Every all-star team has its snubs. And every team has players it thinks are worthy of all-star status, which in the NFL means a trip to the Pro Bowl.
But when the NFL announced its Pro Bowlers for the 2014 season Tuesday night, the five Patriots getting the nod – Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Darrelle Revis, Stephen Gostkowski and Matthew Slater – were pretty much the team's most likely and obvious candidates.
The first three, Brady, Gronkowski and Revis represent the team's three-headed star power. They also happen to be three guys with legitimate NFL MVP arguments for this season, a year in which the award appears to be wide open heading into the final week of action. Brady keeps chugging along among the best passers in the game for a Super Bowl favorite. Gronkowski continues to prove himself the most unique, indefensible pass catcher in football when healthy. And Revis has transformed the Patriots pass defense into a team strength in his first season in Foxborough, shutting down opposing top receivers when needed and fitting into a zone scheme when that's what defensive coaches call for.
The other two – Gostkowski and Slater – are the leaders and core contributors to New England's special teams unit that has been a consistent factor in the team's winning this fall. Gostkowski has been nearly perfect all year on his field goals and a weapon on kickoffs, while Slater remains one of the most unblockable coverage men in the league.
So which Patriots, if any, might have been looked over by the players, coaches and fans in their voting?
Tops on that list might be safety Devin McCourty. The former Pro Bowl cornerback has been solid to very good as the top communicator and centerfielder in the back end. The addition of Revis and veteran corner Brandon Browner has allowed McCourty to settle into his role in the middle of the field.
Up front on defense, both linebacker Dont'a Hightower and linebacker Jamie Collins might be able to make a case. The duo has stepped up in the absence of Jerod Mayo, in terms of communication, reliability and playmaking. Neither has established a reputation as a Pro Bowler, nor do they have eye-popping numbers, but either could have been considered for the honor.
Finally, veteran defensive tackle and former Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork might have an argument. Sure the run defense struggled early in the year as big No. 75 returned from a torn Achilles, but over the second half of the season the run defense has come into its own and Wilfork has been at the middle of it all.
Really, though, it would seem that in 2014 from a Patriots perspective the Pro Bowl voters got it right. The team's five best players, guys relied on to win games and lead the team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, have been recognized for their impressive contributions.
Sometimes the voters just hit the mark. Of course, with the Pro Bowl taking place the Sunday prior to the Super Bowl in Phoenix, New England fans hope the five honorees will be too busy preparing for the big game to worry about taking their much-deserved spots among the NFL's best.
What did you think about the Patriots Pro Bowl selections? Anybody worthy of attention who was left off the team? Let us know with a comment below!