The 2017 Pro Bowl has come and gone, as the AFC squad overcame a 20-3 deficit to defeat the NFC 24-23 this past Sunday. Two Packers played in the NFL’s all star game, defensive lineman Mike Daniels and wide receiver Davante Adams. Daniels repeatedly generated pressure, even while going up against the AFC’s best linemen, though Adams did not have a catch in the game.
While both were added to the roster as replacements, the two players can now add “Pro Bowler” to their resumes for the first time. Daniels and Adams were both deserving of the distinction after putting together impressive 2017 seasons.
Meanwhile, the Packers continue to go through an offseason full of change that figures to make the team better in 2018. Green Bay has loads of young talent that the Packers will hope to see improve next year. So which players on the roster could make the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2018, as Adams and Daniels did this season?
LB Blake Martinez
Due to the nature of the fan vote, players sometimes do not get widespread recognition until after they break out, especially at non-skill positions (see Mike Daniels as an example). Well, it’ll be hard to ignore Martinez in next year’s voting period, as the Packers’ second-year linebacker was tied for the NFL lead with 144 tackles in 2017. He had a nose for finding the ball, and looked much more decisive than in his rookie season. He’s nothing special in pass coverage, but Martinez’s prowess against ball carriers should allow him to take another step forward in 2018.
DT Kenny Clark
Clark impressed as a rookie and had a monster second season with the Packers. He registered 4.5 sacks while playing defensive tackle and 55 total tackles, reflecting his development in both quarterback pressure and run defense. Playing next to Daniels should allow him to continue to thrive in year three. What’s more, Clark is only 22 years old, meaning he should continue to improve with experience.
K Mason Crosby
Despite being one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL since 2013, the 11-year veteran has still not been selected to a Pro Bowl. After an abysmal 2012 campaign, Crosby has connected on 85% of his field goals since 2013. His 2017 stats in field goals made, attempted, and total points were all far and away the lowest of his career, though that was due mostly to the ineptitude of the Brett Hundley-led offense than any fault of Crosby’s. A revamped offense under Aaron Rodgers would mean more chances for Crosby, who could try to replace the likes of Dan Bailey, Greg Zuerlein and Graham Gano in the NFC.
RBs Aaron Jones & Jamaal Williams
The Packers’ two rookie running backs both looked outstanding in their limited roles in 2017. They combined for just over 1000 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on the ground. Williams brought a punishing running style back to Green Bay, while Jones displayed elusiveness and big play ability for an otherwise lackluster offense. Jones averaged 5.5 yards per carry, a number that ranked third among running backs with at least 50 carries (trailing only Alvin Kamara and Jay Ajayi). His six carries of more than 20 yards also ranked 11th in the NFL, despite having significantly fewer carries than anyone in the top 10. The biggest knock on the running backs’ chance at a Pro Bowl is that they’ll likely be splitting carries three ways in 2018, which would prevent them from having an eye-popping stat sheet. But if one can emerge as the feature back, they both have the talent to gain wider recognition.
S Morgan Burnett
Assuming he returns to the Packers this offseason, Burnett could have a shot at making his first Pro Bowl in his nine seasons. Burnett has been a crucial part of Green Bay’s defense, and is often undervalued due to a lack of interceptions. But even without the flashier plays, Burnett has been as steady as they come in the defensive backfield. If the Packers’ defense as a whole improves under new DC Mike Pettine, Burnett could be one of the beneficiaries of more widespread attention.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .