Julian Edelman is on pace for a career year. He has been the Patriots’ most reliable receiving option all season while dealing with injury after injury. The fact that he’s putting up the numbers he is when opposing defenses know that Tom Brady is looking for him on every play is astounding. Yet, he’s not playing in this year’s Pro Bowl.
For some time now, the Pro Bowl has become more of a popularity contest as opposed to voting in people who actually deserve to be there. Year in and year out, worthy players get snubbed for their more flashy counterparts. This year is no different.
Each conference gets four receivers. And while three of those receivers deserved the honor, one is getting in solely on his name value and reputation for big plays. Taking away a spot that should’ve been given to Edelman.
DeAndre Hopkins has been a walking cheat code all year for the Houston Texans. If it weren’t for Michael Thomas over in New Orleans, he’d be positioned as the best receiver in the game. There was no doubt that he was getting nominated to make the trip down to Orlando.
Keenan Allen has always been one of the best receivers in the game. His only problem was health. Now that he’s been mostly healthy all season, it’s no wonder he’s getting the recognition he deserves.
Jarvis Landry is the lone bright spot on a wildly underwhelming Cleveland Browns team. For him to still be producing with a quarterback who has as many interceptions as he does touchdowns, he clearly deserves the Pro Bowl nod.
Tyreek Hill, on the other hand, does not deserve to be in the Pro Bowl. Whether you’re looking at statistics, difficulty or consistency, Julian Edelman edges him out no matter where you look.
The most glaring difference between the two, though, is availability. Hill missed four games to start the season with a leg injury. Edelman, on the other hand, has been battling with bruised ribs, an injured shoulder and a relatively serious leg injury for the better part of the season but has always been on the field for his team. The best availability is availability, and in this category, Edelman has Hill beat.
When it comes to playing, once both guys are on the field, Edelman still has Hill beat in almost every meaningful category.
Edelman’s 92 receptions for 1,019 yards blow away Hill, who sits at 49 receptions for 727 yards. Edelman’s 65.7 catch percentage on just under seven targets per game is also higher than Hill’s 62 percent on just under five targets per game. With Edelman having more targets per game and almost doubling the number of overall targets on the season as Hill does, that statistic is pretty impressive.
Nothing else proves that statistic more than his 50 receptions for first downs. When Brady and the Patriots need a catch at a critical time, they look to Edelman more than anyone else. Hill, on the other hand, has 34 catches for first downs. While not bad by any means, that’s not on the level that Edelman is.
If you want to throw rushing stats into the mix, since both receivers have been known to be used on sweeps a fair amount, they both have eight rushes on the year. Edelman again edges Hill out with four more rushing yards on the season.
While Hill is ahead of Edelman by almost four yards per reception and has one more touchdown than the Patriots receiver, it’s pretty clear to see who deserved to be in the Pro Bowl and who got in solely on their name value and because they’re “fun to watch.”
Luckily for Patriots fans, championships matter more to New England than personal achievements. But you’d be foolish to think that Edelman won’t use this snub as motivation to continue his career year.