Let’s play a game. One of these players made the Pro Bowl and the other did not.
Player 1: 43 tackles, 25 solo, 8 TFL, 5 sacks, 25 QB hits, 4 passes defended, 0 forced fumbles.
Player 2: 31 tackles, 22 solo, 9 TFL, 8 sacks, 12 QB hits, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles.
Which of the two do you think made the Pro Bowl?
Well, Player 1 was Maxx Crosby, the Pro Bowl selection from the Las Vegas Raiders. Player 2? That was lesser-known Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard. Greenard was the Texans’ second pick in the 2020 NFL Draft; his stats this season are impressive even with missing last two weeks due to COVID (among the entire defensive front).
#Texans DL Jonathan Greenard is the second-highest graded second year defensive player in the NFL, per @PFF.— Houston Texans PR (@TexansPR) December 3, 2021
Retweet to place your Pro Bowl vote for @jongreenard7#ProBowlVote Jonathan Greenard pic.twitter.com/eFUbJJ2E2X
We aren’t the only ones heralding Greenard’s season as Pro-Bowl worthy, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report called Greenard one of The Biggest Snubs for the award this season.
Greenard’s rise to prominence wasn’t wholly unexpected. He was touted to be the Texans’ Rookie of the Year before he even stepped onto the field at NRG Stadium. Greenard didn’t disappoint during the preseason last year. He recorded multiple sacks and appeared to be a steal in the third round. The beginning of his career was much less superfluous. Several shaky games and mediocre special teams performances took the groundswell of support and washed it away.
Greenard finished the second half of his rookie year better than it started, but Greenard’s woes were set aside for larger, franchise-level stories as the Texans’ organizational collapse overshadowed the disappointing rookie year. The Texans’ signing of numerous defensive linemen signaled a disapproval of the current roster, for why else would they flood this group with so many veterans if they were impressed with who they had? That turned out to not be the case as the cream rose to the top during the 2021 season.
In the shadows of a tumultuous offseason highlighted by the Texans deforesting and building anew the defense, Greenard has slowly but surely entrenched himself as a mainstay in Houston’s defense. Was Greenard’s season Pro-Bowl worthy? In a year where most defensive ends in the AFC underperformed, Greenard’s impact on a poor team doesn’t promote the most votes from the players. As we saw with Bernardrick McKinney, a Pro Bowl season usually takes two straight strong performances to break into this group unless the player has an otherworldly year.
Maybe not this year, but continued success will only garner Greenard more attention. And who knows? Iif the Texans draft a strong end opposite of him in April, it will give Greenard even more freedom to perform in 2022.