Five Pro Bowl snubs: Bucs’ Antoine Winfield leads the way

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Ah, Pro Bowl snubs.

There isn’t even a real game anymore, and the game isn’t in Hawaii or Las Vegas but back in Orlando. But the honor of being named to the Pro Bowl remains an important currency toward building a résumé for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

So every year, when the combined voting from fans, players and coaches is tabulated, there are inevitably heinous oversights and inexplicable choices that make fans angry their team is underappreciated on the NFL’s All-Star team.

We’ll offer up five of the most obvious snubs:

Antoine Winfield, Buccaneers safety: That Winfield is an alternate and Arizona’s Budda Baker made the cut is nonsensical. Winfield has been a ballhawk who’s made splash plays all year for what’s likely a playoff team — an unprecedented combination with three interceptions, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and five sacks. Baker has none of those four things, on a far worse team. Great tackler, great in coverage, but not a game-changing player at the level Winfield has been. Pro Football Focus rankings can be suspect, but they have Winfield as the NFL’s No. 2 safety and Baker … at No. 53.

Jalen Hurts or Jared Goff, NFC quarterbacks: It was easy to choose the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and the 49ers’ Brock Purdy for two of the three NFC quarterback spots. But picking the Rams’ Matthew Stafford for the third spot is a poor choice. He ranks eighth in the NFC in passer rating, with a modest 24 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He’s led his team to the playoffs, yes, but you can say the same about Hurts or Goff, who both have better overall statistics. Goff has four more touchdown passes and 290 more passing yards; Hurts isn’t better as a passer but adds 15 rushing touchdowns as part of his contributions.

Kevin Dotson, Rams guard: The Eagles’ recent collapse probably happened too late to factor much in Pro Bowl voting, but Philadelphia already had a bit of what the Cowboys had for years, where the reputation of having a great offensive line lasted longer than the dominant defensive line. The popularity of the Tush Push helped the Eagles get Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce and Landon Dickerson to the Pro Bowl. Of these, Dickerson seems the most suspect — the Rams have a better run game in yards per carry, and Dotson is PFF’s No. 2 guard this season, while Dickerson ranks 16th.

Geno Stone, Ravens safety: Some Pro Bowl nods are legacy nods — Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had six interceptions last year and deserved the accolades he got. But he has none this year, and just three passes defensed in 10 games. You can argue opposing quarterbacks aren’t throwing his way much, but Stone has put up Minkah’s 2022 numbers this year, with seven interceptions for the best defense in the league. If you wanted to reward a safety who’s been limited by injury this year, you could go with Miami’s Jevon Holland, who’s graded out much higher than Fitzpatrick with a 99-yard pick-six on his résumé.

Dustin Hopkins, Browns kicker: Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is amazing, but he hasn’t been the same kicker this year. On kicks from 50 yards and farther, he’s 1-for-5 this year, while Hopkins is 8-for-8, so it’s ignorant to give the nod to Tucker. On overall field goals, Hopkins is 33-for-36 while Tucker is 31-for-36. Hopkins has one more missed PAT than Tucker has, but you want to reward the guys who are best from long distance, and that’s been Hopkins in the AFC this season.

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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