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Pro Bowl 2016 rosters: The best plays this year from the Seahawks who made it, and some who didn’t

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After months of not even an inkling of a thought regarding the Pro Bowl, here we are with the official lineups. The late-January contest is always a controversial affair, as players and fans alike experience a lack of legitimacy throughout the entire process. It seems to be just a popularity contest that nobody really wants to play in.

Regardless, being voted into the Pro Bowl is still an honor and four players from your very own Seattle Seahawks have been selected for this quasi-prestigious decoration.

In an ideal world, not a single Seahawk will play in the Pro Bowl. They will hopefully be preparing for a slightly more important game that will occur the following Sunday. But for the sake of both nostalgia and celebration of the immense amount of talent on this Seattle roster, let’s take a look back and appreciate each Pro Bowl Seahawk’s (and the snubs’) best play of 2016 thus far.

Pro Bowlers:

Richard Sherman

Has there been a more consistent corner in the NFL over the last six seasons than Sherman? He has totaled four interceptions to date in 2016, bringing his career total to 30, which is five more than any other player in that span.

Sherm’s most impressive play this season surprisingly wasn’t an interception. It was when he laid the wood on Larry Fitzgerald:

This play occurred in the fourth quarter of a ridiculous defensive struggle with the Cardinals that saw the Seattle defense on the field for at least 3,273 minutes. The Seahawks were again put in a critical third down situation with Arizona knocking on the door of field goal range which would have brought the deficit to an insurmountable six points. Sherman covers Michael Floyd on an out route but keeps his eyes on the quarterback and recognizes that the ball is going to Fitzgerald instead. Sherm breaks on the pass and then annihilates Fitz, knocking the ball free. On such a frustrating night, Sherman bringing the boom gave the Seahawks’ defense enough juice to finish the contest with a tie.

There is no doubt in my mind that Richard deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. Congrats to such an awesome player who has consistently been at the top of his game for such a long period of time.

Bobby Wagner

I have frequently said this season that Wagner has been the best player on Seattle’s roster. He has slowed down in recent weeks, but that’s mostly because his high level of play was essentially impossible to realistically maintain.

His best play of the season actually occurred on the goal line in a crucial overtime against the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona quickly gets up to the line of scrimmage inside the 1-yard line and hands the ball to David Johnson. He has a gaping hole on the backside, opened up by Jermaine Gresham and Larry Fitzgerald. Wagner is initially behind the mass of players blocking to the right. He diagnoses, slides to his right, and meets Johnson immediately as he sets his feet. Seriously. Look at how quickly his legs snap back to plant. Bobby then puts on a form-tackling clinic and drives Johnson backwards to prevent the game-winning touchdown on a hurried play.

Wagner has consistently been making plays that pop off of film throughout 2016 and he definitely deserves his third consecutive Pro Bowl berth.

Michael Bennett

After making his first trip to the Pro Bowl last year, Bennett has earned the honor again for his play in 2016. Despite missing several games with a knee injury, the dominance that Bennett consistently puts on tape is appreciated by the rest of the league.

His best and most reassuring play of the season actually occurred against the Rams on Thursday Night:

Lined up outside, Bennett destroys the blocking tight end before exploding into the backfield and laying out Todd Gurley. It’s really that simple of a play - Mike is just much better than the man he is matched up against. Bennett has looked somewhat slow and ineffective in his starts since returning from the knee injury, so seeing him showcase his dynamite abilities and take down the running back deep in the backfield is a great sign.

It’s very cool to see Bennett, despite injury, make it back to the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons. He is more than deserving.

Cliff Avril

Avril is as under appreciated as they come. Despite being a force both against the run and the pass, the defensive end has never made the Pro Bowl. With 11.5 sacks thus far in 2016, he has finally done it. Congrats everybody, we made it long enough to see the Haitian House-Builder receive some well-deserved recognition.

Avril’s best play of the season was probably the toughest to choose out of any Seahawk, as he has been so consistent. I settled on this one against the Bills:

On third down, with the game on the line (there’s a common theme here), Seattle must prevent the Bills from scoring a touchdown to preserve their six-point lead. Avril fires off of the snap quicker than anybody you’ve ever seen and blows around the right tackle before he even realizes what is happening. Tyrod Taylor senses Avril’s presence, but it is much too late, as he is slung to the ground to bring up 4th down.

The following play, the Bills failed to convert, crowning the Seahawks as victors. Avril has consistently made huge plays in crucial moments and, without a doubt, deserves to make his first-ever Pro Bowl this year.

Biggest Snubs:

Kam Chancellor

After an incredible start to 2015, Chancellor’s lack of an offseason saw him fall back down to earth a bit. Fortunately, his 2016 season has been unreal. Injuries ravaged him midway through the year, but his return has been the difference for Seattle. His most impressive play of the season occurred late in a victory against the Patriots:

Up seven points with the game on the line, the Patriots hand off to their battering ram of a tailback, LeGarrette Blount. Blount dives over the scrum of players on the left side of the line. Kam flies off of the right edge and Supermans into Blount’s legs, wrapping them up and stifling his forward momentum. If Chancellor does not arrive at that exact moment, there is little in the way to prevent a touchdown. Cliff Avril, the only other defender in close proximity, is fully engaged with a lineman and unable to assist on the play. Kam single-handedly prevents a touchdown on this play.

The following snap, Chancellor went toe-to-toe with Rob Gronkowski to force an incompletion and preserve Seattle’s lead.

Kam has been playing lights out in 2016 and without a doubt deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. His snub is quite confusing.

Earl Thomas

Despite his season-ending leg injury, Thomas has played at a high level for the majority of the year. There were some uncharacteristic mistakes early on, but he rebounded to play at an All Pro level up until his broken tibia.

The best play of Earl’s season occurred, once again, with the game on the line against the Cardinals:

Deep into overtime, with Arizona on Seattle’s 5-yard line, David Johnson receives the handoff and hits the left edge. The bruising back goes for the touchdown, which would signal an automatic victory for the Cardinals. Thomas flies across the field and gets to Johnson just in time to push him out within the 1-yard line. Earl’s relentless effort is the main contributor to the Seahawks living to fight another down in this contest.

While he’s out for the rest of the year, Thomas definitely deserves to be recognized as a Pro Bowl player. I am especially bummed that Earl did not receive this accolade.

K.J. Wright

Wright has been under-appreciated for years. It looks like the unfortunate streak is continuing.

His most impressive snap of 2016 occurred in the Seahawks’ loss to the Buccaneers a few weeks back:

With no timeouts, Jameis Winston passes the ball to his tight end in the flat, who makes a beeline towards the sideline to stop the clock and make a field goal possible. Wright diagnoses and closes before laying out the charging receiver. The bone-crushing hit knocks the tight end backwards and out of bounds, preventing the clock from stopping. Because of K.J.’s monster hit, the Bucs can’t rally their special teams quickly enough, allowing the clock to run out and end the half. That’s a three-point tackle right there, my friends.

K.J. has deserved to be in the Pro Bowl for at least three years now. It seems like, despite him putting the best play of his career on tape, he’ll have to wait another season to receive the attention that he truly deserves.

Jimmy Graham

What a return Graham has had this year. If he isn’t one of the front-runners for Comeback Player of the Year, somebody is doing something wrong. Unfortunately, his surprising Pro Bowl snub doesn’t bode well for that award.

Graham’s most impressive play of 2016 occurred against the Bills on Monday Night Football:

Graham flies up the middle of the field with two defenders all over him, one of them holding him. Wilson floats a pass in, which Graham somehow snags with one hand before rolling over and maintaining possession. This is one of the most impressive receptions of the year by any player on any team and nothing you say to me can convince me otherwise.

Graham’s return to the elite tier of tight ends in 2016 has gone massively unrecognized by many and it’s about damn time that he received some accolades for it. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait until the All Pro announcements to see if he really has made an impression on the football world.

Doug Baldwin

Dougie B is an elite wide receiver in the NFL. I don’t know why that’s so difficult for pundits to wrap their heads around, but he really is. He has been the most consistent and reliable option on the Seahawks for the past three years and has put up some insane numbers, both in terms of efficiency and the general eye test.

His most impressive reception of the season was pretty scary, but extremely impressive:

Baldwin lines up in the left slot and splits his corner and the safety up the deep middle third of the field. After a quick play action fake, Russell Wilson moves up and, on the run, fires a dart downfield. Baldwin makes the impressive reception and holds on through the illegal hit by the safety. How he clings to the ball, I have no clue. I guess I say that quite a lot about Doug. That might be an indicator of something? Who knows.

His exclusion from the Pro Bowl is, once again, a puzzling development. He has still put up great numbers, but pure volume trumps tempered volume combined with efficiency it seems. One of these days, he will hopefully receive the national recognition he deserves, instead of perpetually being coined a pedestrian.

Russell Wilson

Interestingly enough, Russell didn’t make the Pro Bowl. It was a given that Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers would get in, but, despite his high level of play, Dak Prescott is not better than Russ. Matthew Stafford could have an argument made for him to slot in there, but I do believe that Russell deserves to be in Orlando.

Russell’s most impressive play from 2016 was pretty sweet, if I do say so myself:

George Fant is beaten outside while Justin Britt is also beaten off of the snap. C.J. Prosise does a great job picking up the blitz to hold up the interior rush, but Lorenzo Alexander still flies in from the left side. Wilson, off of his back foot, drops a flawless ball in to Jimmy Graham, who is being held blatantly. Graham snags the ball with one arm, but only because of Wilson’s touch on the pass.

Wilson has received a Pro Bowl invitation every year of his career (yeah yeah, I know that it didn’t count in 2014 because he made the Super Bowl but that’s BS so I choose to ignore it), and this year should be no different. Despite his flaws, he reminds us time and time again why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Do you agree with the Seahawks that made the Pro Bowl? Do you especially believe that one specific player was snubbed? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments!

Again, I want to remind everyone that we’re hoping to see none of these guys get the opportunity to play in such a game due to prior engagements. We’ll find out what goes down in several short weeks.