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The Cincinnati Bengals had three players named to the Pro Bowl, the most they’ve sent since the 2017 season.
While those names were of course deserving, they weren’t the only players on the team who should’ve been given a nod.
Here’s a look at some of the Bengals players who deserved bids, too.
CB Mike Hilton
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If the Pro Bowl was smarter as to how it did player designations, Hilton might have a chance as a slot corner. In his first year with the team, Hilton has been extremely productive, tallying 53 total tackles, six for loss, three passes defended, one forced fumble and one interception that went back for a touchdown. He’s the team’s third-highest graded defender at PFF (74.2).
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
In his first season with the team, Awuzie has 47 total tackles, four for loss, with 12 passes defended and two interceptions. He’s the defense’s second-highest graded player at PFF (80.2) while only allowing a 56.6 completion percentage on 76 targets. Keep in mind the context — he was signed to be the No. 2 corner, but has been the top guy all year with Trae Waynes out. An impressive showing for a guy on the boundary.
(AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
It’s interesting to see Ogunjobi miss the cut as he breaks out with his career-best season. The Pro Bowl process loves sexy stats and he’s got them all — seven sacks (matching any AFC interior lineman selected), 11 tackles for loss and 45 total tackles. Impressively, he’s done his damage on just 69 percent of the unit’s snaps. He’s missed eight tackles, which has helped tank his 50.2 PFF grade, but the impact has been there.
WR Tee Higgins
Syndication: The Enquirer
Don’t sleep on Higgins too much. He’s missed two games this year, yet has 835 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a gaudy 14.2 yards per catch. That average is better than all of the three non-Chase wideout selections. His 13 plays of 20-plus yards are right on par or better than most AFC selections, too. There’s a reason he’s the team’s second-highest graded offensive player behind Burrow at PFF.
DT D.J. Reader
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Reader was criminally underrated in Houston and he’s doing the same here. He doesn’t pile up the sexy stats like sacks. But he’s got 42 tackles, three for loss, with two sacks and the team’s highest defensive PFF grade (81.7). Bengals linebackers wouldn’t be looking nearly as good as they have without him healthy and dictating the entire flow of an opposing offense.
QB Joe Burrow
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Burrow’s 14 interceptions hurt his chances. But when many of them are sheer bad luck and the victim of a play-caller scripting him into bad spots (first down runs leading to third-and-longs), it’s hard to knock him too much. He came back early from a shredded knee and has completed 68.7 percent of his passes with 26 touchdowns while taking 44 sacks. He’s picked up 12 first downs and two scores as a rusher. Despite the picks, he’s still got a passer rating over 100 and is the NFL’s highest-graded quarterback at PFF. The snub behind Lamar Jackson is especially perplexing considering he’s thrown 10 more scores and Jackson has turned the ball over 17 times between picks and fumbles. Of the other two AFC QB nods, he’s got a better passer rating and yards per attempt than both Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.