The 2022 New England Patriots will send only one player to the new-look Pro Bowl Games — the franchise’s lowest number of nominees since Bill Belichick’s first season back in 2000.
The club’s one representative, however, sees potential for others to earn all-star recognition soon. Speaking to the media on Thursday, Matthew Judon pointed out two of his young teammates as possible future Pro Bowlers: Josh Uche and Kyle Dugger.
“I believe a lot of people on our defense were worthy of consideration. I think him — Dug’s having a heck of a season,” Judon said. “They’re going to continue to play and they’re going to continue to progress. And I believe that they could be Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, very soon. Very soon. With work and time, they’re going to be wherever they want to be. Those guys just have to continue to work and continue to get better, and we’ll have a lot more.”
The Patriots’ first two selections in the 2020 draft, second-rounders Dugger and Uche have played sizable roles on the New England defense this season.
While the former is a starter in the team’s secondary and has recently been mentioned as the most versatile safety in the league, the latter has emerged as one of the NFL’s most disruptive pass rushers recently. Neither has made it into the Pro Bowl this season, but Judon sees potential in both.
As for the man himself, he also spoke about his perspective on making the NFL’s equivalent of an all-star game for a fourth straight year.
“Just respect around the league amongst my peers and people who are watching the game, coaches — it means a lot,” Judon said. “I want the team awards, but when you get these individual awards you’re thankful. You’re playing a game and it just means that people are watching you and taking notice. I’m very thankful. Everything you get in this league, you earn.”
Judon knows a thing or two about earning things in the NFL. A fifth-round draft pick out of Grand Valley State, he earned himself a spot on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster in 2016. He then earned regular playing time at outside linebacker, before turning that into the first two Pro Bowl nods of his career.
During the 2021 offseason, Judon earned a four-year, $54.5 million contract with the Patriots. He has since gone two-for-two in Pro Bowl opportunities.
“Excited. Obviously excited,” he said. “Things like that, you can’t take them for granted even if you’ve been there before. Every year is a new year, and every opportunity that you get in the league, like I said, you earned. You just can’t take anything for granted in this league. There are a lot of good players in this league, and just to be voted in between the fans and your peers and the coaches, you’re just very thankful.”