Thursday was an interesting day for NFL fans who follow end-of-season honors for individual players. The Pro Bowl games got underway on Thursday, with two Green Bay Packers participating, while the NFL Player’s Association revealed its top five players at each position, as voted on by the players themselves.
It’s odd to not see a Pro Bowl designation next to Aaron Rodgers’ name, but this year at least he was not deserving of that honor. One player who has a strong case to be included on the Pro Bowl roster and on a top-five list, however, is running back Aaron Jones.
Jones set a career-high in rushing yards in 2022, finishing 10th in the NFL with 1,121 yards. But that 10th-place finish does not do credit to the elite efficiency that he continues to put up year after year. For the fourth time in his six seasons, Jones finished with a yards-per-carry average of 5.3 or higher, and he has never finished a season below 4.6.
In fact, Jones is in elite territory in NFL history, not just in recent history. Only seven players in the league’s storied history (with 750 minimum carries) have averaged a higher yards-per-carry average than Jones’ 5.1, and three of those players are quarterbacks. And even in 2022 alone, just one running back finished higher than Jones’ 5.3. It’s honestly a bit shocking that Jones still has only one Pro Bowl appearance in his career to this point. Yes, fumbles have sometimes been an issue, particularly in 2022, but even so the guy is a perennial top-five back in terms of both efficiency (YPC and DVOA) and cumulative stats like DYAR.
He’s not alone in terms of snubs on this year’s team, either. Injuries affected David Bakhtiari’s perception around the league, but he proved that he’s still one of the best left tackles in the game when healthy, and he should be that again in 2023. There’s also the ridiculous snub that was Keisean Nixon being left off the Pro Bowl roster. Nixon surely suffered from the fact that Pro Bowl votes start coming in before the season is over, and he had a major late-season surge that did garner him first-team All-Pro honors as the league’s best kickoff return man.
These honors don’t matter, at least not for the most part. There are contract incentives that can come into play on occasion, but otherwise it’s admittedly not that big a deal. It would just be nice to see some of these players, Jones in particular, get some of the recognition they deserve.
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