Jason Kelce has been named to his third straight Pro Bowl and fifth overall since entering the NFL in 2011. He and Darius Slay were the lone two Philadelphia Eagles selected to the NFC team in 2021. It marks the fourth Pro Bowl nod for Slay.
Both players were well-deserving of the honor after dominating their respective positions this year. Kelce will start at center for the NFC squad, while Slay was voted in as a backup cornerback behind starters Trevon Diggs and Jalen Ramsey.
The Eagles also listed six players as alternates: defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, kicker Jake Elliott, tight end Dallas Goedert, linebacker Shaun Bradley, quarterback Jalen Hurts, defensive end Josh Sweat. Those players could nab roster spots depending on how injuries and playoff positioning works out. Remember, marquee guys from Super Bowl teams often elect to sit out the Pro Bowl.
Kelce was a no-brainer as he continues to cement his case for a bust in Canton. He’s the second-best center in the NFL this season, per Pro Football Focus, with an 85.1 overall grade (65.8 pass-blocking, 90.4 run-blocking). Meanwhile, Slay ranks fourth-best at cornerback (via Pro Football Focus): 81.6 overall grade, including 83.7 in coverage. Slay also leads the entire league in defensive touchdowns with three.
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Kelce Sounds Off on Pro Bowl Snubs
Strong cases could made for left tackle Jordan Mailata and right tackle Lane Johnson being the Eagles’ biggest snubs. They are playing lights-out football for the most dominant offensive line in the league. Johnson’s candidacy was hindered by the fact he missed three games due to depression and mental health issues.
Mailata? Well, there doesn’t appear to be a good excuse for his omission. Kelce, the emotional leader of the offensive line, called the whole process of picking Pro Bowlers an “imperfect science.” He has seen snubs of that magnitude happen his whole career.
“Obviously it’s an honor whenever you make the Pro Bowl, but we all know that’s an imperfect science,” Kelce said. “You know, I’ve been an All-Pro twice and didn’t make the Pro Bowl. I think that there’s a lot of guys that are really good players – in my mind, the two tackles we have are as good as any, if not better than anybody, in the league.
“So they know what we think of them, I wish everybody else did, but it’s kind of the way the Pro Bowl voting works. It tends to be sporadic and whoever the hot media guys are for the year usually end up getting it.”
Hurts – the guy Johnson and Mailata are responsible for protecting – agreed. He was “shocked” neither one made the NFC squad.
“Group football comes down to individuals doing their jobs and putting their best foot forward to get that group success we get,” Hurts said. “Ultimately, you see Jordan Mailata out there a lot ballin’ and keeping me clean. You see Lane out there doing what he’s doing for a very long time. They’re Pro Bowlers in my book. They keep me clean. I’m all smiles. Kind of shocked to see that for sure.”
Fletcher Cox Watches Six-Year Streak End
Fletcher Cox will not be heading to the Pro Bowl for the first time in six seasons. His slow start to the year had many questioning how much the 31-year-old still had left in the tank. Cox was even the subject of trade rumors at the deadline on November 2. He stayed and the grizzled veteran has picked up the slack, including two critical sacks in Week 15 against Washington.
“I want to play this way early in the season but obviously the ball wasn’t bouncing the way that it is now,” Cox told reporters. “I think now I’m just comfortable in his system [defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon] and I know what to expect and putting it out on the field. Everybody is on the same page up front and really just maximizing all the opportunities that I’m getting right now.”
Cox – a three-time All-Pro at defensive tackle – has been lining up at defensive end in certain sets, too.
“Just enjoying it, being out there and being moved around a little bit from the left side especially being on the outside,” Cox told reporters. “It’s a good thing, good communication with him [Jonathan Gannon]. He’s just letting the boys up front eat.”