Sean Lee didn’t earn Pro Bowl recognition from fans, coaches and players. He has a better chance to earn All-Pro honors from the media.
The Pro Bowl ballot includes three outside linebackers, which pits Lee against edge pass rushers.
Atlanta’s Vic Beasley has 14.5 sacks, and Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan has 11. Both were picked for the NFC Pro Bowl team at linebacker.
Carolina’s Thomas Davis’ presence ahead of Lee is harder to explain since he has 92 tackles, per league numbers, in a 4-3 defense for the league’s 22nd-ranked defense.
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The league, which uses pressbox stats, credits Lee with 140 tackles. That ranks him second in the NFL. The Cowboys list him with 168 tackles, using coaches’ reviews of game film. The Cowboys defense ranks 13th.
Fifty media members could reward Lee the week after the season. All-Pro honors are considered more prestigious than the Pro Bowl since there are fewer spots.
The Associated Press ballot is changing this season after Oakland’s Khalil Mack was voted to two positions last year. This year, it includes two edge rushers – 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers – and three linebackers. The ballot does not differentiate between inside and outside linebackers but makes clear that 3-4 outside linebackers should be considered edge rushers.
That means Lee will not compete for spots on the All-Pro team with Kerrigan, Beasley and Tennessee’s Brian Orakpo, although AP does list Denver’s Von Miller’s defined position as that of linebacker.
Thus, Lee could find a bigger honor awaiting him at season’s end.