The League

Rob Rang
Draft Guru

Rob Rang

Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com

Gonzo, Smith snubbed

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As most educated pro football fans know, the Pro Bowl is essentially a beauty contest in which the most popular players from the most popular teams are likeliest to earn the recognition.

For this reason we often see players earn their first Pro Bowl honors a year after they really should. Fans, the media, and even NFL executives are often too busy focusing on the stars to notice breakout campaigns from less heralded players on smaller market teams.

This might be some of the reason why San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson or Houston quarterback Matt Schaub were not among those voted in. Considering the virtual who's-who at their positions that were voted in, however, it is easy to understand how they could have missed the cut.

The same, however, cannot be said for Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez or New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, whose statistics were more impressive and their roles were more important to their respective teams than their peers given Pro Bowl honors.

Gonzalez, considered by some to be the greatest tight end that ever played the game, has been the beneficiary of reputation votes in the past. Some of his worst seasons in Kansas City, including the 2005 season in which he averaged 11.6 yards per reception and caught only 2 touchdowns, still resulted in one of his ten consecutive Pro Bowl invitations.

This year he proved to be even more effective than his numbers (80-837-6 ) would indicate, often being the most consistent player on an Atlanta offense based on stars Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White.

Instead of Gonzalez making it, Dallas' Jason Witten, was voted in despite only catching one touchdown on the year (which came in Week One). Sure, he caught more passes for more yards (88-954) than any other tight end in the NFC, but many of these passes were dump-offs that until last week against a Redskins team on life support, hadn't translated into big plays.

Similarly, New Orleans' Will Smith has a legitimate gripe about not being recognized as a Pro Bowler despite posting at least comparable numbers (48 tackles, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 INT) to Trent Cole (54 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and Julius Peppers (39 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 INT).

By Rob Rang  |  December 29, 2009; 8:44 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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