On Tuesday evening, the NFL revealed the rosters for the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl on January 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. Though the game itself has been rendered to little more than an end-of-year party, it is still a point of pride to be named to a roster and accepted among the football community as one of the best players in the league. Most NFL players will never get a chance to play in the Pro Bowl during their careers. Each year, there are always a few Pro Bowl snubs who are overlooked for more popular or fantasy-driven names in the NFL.
To highlight some offensive skill players that deserve to be on the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl roster, let’s compare PFN Offensive Share Metric numbers to those that made the roster. Since the result of the play is not factored into OSM, we’ll first limit the field based on commonalities of traditional stats for those that made the roster and then state who of the remaining should have been named based on the highest OSM grades.
For quarterbacks, all selected to the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl had a minimum of 300 pass attempts and a QB rating of 100 or more. All running backs named to the Pro Bowl rushed for more than 900 yards and have a minimum of eight touchdowns. Wide receivers and tight-ends all have more than 700 yards receiving, as well as 5+ and 4+ touchdowns, respectively. For reference, after each player’s name is their overall OSM grade for the season through Week 15.
These AFC quarterbacks were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Lamar Jackson (24.76), Patrick Mahomes (23.22), Deshaun Watson (26.36)
PFN OSM says these AFC quarterbacks should’ve been selected (surprise!)
Deshaun Watson (26.36), Lamar Jackson (24.76), Patrick Mahomes (23.22)
The quarterbacks representing the AFC in the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl also ranked highest in PFN OSM (minimum 300 pass attempts and 100 QB rating). As noted above, the field is limited to consider results (traditional stats) with behavioral performance (PFN OSM). Though Watson’s OSM is greater than Jackson’s, it’s hard to argue that Watson should be the starter over Jackson based on results (not an OSM factor). Jackson has a higher QB rating, as well as seven more touchdowns and five fewer interceptions than Watson.
These NFC quarterbacks were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Russell Wilson (31.7), Drew Brees (29.09), Aaron Rodgers (19.65)
PFN OSM says these NFC quarterbacks should’ve been selected
Russell Wilson (31.7), Drew Brees (29.09), Kirk Cousins (26.42)
Why Kirk Cousins over Aaron Rodgers? Cousins has only one more touchdown (25) than Rodgers on the year, but he’s done it in 61 fewer attempts. He has the third-fewest interceptions of all quarterbacks with a minimum of 200 passes. Cousins also has the fourth-best QB rating in the league and is first for quarterbacks with a minimum of 400 passes.
What stands out the most about Cousins is his completion % as well as the variance to the expected completion %. Cousins currently ranks third in the league with a 70.5% completion rate (behind Drew Brees and Ryan Tannehill, who does not have a minimum of 300 pass attempts to be considered for the AFC roster). Cousins also has the third largest positive variance to his expected completion % (again, behind only Brees and Tannehill). This variance, 6.6, tells us he’s completing passes 6.6% more than what is expected based on the route, position of defenders, separation of receivers, etc.
The variance may be a testament to the receivers he’s throwing to, as his aggressiveness (how tight the window is that he’s throwing into) is lower than all of the Pro Bowl quarterbacks selected. However, it’s still worth noting that Cousins and Rodgers have virtually the same yardage for the season, yet Cousins has thrown the ball 61 fewer times than Rodgers while completing 7.2% more passes than him.
AFC Running Backs
These AFC running backs were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Nick Chubb (12.13), Derrick Henry (20.7), Mark Ingram (17.0)
PFN OSM says these AFC running backs should’ve been selected
Derrick Henry (20.7), Mark Ingram (17.0), Nick Chubb (12.13)
As with the AFC quarterbacks, PFN OSM agrees with the running back selections (minimum 900 yards and eight TDs). Nick Chubb was named the starter, likely due to leading the league in rushing yards, but Derrick Henry should be named the AFC starter. Henry is 80 yards shy of the league lead, all while facing eight men in the box on 35% of his rush attempts, compared to just 12% for Chubb.
NFC Running Backs
These NFC running backs were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Dalvin Cook (14.73), Christian McCaffrey (17.45), Ezekiel Elliot (15.03)
PFN OSM says these NFC running backs should’ve been selected
Christian McCaffrey (17.45), Ezekiel Elliot (15.03), Dalvin Cook (14.73)
Similarly, PFN OSM agrees with the NFC running back selections for the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl. However, as with the AFC, the starters should be different. Dalvin Cook was named the starter but Christian McCaffrey deserves the nod. Most of their stats are similar, including rushing touchdowns as well as some NFL Next Gen Stats. However, McCaffrey’s efficiency in the run game allows him to gain almost half a yard more per carry than Cook.
AFC Wide Receivers
These AFC wide receivers were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Keenan Allen (34.87), DeAndre Hopkins (34.28), Jarvis Landry (32.06), Tyreek Hill (34.15)
PFN OSM says these AFC wide receivers should’ve been selected
Keenan Allen (34.87), A.J. Brown (34.45), DeAndre Hopkins (34.28), Tyreek Hill (34.15)
Why A.J. Brown over Jarvis Landry? Other than the fact that Brown is only 125 yards short of Landry on nearly 50 fewer targets, Brown is averaging a 3.35% higher completion rate and has two more TDs than Landry. He’s being targeted three more yards downfield on average (12.7 vs 9.7) and is also obtaining three more yards after catch compared to Landry. Not on many people’s radar at the mid-point of the season, Brown has adapted well to the Titans change in quarterbacks, making a strong case to be considered a Pro Bowler in his rookie season.
NFC Wide Receivers
These NFC wide receivers were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Michael Thomas (39.46), Chris Godwin (37.72), Julio Jones (31.11), Mike Evans (29.51)
PFN OSM says these NFC wide receivers should’ve been selected
Tyler Lockett (39.52), Michael Thomas (39.46), Cooper Kupp (38.21), Chris Godwin (37.72)
Why Tyler Lockett and Cooper Kupp over Julio Jones and Mike Evans? Although the guys from the NFC West are getting an extra yard of separation compared to the guys from the NFC South, they’re also getting an extra yard of cushion at the line of scrimmage, so the ability to separate at the point of completion isn’t really a factor.
The biggest factor is their completion rates. Of all wide receivers with 700+ yards and 5+ touchdowns, Lockett has the second-highest completion % behind only Michael Thomas. Kupp also has a solid completion %, just below 70%, which puts him at 7th on the list. Compare this to Jones (15 of 26) and Evans (25 of 26) who both fall below the league average.
Both Lockett and Kupp are 120-165 yards below Jones and Evans in receiving yardage for the season. However, Lockett has had 19% less targets than Jones and 26% less targets than Evans and is only six yards shy of 1,000. Kupp is targeted, on average 5.1 and 8.1 yards less downfield than Jones and Evans, respectively, but he offsets that with a higher completion % and an ability to obtain an average of 2.4 and 1.8 yards more after the catch than Jones and Evans.
AFC and NFC Tight Ends
These AFC tight ends were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
Travis Kelce (36.31), Mark Andrews (34.31)
These NFC tight ends were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl
George Kittle (41.25), Zach Ertz (32.61)
PFN OSM says these AFC tight ends should’ve been selected
Travis Kelce (36.31), Mark Andrews (34.31)
PFN OSM says these NFC tight ends should’ve been selected
George Kittle (41.25), Zach Ertz (32.61)
No surprises here. These four tight ends have been on fire this year and are the only ones in the NFL this year to have gained at least 700 yards and received four or more touchdowns.
2020 NFL Pro Bowl Snubs
Of the 24 offensive skill positions selected to the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl, 20 of them are sound when combining PFN OSM with traditional stats. However, there are four players who appear to have been snubbed of their 2020 NFL Pro Bowl selection:
- NFC QB: Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
- AFC WR: A.J. Brown (Tennessee Titans)
- NFC WR: Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks)
- NFC WR: Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams)
Next year, whether you’re a casual fan, hardcore fan, player or coach, be sure to check out PFN’s Offensive Share Metric before voting to ensure the best players have the best chance of being selected to a Pro Bowl roster.