year, from Abraham to Patrick Peterson to Karlos Dansby to Darnell Dockett. No player is more valuable or has a rarer skill set than Campbell, who too often has been overlooked nationally. He is a player you need to watch to fully appreciate and would be in our top 10 Defensive Player of the Year candidates.
4. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears wide receiver
Jeffery was left home, while his teammate Brandon Marshall made the list. No player was better than Jeffery this season at bringing down vertical passes in traffic. Seven touchdowns and 1,341 yards usually is enough for the Pro Bowl. It's hard to argue with the wide receivers who made the list, but I'd take Jeffery over Marshall or Demaryius Thomas.
5. Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets defensive end
Wilkerson has the sack numbers (10.5) and is very disruptive as a run defender. Wilkerson also got his sacks in a scheme not tailed to produce big numbers. Defensive end is a deep position, but I'd take him over Greg Hardy or Mario Williams. Wilkerson's tag team partners Damon "Snacks" Harrison and Sheldon Richardson didn't make the Pro Bowl either. In fact, no New York Jets or New York Giants got the love.
6. Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle
You know there are a lot of interior pass rushers playing well when Casey doesn't make the list. He had 10.5 sacks, more than outside rushers like Cameron Wake, Suggs and Brooks. I'd take Casey over Haloti Ngata, who made the team on his name value after an inconsistent season.
7. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle
Hatcher's play fell off in the second half, but few defensive players made more game-changing plays this season. I'd take him over Justin Smith.
8. Larry Warford, Detroit Lions guard
This snubs choice was made by NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Around The League's Marc Sessler, Co-Presidents of the Larry Warford Fan Club. Warford is the biggest reason why Joique Bell and Reggie Bush had so many huge lanes to run through this season.
9. Devin McCourty and T.J. Ward, safeties
Getting rid of the conferences was a great idea. Tossing the "free safety" and "strong safety" tags should be next. McCourty stabilized New England's coverage in the back end, while Ward deserved to make it for his run-stopping ability. Eric Weddle and Troy Polamalu both didn't have their best seasons.
10. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers wide receiver
Nelson put up 1,153 yards and eight touchdowns despite playing much of the season with Matt Flynn. No receiver made more improbable grabs to turn games around than Nelson.Honorable mention snubs: New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I can't get that worked up about Foles missing the Pro Bowl considering he started for less than two-thirds of the season. Big Ben was one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but it's not like a stiff made the team over him. Cam Newton was a fine selection as well.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following players will compete in the Pro Bowl as injury replacements:
Bears wide receiver Jeffery, Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown, Packers running back Eddie Lacy, Cowboys defensive tackle Hatcher, Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Jets center Nick Mangold, Vikings return man Cordarrelle Patterson, Giants safety Antrel Rolle, Browns safety T.J. Ward, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.