By Erick Trickel
(247 SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos have a lot of talent on their roster and some players have already been to the Pro Bowl, while others haven’t. With is being a new year, some of these same players could see their way back to everyone’s “favorite” game.
Some of these guys are going to be helped by other additions to the roster, and others can just get by on their own skill and ability. There are a good number of candidates on the Broncos roster.
With it being before the season, just about everyone could be considered. However, there is a criteria for the players in order to make this list.
There has to be a reasonable shot for them to make it, and we also have to factor other players at the position in the AFC. So while the Broncos may have a really talented player at a certain position, there may be others in the AFC with a better chance of making the Pro Bowl.
There are going to be a couple of obvious names, but most of the names should be a little under the radar. Not everyone who has a chance for the Pro Bowl will be on this list, this is just the ones with the best odds. Those with lesser odds are backup or role players.
There are a few backup players that may make this list, as they see almost a starter’s amount of reps during the season. Mostly, though, this list will be from the 25 starters for the Broncos, 11 on defense, 11 on offense and the three special teams starters.
Von Miller is an obvious name on this list. He has the talent to carry him to another Pro Bowl, which has helped him earn six trips to the NFL all-star game thus far in his career. The only year he didn’t make it was in 2013 when was suspended to start the season and then ended up on injured reserve.
There is plenty of talent around Miller on defense, and opposite him for getting after the quarterback. Muller wreaks so much havoc on opposing defenses that he is a big game changer. It will take something extreme to keep Miller from making his seventh Pro Bowl of his career. Knock on wood that those extremes don’t actually happen, not just for his sake but that of the defense.
Demaryius Thomas doesn’t quite have the Pro Bowl accolades that Miller does. He has “only” made five Pro Bowls in his career all from 2012-2016. Having Peyton Manning helped a lot for the earlier part of that time frame.
After those early years, he still put up some good numbers and made the Pro Bowl in 2016. That streak ended last year when the sub-par quarterback play really affected his play on the field, yet he still put up almost 1,000 yards.
This year the Broncos went a got a quarterback, who hopefully can bring stable play. Thomas has shown before that he can be a big part of the offense with capable quarterback play. Getting just that sees him back in the Pro Bowl for the sixth time in his career and what could be his last season with the Broncos.
The Broncos offensive line is a question mark for the team, but they have some key pieces in their hog mollies and one of them is Ronald Leary. He was having a great year last season before he got hurt, so his Pro Bowl chances will depend on him staying healthy.
That said, Leary is a Pro Bowl-caliber guard when on the field. Having stable play at quarterback should help all the offensive linemen, including Leary.
Where the quarterback play really helps is with the run game and that is where the hog mollies really get to shine. If the Broncos can get their running backs to over 1,200 yards rushing then that offensive line will get some attention, and Leary will be one of the two key pieces paving the way.
Chris Harris, Jr.
Of course Denver’s stud corner is going to make this list. He has made three Pro Bowls in his career, and was a snub last season. Chris Harris, Jr. is undoubtedly one of the best corners in the NFL.
If the Broncos offense gets back up and going, and they should under their new leadership, then that puts more pressure on opposing offenses which helps the Broncos defenders stand out. There should be ample opportunity for Harris to stand out and put his name out there to get back to the Pro Bowl.
What also will help is that Aqib Talib isn’t in town. Talib is a great corner and often was shining brighter than Harris, even when it wasn’t exactly deserved. So without Talib, then Harris will be able to stand out even more.
During the 2017 season, Justin Simmons was a bright spot on defense. There were times where he showed he can be a star in the NFL. He will need to grow and be a bit more consistent if he wants to make the Pro Bowl, but there isn’t much holding him back.
There is some talent in the AFC at safety that will compete for the Pro Bowl, but having the talent up front helps Simmons. With Miller and Chubb causing chaos, there should be plenty of opportunities for Simmons to pick off their opponents. The young safety is getting better and better and this year has a good chance to be the year he really breaks out.
The only rookie to make this list, Bradley Chubb has a lot of potential that could help him aim for Defensive Rookie of the Year but with the other talent at his position in the AFC, it would be hard for him to make the Pro Bowl. However, having Von Miller opposite him will help him put up some good stats, which to be honest is all most voters look for.
Chubb gets the benefit of Miller and having a lot of other talent on defense that will help him look good, not that he can’t look good by himself. What may keep him back from making the Pro Bowl is the talent at the position in the AFC. It won’t be an easy task, but Chubb has a chance to do it.
The new quarterback is going to change a lot of things for the Broncos offense. Case Keenum’s stable play should help out the wide receivers and help open up the run game. His play from 2017 should be improved upon as well, even though he is switching to a new team.
All Keenum needs to do is take care of the ball and utilize the weapons that the Broncos have on offense. He has a chance to not only lead them back to the playoffs, after two years removed, but to make it to his first Pro Bowl.
A few of the names on this list depend on Keenum’s play. There are many good quarterbacks in the AFC that are fighting for Pro Bowl spots.
Hopefully, Marquette King doesn’t see a lot of action, but even in limited action he has a big chance to make the Pro Bowl. He has one of the biggest legs of all the punters in the NFL and it now punting at altitude for eight games of the season.
His punting average should go up, and as long as the coverage unit looks adequate, it will be hard to select a different AFC punter other than King.
This would be the first Pro Bowl of his career and he may have to aim for it without seeing the attempts like he has in previous years of his career. His punting average will likely be high, but will voters look past what could be a lower number of punts compared to others.
Matt Paradis is a top center in the NFL and he has played like it for a few years now. He is also entering a contract year and isn’t dealing with injury stuff in the offseason like he has in previous years. There are a lot of things to motivate him, and things not holding him back like in previous years.
Like with Leary, if the Broncos can get their running backs to 1,200 yards then the offensive line should get some recognition. Paradis is the leader of the group and the best of the bunch. If any of the offensive linemen make it, it will be him. He has played at a Pro Bowl level in previous years and this year could be his first year selected.
omata Peko should have made the 2017 Pro Bowl. He came in and changed the Broncos defense completely.
Their run defense was well below average in 2016, and they were one of the best units in 2017. That big turn around falls largely on Peko.
There is one big thing that stands in his way though. Nose tackles get little recognition. Stats are rewarded and nose tackles don’t put up big numbers on the stat sheet.
When you watch the film, there are not many nose tackles that had a bigger impact, or played better than Peko did in 2017. That isn’t counting defensive tackles, guys like Aaron Donald, who put up big sack numbers.
If people can look beyond the stat sheet and look at the film and see the impact that Peko makes on a defense then there is no question that he should be a Pro Bowler. Can that happen is the question.
Hopefully, when it comes time to play the Pro Bowl, there are no Broncos in the game, not because they were not elected to it, but because they are in the Super Bowl.