Thursday, November 25, 2021

Which Seahawks are most likely to make the Pro Bowl next year?

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It wasn’t long ago that the Seattle Seahawks had one of the most talented rosters in NFL history and expected to send a high number of those players to the Pro Bowl — if only they couldn’t skip because they had Super Bowl plans instead. It’s because of the way that the Pro Bowl is structured — plus the destructive nature of football itself — that a lot of players eventually end up going to the Pro Bowl anyway. It’s possible that all 32 teams will have at least one representative (last season the Cleveland Browns went 0-16 but still had Joe Schobert get an invite) and even the Seahawks still sent seven reps to the game.

But two of those guys are gone now and a third could be joining them on the way out.

In 2017, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Duane Brown, Michael Bennett, and Jimmy Graham made the Pro Bowl. The year before, Seattle’s reps were Baldwin, Wagner, Bennett, Graham, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, and K.J. Wright. And the year before that, it was Wilson, Thomas, Sherman, Wagner, Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and Tyler Lockett.

That’s a total of 12 different Seahawks to get at least one Pro Bowl nod over three years, though five of those guys are gone now and Thomas may want to represent another team. Who would we be most likely to see in the 2018/2019 Pro Bowl then?

Wilson is an obvious one, having been named to the Pro Bowl in four of his six seasons. The biggest thing that could help or hurt Wilson this season is that it will be his first without offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. There’s also the matter of the extremely high level of competition at quarterback in the NFC — Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith — as compared to the AFC, where Derek Carr could be on his way to a ridiculous fourth-straight nod.

Baldwin was left off of the Pro Bowl roster in 2015 when he led the NFL in touchdowns and was unstoppable in the second half of the year (another issue of the rosters being: the voting is too soon and ends too soon), but has made it in each of the last two. If they just had a “slot” position to fill, Baldwin would be the sure bet to lead the way. As a receiver though, there’s a lot of competition and in the NFC that includes Julio Jones, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, Marvin Jones, Alshon Jeffery, and Allen Robinson. Seattle may focus more attention on Baldwin this year due to the losses of Paul Richardson and Graham, though we don’t know if other players will step up, or if more attention on Baldwin is a bad thing.

Wagner has been to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four years, being named a first team All-Pro in three of those seasons. It’d be a mistake if he’s left off this year, as long as he’s healthy. Thomas is a 6x Pro Bowler and he’s still only 29. If he’s still with the Seahawks, there’s a good chance he’ll also make the Pro Bowl.

Of those four, I’d say the order of likelihood is Wagner, Thomas, Wilson, and Baldwin, but all four have a very good shot. What about the next group of Seattle players who could get in?

Two rookie running backs (Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt) made the roster last season and two made it the year before (Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard), so Rashaad Penny certainly has a chance. It may depend on how many carries are going to Chris Carson, but even Kamara made it last year with teammate Mark Ingram. The Seahawks obviously have a lot to fix with their running game, but they’ve made the effort and being a rookie shouldn’t hamper Penny’s chances; if anything, it could help. The last Seattle running back to make the Pro Bowl was Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

Offensive line is actually an area that could produce two Pro Bowl candidates: Duane Brown and Justin Britt. Brown was a Pro Bowler last season, added at the last minute after Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson found out he was going to the Super Bowl. It was his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl and he went despite only playing in nine games for the Seahawks last season. Britt has been a Pro Bowl alternate in the past and the biggest obstacle for him might be that there will only be two or three centers from the NFC tabbed to go; Seattle’s last Pro Bowl offensive lineman was Brown, but before that it was Max Unger in 2013.

Wright made the Pro Bowl two years ago, but the nature of his position as a WILL in a 4-3 just rarely allows for the type of statistics needed to make a Pro Bowl roster. He’s done it before and it could happen, but Wright has a higher mountain to climb than most. I’d say about the same goes for Jarran Reed, who could become the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the league, but who might also fall short of significant sack statistics usually required of defensive linemen; every DT to make the Pro Bowl last season had at least five sacks, except for Linval Joseph, who had 3.5. Reed has three sacks in two seasons, so far. Nazair Jones may have a better shot at reaching five sacks, but neither seems all that likely to make the Pro Bowl next year.

Frank Clark is the most obvious player to pluck from the defensive line as the next perennial Pro Bowler. He has 19 sacks in the last two seasons and steps up as the number one threat on the Seahawks following the departures of Bennett, Avril, and Sheldon Richardson. He could absolutely hit that 14-sack threshold next season that would almost certainly get him there, but even 12 would be a fair bet for him to make his first Pro Bowl. Dion Jordan, if healthy, would also probably like to say he’s going to be at that level, but he has a lot more to prove at this point.

Shaquill Griffin probably won’t make the Pro Bowl next season, but we can’t rule him out either. He was really good as a rookie and he has some of the best defensive back coaching in history supporting him and guiding him along the way. There’s just a lot of competition and few slots at cornerback, including Marshon Lattimore, Darius Slay, Xavier Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Josh Norman, Desmond Trufant, Kyle Fuller, Janoris Jenkins, and Sherman.

Finally, special teams could produce a Pro Bowl season from Lockett, who led the NFL in kick return yards last year. It’s just harder and harder to get noticed at kick returns. Seattle may also produce a special teams “ace” for Pro Bowl consideration, like the feel-good story of Shaquem Griffin, which has likely also produced a few votes before the season has even started.

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