As you probably know, the NFL will be releasing it's Pro Bowl Teams tonight starting at 7:00 PM ET on the NFL Network Pro Bowl Selection show. While the Pro Bowl is completely meaningless, and Patriots fans don't even want to see their players playing in it (because it takes place the week before the Super Bowl... and we want the Patriots in the big game, obviously), it is a nice honor for some of the team's players, and gives the fans the acknowledgement that their favorite players are actually being noticed around the league. Of course, we'll have it covered when it all goes down, but for now, let's take a look at what players should be getting the Pro Bowl nod for the Patriots.
Tom Brady, QB, #12: Brady is the easiest no-brainer for the Pro Bowl on the Patriots' roster. At the end of the fan-voting process, Brady led all NFL players with nearly two million voters. Terrell Suggs might be childish in leaving Brady off his ballot, but I doubt the league's coaches and players are so immature. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 10/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 99.9%
Vince Wilfork, DT, #75: After Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork is probably the closest thing to a shoo-in to the Pro Bowl as the Patriots have. Vince Wilfork is second in voting for all defensive tackles in the league, and you've got to think that the players and coaches realize the impact that he has on the game, as he has had another great year in 2010. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 9/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 80%
Jerod Mayo, ILB, #51: If Jerod Mayo isn't voted into the Pro Bowl, it will be the biggest snub of all Pro Bowl voting. He only finished third in the fan voting, so he will need the coaches and players to vote him in. The biggest thing Mayo lacks are the "highlight plays" in terms of sacks and interceptions. Nonetheless, he has 14 tackles more than the NFL's second leading tackler, and 30 more than the third. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 9.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 60%
Brandon Tate, KR, #19: Brandon Tate started the season off real hot as a kick returner, taking back two touchdowns. The truth is, Tate has cooled off as of late, which is in part due to the fact that teams are choosing to kick away from him. I don't know if he'll win this, but there really isn't anyone else to vote for in the AFC this year. If Josh Cribbs gets this, it will be an absolute joke. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 7/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 60%
Rest of the Patriots and their Pro Bowl chances after the jump!
Devin McCourty, CB, #32: Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty has turned from a solid first round draft pick to a shutdown-level cornerback in just his rookie year. Unfortunately for him, everyone is hailing him as a snub for the Pro Bowl, already. Why people don't vote him in is beyond me. Hopefully NFL coaches and players can look past the fact that he's just a rookie, and get him the recognition he deserves. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 8.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 50%
Pat Chung, FS, #25: Chung is listed as a free safety, don't ask me why. And with six interceptions a piece, Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed look like guarantees for the game (yet again). Still, 2nd year player Patrick Chung has become a real leader for this Patriots defense, and has made some big plays in prime-time situations (Miami game with blocked punt, FG, and pick-six). He's got 94 tackles, three interceptions, and eight passes defensed in just 13 games. While he's struggled in man-coverage at times, it's doubtful that everyone in the league realizes that. In addition, he's 2nd in the league in fan voting. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 6.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 25%
Brandon Meriweather, SS, #31: Yes, Brandon Meriweather made the Pro Bowl last year. But no, he probably shouldn't make it this year. There's no question that Meriweather took a step back this year, indicative of his playing time. Still, he's come up with a few big interceptions and landed him self in 2nd in the fan voting. This means that a Pro Bowl berth is possible, although unlikely. Deserves Pro Bowl Nod: 3/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 20%
Logan Mankins, G, #70: Had Logan Mankins played the entire season and not held out because of his contract, he would have been a guarantee for the Pro Bowl, especially considering the high level he's been playing at. Unfortunately for Mankins, he's played just half a season, making the Pro Bowl nod unlikely. Deserves Pro Bowl: 8/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 35%
Wes Welker, WR, #83: By Wes Welker's standards, he hasn't had a great year statistically in 2010. Looking at the injury he's overcome, it says a whole lot about his character. Unfortunately, character doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to Pro Bowl voting, so Welker will likely be passed over on the Pro Bowl squad, despite finishing 3rd in fan voting. Deserves Pro Bowl: 6.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 40%
Rob Gronkowski, TE, #87: The rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski probably won't make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but he'll likely make multiple trips in the future. With nine touchdowns, Gronkowski has the second most all-time for a rookie tight end. Deserves Pro Bowl: 6.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 25%
Mattew Slater, ST, #18: Slater was listed as the special team's player on the ballot for the Patriots, and has done quite a nice job taking over for Sam Aiken's role as a multi-purpose player in the third phase of the game, and is even tied for the lead in special teams tackles with Tracy White. He finished 4th in fan voting and I don't see him getting the nod. Deserves Pro Bowl: 3/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 10%
Zoltan Mesko, P, #14: The rookie punter finished third in fan voting and has had a great rookie year. Nonetheless, I don't think it's likely he'll turn that into a Pro Bowl appearance. Deserves Pro Bowl: 4.5/10 | Pro Bowl Chances: 5%
Now, it is important to note that there are a lot of other Patriots players that deserve some Pro Bowl consideration. For example, tight end Aaron Hernandez, safety James Sanders, and special teamer Tracy White weren't even listed on the ballot. Tackle Matt Light finished as the fifth tackle in fan voting, and despite a great season, probably will get very minimal pro bowl consideration. Sebastian Vollmer, same story. While Dan Connolly finished third in fan voting, I find it quite unlikely that he'll find his way into the game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has had a good season, but there's way too many backs (Foster, Jones-Drew, Hillis, Johnson) for him to even get a sniff.
Still, we can hold out hope that this won't be one of those years where the Patriots get snubbed in the Pro Bowl with only one or two players getting in. If they do, I guess that just further enforces the "team" that the Patriots have become.