Late scratches to Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and New England’s Rob Gronkowski paved the way for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels to join the league’s best in the 2013 Pro Bowl.
Here’s a quick summary of their great seasons and how they ended up as Pro Bowl invitees:
TE Owen Daniels – (62 catches for 716 yards and 6 touchdowns)
Daniels was far from the best tight end in the game (not a great blocker), but he was an instrumental part of the Houston Texans pass-game this season. His six touchdowns were a career high and he plays in a scheme that utilized multiple tight ends. Daniels will split time with Cincinnati Bengals’ Jermaine Gresham in his second Pro Bowl appearance (2008).
OL Joe Thomas – (6th straight Pro Bowl nod)
Thomas is simply the best pass-blocking tackle in the league. He’s unfortunately seen minimal success in Cleveland in regards to winning, but it’s a team on the rise with a new coach and front office. Thomas is joined by the Texans Duane Brown and Bengals Andrew Whitworth on the AFC roster.
DE J.J. Watt – (81 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 16 passes defended)
Not only was Watt the best defensive end, he may have been the best player in football on the defensive side. His 20.5 sacks led the league and his 16 passes defended were more than any defensive end ever. He also added four forced fumbles to be an absolute terror on the field. The San Francisco 49ers Justin Smith revolutionized the position in a 3-4 scheme over the past few years and Watt took that play to an entire new level in 2012. Watt’s first Pro Bowl will be the first of many more to come.
QB Russell Wilson – (252/393 for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns)
Russellmania traveled from Madison to Seattle in the off-season as Wilson became one of the most pleasant surprises on the year. He fought off free agent quarterback Matt Flynn for the starting job and went on to tie Peyton Manning’s single-season rookie touchdown record. In just one season of football, Wilson has become a top-ten quarterback in a league centered around the position. He will share time with the New York Giants Eli Manning and New Orleans Saints Drew Brees at the Pro Bowl.
Who was your favorite former Wisconsin Badgers player in the NFL this year? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictures obtained from the official websites of the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans.