With Pro Bowl voting set to wrap up next Thursday, December 12th, the Patriots are under-represented as usual especially on the defensive side of the ball. New England is more interested in playing in the Super Bowl than the Pro Bowl, but it's still a nice honor, especially for players who haven't garnered the accolades that players like Tom Brady have over their career.
The 2019 Patriots feature quite a few potential first-time Pro Bowlers who are deserving of recognition. Kyle Van Noy has ascended into one of the top outside linebackers in the league, while Jonathan Jones has risen from an undrafted special teams player to one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. There's also Lawrence Guy, who has become a critical front seven piece though he's asked to do the dirty work and doesn't rack up the stats. Or how about rookie Jake Bailey who has been arguably the best punter in the league?
There's no shortage of choices leading us to this week's Samsonite Make Your Case debate:
Which Patriot most deserves their first time Pro Bowl nod?
Mike Dussault says…
It's a crime that Jones isn't even an option in the Pro Bowl voting app, but he's emerged as one of the best football players in the league and should have fans writing his name in for consideration. The cornerback earned a three-year contract extension earlier this season after rising from a special teams stud, to a slot corner to where he is now, a valuable matchup option that is a key piece of every Patriots defensive gameplan.
Jones is third on the team with 64.3 percent of the defensive snaps while also playing nearly half of the special teams snaps as well, good for second on the team behind Nate Ebner. This year he's emerged into a hybrid safety role at times but has been overshadowed by Stephon Gilmore's Defensive Player of the Year-caliber season. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Jones was Pro Football Focus' highest graded cornerback, while ranking third in run defense and second in coverage.
Jones is under many radars, including the Pro Bowl's, but he's putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season
Paul Perillo says …
Kyle Van Noy
The Patriots defense performed at historic levels throughout the first half of the season and the linebackers were a big reason for that. Kyle Van Noy's play in particular stood out from the rest, and he should earn a trip to the Pro Bowl as a result.
Van Noy's versatility is evident anytime the defense is operating at a high level. Over the first three quarters of the season he racked up 40 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries plus a touchdown. Basically, he's been in the middle of everything the Patriots defense has done all year.
The competition will be difficult for Van Noy, even on his own team. Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are also enjoying strong seasons and deserve Pro Bowl consideration. Both have already earned the honor in the past, and neither has been as consistent and versatile in playing against the run, pass or as a pass rusher this season.
As far as first-timers go, no one deserves it more than Van Noy.