These 5 Bears could be elected to the Pro Bowl tonight
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
In three years with the Bears, former coach John Fox never had a defensive player reach in the Pro Bowl.
That streak ends tonight. Probably a few times over.
When the NFL announces its 88-man Pro Bowl roster at 7 p.m., the Bears figure to be well-represented.
How well? The fan vote, which comprises one-third of the total, lists five players as the top vote-getters at their position: outside linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos and returner Tarik Cohen. While not all figure to get in —Amos probably won’t — the team could still end up with five Pro Bowl players.
In order of likelihood, here are five Bears that could be voted in tonight, followed by others with a slimmer chance:
OLB Khalil Mack
If the Rams’ Aaron Donald is the most outstanding defensive player in the league this year, Mack still might be the most valuable. When the Bears acquired him a week before the season started — and signed him to the richest contract ever for a NFL defender — they lit the fuse on an explosive defense.
Mack has played only 10 games in good health — he was hampered in two and missed two more because of the same ankle injury — but still has totaled 12 ½ sacks, tied for third-most in the history of the franchise.
CB Kyle Fuller
The Bears decided to match the Packers’ contract offer to Fuller last offseason, bringing back a former first-round pick who, a year earlier, was on the verge of being a bust.
Through 15 weeks, Fuller is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. On a team that’s run away with the NFL interception title — they have 26 this year — Fuller is the picks leader.
S Eddie Jackson
In his second year, Jackson has become a breakout star. His interception of Aaron Rodgers on Sunday marked the Packers quarterback’s first pick in 403 passes. Jackson has three defensive scores this season.
Of particular importance in a vote: two came in nationally televised games — Jackson returned interceptions for touchdowns on “Sunday Night Football” against the Vikings and on Thanksgiving day against the Lions.
DL Akiem Hicks
Hicks is one of the best defensive linemen in the game. Is he a pure end? An interior lineman? He’s a rarity — a 3-4 end that can rush the passer just as well as he can play the run. He has six sacks this year after posting a career-high 8 ½ last season. The fact Hicks was left out of last year’s Pro Bowl was a travesty — one reserved for an irrelevant football team.
Ask anyone who’s faced the Bears this year, though, and they’ll list Hicks as one of the engines of the defense.
PR Tarik Cohen
We’ll call Cohen a returner here, as the fans did when they voted him at the top of the category. It seems a convenient way to ensure Cohen gets in, given that, despite his dynamic tendencies, he’s neither a pure receiver or running back. Cohen leads the NFL with 413 punt return yards, though his 13.3-yard average is fourth.
He’s yet to score a touchdown. But do you know how many punt return touchdowns there have been in the league this year? Six. That’s it.
Also up for the Pro Bowl:
- Danny Trevathan might be the second-biggest household name, behind Mack, on the Bears’ defense. His Super Bowl pedigree and veteran leadership could earn votes.
- Fellow inside linebacker Roquan Smith is on pace to break Brian Urlacher’s franchise record for tackles by a rookie.
- Nose tackle Eddie Goldman anchors the Bears’ run defense. Such work is rarely rewarded in a popularity contest, though.
- Center Cody Whitehair has been the Bears’ most steady offensive lineman.
- Adrian Amos got the fan vote, but he’s not the best safety on his own team.