Ah, it’s that time of year again, folks: Pro Bowl voting.
While the Pro Bowl isn’t quite the be-all, end-all of NFL evaluation, as it’s more of a popularity contest than a true showcase of elite in-season talent, it’s a fun way to give praise to players who put in work and can be a financial boon for many a player with contract qualifiers.
In 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles unsurprisingly had zero Pro Bowl players, even if Jason Kelce probably deserves the honor every single season he steps foot on the field. Some of that had to do with the team’s horrid record, as the Eagles were darn bad. As a result, few players on the team were marquee players league-wide, and thus, after a five player class in 2019, the Eagles were held out of the ball.
Could the Eagles extend their Pro Bowl-less streak to two years in 2021? No, I think it’s pretty safe to say that won’t happen.
With Kelce and Darius Slay virtual locks to represent the team thanks to their fantastic seasons and Jordan Mailata coming in close behind as one of the top young tackles in the NFL, Eagles fans should be able to add a few new Pro Bowl jerseys to their closets in the not too distant future, assuming you’re into that sort of thing.
But do you know what? There’s another player on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster who is playing at a Pro Bowl level and thus deserves a strong push to earn a spot on the team this year. A vote for Avonte Maddox is a vote for Philly.
Avonte Maddox deserves to be the Philadelphia Eagles’ newest Pro Bowler.
Avonte Maddox is thriving in the slot for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Finally allowed to play his natural position full time, Maddox is allowing a career-low 7.5 yards per catch despite being targeted a career-high 4.4 times per game and has only allowed one touchdown on 53 targets versus a pick and seven passes defensed.
Maddox has also shored up his tackling once the ball is caught, missing only four of the 62 tackles he’s attempted for a career-low missed tackles percentage of 6.5.
But wait, it gets better.
Regardless of his statistical improvements, Maddox just looks a whole lot more comfortable and confident playing in the slot than on the perimeter. He’s being aggressive, positions his body well, and is forcing opposing pass catchers down before the sticks or outside of the endzone. Maddox’s excellent speed allows him to remain engaged even when he misses a step, and despite being one of the smallest players on the Eagles’ roster, he’s been a pretty darn effective weapon as a blitzer, too, recording half a sack, three pressures, and two QB hits on only 11 blitzing attempts.
Boy, no wonder Maddox is the eighth-ranked cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and the second-ranked slot option league-wide behind only 2021 fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs; the Pitt product is playing some darn good football.
Now granted, getting 29 in the Pro Bowl is no easy task. The game doesn’t set aside specific spots for slot corners, he’s far from a household name, and his reputation is slightly clouded by an underwhelming 2020 season on the outside, but in 2021, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cornerback who is playing better than Avonte Maddox. As Philadelphia Eagles fans, we need to vote like crazy to make that a reality.