The Seattle Seahawks had four players named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday: Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and cornerback Richard Sherman. They were all deserving (Bennett is a little surprising) but definitely there appeared be a couple snubs, none bigger than outside (?) linebacker K.J. Wright.
Wright’s having an incredible season but is overshadowed by the fact that he’s an outside linebacker in a 4-3 system. That means less flashy numbers. But for Wright and others, there are still other ways to get into the game, namely by being an alternate. Nobody wants to play in the Pro Bowl really (or watch it for that matter) and if you go to the Super Bowl, you can’t play in it.
We want the Seahawks to go to the Super Bowl. We also want nice things like accolades for them. These are the eight Seattle players who are alternates and what it will take for them to get a nod this season.
QB - Russell Wilson, 3rd alternate
The Pro Bowl QBs in the NFC are Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Dak Prescott. All well-deserving ahead of Wilson this season. The first alternate appears to be Kirk Cousins, followed by Matthew Stafford, followed by Wilson. In order to get his fourth Pro Bowl nod in five seasons (Wilson didn’t make it in 2014), you could first assume that Ryan, Rodgers, or Prescott might make the Super Bowl.
That’s the least-wanted outcome for the Seahawks and Wilson.
But saying it happens, then perhaps Cousins gets to be the replacement. Well, let’s say that it’s Prescott. Then Cousins is in. Now, Rodgers is known to skip the Pro Bowl for “unknown injuries” in the past. I think he probably skips the Pro Bowl again. In that case, Stafford would get the nod. But Stafford has a mangled hand. He probably also skips the Pro Bowl. Then Wilson would be next in line.
It’s really easy to imagine a scenario in which Wilson gets another Pro Bowl nod, but we hope he just goes to the Super Bowl instead.
WR - Doug Baldwin, 1st alternate
The Pro Bowl receivers are Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald. If any of the first three make the Super Bowl, Baldwin is in. If Fitzgerald decides he’s too old for exhibition games, Baldwin is in.
Baldwin’s never made the Pro Bowl. He’s 87 yards shy of his second 1,000-yard season in row, posting a career-high 77.5% catch rate, and is the best slot receiver in the NFL.
TE - Jimmy Graham, 1st alternate
Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed are the Pro Bowl tight ends in the NFC. Reed is not on the level of Graham, and I’d have to say it’s not even close. He averages 10.6 yards per catch, he has 646 yards. Graham is at 13.8 YPC and he has 816 yards. He’s explosive, he’s reliable, and he’s Jimmy Graham. I have no idea what happened here.
Reed injured his shoulder on Thanksgiving and may take the Pro Bowl week to rest. Olsen injured his elbow last week.
C - Justin Britt, 2nd alternate
The Pro Bowl centers are Travis Frederick (DAL) and Alex Mack (ATL). For Britt to get his first Pro Bowl nod — who knew we’d ever be saying that — he’d need one of them to make the Super Bowl (possible) and one of them, or first alternate Jason Kelce, to bow out for another reason. You’re a center, you don’t get many chances for fame, why bow out?
ILB - KJ Wright, 1st alternate
Inside linebacker? Maybe my source material is wrong, but that’s what I see Wright listed as. I’m wondering if it’s to give him to slide in where Lavonte David and Chandler Jones have been listed as the alternates at outside linebacker. Anyway, in order for him to make it, he’d need either his own teammate — Bobby Wagner — or Luke Kuechly to bow out. Kuechly definitely is not going to the Pro Bowl.
That means that Wagner and Wright might be making the Pro Bowl as a tandem of inside linebackers.
However, maybe my material is wrong and he’s an OLB alternate. There, he’d need someone like Vic Beasley, Ryan Kerrigan, or Thomas Davis to bow out. But then if he’s an alternate at OLB, what about David and Jones?
Likelihood: If at inside linebacker, all but guaranteed. If at outside linebacker, who knows.
SS - Kam Chancellor, 1st alternate
The Pro Bowl strong safety in the NFC is Landon Collins of the Giants, a deserving bid. There is only one strong safety and two free safeties in the game. I think Earl Thomas got snubbed here. He only broke his leg a couple weeks ago. It’ll be his first season without a Pro Bowl since his rookie year. If the Giants make the Super Bowl, Chancellor is in. Unless that happens or Collins gets hurt, Chancellor won’t get his fifth Pro Bowl.
For what it’s worth, I think Kam is having a career-best type season despite missing four games.
K - Steven Hauschka, 1st alternate
The Pro Bowl kicker is Matt Bryant of the Falcons. If Atlanta goes to the Super Bowl, Hauschka is in, if they don’t, he isn’t. Crazy year for Hauschka considering the Cardinals miss, he’s missed four extra points, and made only one kick beyond 50.
Likelihood: Depends on how likely it is that you think Atlanta wins the NFC.
Return Specialist: Tyler Lockett, 3rd alternate
They have three alternates for return specialists. Cordarrelle Patterson got the bid. Darren Sproles and Jamison Crowder are the first two alternates. Lockett’s been great but maybe not quite at the level he was as a year ago when he was a Pro Bowl and All-Pro returner as a rookie.