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Lunchbreak: Cousins Tops NFL.com's List of 'Pro Bowl Snubs'

Three Vikings – Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith – were named Tuesday to the 2020 Pro Bowl.

But there arguably could have been more from the team to be voted to the all-star game.

NFL.com's Nick Shook put together a group of Pro Bowl "snubs," and Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins topped his list.

Shook called Cousins "statistically wonderful" and wrote the following:

Let's start with traditional stats. Cousins has posted the third-highest passer rating in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts this season. Lamar Jackson's 112.8 rating and Drew Brees 115.3 (boosted by his near-perfect Week 15 outing against Indianapolis) are better than Cousins' 111.1 mark, and only if we relax the criteria to allow for QBs who have at least 200 attempts (Ryan Tannehill has a 114.6 rating on 239 attempts) does Cousins ranking in the category drop one spot.

Shook pointed out that Cousins is the NFL's fourth-best passer according to passing grades by analytics site Pro Football Focus.

It comes as no surprise that Cousins is better when supported by a reliably effective running game. When throwing 25 or fewer times since joining the Vikings, Cousins owns a 5-0 record. He's 13-11-1 when he has to throw more than 25 times, per NFL Research. But that's more indicative of team success than a squad winning by not putting the ball in Cousins' hands. Need proof? In the four seasons in which he's played a full 16 games, Cousins has never had a rushing game ranked higher than 20th, and he has never finished with a passer rating worse than 93.9.

Minnesota's rushing attack ranks fourth in the NFL with 135.9 rushing yards per game this season.

Shook added that Cousins "does the job even when others don't."

Finally, here's the home run of advanced metrics. Cousins is a Next Gen Stats stud, especially since he joined the Vikings. In each of the last two seasons, Cousins has landed among the top three in completion percentage above expectation, with his +6.6 percent mark ranking second to Drew Brees among passers with at least 300 attempts in 2019. If we cut that requirement down to 239 attempts to fit Tannehill in, Cousins falls to third with a number that is still fantastic and would have led all passers in 2018.

Fourth on Shook's list was Vikings safety Anthony Harris.

Harris undoubtedly benefits from playing in a defense that features sack master Danielle Hunter and a fearsome front seven that causes problems for nearly every offense it faces, but that shouldn't exclude him from consideration for such an honor (Cardinals safety Budda Baker, a Pro Bowl starter for the NFC, plays in the same defense as stud edge rusher Chandler Jones). The luxury of playing in a quality defense shows in the few targets Harris has faced (16) as opposed to the 45 Baker has had to defend, but the difference in their PFF coverage grades is significant (Harris owns a 90 mark, while Baker ranks 48th at 64.9). We're not trying to take away an honor earned by the up-and-coming Baker, but Harris has a solid case to replace the Arizona safety or fellow 2020 Pro Bowler Eddie Jackson, who ranks lower than Baker in the same category (62.8 coverage grade on 37 targets).

One argument this Vikings.com writer would like to make is that linebacker Eric Kendricks should have made the Pro Bowl; the fifth-year linebacker has been a playmaker all season and was overlooked by Pro Bowl voters and then by Shook.

A case also could be made for receiver Stefon Diggs, who notched his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. He has 60 receptions on 89 targets. No other receiver with 1,000 yards this season has fewer than 100 targets.

PFF includes Kendricks, 5 other Vikings on its Pro Bowl list

PFF stood on a table for Kendricks, whom the analytics site graded as its top linebacker in the league this season.

Austin Gayle assembled a PFF Pro Bowl list based on the highest-graded players at every position, including Cook, Hunter and Smith.

For NFC linebackers, he included Kendricks (90.7), New Orleans' Demario Davis (89.9) and Tampa Bay's Lavonte David (89.4). He wrote:

Eric Kendricks is having a career year and has three more pass breakups than any other linebacker this season. He has impressive grades across the board and has a legitimate NFL Defensive Player of the Year case to be made.

Gayle also included Cousins (86.1) and Harris (87.0).

Cousins was grouped in a trio of talented passers.

Drew Brees missed some time with an injury, but the rest may have done him good. Russell Wilson is putting together a career year and after a rocky start to the season, Kirk Cousins has been extremely impressive since.

Harris and Smith were joined in Gayle's group of safeties by New Orleans' Marcus Williams.

Four interceptions and six pass breakups make Marcus Williams one of the best playmaking safeties in the game this season, and he is joined by both Vikings starting safeties, with Anthony Harris again backing up the play he has shown in smaller sample sizes in the past.

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