Around this time last year, I warned Broncos fans that Denver’s league leading streak of Pro Bowl representation was in jeopardy. Thankfully, Von Miller was able to keep the streak going to 39 seasons. But of course, he has missed the entire 2020 season. An alternate selection from 2019, Courtland Sutton, was also lost for almost the whole 2020 season.
This will put additional pressure to ensure that 2020 does not take away something else that’s great. Who on the 2020 Broncos will able to keep the Pro Bowl streak going to 40 seasons? Here’s a look at some possible candidates.
It has been a remarkable season for Bolles, whose vastly improved play earned him a contract extension. Will this earn him his first Pro Bowl nod? He may have a good chance at it. Bolles’s bid gets some help with some fierce competitors like Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Lewan and Mitchell Schwartz having been sidelined with injuries. However, don’t discount tackles on teams with winning records having the ability to push Bolles out, even if any of those tackles are not having as good of seasons as he is. Names to watch out for include Laremy Tunsil, Alejandro Villanueva, Eric Fisher, Dion Dawkins, and Orlando Brown, Jr. A dark horse competitor could also be rookie Mekhi Becton, who is an a major media market and is somehow leading the fan vote at AFC tackle.
Is this finally the year for him? He’s leading the fan voting at free safety in the AFC, so that’s something. However, I see Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kevin Byard, and Tyrann Mathieu as a potential triumvirate that could still keep Simmons out. The Bills’ pair of safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, could also be dark horse competitors from a defense that’s playing very well.
McManus has had an outstanding season, especially highlighted by scoring all 18 points in a victory over New England. But the AFC’s Pro Bowl representation at kicker goes through Justin Tucker, and jinxes aside from last night, he may still make it daunting for a worthy challenger like McManus.
He’s had a fine year coming off his ACL tear from last season, racking up 7.5 sacks. And due to the NFL’s ridiculous insistence of balkanizing edge rushers into antiquated defensive end and outside linebacker designations, he won’t have to compete with heavy hitters like Myles Garrett or Joey Bosa. But TJ Watt will have one of the OLB spots locked down, as usual. Watt’s partner in crime on the other side, Bud Dupree, may have gotten some consideration despite/until sadly tearing his ACL while he’s on the franchise tag. But after Chubb, what edge rusher considered as an “outside linebacker” comes up next in sacks?…
…that’s right, it’s Reed. Now, I don’t think Reed has anywhere near the recognition to actually get named unless it’s as an alternate. But take a look at the sack leaders yourself, and you’ll see that this season sacks are being dominated by 4-3 edge rushers. In the AFC, 3-4 edge rushers go Watt, Chubb, and then Reed. Miami’s Kyle Van Noy is right behind Reed in fourth. Perhaps there are some 4-3 off ball linebackers that could cause problems for both Chubb and Reed, but most of the heavy hitters like Darius Leonard or Vince Williams play on the inside.
I mentioned Risner as a very long shot last season, and I’ll do so again here. Quenton Nelson and David DeCastro should continue to be locks at guard, but Marshal Yanda’s retirement opens up the third spot for somebody. However, Risner will likely be bypassed for that spot by either Joel Bitonio, who was the first alternate last season, or Trai Turner, who was a regular Pro Bowler in the NFC back when he was with the Panthers.