On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams would be replacing Falcons wideout Julio Jones in this year’s Pro Bowl, marking Adams’ first appearance in the league’s annual All-Star Game. This makes Adams the Packers’ second Pro Bowler for the 2017 season, along with Mike Daniels who is also a first-time honoree.
That got us thinking about which current Packers have made the Pro Bowl in the past and which players are due for a Pro Bowl appearance in the future. Thus, for this week’s Walkthroughs, we asked our writers to give us the name of the Packer player who we think will be the next first-time Pro Bowler.
This means that individuals who made a Pro Bowl in the past are of course ineligible for consideration. Besides Adams and Daniels, the following Packers have made Pro Bowls in previous years:
Aaron Rodgers (2009, 2011, 2014-16)
Jordy Nelson (2014)
Randall Cobb (2014)
David Bakhtiari (2016)
Jahri Evans (2009-2014)
Clay Matthews (2009-2012, 2014-2015)
Ahmad Brooks (2013)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (2016)
So who will be the Packers’ next first-time Pro Bowlers? Here are our picks.
Evan “Tex” Western: Nick Perry
I wanted to say Kenny Clark or Corey Linsley, but both players have tough competition in the NFC for their positions. I could see either one making the Pro Bowl as an alternate, but I think their better chances would come in 2019.
As for 2018, I’m looking to Nick Perry. New Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has an affinity for pass rushers that he refers to as “bitch-kitty” players. How exactly that term came up, I don’t know, but he uses it when talking about an edge rusher who would become unstoppable and unblockable when attacking the passer.
In my eyes, the closest thing the Packers have to that kind of player on the roster is Perry, who had eleven sacks in 2016 in his healthiest year on record. Perry was held to just seven sacks in 2017 while being limited with various injuries once again, but another healthy year from him should give him a great opportunity to be in double digits once again.
Remember that in 2014, Pettine’s Browns defense saw Paul Kruger get eleven sacks, his only season with more than nine. Pettine’s 2013 Bills defense had three players in double digits: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, and Jerry Hughes. His scheme could well do the same for Perry, who will be 28 in the fall. I expect a big season out of the six-year veteran, who will hopefully put it all together with a coordinator who would love nothing more than to let him loose on opposing quarterbacks.
Matub: Jeff Janis
Everyone’s favorite meme of a player actually deserved a Pro Bowl bid this year. “But Matub,” you say, “Jeff had 5 targets for 2 receptions and 12 yards. How could that POSSIBLY qualify him for a spot in the Pro Bowl?!” Calm down and I’ll explain.
There is a spot reserved in the Pro Bowl for “special teamer”. This includes the likes of the punt/kick coverage players. This year’s NFC selection was Arizona Cardinals’ 2nd round pick Budda Baker. This selection upsets me. Budda’s 2017 resume consists of decent-to-good play at safety and two splash plays on special teams. He was fairly consistent in his coverage and had two punts downed inside the 5. Jeff had plenty of splash plays of his own, but they don’t show up on the stat line. In fact, he only recorded 4 tackles this year. This is his career low for seasons in which he appeared in 16 games. However, his 2017 season was a clinic in how a gunner should play.
Kent Lee Platte over at Pride Of Detroit has developed a metric known as “Relative Athletic Score” that I’ve grown quite fond of. He rates prospects on a 1-10 scale based purely on how well their drill times compare to others at the same position. It is a great tool for quick judgements on “athleticism” as a whole. Jeff scores a 9.94. That is literally the 10th best score of all time. As an athlete he is on part with Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, and even Megatron. Jeff’s lack of acuity as a receiver has always bothered fans due to this Herculean athleticism.
So why bring all that up? Well, it’s simple. Tall, fast, and strong will always translate to special teams. In a miniature game of “see ball, get ball” you don’t have to worry much about having soft hands or sinking your hips into a cut to fool a defensive back. This is were Jeff shines. For the past 3 years, he has made his living getting in the face of punt returners before they even have a chance to wave him off with a fair catch. At times he even draws double teams…
I wish I loved anything as much as Jeff Janis loves splitting double teams on punt coverage... pic.twitter.com/yX3rKmyF5h— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 13, 2017
This year, rookie punter Justin Vogel set the Packers’ franchise record for Net Punting Average and Jeff was absolutely a contributing factor. In fact, he received two AP All-Pro votes for his performance. Janis will enter the 2018 season as a free agent and, in my opinion, should be re-signed if only to provide consistent special teams play. While he is a folk hero in the eyes of some for his playoff performance, I see him as a greatly improved version of Jarrett Bush.
Paul Noonan - Blake Martinez
Pro Bowl voting is idiotic and most people, media, fans, or otherwise, are bad at voting. Blake Martinez makes a ton of tackles, partially because he’s actually pretty good, and partially because Kenny Clark is standing in front of him, and is awesome. That, along with the fact that the Packers keep putting out a consistently good run defense, will lead to a slew of support for Blake in the near future as a rising star on the new Pettine defense. This is all very silly of course, but so is the Orlando-based exhibition game, and so it’s only fitting.
Shawn Wagner - Aaron Ripkowski
Despite not being “a true fullback” according to Troy Aikman, Ripkowski stands as good a shot as any for the nod at fullback in the NFC next season. As an established veteran in today’s non-fullback friendly NFL, Ripkowski will battle the likes of San Francisco’s Kyle Juszczyk for a spot on the 2019 Pro Bowl roster if he is able to put up reasonable fullback numbers in both the pass and run game, as well as pave the way for a 1,000 yard rusher.
On a more think-outside-the-box note, I expect Kenny Clark and Corey Linsley to challenge for spots in the near future, perhaps as soon as next season. Clark has some tough competition in the NFC, especially on his own team with the more well-known veteran Mike Daniels. But Clark has a bright future and is generating some publicity after a solid campaign. Linsley, going into a second contract that will extend his name in some NFL circles, also has a shot in 2019 but would need to unseat steady veterans such as Alex Mack, Ryan Kalil, and Travis Frederick.
Peter Bukowski - Josh Jones
I’m going way off the board here based on the talent level of Jones, combined with Mike Pettine’s modus operandi. Pettine loves to play multiple safeties, mix nickel coverages, and put players like Jones all over the formation. He did it with Aaron Williams in Buffalo, with Jim Leonhard in Cleveland and New York, and even started three safeties with the Jets.
Even if Morgan Burnett stays in Green Bay, Pettine will put Jones in a position to make plays, like we saw from him in his debut against the Bengals. Too often, Capers put Jones deep, which simply isn’t where he belongs.
Put him in the box, in the slot, at linebacker, even on the edge, and let him make plays. Pettine will do that and his history shows his safeties get picks. Let’s be honest, stats and reputation earn Pro Bowl bids. Jones doesn’t have the reputation, so he’ll need the stats.
Who will be the Packers’ next first-time Pro Bowler?
This poll is closed
OLB Nick Perry
ST Jeff Janis
ILB Blake Martinez
FB Aaron Ripkowski
S/LB Josh Jones
DT Kenny Clark
C Corey Linsley