Patriots' two Pro Bowl selections highlight just how talent-thin this roster is

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As an event, the Pro Bowl long ago lost its relevance.

It happened gradually but the actual effort you once saw (one minute into this video you will see the Rams’ Jack Youngblood sawing Dan Fouts in half during the 1980 Pro Bowl . . . Youngblood was playing with a broken leg) went to half-hearted about 20 years ago and now there’s really no effort at all.

Correspondingly, the honor of being named a Pro Bowler has lost luster too. But while the game has descended into worthlessness, there is still a modicum of value in actually being selected since plenty of players have bonuses tied to Pro Bowl honors.

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The voting process might be more a popularity contest than a true reflection of who played best at his position during the first 14 weeks of the season, but it is still an indicator of which guys are “among the best” at their positions and the number of players a team sends is, again, an minor indicator of how talented a roster is.

Tuesday night, the AFC Pro Bowl rosters were announced. The 11-3 Chargers (seven selections), the 11-3 Chiefs and the 8-5-1 Steelers (six selections) led the way. Next came the 10-4 Texans with four.

The Patriots had two players selected – Tom Brady and Stephon Gilmore. The Browns, Broncos and Colts were the other teams with two players selected. The Bengals, Dolphins and Jaguars all had just one player picked.

The one case of snubbage was with Patriots fullback James Develin, who should have been selected instead of Kansas City’s (and North Attleboro’s) Anthony Sherman. But that’s like debating who’s the most talented blacksmith. And Develin’s slight was offset by the selection of Brady, who gets in on a reputation pass while both Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson have had more productive seasons.

Shaq Mason, Trey Flowers and James White were the only other Patriots who had a right to even expect some recognition and none of them can really say they got hosed based on who was selected ahead of them.

Taking it a little further, there aren’t really any players on this roster (aside from the ones mentioned) who are on the brink of blossoming into being among the best at their positions.

If Josh Gordon plays a full season in 2019 as a restricted free agent, maybe he makes a case? Sony Michel? Trent Brown?

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The point of mentioning this isn’t to give outsized importance to the Pro Bowl because there are so few Patriots selected. The Pro Bowl is what it is. The selection process is what it is.

But the Patriots roster and talent level is what it is as well. The whole has always, always, always been more than the sum of its parts in New England but there’s usually been a standout player anchoring a position group who was at least Pro Bowl-level.

Not only do the Patriots not really have any of those right now, because of their very pedestrian draft record since 2013, there’s barely any top-tier homegrown talent.

Who got selected for this year’s Pro Bowl didn’t suddenly make the light go on regarding the Patriots roster. It was just a reminder.

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