The news that Younghoe Koo and Grady Jarrett made the Pro Bowl was welcome, because great players having great seasons deserve that recognition, no matter how flawed and weird the Pro Bowl selection process may be. It’s tough to argue against Koo, who has been the NFC’s best kicker all year, or Jarrett, easily one of the league’s better defensive tackles.
In a normal year, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan would be strong bets, but Ryan’s having a statistical off-year and Julio has missed five games, dooming both of them for this particular honor. Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun and Keanu Neal have all played well this season and deserved some consideration, but ultimately none of them will make it. It’s puzzling for Matthews, Lindstrom and Neal in particular because they have all definitely been among the best at their respective positions, but with a losing football team, it’s not a surprise that they were neglected.
Calvin Ridley, though? That’s a surprise.
Ridley has been fantasy gold throughout much of 2020, which tends to help players boost their Pro Bowl chances. Ridley’s been regular gold, too, posting the 10th-highest target count in the NFL, 19th-highest receptions, 6th-highest yardage total, 12th-best yards per reception number, and 9th-highest touchdown total. Among NFC players only, he’s 5th in targets, 10th in receptions, 3rd in yardage, 5th in yards per reception, and 6th in touchdowns, all of which adds up to a compelling Pro Bowl resume.
Ultimately, I think Ridley was probably doomed by a combination of factors that included Atlanta’s crumminess, the outstanding play of D.K. Metcalf, DeAndre Hopkins, and Davante Adams, and Justin Jefferson’s emergence as an elite receiver as a rookie. Hopkins and Adams had more receptions, something that Michael Thomas showed us is critically important to Pro Bowl voters, Adams has an eye-popping touchdown total, and Metcalf and Jefferson have garnered a ton of media attention. Ridley would be, I suspect, fifth or sixth on the list with Jefferson standing out so much as a rookie, but that puts him just outside.
Regardless of the Pro Bowl snub, Ridley is having a career year and has caught fire of late, getting open at will and proving to be the top option the Falcons have said over and over again that he can be. He’s got a bright future and a bright present, and the Pro Bowls will come.