First-timer Cliff Avril leads group of 4 Seahawks defenders selected to Pro Bowl
Much of the NFC’s defense in the 2017 Pro Bowl will look familiar to Seahawks fans.
Defensive end Cliff Avril is heading to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his nine-year career and will be joined by three teammates on the defensive side of the ball: linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman. The Raiders led the NFL with seven selections for the game.
Avril, 30, is having the finest ever season, posting a career-high 11.5 sacks (tied for third in the NFL) and five forced fumbles through 14 games. The Seahawks’ 2016 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award also has 25 quarterback hits, which ranks second in the NFL.
Wagner, named to his third straight Pro Bowl, currently leads the NFL with 145 tackles and has added 2.5 sacks. He needs nine more tackles to break Terry Beeson’s team record set in 1978.
— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) December 21, 2016
Sherman was named a Pro Bowler for the fourth time in his six-year career. He leads the team with four interceptions and is currently second on the team with 11 passes defensed.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) December 21, 2016
This will be Bennett’s second Pro-Bowl nod, earning the game’s defensive MVP award in his first showing last year. He was sidelined for five games due to a knee injury but still ranks third on the team with three sacks and is fourth on the squad with 14 quarterback hits.
Another eight Seahawks were named Pro Bowl alternates: quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, center Justin Britt, strong safety Kam Chancellor, tight end Jimmy Graham, kicker Steven Hauschka, return specialist Tyler Lockett, and outside linebacker K.J. Wright. These players could be added to the NFC’s team later if others drop out.
Congrats to all! Big time! https://t.co/XO1IuxVWpl
— Justin Britt (@JustinBritt68) December 21, 2016
As 710 ESPN Seattle’ Brady Henderson wrote, Wilson, a three-time Pro Bowler, has had a complicated season with his completion percentage, passing touchdowns, quarterback rating and rushing yards are all down from last season. Baldwin and Wright, who were both seeking their first Pro Bowl selections, each has legitimate arguments about being snubbed.
The 2017 Pro Bowl game will be held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 29 (the week prior to Super Bowl LI) and televised live at 8 p.m. PT on ESPN. The game will return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC battle, following three years of the “unconferenced” format where a pair of NFL legends (wide receivers Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice in 2016) would pick teams among the 88 selected players — 44 from each conference. Last year, Wilson earned the Pro Bowl offensive MVP as part of Team Irvin’s 49-27 win over Team Rice.
The Pro Bowlers are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Here is the full NFC roster:
Wide receiver: Julio Jones, Falcons; Odell Beckham, Giants; Mike Evans, Buccaneers; Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Tackle: Tyron Smith, Cowboys; Trent Williams, Redskins; Jason Peters, Eagles
Guard: Zack Martin, Cowboys; Brandon Scherff, Redskins; T.J. Lang, Packers
Center: Travis Frederick, Cowboys; Alex Mack, Falcons
Tight end: Greg Olsen, Panthers; Jordan Reed, Redskins
Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Falcons; Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Running back: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys; David Johnson, Cardinals; Devonta Freeman, Falcons
Fullback: Mike Tolbert, Panthers
Defensive end: Everson Griffen, Vikings; Cliff Avril, Seahawks; Michael Bennett, Seahawks
Interior linemen: Aaron Donald, Rams; Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers; Fletcher Cox, Eagles
Outside linebacker: Vic Beasley, Falcons; Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins; Thomas Davis, Panthers
Inside/middle linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Seahawks; Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, Giants; Patrick Peterson, Cardinals; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Xavier Rhodes, Vikings
Free safety: Harrison Smith, Vikings; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Packers
Strong safety: Landon Collins, Giants
Punter: Johnny Hekker, Rams
Kicker: Matt Bryant, Falcons
Return specialist: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
Special teamer: Dwayne Harris, Giants