Later today, Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi will make his NFL Pro Bowl debut, earning a berth to the all-star event in just his second season in the NFL. His first trip to the event comes a year after wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is in Orlando with Ajayi for today’s game, made his Pro Bowl debut in his second NFL season. Joining Ajayi and Landry at the 2017 version of the game will be defensive end Cameron Wake, while defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was selected for the game but had to pull out of the event due to injury. It is the fifth Pro Bowl selection for both Wake and Suh.
Miami has several other players with Pro Bowl experience, including safety Reshad Jones, left tackle Branden Albert, and center Mike Pouncey. If not for injuries this season, all three of those players could have been in consideration for another trip to the all-star festivities.
Which brings up today’s question. Who will be the next Dolphins player to make his Pro Bowl debut? There are several players who have the potential to make the breakthrough to being an all star, but we will let you vote for who you think could be the next in line for the Dolphins in the Pro Bowl.
Ryan Tannehill - Miami’s quarterback could have been in the Pro Bowl this year if not for the knee injury that ended his season. While missing the final three games of the year, he finished the year with 2,995 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 67.1 percent completions, and a 93.5 passer rating. In comparison, Alex Smith (3,502 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 67.1% complete, and 91.2 rate), Andy Dalton (4,206 yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs, 64.7% complete, and 91.8 rate), and Philip Rivers (4,368 yards, 33 TDs, 21 INTs, 60.4% complete, and 87.9 rate) are the three quarterbacks who will be in the game. Part of that is injury or Super Bowl replacement requirements, but those three quarterbacks will all be 2016-2017 Pro Bowlers, and Tannehill, if he had been able to finish the season, would likely have been comparable in nearly every category. Dolphins fans may not be completely sold on Tannehill, but he is knocking on the door for the Pro Bowl, and he could be the next Dolphins player to make a debut in the game.
DeVante Parker - Parker’s season was hampered by hamstring issues that slowed him for much of the early portion of the year. Once those issues fully healed, Parker showed what he could bring to the Dolphins if he is healthy for an entire season. He caught 56 passes for 744 yards with four touchdowns this season, numbers that should all go up next year. It is hard to break into the wide receiver group, where Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, and A.J. Green were all forced out of the game by injuries, with T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, Landry, and Demaryius Thomas all in the game by either vote or as replacements. He has to jump up into the upper echelon of receivers, but Parker does have the potential to make it to that level.
Laremy Tunsil - Miami’s starting left guard allowed one sack all season - and he did it in a fill-in role as a left tackle when Albert was injured. Miami’s 2016 first-round draft-pick, Tunsil will eventually move back to his college position of left tackle, but he played extremely well as a guard in his rookie season. Making the Pro Bowl as an offensive lineman is actually pretty difficult, because once a player makes it, he typically continues to make it unless injuries sideline him. Tunsil has the potential to make it to the Pro Bowl some time soon.
Xavien Howard - Miami’s second-round pick in 2016, Howard was another player who had to deal with injuries this year. When he was able to play, he showed why Miami trusted him as a starting cornerback in his rookie season, and he has the potential to continue to grow into a highly effective defensive back - and, eventually, a potential Pro Bowler.
Michael Thomas - Thomas was once again thrust into the starting lineup this year when injuries started tearing apart the secondary, and he again showed why he is an important part of the roster. It is not his defensive play, however, that made him a candidate for this year’s Pro Bowl, and may have him find a way to the game eventually; Thomas is an exceptional special teams player. He was tied for second in the NFL in 2016 for special teams tackles (with fellow Dolphins player, linebacker Mike Hull), and he is a do-everything type of player for the team. Thomas will likely return to a third safety type of role next year, but his special teams play could eventually get him to the Pro Bowl.
Did I forget someone? Let us know in the comments, and vote in the poll below.