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Ravens Safety Eric Weddle Among Biggest 2017 Pro Bowl Snubs


Ravens strong safety Eric Weddle has it all.

He's a leader on one of the league's top defenses. He has the stats. He has the beard.

What's not to like?

Apparently the fans, players and coaches weren't watching or didn't see enough, because Weddle is one of the biggest snubs of the 2017 Pro Bowlers, which were announced Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Weddle isn't even a first-alternate. He's a second-alternate, which means two other strong safeties would have to back out of the game for Weddle to go to Orlando.

Weddle was beaten out by the Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry, who is having a fantastic season with 73 tackles, eight passes defensed and three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns).

The odd part is that the AFC roster has two free safeties. The New England Patriots' Devin McCourty is the starter and the Oakland Raiders' Reggie Nelson is the only reserve safety.

McCourty last went to the Pro Bowl in 2010. He has 70 tackles, seven passes defensed and one interception. Nelson went to last year's Pro Bowl and has 60 tackles, 10 passes defensed and four interceptions. Oakland's secondary, however, is ranked 25th in the league.

By comparison, Weddle has 81 tackles, one sack, 11 passes defensed and four interceptions this season. The Ravens defense ranks 10th in the NFL in passing.

Weddle, 31, went to the Pro Bowl three other times in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Other than in 2011, when he had seven interceptions, his pass coverage statistics are better this year, and the tape is strong too.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Weddle has been the best safety in the league this year – AFC and NFC – with a plus-24.2 grade. Even writer Gregg Rosenthal listed Weddle as the Ravens’ most deserving Pro Bowler.

Added as a free agent this offseason, Weddle has made a huge impact on Baltimore's defense, which currently ranks at No. 5 in the NFL but has spent weeks at No. 1.

His leadership and work ethic have had a ripple effect on the rest of the unit, so much so that his new teammates call him "Coach Weddle" and compare him to linebacker Ray Lewis.

Weddle has also made the plays. His 81 tackles are the third-most stops of any safety in the AFC, trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars' Johnathan Cyprien (115) and Denver Broncos' T.J. Ward (87).

His four interceptions are tied for the sixth-most in the NFL and are the most of any safety in the AFC. Weddle had another interception called back in Sunday's 27-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles because of a teammates' penalty. He dropped two others earlier in the year.

The Ravens have three other second-alternate Pro Bowlers who have legitimate cases to be first-ballot Pro Bowlers: outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, nose tackle Brandon Williams and tight end Dennis Pitta.

Suggs, a six-time Pro Bowler, is tied for 15th in the NFL in sacks with eight. What gets overlooked by those outside of Baltimore is his run-stopping prowess and football intelligence. Suggs often knows what an opponent is about to do, and relays that to his teammates.

What's even more impressive about what Suggs, 34, has done in his 14th season is that he's coming off a torn Achilles that knocked out nearly his entire 2015 season. He's also been playing with a torn biceps since Oct. 16, which he suffered while sacking New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Suggs missed just one game because of it, and has three sacks since.

Williams has been the anchor up front in the Ravens' run defense, which has spent much of the season as the top-ranked unit. Williams has 46 tackles and one sack this season. Williams was graded by PFF as the NFL's third-best run-stopping defensive lineman last season, but has dropped to 14th this year.

Pitta has had a miraculours comeback from a second hip surgery that left him off the field for two years. He leads the Ravens in receptions (67), which also places him third in the AFC among tight ends. Pitta's 563 receiving yards are the* *fourth most in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce (957), Tennessee Titans' Delanie Walker (742) and New England Patriots' Martellus Bennett (649). Pitta only has two touchdowns, however, both coming against the Miami Dolphins.

Check out photos of the Ravens' four Pro Bowlers: kicker Justin Tucker, guard Marshal Yanda, linebacker C.J. Mosley and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

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