The NFL will announce the 2013 Pro Bowl rosters tonight. The league's annual All Star game has come under criticism lately, especially after last year's effortless showing by many players, but the recognition for the top level players is still a noteworthy accomplishment. Will any Miami Dolphins players be selected tonight?
There are several players who could be on the team, but the Dolphins 7-8 record, and the lack of media spotlight on a team that has not had a winning season since 2008, could keep some borderline players from making the trip to Hawaii. Who from Miami are worthy of being Pro Bowlers?
Near locks for selection:
Cameron Wake, Defensive End - Wake should be an almost automatic selection for the team. He currently has 15 sacks, trailing just JJ Watt and Von Miller in the AFC. While he likely won't start, with those two names in front of him, the 2012 Pro Bowler should be making his second appearance on the roster.
Brandon Fields, Punter - Realistically, Fields could be a multiple Pro Bowler by now, if Shane Lechler wasn't an AFC punter as well. However, this season, Fields leads the conference in punting average at 50.3 yards per kick, and is one of just two punter to top 50 yards per kick this season (Saints punter Thomas Morestead). His net average drops him to fifth in the conference, tenth in the league, so that could hurt him, but he should still make the team.
Should be selected, but might get overlooked:
Mike Pouncey, Center - Pouncey has been a dominating center for the Dolphins since his first round selecting in 2011. He was an alternate last year to make the game, but ended up not going. This year, he has the play to make it to the game, but he may suffer from (1) being in Miami and (2) being the twin brother of Maurkice. Pro Football Focus has Mike tied as the best center in the conference, but Maurkice has an extra year in the league and fans voted for the younger of the twins based on his name recognition. Will the coaches and players reverse that and give Mike the nod?
Reshad Jones, Safety - Jones has been a top three safety in the league this year, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has started to get some notoriety. However, the "started" part of that statement may be the problem. He's not a recognizable name (yet), and he could get shunned because of that. His two fumble recovery, one interception performance on Sunday will do nothing to up his chances - it came two days after the coaches and players completed their voting. Jones could end up missing the announcement tonight, but might still make the game as a replacement.
Long shots who should not be planning a February trip, yet:
Reggie Bush, Running Back - Bush is currently 16th in the league, and, despite being the only "dynamic" player on the Miami offense, that won't be enough to get into the game. He could pick up votes based on name recognition, and could, theoretically, be an alternate for the game, but he should not be planning for a paid vacation in Hawaii.
Brian Hartline, Wide Receiver - Hartline burst into the public eye when he caught 253 yards worth of passes from rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill against the Arizona Cardinals. However, he is sixth in the AFC (15th in the NFL) in receiving yardage, the lowest of the players to reach the 1,000 yard mark through Week 16. Hartline only has one receiving touchdown on the season, and it would be a big surprise if he made the roster tonight. Like Bush, Hartline could be an alternate, but don't expect to see his name tonight.
Darkhorse players who could show up on the roster:
Randy Starks, Defensive Tackle - Starks is the tenth best defensive tackle in the AFC, according to Pro Football Focus. He has had some really strong games, with most of those happening in the early portion of the season. He could get some player and coach votes, which could sneak him onto the roster - but it's beyond a long shot.
Marcus Thigpen, Special Teams - Thigpen has a decent shot at making the roster, given he is currently third in the league in kick return average and fifth in the league in punt return average. He's had a really impressive year as the Dolphins' returner, but his biggest hurdle may be that he is in Miami. He could make it, but it would be a surprise if he did.
Player who shouldn't make it, but just might:
Jake Long, Tackle - Let's face it, once an offensive lineman makes the Pro Bowl, they tend to continue to be selected for the event. Long did not play up to his previously elite level this year, and is currently on injured reserve, but name recognition could land him on the roster. He led all tackles in the fan voting until three weeks remaining in the poll process, and he could still be named to the roster for the fifth time in his five years in the league. Obviously, he would not be able to play in the game, but it's possible his name will be called tonight.
Who do you think will make the Pro Bowl from Miami? Who should go, but probably won't? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to watch the selection show at 7pm Eastern on NFL Network.