Predicting 5 First-Time Pro Bowl Players Next Season

Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 Pro Bowl wrapped up Sunday after showcasing the NFL’s top stars at each position throughout the league. 

However, the amount of talent that did not get the honor of attending the game is still incredibly vast. In fact, there were more snubs and players left out of this year’s event than any time I can remember. Some of those players would have made their first Pro Bowl, but instead, they will be forced to duplicate their performance next season with the hopes of getting a nod.

Here are five players on the verge of superstar status who are virtual locks to take the next step and finally make the Pro Bowl.

Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers

The next superstar cornerback is the Green Bay Packers’ 2018 first-round selection: Jaire Alexander. He showed incredible promise as a rookie and then followed that up with an even better sophomore campaign. His blend of elite playmaking ability and reactive quickness to stay attached to the hip pocket already makes him one of the top-five man coverage cornerbacks in the league. 

It’s just a matter of time before his traits and talent translate into more ball production. If I had to pick one corner to start my team with, there is no doubt that Alexander would be on my shortlist. He was a top-three player on my 2018 NFL draft board and is currently playing at that elite level I projected him to be at. I’m all in on his future as a lockdown defender on the boundary.

Anthony Harris, S, Minnesota Vikings

It is an absolute crime and utter mockery that Minnesota Vikings free safety Anthony Harris did not get an invitation to this year’s Pro Bowl. He has the most interceptions (six), and his impact in coverage at all levels of the field was a huge reason why Minnesota made the postseason. 

The biggest dynamic for next year will be whether or not Harris remains with the Vikings. He is expected to earn top safety money in free agency this offseason and reasonably so. Harris is the perfect example of how the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest instead of rewarding the best players to the game. If you ask me, I don’t know if there was a free safety this season who played better football than Harris.

Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos

After recording 12 sacks as a rookie for the Denver Broncos in 2018, Bradley Chubb was set to be in line for a monster season this year. Unfortunately, that breakout campaign was delayed to next fall after an ACL tear. Expecting he is fully recovered by that time, I have no doubt Chubb will return as one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the league — right where he left off. 

His ability to convert speed to power is nearly unparalleled today. Von Miller’s presence opposite of Chubb will once again take attention away from him, and I predict he will either match or top his 12 sacks next year with ease. Don’t be surprised if we’re talking about Chubb next year at this time as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate — he’s that good. I hope you didn’t forget.

Elgton Jenkins, G, Green Bay Packers

If we’re talking about the best overall player from this rookie class in 2019, Elgton Jenkins should have been one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year. I thought he had an All-Pro caliber season at left guard for the Packers as one of the driving forces for Aaron Jones’ massive step in development. Jenkins played center at Mississippi State, but he was able to immediately plug in at guard and give the Packers a reliable, Pro Bowl player at that spot for the next decade. Green Bay added two promising players in the first round of last year’s draft — Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage Jr. — so it only speaks more volumes as to how their best pick will likely turn out to be Jenkins, who was selected a round later.

Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin White got off to a slow start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being selected with the fifth overall pick from LSU. But once he picked up steam in the middle of the season, he absolutely took off and didn’t look back. There was a stretch where he had three forced fumbles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and two touchdowns in just one month. At 6-foot, 237 pounds, White has 4.42 speed and plays like it from sideline to sideline and closes the window in the defense so quickly with that range. We’re going to see him leap into the elite stratosphere of linebackers in his sophomore campaign now that he’s more comfortable and familiar with the processing speed of the next level.