Five Bolts That Could Make The 2018 Pro Bowl

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Jan 21, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; General view of Los Angeles Chargers helmet at StubHub Center.The Chargers will play the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the StubHub Center as part of Chargers owner Dean Spanos (not pictured) relocation of the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; General view of Los Angeles Chargers helmet at StubHub Center.The Chargers will play the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the StubHub Center as part of Chargers owner Dean Spanos (not pictured) relocation of the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the NFL opened the voting for this season’s Pro Bowl. A chance for fans to vote the best players, on their performances for the current season.

The game will always have its critics but at least the NFL is trying to change it up a little bit each year. Last January, the Chargers had three representatives; Casey Hayward was named in the initial AFC roster and Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon were named as alternatives. They made the team because of injuries and Super Bowl appearances by other players. Joey Bosa and Antonio Gates were also alternatives, but didn’t get the chance to play.

Let’s have a look at the Chargers who could make the trip to Florida, in January:

Joey Bosa

Oct 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Stat Line: 9 Games: 30 Solo Tackles, 12 Assists, 11.5 TFLs, 9.5 Sacks, 16 QB Hits, 1 Pass Defense, 2 Forced Fumbles.

After being 4th alternate last year, I believe Bosa leads the line to represent the Bolts at the 2018 Pro Bowl. He certainly hasn’t suffered the well-known ‘Sophomore Slump’ that many players do in their second year. Bosa won the Defensive Rookie of the Year last season and has kept on that level, maybe even bettering that. In week 8 against the Patriots, he bought down Tom Brady to move to 8.5 sacks on the year. This meant that the defensive end had 19 takedowns in his first 20 games as a pro, the most by any player since 1982! Another sack two weeks later meant that Bosa has the 5th highest sack total in the current season. He also has the most pressures in the first 21 games in any player’s career, with 106. The next closest is Von Miller, who achieved 93. Bosa is breaking records everywhere and long may it continue.

Melvin Ingram

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Stat Line: 9 Games: 29 Solo Tackles, 5 Assists, 11.5 TFLs, 8.5 Sacks, 15 QB Hits, 1 Fumble Recovery.

Joey Bosa’s partner in crime. After some issues with injuries in the early part of his Charger career, Ingram has bounced back with 50 straight games. He is only one sack behind his pass rush partner so far in 2017, two off a career best set in ’15. Some will debate that Ingram has had a better season than Bosa and just looking at the stats it is very close. It is, however, great to see the Chargers finally getting some consistent pressure. He’s currently Pro Football Focus’ top rated edge with a grade of 92.8 ‘SupaMel’ has never made the Pro Bowl before and this season couldn’t feel more apt. It would be awesome to see Ingram, and Bosa make the Bowl together.

Casey Hayward

Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward (26) in the field during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Stat Line: 9 Games: 17 Solo Tackles, 6 Assists, 11 Pass Deflections, 1 INT, 1 TFLs, 1 Fumble Recovery.

The first one on the list who made it last year. Hayward has been one of Tom Telesco’s best signings since coming over from Green Bay two off-seasons ago. He put his name on the map with 7 INTs last year. The numbers haven’t quite been there for the corner this year, but don’t let that fool you. His football has been close to the level of a year ago and has further established himself as a top corner this league.

Drew Kaser

Stat Line: 9 Games: 51 Punts, 2,520 Total Yards, 49.4 Yards per Punt, Long of 69 Yards.

A special teamer?! Yes, that’s right. Kaser has been one of the most improved Chargers’ this year. His 49.4 yards per punt are good for 3rd in the league, out of those who have punted more than 40 times this year. In the last decade, the Bolts have had just the two players picked out of their special teamers; Darrell Stuckey and Nate Kaeding for their 2014, and 2009 seasons, respectively.

Keenan Allen

Stat Line: 9 Games: 44 Receptions, 596 yards, 1 Touchdown

Allen would get my vote as the current Chargers’ offensive player of the year, so far. He’s done good, not great. I said in my Jaguars preview last week that Allen hadn’t quite ‘hit his stride’ yet and that’s definitely the case. Allen has spent a good amount of time lining up in the slot this year, done to hopefully get the Rivers to Allen partnership going early, and often in games. With 80 targets in 9 games, it undoubtedly backs that up, they just need to connect more often. Allen is currently 8th in yards amongst AFC Wide Receivers, but one thing that lacks is his touchdowns. Just the one, which came in week one, will need to improve vastly if he wants to make his first Pro Bowl.

Outside shots: Russell Okung, Trevor Williams, Jatavis Brown.

So, there we have it. The team’s season is on knife-edge, with their current record of 3-6. But even still, there’s enough talent on the roster for at least a couple of representatives in Florida.

Statistics attributed from NFL.com, Pro Football Focus and FantasyData.com

Thomas Herd is a Staff Writer and covers the Los Angeles Chargers for cover32.com/Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @chargers_uk. 


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