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The way-too-early look at which Buffalo Bills make the 2020 Pro Bowl

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Which Buffalo Bills will be heading to the Pro Bowl in 2020? Time for rampant speculation!

The annual NFL Pro Bowl has been a longtime bellwether of player and team esteem. Individual accomplishments can provide a direct path to the league’s all-star game. Overall respect for each club can make the path less (or more) arduous. Last year’s game only had one member of the Buffalo Bills, defensive tackle Kyle Williams. While overall the Bills were snubbed, Williams’s tremendous career and retirement cleared the way. With these considerations in mind, which Buffalo Bills player(s) will earn this honor in the coming season?


Special teams considerations

  • Stephen Hauschka
  • Andre Roberts
  • Reid Ferguson
  • Punter to be named later

Special-teams players overall have low odds of making the Pro Bowl with each team only needing one each of the specialists. That means players often need to be the absolute best in the Conference to make it. Andre Roberts was that man last year as a kick returner and could be in line for a repeat. Roberts’s two best seasons came with his heaviest workloads. The Bills had a major gap here last season and there’s no reason to think Roberts won’t be the featured return man.

Despite a long track record of successful kicking, Stephen Hauschka has never been selected to a Pro Bowl. Even when he broke the 90% accuracy threshold (two separate years) he’s been a snub. If you recall my game-by-game predictions I’m calling a 10-6 season and a return to the playoffs. The attention from a good year and a bounce-back season from Hausch-money would give him a shot for his first Pro Bowl nod.

Hopefully punting takes a back seat to “scoring lots of points.” That would make Ferguson and the TBD punter longer odds of garnering attention. How long are Ferguson’s odds? His predecessor Garrison Sanborn was/is widely considered one of the best long snappers in the league and has not made a single Pro Bowl in his ten-year career.

Offensive considerations

  • LeSean McCoy
  • Frank Gore
  • Mitch Morse
  • Josh Allen

Whichever veteran back gets the bulk of the carries has a really good chance at making the Pro Bowl. A solid year from the Bills will almost certainly have a return of an effective run game. That spotlight will create a perfect storm of attention and sentiment for an esteemed veteran and earn a Pro Bowl nod.

Big money only happens when there’s big reputation and Mitch Morse just got big money. An improved offensive line will get a lot of credit if my season prediction pans out and Mitch Morse will be smack dab in the center (pun 100% intended).

The lack of receivers and tight ends on my list comes down to the idea that I’m not sold on Josh Allen feeding any single player the ball enough times to gets the stats to be included. Based on reasonable predictions on projected improvement, Allen isn’t likely to make the jump to “elite” in 2019.

What about Allen himself? Quarterbacks should always be in consideration during a successful season but Allen has an uphill climb. When you’re up against Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Patrick Mahomes it could take a historic season to come out on top. Add in competition from Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, and potentially Josh Rosen—it’s a real murky race.

Defensive considerations

  • Jerry Hughes
  • Jordan Poyer
  • Micah Hyde
  • Tre’Davious White
  • Tremaine Edmunds
  • Matt Milano
  • Ed Oliver
  • Lorenzo Alexander

Yeah, that’s a long list but there’s a strong case for it. The Buffalo Bills have put together a “pick your poison” roster of talented defenders. How opposing offenses attempt to attack the Bills will play into who has a big year.

The extension of Jerry Hughes renews the Bills’ commitment to their top edge rusher and gives him the piece of mind to let it loose. Already grading out as elite, there’s no reason Hughes can’t have a big year. Attention to the Bills will most likely lavish praise on the defense. The most established player is the safest bet to make a Pro Bowl.

The tandem of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde has been criminally underrated and underrepresented at the Pro Bowl. A playoff-caliber season will turn heads and it will be hard to miss the safeties in Buffalo. It’s unlikely both are selected, but one should be.

Several up-and-comers in Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are excellent candidates. These three are likely to be stat driven with Edmunds the safest bet to rack up tackles and votes. A few lucky breaks in the interception category could vault White up the list. Milano will likely trail Edmunds in tackles but could create a push by making a name for himself on the edges.

Ed Oliver’s path to the Pro Bowl will need to come as a result of teams working to neutralize Hughes and the rest of the defensive line, opening up opportunities for the rookie. With the left side of the line having a few more question marks than I’d like, Oliver falls down the list some.

Lorenzo Alexander rated very highly among analysts the last few seasons and thrived in his linebacker/tackle hybrid role. Coming back for what’s likely his final season, a productive campaign would pair nicely with a “send-off” story to close his career. Newer blood on the defense could decrease his snap counts however.


Predictions

For the sake of posterity, let’s make official predictions to poke fun of me when they’re invariably wrong. A strong push by the Bills puts them back in the postseason and spotlight. The feelgood season catapults several Buffalo players into the Pro Bowl.

Andre Roberts doesn’t replicate his success from last season and Stephen Hauschka bounces back but not far enough to get the votes. On offense, Mitch Morse gets the bulk of the credit for a much improved season and represents the Bills in the Pro Bowl. He’s joined by a retiring Frank Gore who voters refuse to ignore. On defense, Jordan Poyer and Tremaine Edmunds make the cut based on their volume of interceptions and tackles respectively.