The long drought is over! Yea, have we suffered these many years, this Summer of rebuilding content, made overcast by "lacking pro bowler" clouds. The value of a pro bowl berth has become dubious after a combination of adding fan voting (not the brightest of ideas) and many players dropping out due to injuries, playoff weariness or super bowl berths. Still, one thing it does bring is national recognition.
And fully deserved national recognition in this case. This Seahawks team was never going to provide a ton of pro bowlers, but if one guy deserved it, it's The Little Engine That Could, Earl Thomas, in my estimation the absolute foundation of our defense, and the one player that allows our defense to do what it does not just in the secondary, but in the front seven as well. Without him, this defense would be a lot more susceptible to the deep ball. He's not had a statistically explosive season, but statistics are always a distraction at best for players in the secondary, and his two interceptions, one fumble recovered and six passes defended don't fully show how much he's improved from last year, in being more assignment-correct and reliable. With Green Bay's Nick Collins out for the season, I'd say Earl Thomas is the best free safety in the NFC, and it's good to see some public recognition of that.
The Seahawks are also sending a bunch of alternates. Now, by the nature of the current pro bowl, these guys have a really good shot at getting in. They are:
CB Brandon Browner (first alternate): Browner is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions, first in the NFL with two pick sixes, and second in the NFL in defensive return yardage. He's a big play player, but he gets picked on a lot as well, and has allowed big receptions throughout the season, which explains why he didn't make it in as a starter.
SS Kam Chancellor (first alternate): A beast of an enforcer, this sophomore player broke out in a big way this year, grabbing attention with big hits but also showing skills in coverage. Four picks, a sack, two forced fumbles and a whole lot of huge tackles, Kam would've made for a legit first teamer as well.
FB Michael Robinson (first alternate): When a fullback makes it to the pro bowl, it's usually a vote of confidence in the running game of that particular team. And that's the case here. Robinson is a versatile player who has shown his value in other fields, but it's his smart blocking for Lynch that made for this spot.
RB Marshawn Lynch (second alternate): Despite a monster streak where he's been leading the NFL in rushing yards and broke the franchise run/receive TD streak record, Lynch did not make it in. The Bears put Forte on IR today, he and LeSean McCoy are the obvious top 2. Frank Gore is 3rd, followed by - I assume - Michael Turner. Lynch is a de facto first alternate since Forte is out now.
P Jon Ryan (third alternate): Here's a little bit of a surprise. I expected Ryan to lose to 49ers punter Andy Lee, who is having a very good year and for a winning team (winning teams always get to send more pro bowlers), but I'm not sure who the first and second alternates are to push down Ryan so far.
As a note, here's where we got these guys: 2010 1st round pick (2nd pick), 2011 free agent, 2010 5th round pick, 2010 waiver wire addition, 2010 trade ('11 4th-rounder and '12 conditional pick) and 2008 free agent. All except Ryan were added by the current front office.