The Lions got one player, Darius Slay, voted onto this year’s Pro Bowl roster, along with five others added as reserves. Slay leads the NFL in interceptions (7) and pass deflections (27), as Ryan pointed out yesterday, making him well-deserving of some national recognition.
The reserves include Matthew Stafford, T.J. Lang, Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew and Glover Quin. These guys will at least get the opportunity to showcase their talent if they choose to attend. Jones, Stafford and Quin played well enough to be voted in, but with Detroit’s up-and-down season, it’s hard to have multiple players selected.
The most glaring omission on this list is kicker Matt Prater, arguably the best kicker in the league. Prater has done it all since signing with the Lions in 2014. He is the most clutch kicker in the NFL, and consistently makes more 50-yard kicks than any other kicker.
This season, Prater is 7-for-10 on field goals from 50-yards or more, tied for the most in the entire NFL. Plus, he has more attempts than any other kicker from that length, due to how much the Lions coaching staff trusts him in situations that would cause most teams to punt. His long this season is 58-yards, third-best in the league. Oh, and inside of 50 yards? Prater is 20-21 from 49 yards or closer.
There are some other players with valid gripes. Golden Tate is on his way to another 90+ catch, 1,000-yard season. He’s been making people miss all year in the open field. Watch his latest crossover from Saturday’s win over the Bears.
The Pro Bowl isn’t fair. Some great, more deserving players tend to get overlooked every single year. As Darius Slay has shown, unless you lead the league in every major stat relevant to your position, a Detroit Lions player is unlikely to be voted in.
For now, fans should be happy to see Big Play Slay get his due after he’s worked hard to improve his game during each of his five NFL seasons. The team can’t dwell on an exhibition popularity contest, however, as they are still in the wild-card race with two weeks to go.