Making the NFL Pro Bowl is a nice honor. It means you were one of the best players at your respective position, and showed that for most of the season. It doesn’t carry the prominence of an All-Pro selection, but it’s still one of the most notable accolades in the NFL.
There was a good mix of first-timers and repeat selections this past season, but not all of them will make it back in 2018. Here are seven Pro Bowlers who made it in 2017, but won’t be selected next season. This only includes players who were chosen by fans, not accounting for injury replacements.
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OLB Lorenzo Alexander, Bills
Alexander came out of nowhere in 2016 to record 12.5 sacks and make his first Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, it’ll be his only appearance in the NFL’s All-Star game. He’ll be 34 in May, and there is little proof Alexander will be able to replicate last year’s performance. And in order to make the Pro Bowl, he’ll likely have to do just that.
Von Miller is essentially a lock to make it at one spot, with Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones and Shane Ray all vying for Pro Bowl bids too. Because of the wealth of young talent at outside linebacker, as well as Alexander’s uncertainty in Sean McDermott’s 4-3 defense, it’s unlikely he makes it back.
DE Cameron Wake, Dolphins
Wake is 35 years old, and while I’m not doubting his ability to perform at a high level late in his career, I’m not so sure he’ll continue to put up double-digit sacks. Wake remarkably recorded 11.5 sacks in 2016, which came a year after he tore his Achilles. Had it not been for Jordy Nelson, Wake likely would have won Comeback Player of the Year.
However, with so many good pass rushers and defensive ends in the AFC, it’ll be difficult for Wake to get back. Joey Bosa didn’t make it last season due to a delayed start to his career, Leonard Williams is getting better by the day, and Khalil Mack isn’t going anywhere. There’s a lot of competition in the AFC.
RB Devonta Freeman, Falcons
For the second straight year, Freeman rushed for more than 1,000 yards and had 11 touchdowns. He’s been very consistent the past two seasons, but there may be a shift in power at running back coming in 2017. Tevin Coleman saw his touches increase from 89 in 2015 to 149 in 2016. Freeman’s touches went from 338 to 279 last season, despite playing one additional game.
That doesn’t necessarily mean his role in the offense will continue to diminish, but it’s highly unlikely his touches increase next season. Coleman is a capable three-down back, and is arguably a better receiver than Freeman, too. The Falcons could continue to spread out the number of snaps each player gets. Not to mention, the incoming running back class is loaded with Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey all having a good chance of making the Pro Bowl as rookies.
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QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Prescott had a remarkable 2016 season, and no one’s going to take that away from him. He looked every bit like a franchise quarterback, but he’ll face additional challenges in 2017. While his numbers were great, they weren’t eye-popping from a volume standpoint. Eighteen quarterbacks threw for more yards than he did, while 14 had more touchdown passes.
Again, I’m not diminishing his season, but he made it based on the fact that he didn’t turn the ball over. There’s very little chance Prescott will only throw four interceptions again in 2017 with teams having a full year of NFL film on him to study. The sophomore slump is very real, and he doesn’t play on a team that’s pass-heavy. Quarterback is the most difficult position to make the Pro Bowl, and it’ll be a challenge for Prescott to repeat. The Cowboys will continue to pound the ball with Ezekiel Elliott, and if Prescott’s turnovers numbers increase, his odds of making it will begin to thin.
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FS Reggie Nelson, Raiders
Nelson isn’t even a lock to make the Raiders’ final roster, so his chances of making the Pro Bowl again look bleak. There’s no question Oakland will look for a free safety in the draft to pair next to Karl Joseph with Nelson being 33 years old. He played well in 2016, but the Raiders’ pass defense wasn’t good, and the free safety always has something to do with that.
At 33, he can still play. I’m not suggesting he’ll be bad in 2017, but his role could shrink a bit if the Raiders opt to get younger at that position – which they should. Safeties are becoming more and more versatile, too, causing the NFL to shift away from specific position designations – like free or strong safety.
RB DeMarco Murray, Titans
It was great to see Murray rebound from an abysmal 2015 season in Philadelphia. He did so by rushing for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2017, he’ll struggle to reach those numbers again, and thus he’ll miss out on the Pro Bowl. There are a couple of reasons that’ll happen, too. The Titans, looking to add weapons for Marcus Mariota, should be better through the air. It could cause them to throw the ball more than they did in 2016, which would hurt Murray’s production.
Not to mention, Tennessee has Derrick Henry waiting in the wings. He played well in spot duty last season, and his role could increase with Murray getting older (and likely more fragile). Murray struggled down the stretch last season, too, only averaging 60 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry in his last six games.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. There’s simply no question about that. However, Father Time catches up to everyone at some point, and 2017 could be the year it grabs Fitzgerald. As much as I’d like to see Fitzgerald play forever, even he had some doubts about playing in 2017, taking his time to announce his return for a 14th season.
The deck is somewhat stacked against him in 2017. Bruce Arians has already made it clear David Johnson will be the focal point of Arizona’s offense, surpassing 30 touches a game once again. Carson Palmer, on the other hand, isn’t what he once was, nor is Arizona’s offensive line. The fact that the Cardinals don’t have a true No. 2 receiver won’t help Fitzgerald, either, allowing teams to focus more attention on him in the passing game.