Each year, new NFL stars emerge to compete with some of the league’s best players, and yet each year few are willing to acknowledge the possibility. In part, they are not foolish to do so. Like many things, the NFL awards accolades to the tried and true, not necessarily to the best in class. Before the NFL Draft even begins, the analysts and pundits dictate who could and who won’t get recognition in their rookie season, simply be defining their status within their respective rookie class.
Even though LA Rams rookie Jordan Fuller started for the defense since day one, he was chosen as the 199th player in the 2020 NFL Draft. Even if he dominated the NFL for 16 games, he was never in the running for a Pro Bowl berth. And so there is a bit of politics and pageantry with the NFL awards circuit. That’s just how it is, and the sooner that is accepted the less frustrated everyone will become.
But there are small windows of opportunity. Perhaps a rookie who flashed brilliance late in the season, or a player who surprised the NFL in his rookie season, who might build upon that great first step with an even better second season. Finally, there are those who were expected to play very well but never got out of the blocks due to injury.
The Pro Bowl is not nearly as meaningful of a designation as it once was, but it is still one of the standards by which the NFL assesses the best players. For young players, that is the first true test of their performance in the NFL. From the moment that a young player earns his first Pro Bowl designation, other doors swing wide open. And eventually, it adds significant leverage for his agent to negotiate a great compensation package in the next contract. So who might be on the radar for the Pro Bowl? Here are three to keep on your radar: