15 NFL players who deserve first Pro Bowl selection in 2019 season

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Every year in the NFL, many young players churn out a breakthrough performance that not only draws attention from their peers, but also from fans.

The regular season is still winding down with each team still needing to play two games, but voting for the league’s all-star game has already concluded. That’s just one third of the vote, as fellow players and coaches also each have a say in determining who will represent their teams on Jan. 26 in Orlando, Florida.

The initial roster will be announced Tuesday night, but in the meantime, here’s a look at players who are deserving of first-time Pro Bowl selections.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

66.2 % completion rate; 2,889 yards; 33 TDs; 6 INTs; 112.8 QB rating; 159 rushes; 1,103 yards; 7 TDs

Forget his first Pro Bowl berth – that’s a given. Jackson is the front-runner for the NFL's most valuable player award in what has been his first full season as a starter. Yet with how Jackson has vaulted the Ravens to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, he may be playing in a much bigger game than the Pro Bowl one week later.

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

270 rushes; 1,408 yards; 8 TDs; 35 receptions; 277 yards

Currently the NFL’s leading rusher, Chubb has been a bright spot in an otherwise inconsistent year for the Browns. Like Jackson, Chubb is in just his second season in the NFL and his first as the full-time starter for his team.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

250 rushes; 1,135 yards; 13 TDs; 53 receptions; 519 yards

Trailing Chubb in total yards from scrimmage by just 31, Cook has been a force now that he’s finally healthy. His 13 rushing scores are tied for third best in the league. He is the catalyst that moves Minnesota’s offense, and how the Vikings do in the postseason —should they make it — likely depends on how much Cook can produce. Unfortunately for Cook, he sustained a shoulder injury that could keep him out of the final weeks.

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

86 receptions; 1,333 yards; 9 TDs

Arguably no other player has benefited more from Bruce Arians’ arrival in Tampa than Godwin, who has emerged as a legitimate big-play threat. The high volume of targets (120) from quarterback Jameis Winston has helped, but Godwin is currently second in the NFL in yards behind only Michael Thomas of the Saints. His nine scores are tied for second, too. But he could be sidelined by a hamstring injury that Arians said "doesn't look good." 

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

63 receptions; 1,019 yards; 6 TDs

Despite the constant turnover at quarterback – the Broncos have had Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and Drew Lock each start at least three games each – Sutton has been the constant. Still only 24 years old, Sutton has shown growth, a nice blend of size and speed and a rapport with Lock, who appears to be Denver’s future at the position.

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

58 receptions; 759 yards; 8 TDs

On a team in which so many players can score, Andrews has distinguished himself as a consistently dangerous threat in the red zone. His eight scores lead the NFL for all tight ends, and his presence alone allows Baltimore’s other players, like running back Mark Ingram, to get favorable matchups often.

Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders

80 receptions; 1,001 yards; 3 TDs

A virtual unknown before this season started, the 6-6, 255-pound Waller drew the admiration of Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Oakland has made Waller a centerpiece of the passing attack, and he has been a menace for opposing defenses. His yardage and touchdown totals each rank second in the NFL for all tight ends.

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens

13 starts

While some may think it’s difficult to quantify the value of an offensive lineman, Stanley has been a key figure in Jackson’s MVP push and has also been essential in paving open lanes for Ingram. But there are a few stats that show just how valuable Stanley has been. According to Pro Football Focus, Stanley has not allowed one sack all season long and has yielded just six QB pressures.

Justin Simmons, FS, Denver Broncos

84 tackles; 14 passes defended; 4 INTs

While he has always been a solid, consistent contributor in his three previous years for the Broncos, Simmons has taken a step up in his fourth season. In particular, it’s Simmons’ versatility to roam all over the field that have elevated his coverage skills. His 14 passes defended are 10 more than he had last year.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Pittsburgh Steelers

60 tackles; 9 passes defended; 5 INTs; 2 forced fumbles; 2 TDs

Sometimes, all it takes to spark a breakout campaign is a change of scenery. Fitzpatrick, only 23 and in his second season in the NFL, was great for the Dolphins. He has been exceptional with the Steelers. His two scores this year have both been in Pittsburgh, and he has become a turnover magnet. Another player whose versatility puts him in the right spot more often than not, Fitzpatrick looks like a burgeoning star.

Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills

58 tackles; 17 passes defended; 6 INTs; 2 forced fumbles; 1 sack

Perhaps because he plays in a smaller market, not many people are familiar with White and his skill set and just how good he is. But Sunday night’s victory against the Steelers may have put more of a spotlight on White. He picked off a pair of passes that helped seal Buffalo’s victory, which clinched a playoff berth. His six interceptions are tied with Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore for the NFL lead, and White only trails Gilmore in passes defended by one.

Shaquil Barrett, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

50 tackles; 16 1/2 sacks; 2 passes defended; 1 interception; 6 forced fumbles

Barrett may be the unlikeliest player to make this list. Now 27, he was a reserve for the Broncos for five seasons before becoming a pass rush threat with the Bucs. In Denver, he posted 14 sacks combined over those five seasons. Now, he leads the NFL in sacks. After signing a one-year deal in March, Barrett is making the most and could fetch a massive payday at the end of the year.

Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings

110 tackles, 12 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, 1/2 sack

A 27-year-old, five-year starter at middle linebacker for the Vikings, Kendricks is an example of a player who has always been solid but whose play has been elevated in 2019. Kendricks’ coverage ability in the middle of Minnesota’s defense is what makes him stand out. Though he doesn’t have the interceptions to show for it, his 12 pass breakups represent a career high, with two more games left to play.

Za’Darius Smith, LB, Green Bay Packers

47 tackles; 10 sacks; 1 forced fumble

In his first season as a full-time starter and with Green Bay, Smith has become a dependable pass rusher for a much-improved Packers defense. According to Pro Football Focus, entering Week 15, Smith led all players in the NFL with a 18.2 % pressure rate. Smith notched that, despite constantly facing double teams. A compelling case could be made for teammate Preston Smith, who has 11 1/2 sacks 

Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

41 tackles; 9 sacks; 3 passes defended; 1 INT; 1 forced fumble

He’s just a rookie and only 22, but Bosa has established himself as one of the contenders in a wide-open race for NFL defensive player of the year. Bosa has been an all-around asset on one of the best defenses in the league. He can rush the passer. He holds his own in run defense. He even occasionally drops into coverage to provide different looks. Bosa should be a lock to make the Pro Bowl, and it almost certainly won’t be his last.

Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.

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