Who should make the Pro Bowl for Bucs?

by Gary Shelton on November 19, 2020

in general

Pierre-Paul reacts to the crowd./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

There are a lot of things wrong with the Pro Bowl, a grand excuse for player to dress up and act like they're playing football. In reality, it has as much to do with football as the movie "The Longest Yard."

But there is one cool thing about the Pro Bowl.

Making it.

Really, that's it. No one actually wants to play an all-star game that happens after the season, a game that has more risk than reward, a game where quarterbacks play center and defensive tackles play running back. It's the theater of the absurd, only without the charm.

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Ah, but the Pro Bowl voting opened on Wednesday, which invites the discussion. Assuming you care an ounce about the game, which Tampa Bay Bucs do you want to see make it.

Here's a vote.

Quarterback Tom Brady. Vote: Yes. No, Brady hasn't been Moses leading his followers to the Promised Land. He's been particularly off at throwing a deep ball, and he was horrible in his games against the Saints.

But Brady is fourth in the league in yards passing and fourth in touchdowns. He hasn't been the best quarterback in the league (this season), but the league usually goes through 8-10 quarterback invitations. Brady should get one.

Running back Ronald Jones. Vote: Yes. I know, I know. Jones has had lead hands in the passing game, and he's disappeared in a lot of contests. But he's third in the league in running the ball, which is kind of the point at the position.

Wide receiver Mike Evans: Vote: No. Hey, I like Mike as much as anyone. But he hasn't had the type of season to think about the Pro Bowl. He's currently 31st in receptions and 29th in yardage. In a league stuffed with great receivers, that's not enough. (Nor is it with Chris Godwin, who has been hurt).

Guard Ali Marpet. Vote: Yes. Marpet is the best player on the Bucs' offensive line (although he's missed two straight games). He'll be borderline, because no one looks to Tampa Bay to find great linemen. And some of his support may be syphoned off by rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs.

Nose tackle Vita Vea: Vote: No. Vea's play, before he was hurt, was wonderful. But he's missed too many games to qualify, and he isn't established enough to get a free pass.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Vote: Yes. Pierre-Paul is currently tied for seventh with seven-and-a-half sacks. He's also active in other parts of the game. He belongs.

Linebacker Lavonte David. Vote: Yes. You never have to look very far down to find David's name among the leading tacklers in the league. David, of course, is once again competing with linebackers who stack up a lot of sacks and not so many tackles. But he's a complete player.

Linebacker Devin White. Vote: No. It kills me to do a thumb's-down to White, who has been good. But it's hard for a team to get two inside linebackers on one Pro Bowl team. White may take David's spot as the favorite player to be left out.

Cornerback Carlton Davis III: Vote: Yes. He's tied for first with 14 passes defensed and tied for third with four interceptions. I'm of the opinion the Bucs aren't as good in the secondary as some think, but Davis is solid.

So where are we? That leaves out Shaq Barrett, and Wirfs, and Godwin and Evans. But, you know, you can be a good player and not make the Pro Bowl. Suggesting that someone doesn't have the numbers for it isn't the worst thing you can say about someone.

The game? I'll always vote no.

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