Among the most notable snubs from the initial Pro Bowl rosters released Wednesday night has to be Green Bay Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who wasn’t even included among the alternate group.
Rookie Micah Parsons (who has doubled as an edge rusher) and veteran Bobby Wagner are the two NFC inside linebackers. But why not Campbell? Signed by the Packers in May, he has been a revelation as the centerpiece of Joe Barry’s defense.
Through 14 games, Campbell has stuffed the stat sheet. He has 125 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, 2.0 sacks, four pass breakups, one fumble recovery, five tackles for losses and six quarterback hits.
In October, Campbell was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month.
His most impactful plays or games:
– An interception of Jared Goff in the fourth quarter in Week 2
– A fumble recovery in the fourth quarter in Week 3
– A tackle forcing a turnover on fourth down in the fourth quarter in Week 4
– An interception of Joe Burrow in overtime in Week 5
– Two forced fumbles, including one on fourth down, in Week 7
– Two tackles for losses in Week 8
– Season-high 16 tackles after coming off the COVID-19 reserve list in Week 14
– Sack on fourth down in the red zone in Week 15
Campbell has played 874 snaps, or 97 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps.
The traditional stats and big plays not enough?
According to Pro Football Focus, Campbell is the highest-graded inside linebacker, assuming Micah Parsons is categorized as an edge rusher. He’s the fourth-highest rated linebacker against the run, the second-highest rated linebacker in tackling, the 12th highest-rated linebacker in pass-rushing, and the third-highest rated linebacker in coverage. His grades are above 75.0 in all four categories.
Campbell has just four missed tackles and a 3.4 missed-tackle percentage, the second-best among linebackers. His 44 stops, or a tackle constituting a failure for the defense, is tied for seventh. He’s allowed only 5.4 yards per target in coverage. And he’s only committed one penalty.
By Sports Info Solutions’ “Total Points Saved” metric, Campbell ranks third among all linebackers.
Maybe most importantly, Campbell has both stabilized and provided a playmaker for Green Bay’s inside linebacker position, annually an underperforming group for the Packers. His speed and freedom to play sideline to sideline has both strengthened the Packers run defense and provided an impact playmaker in the middle of the pass defense.
Wagner has the big-name appeal, and he’s piled up numbers this season too, but it’s hard to argue he’s had a better season than Campbell overall. And Parsons should have probably been included in the defensive end or outside linebacker group, considering what an impact he’s made as a rusher for the Cowboys.
It’s all a sad commentary on the Pro Bowl process. Campbell has been great, but it almost always takes fans and even coaches and players a year or two to catch up with breakout performers, especially for a player like Campbell, who had previously bounced around with a few teams without Pro Bowl appeal.
Given he’s not one of the top alternates, it’s unlikely Campbell will eventually make the Pro Bowl roster. That’s a shame. His season deserved the honor.
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