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2019 NFL Pro Bowl snubs: Leighton Vander Esch tops the list

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The 2019 Pro Bowl rosters were revealed Tuesday night on NFL Network. Congratulations to the players who received the honor! As for those who didn't? Well, certain omissions appear particularly unfortunate. Nick Shook identifies 13 Pro Bowl snubs:

1) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

This one is the most glaring of all, though a lot of the blame is due to this position receiving just two slots on the team. It's difficult to jump Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner, but it's hard to argue with Vander Esch's contribution to the Cowboys. The rookie's play (especially in the absence of Sean Lee) has directly benefitted a Cowboys team that has made a late-season surge to the top of the NFC East. Vander Esch's impact was on full display in a crucial road win over Philadelphia back in Week 10, and he hasn't slowed down since. One would think he's first in line to take an alternate slot on this roster.

2) Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

It was always going to be tough to crack the elite class of running backs on the NFC roster. The league's top three rushers -- Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley -- are the ones who ended up on the squad. Kamara's total rushing yards don't stack up next to the aforementioned trio, but his 12 rushing touchdowns sure do, especially when considering he's splitting time with Mark Ingram. This one isn't an egregious oversight as much as it's a numbers issue, and unfortunately, Kamara is on the outside looking in.

3) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey's tale is similar to that of Kamara, though his improvement as an every-down back was crucial to the Panthers' early-season success. McCaffrey's versatility has made Carolina's offense much more productive, but he suffers from his team's victory drought that has persisted since the Panthers had their doors blown off by the Steelers on "Thursday Night Football" more than a month ago. It's unfortunate, but McCaffrey isn't going anywhere and will be a prime candidate for this honor in the seasons to come.

4) Desmond King, CB, Los Angeles Chargers

King is part of a very well-rounded, effective defense that already features one deserving Pro Bowl DB in rookie safety Derwin James. But King's absence is an oversight. Cleveland's Denzel Ward has enjoyed an excellent rookie season and justified the Browns using the No. 4 pick on him in the 2018 draft, but King is arguably the most effective member of a defense that ranks eighth in the league in passing yards allowed per game. He's tied with Ward in interceptions (three each). The biggest difference between the two corners comes in overall Pro Football Focus grades: The site ranks King second among all cornerbacks in the NFL -- behind only Stephon Gilmore -- while Ward comes in at No. 12. Again, Ward is deserving of the honor, and has one more pass breakup than King, as well as a blocked field goal to his name, but King's team is headed to the postseason with a lot of credit due to him. Frankly, both should be in over Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey, but this is also sometimes a popularity contest, and we know where Ramsey ranks in that category.

5) Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts

The rookie linebacker has been an on-field force for the Colts this season. He leads the NFL in tackles with 146 -- 22 more than the next man on the list, Carolina's Luke Kuechly. It's also the most tackles by any rookie through 13 games in NFL history. In addition, he's second among rookies with seven sacks and he has four forced fumbles, an interception and seven passes defensed. In only a handful of games, he's emerged as one of the NFL's most feared defensive players for a team that has been surging over the second half of the season. Leonard had a one-word response to his Pro Bowl snub:

6) Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans is a stellar receiver playing on a bad team, but that shouldn't diminish his accomplishments. The 25-year-old has caught 74 passes for 1,328 yards and five touchdowns, and owns the largest yards-per-catch average (17.9) of any of the league's top pass catchers. Even more impressive, Evans has done so while catching passes from two quarterbacks, thanks to Tampa Bay's back-and-forth game played with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Buccaneers are far from postseason play and they're probably heading toward a coaching change, but Evans' season shouldn't be lost in the shuffle.

7) Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals

There are a few possible choices from the league's top defensive ends and outside linebackers who racked up double-digit sacks and didn't make the list, but most are due to playing alongside a player who did make it (Chris Jones, Bradley Chubb, etc.). Frank Clark racked up 12 sacks, but didn't make it (Pro Football Focus' ranking of Clark as the No. 29 edge rusher brings some sense to this.) Jones, though, has followed up his league-leading sack mark in 2017 (17) by recording 12 more in 2018 as part of a defense that's been on the field far too often. The theory of increased opportunities producing better numbers could apply here (and for Tampa Bay's Jason Pierre-Paul, the first Bucs defensive lineman to break 10 sacks since Simeon Rice), but allow us to use Jones as a patron saint of snub. He and a handful of other edge rushers could make a claim for the spot owned by Demarcus Lawrence, who currently has 8.5 sacks (but ranks fifth among edge rushers, per PFF).

8) Andrew Whitworth, OT, Los Angeles Rams

Whitworth received his due credit last season, his debut with the Rams after spending the first 11 seasons of his career in Cincinnati. His arrival directly impacted Los Angeles' turnaround under Sean McVay, and he hasn't slowed in his second campaign in the City of Angels. Whitworth currently ranks seventh among all tackles in the NFL, per PFF, serving as a crucial part of an offense that has spent the majority of the season putting up big numbers en route to a second straight NFC West crown. The three tackles who made it ahead of Whitworth (Terron Armstead, Tyron Smith and Trent Williams) are all deserving, but this feels like a mistake -- or, at the very least, an oversight.

9) Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints

If we're making any changes to the Pro Bowl in the future, the number of O-line selections needs to be at the very top of the list. Three picks each for guard and tackle is not enough when two of each start for every team in the NFL. If we had four tackles and four guards, Ramczyk probably has to duke it out with Whitworth to make this list, but both are deserving. Ramczyk's teammate, Terron Armstead, deservedly took home one of these spots on the squad, so it makes sense why he wouldn't also land on the roster. But the Saints are tied for first in the NFL in sacks allowed with just 16 all season. PFF backs up this case, ranking Ramczyk third in the NFL, behind just Armstead and Green Bay's David Bakhtiari. It's safe to say we'll be seeing him on this roster in the future.

10) T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Hilton's resurgence in Indianapolis has been a massive part of why the Colts have turned things around in their first year under Frank Reich. Hilton's rapport with Andrew Luck has been on display on a weekly basis, landing Hilton at No. 15 in receiving yards on just 67 receptions (recorded in less than a full campaign, as he missed two games early in the season). Hilton ranks ninth in the NFL in receiver grade, per PFF. Of the eight ahead of him, only one other receiver -- New York's Odell Beckham Jr. -- didn't make the Pro Bowl. It's a tough cut to make, but Hilton would be a great candidate for a proposed fifth roster spot.

11) Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins

Sure, it sounds crazy, but look at the numbers: Peterson, at the ripe age of 33, has rushed 221 times for 923 yards and seven touchdowns as the bell-cow back for a Redskins team that finds itself at 7-7 with two games to play. His yards-per-carry average (4.2) doesn't jump off the page, and I'll give you that, but considering the fact Peterson might not have landed a job anywhere without an unfortunate injury to rookie Derrius Guice, his production should be seen as a significant achievement. It's not 2,000 yards, but it's damn impressive and is at least worth an alternate selection near the end of a Hall of Fame career.

12) Wil Lutz, K, New Orleans Saints

As of four days ago, Lutz led the league's kickers in Pro Bowl voting. He tied Hall of Famer Morten Andersen's franchise record for most consecutive field goals made Monday night against the Carolina Panthers with his 25th successful boot in a row. He's currently third in the NFL in total points scored this season, behind Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and Rams running back Todd Gurley. And somehow, Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas usurped him in the 11th hour to take the honor. Now, Rosas has enjoyed a good season too, making 28 of 29 field goals and 25 of 26 extra points. Lutz, meanwhile, is 27 of 28 on field goals and 46 of 47 on extra points. One kicker is playing for a leading Super Bowl contender, while the other is a bright spot in a season that's largely been dim for his team. Consider this a product of East Coast bias, I suppose.

13) Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens

Tucker is the all-time best in terms of field goal accuracy, and his missed extra point (which cost the Ravens a game) was so stunning, it spread like wildfire via social media in the immediate moments after the ball sliced wide of the goal post. Tucker has made 28 of 30 field goal attempts and has missed just the one extra-point attempt. And he lost out not to Houston's Ka'imi Fairbairn, who also has a strong case for the crown thanks to a solid latter portion of the season, but New York's Jason Myers, who has made 31 of 33 field goal attempts and missed three of his 28 extra-point attempts. In a 29-22 loss to Houston this past Saturday, he missed two PATs, directly affecting the outcome of the game. This decision is a head-scratcher, to say the least.

Follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook.

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