There won’t be a true Pro Bowl after this season because of the ongoing pandemic, but there are still going to be Pro Bowl teams.
So that got us wondering: How many Eagles will be on it?
The Pro Bowl was originally scheduled for Jan. 31 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium but that isn’t happening. With the real game canceled, this year there will be a virtual Pro Bowl on Madden NFL 21.
The Pro Bowl rosters are determined by fan, player and coach voting. Each count as one-third toward determining the rosters. Eventually, 88 players will be selected, 44 from each conference, according to the Associated Press.
This is the same number of players selected as last year but eventually 121 total players could call themselves Pro Bowlers after Super Bowl players and injured players were replaced with alternates. Without an actual game this season, it’ll be much harder for players to become Pro Bowlers.
Last year, the Eagles ended up with six Pro Bowlers (Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Rick Lovato). Five were selected initially and Johnson was added later.
Since the Pro Bowl began, there have been just three times the Eagles haven’t had a Pro Bowler: 1971, 1999, 2013, which came after the 1970 (3-10-1), 1998 (3-13) and 2012 (4-12) seasons, three notoriously bad years for the Birds.
This year, because of the limited number of Pro Bowlers and the Eagles’ miserable season, there’s a decent chance this becomes the fourth time in franchise history without a guy named to the Pro Bowl.
But here are a few candidates who might prevent that from happening:
Brandon Graham: Of the guys on this list, Graham is certainly the most deserving. While he’s been a really solid player for some years now, he’s having his best NFL season at age 32 and in Year 11. With 7.0 sacks, Graham is among the league leaders. Just seven players have more. He also has 12 QB hits, 9 TFLs and 2 forced fumbles. If you’re wondering, ProFootballFocus ranks Graham as the 11th-best edge defender in the NFL.
It took a long time for Graham to come into his own. The 2010 first-round pick had to shed the bust label, eventually became a starter and has been a star for the Eagles in recent seasons. But it generally takes numbers to get into Pro Bowls. Well, numbers and national recognition. This season, Graham might finally have both on his side.
Jason Kelce: The timing seems bad because Kelce is coming off the worst performance of the last few years against the Giants, but other than that, he’s been pretty solid. He’s the Eagles’ only OL to play every game this season (he hasn’t missed a snap) and he’s mostly played at a very high level. It’s also worth noting that Kelce is a well-known name in his 10th NFL season. Having already made three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams, certainly helps at offensive line positions.
Fletcher Cox: You’re probably thinking that Cox hasn’t played like a Pro Bowl caliber player but he has made the last five Pro Bowl teams and his numbers aren’t very different than his numbers last year when he was voted into his fifth Pro Bowl. Last year, Cox had just 3 1/2 sacks and he has 3 1/2 through nine games this year. He is also on pace to have more QB hits and already has more tackles for loss.
Rick Lovato: Another Pro Bowler from last year. I haven’t noticed any bad long snapping from the Eagles this year but I’m not sure I would even notice if I saw it. Last year, Lovato made his first Pro Bowl after players and coaches voted him in. It was the first time players and coaches voted for long snappers, so the honor meant quite a bit to him. Previously, the head coach of the Pro Bowl team would normally just take their guy. This year, long snapper is part of the fan vote so that could sway things. But if players and coaches vote for Lovato again, he could make another one.
Lane Johnson: On merit, you’d have a hard time convincing me that Johnson should make the team because he’s missed three games and has missed significant snaps in three others. But when he’s been on the field, Johnson has still played at a high level despite the injuries. He has made the last three Pro Bowl teams, which as we mentioned with Kelce, is big for offensive linemen. Even though he didn’t get voted in initially last year, Johnson was able to make the roster despite playing in just 12 games. If he plays out the final seven, he’ll finish with 13 games played in 2020.
Cameron Johnston: The Eagles’ punter is having a pretty good season. He is second in the NFL in punting average at 50.0 and is fifth in net average at 43.5. He has also gotten 14 punts downed inside the 20-yard line; just seven punters have more. Punters are on the fan vote this year and the only two stats listed are net average and long. Johnston’s long this year is 66 yards.
Miles Sanders: Sanders has missed three games, which is a much bigger deal at a position like running back or receiver because the numbers won’t add up. Sanders is third in the NFL in rushing average, so he’s playing like a Pro Bowler but he’s 14th in rushing yards after missing three games. Because of that and because of Doug Pederson’s hesitance to really use Sanders, it’s hard to imagine him making up the necessary ground.
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