Congratulations are in order for Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and Trey Hendrickson as all three have been voted in to the 2022 Pro Bowl.
It’s been two years since the Cincinnati Bengals sent a player to the Pro Bowl and four years since they sent more than one. The team’s success this year has helped their best players achieve something for the first time in their careers.
But we cannot help but question why a few more deserving players didn’t get the nod from voters. These are the three Bengals that had equally good cases to be voted in.
Simply put, Awuzie has been a top-level cornerback in his first year in Cincinnati. Where he slightly falls short in interceptions (2), he’s excelled in overall coverage and consistency.
Through 15 weeks, Awuzie is fifth in Pro Football Focus’ overall defense and coverage grade for starting cornerbacks. He’s in the top 15 in total pass breakups and passer rating allowed, and has never really had a down performance in the 12 games he’s played in. His rankings are even better when compared to just AFC corners.
Interceptions will ultimately get you voted in, but they do not tell the whole story for cornerbacks. Awuzie at the very least deserved to be an alternate and he isn’t even that. He’s the biggest snub by far when considering that.
A lack of attempts and therefore yards were going to limit Burrow’s chances of getting in this year and that ended up being the case. But no one can say Burrow hasn’t played at a high level this year.
While there have been some down weeks, Burrow is PFF’s No. 1 quarterback right now for a reason. He’s making big time throws while also making quality decisions at a higher rate compared to earlier in the year. He also has the popularity factor going for him, which should’ve helped him in the voting process.
Burrow being a second alternate is fair, but that Lamar Jackson got in over him is a bit questionable. No one denies Lamar’s talent and value to the Ravens and how much fun it is to watch him play, but Burrow’s simply had a better year overall.
This one is a tough pill to swallow, but nose tackles just have it rough when it comes to voting. They don’t have the flashy stats pass-rushing and highlight plays defensive tackles have. Reader’s chances were going to be hampered because of that, but we must give him credit for his outstanding year regardless.
Reader is right there with Cameron Heyward, Chris Jones, and Deforest Buckner when it comes to PFF grades and only Heyward has been better against the run this year among those four. The other three, however, have been more productive pass-rushers and their sack production will sway voters every time, and that’s a reason why Reader isn’t even an alternate.
Being a nose tackle is dirty work and rarely comes with recognition. With more pass-rushing production, Reader may’ve had a chance.