Thursday, January 27, 2011
Pro Bowl embarrassment since 2006 draft
By Mike Sando
Scheduling the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl has watered down the significance of earning a spot on one of the NFL's all-star squads.
The bar for earning Pro Bowl honors has never been lower.
That makes this little tidbit all the more remarkable: Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati have no Pro Bowl players from the draft choices they selected since 2006.
I base that on the rosters I maintain for every team in the league, counting players on active rosters and those who finished the 2010 season on injured reserve.
A quick look at future Pro Bowl prospects for a few Rams and Seahawks draft choices since 2006:
- Earl Thomas, Seahawks free safety. The 2010 first-rounder collected enough interceptions early in the season to become a Pro Bowl alternate this year. He finished the season strong and should be on his way to Pro Bowl honors.
- Russell Okung, Seahawks tackle. The NFC lacks dominant tackles now that Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and others have retired. Okung has a shot at earning Pro Bowl acclaim next season if he's healthier.
- Sam Bradford, Rams quarterback. Breaking through at quarterback can be tough. Ask Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who did not make it this season. Bradford will need a very strong season and probably a winning record to break through.
- James Laurinaitis, Rams linebacker. Laurinaitis is an ascending player, but Patrick Willis and Brian Urlacher are more dominant inside linebackers from the NFC. Injuries have prevented Willis from playing in the past two Pro Bowls, however, clearing the way for others to participate.
- Chris Long, Rams defensive end. His sack totals spiked this past season. The trend should continue, particularly if the Rams continue upgrading at defensive tackle, where Fred Robbins' presence helped in 2010.
- Rodger Saffold, Rams tackle. Okung has more talent, but Saffold was more durable as a rookie. Again, there aren't dominant veteran left tackles hogging Pro Bowl honors in the NFC. There's room for young players to earn a spot.
By my count, Tennessee has the most Pro Bowl players from its draft classes since 2006. The Titans have five, but one of them, quarterback Vince Young, will not return to the team. The others: Michael Griffin, Chris Johnson, Cortland Finnegan and Marc Mariani.