The NFL season is in Week 11, and the 2018 Pro Bowl ballot has been released and is now open for fan voting. Among some of the best players in the league, 20 former Ohio State stars were included on the ballot. There’s a large contingency of Buckeyes playing at the next level, and nearly half were at least acknowledged as options for the all-star game.
Of the 20, more than a handful are quite the stretch -- including one Buckeye who hasn’t even played in 2017 — but there are quite a few who could make the final roster. Granted, even those that are named to the 2018 Pro Bowl might not play depending on how playoff runs pan out, but it’s still an honor to get the roster spot.
Check out some noteworthy inclusions and the full list below:
Two Buckeye rookies
After seeing another impressive number of Buckeyes make their way to the NFL early in 2017, many went on to meet and/or exceed expectations. The two to have found the most established and prolonged success are Pat Elflein and Marshon Lattimore. Both made the Pro Bowl ballot in their first year in the league, and deservedly so.
The Vikings haven’t exactly had consistency at quarterback as of late, but center Pat Elflein is doing wonders in creating a cohesive offensive line. The Buckeye rookie hasn’t missed a single offensive snap during the 2017 regular season, which is not a stat that many players can (or will ever) tout.
Although he missed a couple games this season, Saints’ CB Marshon Lattimore is already in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. (Sound a little familiar? A la Bosa in 2016?) Through eight games played, he’s already claimed 36 total tackles (31 solo), 8 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions (including a 27-yard Pick-6) and a forced fumble. His coverage skills now speak for themselves, and quarterbacks are trying to avoid the Buckeye -- except for Jameis Winston that one time, and things got interesting.
Several rookies have been plagued by lingering injuries that would eventually sideline them for the remainder of the year, including: Raekwon McMillan (ACL), Malik Hooker (ACL/MCL), Gareon Conley (shin), and most recently, Curtis Samuel (ankle).
Linebackers and receivers
Six of the 20 Buckeyes on the Pro Bowl ballot stem from two position groups: linebacker (Darron Lee, Ryan Shazier, John Simon) and wide receiver. (Ted Ginn Jr., Terrelle Pryor Sr., Michael Thomas).
For the linebackers, Darron Lee has taken hold of the starting ILB position for the New York Jets in his second-year in the league. So far this season he’s tallied 67 total tackles, eight pass breakups, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
The do-it-all LB for the Steelers, Ryan Shazier, is on his way to having a career year in 2017. Finally healthy, the Buckeye has terrorized offenses to the tune of 69 total tackles, 10 pass breakups, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
John Simon started the season as a bright spot for the Colts defense, but, as has been the luck with Buckeyes in Indianapolis, he suffered a neck stinger in Week 7 and has been a week-to-week decision ever since. Before his injury, Simon had 39 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and a Pick-6.
The Buckeyes have sent many wideouts to the NFL over the years, with one old and one young coming together on the Saints offense. Ted Ginn Jr. has found a late-career resurgence the past few seasons and it has continued that in New Orleans; he has 483 receiving yards and three touchdowns this year.
Michael Thomas, in only his second-year in the league, is already playing like a veteran, with 662 receiving yards and two scores thus far. He hasn’t made it into the endzone much this season, but he did record his first 100-plus yard game of 2017 in Week 10, and always finds a way to make a big play to extend the drive.
Things that make you go “Hmmm...”
Scrolling through the ballot, two names familiar to Buckeye Nation stood out in a rather surprising way. First was offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, Taylor Decker. Don’t get me wrong, Decker had a great rookie season in 2016, but he was injured before the 2017 season even started — requiring surgery — and was only activated off the PUP list last week. I’m sure he would have made the ballot had he suited up this season, but he didn’t. So his inclusion is a bit odd.
Perhaps even moreso than Decker being a head-scratcher, was Washington wideout Terrelle Pryor Sr. being named on the ballot. Coming off his sole 1,000-yard receiving season (in Cleveland, mind you), Pryor has yet to find the same success by the hands of Kirk Cousins. He’s been seemingly phased out of the offense over the past few weeks, and has only claimed 240 receiving yards through Week 11.
Make sure your favorite Buckeye gets a spot on the final roster and VOTE.
Here’s the full list of Buckeyes on the Pro Bowl ballot.
Buckeyes on the Pro Bowl Ballot
|Alex Boone||Guard||Arizona Cardinals|
|Andrew Norwell||Guard||Carolina Panthers|
|Cameron Heyward||Defensive End||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Carlos Hyde||Running Back||San Francisco 49ers|
|Corey Linsley||Center||Green Bay Packers|
|Darron Lee||Inside Linebacker||New York Jets|
|Eli Apple||Cornerback||New York Giants|
|Ezekiel Elliott||Running Back||Dallas Cowboys|
|Joey Bosa||Defensive End||Los Angeles Chargers|
|John Simon||Outside Linebacker||Indianapolis Colts|
|Johnathan Hankins||Defensive Tackle||Indianapolis Colts|
|Kurt Coleman||Free Safety||Carolina Panthers|
|Malcolm Jenkins||Strong Safety||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Marshon Lattimore||Cornerback||New Orleans Saints|
|Michael Thomas||Wide Receiver||New Orleans Saints|
|Pat Elflein||Center||Minnesota Vikings|
|Ryan Shazier||Inside Linebacker||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Taylor Decker||Offensive Tackle||Detroit Lions|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||Wide Receiver||New Orleans Saints|
|Terrelle Pryor||Wide Receiver||Washington|