When the Buffalo Bills selected Oregon DB Jairus Byrd with the No. 42 overall selection in this past April's NFL Draft, very few Bills fans approved of the pick immediately. We're betting the crowd that expected Byrd to be named to the 2010 Pro Bowl was much, much smaller.
That's exactly what happened on Tuesday, however, as the rookie safety was voted into the NFL's all-star game. Though he's not a starter, Byrd is in fantastic company; Baltimore's Ed Reed is the starter at free safety, and Denver's Brian Dawkins got the nod at strong safety. Byrd was the only other safety elected to the squad.
Byrd was placed on Injured Reserve by the Bills on December 23, just days after a 17-10 home loss to New England. Byrd ended his rookie season with 45 tackles and 9 interceptions; at the time he hit IR, he was the sole league leader, and remains tied in that category with New Orleans' Darren Sharper and Philadelphia's Asante Samuel. Both of those players were voted to the squad, as well.
Though being on IR does not preclude one from participating in the Pro Bowl, Byrd had recent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, according to Chris Brown at BuffaloBills.com. His rehab is expected to last for four months, which will obviously keep him out of the all-star game. Still, for a rookie second-round pick making a position switch, dealing with lingering injuries literally the entire year, and missing most of team mini-camps and half of training camp, this is quite the pleasant honor for Jairus. Congratulations!
Byrd is one of three rookies to make either Pro Bowl squad, joining Houston LB Brian Cushing and Washington DE/LB Brian Orakpo.