Making the Pro Bowl is a huge accomplishment for every NFL player fortunate enough to receive the honor. These 10 players have all made the league’s “All-Star game” before, and they will once again this season. You can mark it down with something more permanent than pencil, too – maybe Sharpie marker. Tom Brady was left off this list because of his four-game suspension, which will hurt his overall production compared to the rest of the quarterbacks. And with the game moving back to its traditional AFC-NFC format, Adrian Peterson has some serious competition at running back in Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson.
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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers has made the Pro Bowl four of the last five years. The only time he didn’t make it in that span was when he fractured his clavicle in 2013 and played just nine games. He’ll have a full bevy of weapons this year, which will only improve his lackluster numbers (by his standards) from 2015. He still made the Pro Bowl last season without top wideout Jordy Nelson, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t make it again this year.
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Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton is arguably the best football player in the game today. He’s improved his arm strength and accuracy greatly in recent years, and everyone knows what he can do with his legs. Newton should find the end zone on the ground at least eight times and could very well throw 35 touchdown passes again this season with Kelvin Benjamin back in the fold. With the Pro Bowl reverting to its old conference-based format this season, the NFC is stacked at quarterback. But Newton will undoubtedly be in Orlando – unless the Panthers are playing in a second straight Super Bowl.
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Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
There isn’t a better receiver in the game today than Brown. With Martavis Bryant out for the year, Brown could see more targets than he ever has before. That should make opposing defenses quiver. He’s not just a lock to make the Pro Bowl. He’s all but guaranteed to be named a first-team All-Pro in 2016 (barring injury, of course). Brown is going to get his touches, which means his numbers are going to be as astronomical as usual.
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Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Second to Antonio Brown among receivers is Julio Jones. He put up similar numbers to Brown last season, and he’ll do the same in 2016. The Falcons’ offense goes through Jones, who’s their best playmaker by a wide margin. Jones was targeted a whopping 203 times last season, catching 136 of those passes thrown his way. Odell Beckham Jr. will almost certainly join Jones in Orlando for the Pro Bowl, but it’s the Falcons receiver who’s the safer bet to make it.
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Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Regardless of whether it's Jimmy Garoppolo or Tom Brady under center, Gronkowski is going to be his usual dominant self. The only question surrounding Gronk is his health. He hasn’t played a full season since 2011, so there’s always the possibility that he misses games. Even if he does, though, he’ll put up numbers that rival the best tight ends. Gronk has been a Pro Bowler four of the past five years, and he’ll make it five in 2016.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Donald has already made two Pro Bowls in just two seasons, and he was deserving of both. As an interior defensive lineman, Donald’s 20 career sacks are eye-popping, as are his 116 tackles. Donald is just about unstoppable up front, which opposing guards and centers have learned first-hand. No defensive tackle impacts the game against both the run and the pass like Donald does. He could wind up being an all-time great at his position.
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J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
There’s a decent chance Watt misses Week 1 and maybe even Week 2 after undergoing back surgery this offseason. Even if he does miss two games, he’s going to be a Pro Bowler. Watt’s production is so much greater than most defensive ends that he’ll still finish among the top five in sacks and tackles for loss. Unlike Tom Brady, who will miss four games, Watt doesn’t need a full season to make the Pro Bowl because of how much better he is than the league’s five best defensive ends.
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
Miller didn’t have his best statistical season in 2015, which is a testament to how great he was in 2012. He was still named a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler with 11 sacks, and that number will only increase in 2016. Miller has reportedly looked great in camp and is coming off of one of the best postseason runs by a defender in recent memory, so his expectations are astronomical. He’ll live up to it and make his fifth career Pro Bowl.
Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
Kuechly is as much of a lock to be named a first-team All-Pro as any player in football. That makes him a sure bet to make the Pro Bowl. Kuechly missed games for the first time in his career last season, playing 13 of the team’s 16 contests. Yet, he still had 118 tackles and four interceptions – one of which he returned for a touchdown. There’s just no denying his talent at middle linebacker, and no player can come close to matching it.
Getty ImagesScott Cunningham
Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks
Besides his rookie year, Earl Thomas has been a Pro Bowler each season and a first-team All-Pro three times. Not to mention, he’s never missed an NFL game and has 21 interceptions in six years. Thomas is the NFL's premier free safety, and despite talks of Harrison Smith unseating him as the best, no defensive back has a bigger impact on his defense than Thomas. Look for him to pull down another five interceptions this season to go along with nearly 100 tackles.