The 2019 Pro Bowl rosters are officially set and some of the NFL’s biggest superstars made the team once again. That should not surprise anyone, but perhaps the list of newcomers should turn some heads.
Although the usual stars such as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley will certainly headline the showcase on January 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, there are some fresh faces making their first appearances. In fact, there are 29 players combined from the AFC and NFC earning their first-ever selection, including second-year standouts like Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner.
There are also six standout rookies to make the roster, too. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard might have been left off the list, but let’s take a look at the six first-year players to make this year’s Pro Bowl:
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Position: Running Back
College: Penn State
NFL Draft Pick: Round 1, No. 2 Overall
After a Consensus All-American career with the Nittany Lions, several top football analysts thought the 6-foot, 230-pound running back was the best overall player in the 2018 NFL Draft. Turns out, they were right, as Barkley compiled 1,155 rushing yards, 654 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns before earning the selection. Chances are this is just the first of many Pro Bowls in which Barkley will play during his NFL career. The Giants also had safety Landon Collins and kicker Aldrick Rosas make the NFC roster.
Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft Pick: Round 1, No. 4 Overall
The rebuild in Cleveland isn’t just about the offense and quarterback Baker Mayfield. That’s why the Browns selected Ward and he definitely didn’t disappoint, registering 48 tackles, 11 pass deflections, three interceptions and one forced fumble during his stellar rookie campaign. Only Ward and defensive end Myles Garrett made the AFC roster from the Browns.
Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
Position: Offensive Guard
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft Pick: Round 1, No. 6 Overall
There are no tangible stats to prove just how good Nelson has been, but he’s more than lived up to the No. 6 overall pick. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive guard started in all 14 games before earning the Pro Bowl nod. Get to know his name because Nelson has the potential to be a special player for years to come. The Colts also have another first-time selection in tight end Eric Ebron.
Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
College: Florida State
NFL Draft Pick: Round 1, No. 17 Overall
The 6-foot-2 free safety decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility with the Seminoles and enter the NFL Draft. The Chargers are sure glad he did. James has been electric for one of the best teams in the NFL and his 93 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions certainly prove that. James is just one of seven Chargers to be selected, including wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Melvin Gordon, defensive end Melvin Ingram, special teamer Adrian Phillips, center Mike Pouncey and quarterback Philip Rivers.
Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks
NFL Draft Pick: Round 5, No. 149 Overall
Big 12 Conference coaches certainly know all about Dickson, and now NFL coaches are learning the same thing. Dickson has quite the strong leg, and he’s done wonders for Seattle’s special teams during his rookie season. Averaging 48.9 yards per punt, including one that sailed 69 yards is pretty impressive for the 22-year-old Australian. Linebacker Bobby Wagner is the only other Pro Bowl selection for the Seahawks.
Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
Position: Running Back
NFL Draft Pick: Undrafted
At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Lindsay was electric in college, but no one called his name during the NFL Draft. Needless to say, the Broncos got a steal because 991 rushing yards, 230 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns later, every other team is scratching their head as to how they missed picking up a valuable player in 2018. Star linebacker and teammate Von Miller will be joining him in Orlando.