Roquan Smith is the Biggest Pro Bowl Snub By Ryan Kanne

 

 

 

Credit to : Chicago Bears IG

The 2021 NFL Pro Bowl roster was released just before Monday Night Football, leaving the NFL world shocked and confused at some of the players making the roster. Specifically, Chicago Bears fans reclined in their chairs to watch the Cincinnati Bengals upset the Pittsburgh Steelers only to sit right back up when Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was left off this year’s Pro Bowl roster.


Smith has been the shining ray of light on a Bears team looking to squeeze into the final playoff spot. His 17 tackles for loss and 89 solo tackles are the most and second most for an inside linebacker respectively. While Smith has dominated in the run, his traditional stats against the pass are mediocre with no interceptions and only 5 passes defended. Even so, how did Smith not make the Pro Bowl with his statistics? That reason is a former All- Pro linebacker in Bobby Wagner.


Wagner has had a phenomenal year, but his Pro Bowl recognition seems to be more about his name recognition over his play this season. Wagner has been good this season, but Smith has clearly been the better linebacker on the better defense. Below are four of the top NFC linebackers and some of their main traditional statistics.


Solo Tackles

(SOLO)

Total Tackles

(TOT)

Sacks

Tackles for Loss (TFL)

Passes Defended (PD)

Interceptions

(INT)

Passer Rating When Targeted (Rank Among LB’s)

Roquan Smith

89

128

4.0

17

5

0

62.2 (6th)

Bobby Wagner

73

126

3.0

7

8

0

89.0 (20th)

Fred Warner

62

101

0.0

5

3

2

68.9 (5th)

Devin White

87

130

8.0

16

4

0

110.2 (56th)


Not only does Smith lead the other three linebackers in solo and total tackles and tackles for loss, but he’s second when it comes to passes defended and passer rating when targeted. This is more impressive seeing how the other three linebackers struggled to produce in both run and pass defense.






If Smith has been at the top of most major statistical categories for linebackers, then why did he not get put “2021 Pro-Bowler” on his resumé? The main reason is the fan vote. Wagner is a rare household name, and it shows in the voting. Zach Cunningham led the AFC linebacker position in fan votes with just under 80,000. Wagner almost tripled that, gaining just over 200,000 fan votes.


Another reason for the snub could be the introduction and normalization of Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades. PFF is a football analytics company that reviews game film and grades each and every player on each and every snap. Their grades tend to reveal who’s playing well without using traditional stats. 


Using PFF’s grading system, the two NFC Pro Bowl linebackers rank significantly higher than Smith. Both Wagner and Warner have great grades with an 85.0 and 81.1 respectively. PFF has not been as big of a fan of Smith with his PFF grade only reaching 62.5. While there may be a personal disagreement with Smith’s grade, PFF typically gets these grades right or close to it.


With no actual Pro Bowl game being played this year, there isn’t a chance for Smith to Mitchell Trubisky his way into a Pro Bowl and be selected as an alternate. Smith also loses the chance for an additional $3 million when his fifth-year option comes up. The new CBA allowed the transition tag money to be used if a fifth-year option player makes the Pro-Bowl.


While Smith is left off the Pro Bowl roster, his last chance at national recognition comes at the end of the year when the All-Pro roster is released. Regardless of the accolades, Smith has had a phenomenal season that even the best Bears linebackers would be jealous of.

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