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The case for Terry McLaurin to make his first Pro Bowl

11152022 WAS @ PHI KC17436

Terry McLaurin has already built a long resume over the course of his three-and-a-half NFL seasons.

The former third-round pick had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history for a receiver; he became the first wideout since Henry Ellard to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons; and he is already 13th on the franchise's all-time receiving yards list.

For all his accolades, McLaurin has yet to be voted to a Pro Bowl. It is time to change that.

McLaurin might not be the flashiest player, but he is recognized as one of the best young talents in the NFL. That is why you should vote McLaurin to his first Pro Bowl, then check out his stats this season and vote again.

"He continues to make the plays," quarterback Taylor Heinicke said after the Washington Commanders' win over the Indianapolis Colts. "Very blessed that he's on our team. I can't say enough good things about Terry. Not just on the field, but off the field stuff. Man, he brings the people in the locker room together. He carries himself in a very professional way. People want to fight for him."

The Commanders have won four of their last five games to get back to .500 heading into the second half of the season, and there is a legitimate argument that Washington is nowhere near as successful without McLaurin operating as a key cog of its offense.

He scored a 37-yard touchdown against the Green Bay Packers that gave the Commanders the lead; he followed that up with a clutch 33-yard reception against the Colts that set up the game-winning touchdown from Heinicke; and against the Eagles, which ranked fourth in passing defense, he grabbed eight receptions for 128 yards -- his most in a single game since 2019 -- and accounted for 60% of Heinicke's yards through the air.

"Terry was terrific," coach Ron Rivera said after Washington's 32-21 win over the Eagles. "Really appreciated the way he did things and wanting the ball. It's like when we said it, when we agreed to the contract this summer, I told you, this was an organizational decision. A young man like that impacts who you are."

There is a reason that quarterbacks trust McLaurin so much; he has a long history of coming down with the ball in his hands. Since 2020, McLaurin leads the league in several contested catch categories, including receptions (32), yards (565) and plays resulting gains of at least 15 yards (16).

"It's kind of cool to be able to make that kind of play when earlier in my football career, in college and stuff, I struggled with contested catches," McLaurin said. "To be in the position where I can make the play for the team again, I'm thankful and it just makes me more eager to get better."

Back when Washington signed McLaurin to a long-term contract in July, Rivera expected the wideout to continue building on the success that he had in his previous three seasons and be a vital piece to the Commanders' offense.

So, has McLaurin done that? Well, let's take a look at what he has done through 10 games. He is eighth in yards (737) despite being 18th in targets (73). He is 12th in yards per reception (16), and he is tied for 10th in explosive plays (10).

Over the last four weeks, McLaurin has averaged 92.5 yards per game (4th) and is fourth among all receivers in terms of his Pro Football Focus overall grade.

And in terms of how he performs against the league's better cornerbacks, he just came off a game in which he caught five passes for 90 yards against Darius Slay.

"I've said this before; you paid the guy a lot of money in the offseason for a reason because he continues to make big plays," Heinicke said. "So, when we have one-on-one with Terry, we like that. Whenever I see one on one with Terry, I get excited and I have full confidence in him to win, because he continues to do so."

So, give McLaurin some appreciation and vote him to his first Pro Bowl.

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