Over at NFL.com, Marc Sessler listed a player on each NFL team that could make their first ever Pro Bowl in 2017. For the Detroit Lions, Sessler understandably wanted to go with Taylor Decker, but given his recent injury, he had to go elsewhere. Sessler eventually landed on cornerback Darius Slay as his top candidate.
Slay is definitely a good choice, especially considering some of the big plays he made in 2016, including a couple of game-sealing interceptions and a key forced fumble against the Eagles earlier in the season. But let’s look a little deeper and see if we can find five candidates that could reach the Pro Bowl after this season.
As a reminder, here are the current Lions players that have already made the Pro Bowl:
- Matthew Stafford
- Golden Tate
- T.J. Lang
- Ezekiel Ansah
- Haloti Ngata
- Glover Quin
- Matt Prater
Now onto our list, in no particular order.
I have to agree with Sessler, this could be Slay’s year to finally get some post-season recognition. Had Slay not gone down with an injury in 2016 that essentially cost him four games, he could have been in contention last year.
However, the stats still aren’t really there, which is essential to gaining the fan vote. Slay has had two interceptions in each of his past three seasons, but that number needs to be doubled in 2017 to get a chance at the Pro Bowl.
It seems like we say this every year, but 2017 could be the year Ebron establishes himself as a true top-five tight end in the league. He has a long way to go to win over the Lions fanbase, but consider this: among all NFC TEs, Ebron was fifth in receiving yards and seventh in receptions.
Ebron only needs to jump a few players to get to the Pro Bowl through his conference, and considering the Lions’ slot receiver position is essentially unfilled right now, he could see a huge uptick in his opportunities in 2017. It’s just a matter of whether Ebron can make the most of them.
It probably seems as though I’m still in the afterglow of the NFL Draft—and maybe I am—but Davis could be on the fast track to a Pro Bowl this year. The Lions will be playing him in a position where he’ll likely rack up a ton of stats, and the bar at linebacker has been set so low in Detroit, it’s hard to see him failing as a rookie no matter what he does.
That being said, Davis has a steep journey to the top of the NFC inside linebacker list. Last year’s Pro Bowl selections—Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly and Sean Lee—are titans at the position and have rabid fanbases to support them. Still, I could see Davis easily racking up 100+ tackles in his rookie year, and if he manages to add a few interceptions too, who knows?
Abdullah is another candidate that many believe could break out in 2017, but it’s hard to know what to expect after his 2016 season quickly ended due to a foot injury. Abdullah was off to a tremendous start, racking up 158 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in six quarters of play, but most of those yards were gained against one of the worst defenses in the league in the Indianapolis Colts.
Still, Abdullah figures to be a big part of the offense in 2017 and with a revamped offensive line, Detroit is bound to have a more successful running game than in previous seasons. Abdullah will have to take a humongous step to displace the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman or Jordan Howard in the NFC, but it’s not out of the question.
Of all the above choices, no Lions player was closer to making the Pro Bowl last year than Sam Martin. Martin is putting up phenomenal numbers in his young career, and there’s really no reason he shouldn’t earn a Pro Bowl nod... well, except for his arch-enemy Johnny Hekker. Hekker is not only the league’s best punter right now, but he may be the best of all time. Last year, he set the record for most punts inside the 20-yard line while only recording one touchback. He also led the league with a net average of 46.0 yards per punt.
Martin and Hekker are tied for the third-longest yards per punt average in NFL history. It’s going to be hard for Martin to top Hekker in 2017, especially since Hekker is now more widely known, but if there’s anyone that can do it, it’s #PuntGod.
Which Lions player is most likely to make his first Pro Bowl in 2017?
This poll is closed