Thursday, October 24, 2013

Taking Issue: NFL Pro Bowl Ballot Outdated

The +NFL needs to address their out of date Pro Bowl Balloting format. This is simply naive from a football experts perspective to not include a team's "nickel" DB or more specifically, the slot DB who has to cover RBs, WRs, and the explosive position of TEs in the league. The call to this attention was easily spotted at the mishap because of the caliber of player Chris Harris Jr is and naturally scanning for his name when the position on the ballot came up.

Photo provided by DenverBroncos.com: Chris Harris Jr. (25) with Shaun Phillips (90) after an interception from Flacco in week 1
Chris Harris Jr. of the +Denver Broncos has been lights out this season and is difficult to get noticed because he is rarely thrown on. It is understandable that Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are on the ballot as they are the edge starting DB, when healthy, but the neglection by the NFL to not include an extra DB position is ignorance. Defensive coordinators regularly address the value of the slot DB (nickel DB) that now has 1 or 2, not 3 LB on the field regularly. The growth of the spread offense should also make the NFL adjust the number of WRs spots on the ballot.

Pro Bowl Ballot link via DenverBroncos.com
Although Champ Bailey has been out significantly this year, the Broncos do not use Harris in place of his position. That is designated to Tony Carter or Kayvon Webster. Harris, for example, faces the likes of +Wes Welker when facing the Patriots last season. Harris finds himself on the next play, lined up across Rob Gronkowski inside at the slot. Last year, the Broncos used a nickel defense on more than 60% of their defensive snaps. Rahim Moore, the Broncos FS, and DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), Broncos CB, are the only players with more defensive snaps than Harris this season.

Source: Football Outsiders
It is just an example of the value of that "inside corner." NFL offenses are increasingly using stacked receivers to mix and cross up CBs in close, small areas in an attempt to detour/pick a defender. This is to provide that one second of time to catch and turn for a gain if one is the offense. The value of the outside DB that have to mess with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Demaryius "Beybey Thomas, and Eric Decker is not being overlooked. NFL should adjust balloting the position as they did when they added "specialist" players that are standout special teams players years ago.