The NFL will announce the selections for this year’s Pro Bowl tomorrow night. Unlike last season, the Vikings are expected to get at least one invite and could possibly get multiple players into the all-star game.
Running back Adrian Peterson should be considered a lock to be invited back to his seventh Pro Bowl. After all, he is the NFL’s leading rusher.
But beyond Peterson, there are no other guarantees even though the Vikings are 9-5 and on the verge of clinching their first playoff spot since 2012.
So who are their other possibilities? Starting with Peterson, I’ll rank six of them in order of the likelihood in which they will get voted in by the fans, coaches and players, who each represent one-third of the vote.
1. Peterson. The only sure thing here, the 30-year-old has rushed for a league-high 1,314 yards and his nine rushing touchdowns trail only Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill, who both have 10. Peterson finished second at his position in the fan voting behind Freeman.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, KR. No, Patterson has not been a factor on offense. But he again is one of the league’s most dangerous kick returners. He has taken a pair of kickoffs to the house and his 31.1-yard average on kickoff returns ranks first in the NFL and is not far off of his 2013 mark.
3. Harrison Smith, FS. Smith should have made the Pro Bowl last year. This year, his numbers aren’t as impressive, but he has probably been just as good. He might be hurt, though, by the fact that he has recently missed three games and played sparingly in another one due to his injury.
4. Linval Joseph, NT. These big guys on the inside don’t always get noticed, but Joseph was so disruptive before injuring his foot. The missed time could hurt him, but pre-injury he was the NFL’s best nose tackle.
5. Anthony Barr, OLB. Like Smith and Joseph, missing recent games could hurt his candidacy. Barr had some incredible games, like the win over Atlanta, but he also had some so-so showings playing with multiple injuries.
6. Joe Berger, C. Most fans outside of Minnesota probably have no idea who Berger is and some players and coaches might not know much about him either. But he has been good this season filling in for the injured John Sullivan. Name recognition is important, though, so Berger is a long-shot.