Now that we are about halfway through the regular season, it is time to start considering which players are deserving of the Pro Bowl. For this series, we will look at the three most deserving candidates for each team. Obviously, some teams will have more or less than three players selected to the Pro Bowl, but for simplicity purposes, we will discuss the top three either way.
Top Midseason Pro Bowl Candidates: Tennessee Titans
Tennessee have been shocking so far this season, so much so that if I could give the number two overall pick all three of my votes I wouldn’t think twice about it. Marcus Mariota has been the one shining light in what has been a dismal season for this organisation. Despite being surrounded by mediocre talent, Mariota has posted astonishing numbers for someone who many thought wouldn’t adjust to running an NFL style offense. His 101.5 passer rating and a 13-5 touchdown to interception ratio is not only a high among rookies, but is also one of the better performances among quarterbacks in the league so far this year.
Mariota has been an obvious catalyst for Titans’ success. Their only two wins so far this season have come in games in which he has posted four touchdowns and a passer rating of at least 135. His composure is what makes Mariota so accomplished as an NFL player already. Many scouts were buzzing over the accuracy which Tennessee’s young signal caller possesses and when you consider that he is getting next to no help upfront (19 sacks through six games) and has posted a 65.5% completion percentage.
Unlike players who are having a true breakout season such as Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, Mariota is not on a team which is going undefeated. The ability to perform on a team which is in such desperate need of playmakers is what makes his numbers all the more special. If there is anyone on the Titans making the trip to Hawaii this January, I’d put my mortgage on it being Mariota.
I include Delanie Walker on this list purely because he leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. In both games which the Titans have won this season, Walker has established himself as Mariota’s go to guy when going downfield. He is on pace to shatter his own career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns.
The tenth year pro has really come into his own as the best receiving talent on this Titans team. Acting as a security blanket for his teams young quarterback, Walker has become a quietly dependable star on offense. He has also shown playmaking ability throughout the course of the season as one of his three touchdown grabs came from a bizarre 61 yard play against New Orleans.
Despite not being a ‘premier talent’ in comparison to other tight ends in the league, Walker is quietly becoming a household name in Tennessee as he continues to make plays for his young quarterback. Alongside perhaps Kendall Wright and perhaps Dorial Green-Beckham, Walker headlines what is an average passing attack. Nevertheless, if he continues to go on hot streaks at the same time as his quarterback then he is the most likely candidate to go to the Pro Bowl alongside Mariota.
Again, Brian Orakpo has by no means had a spellbinding season. However, there are very few players on this Titans team who have, especially on defense. In fact, it took until week 8 in New Orleans for Orakpo to post numbers which were worthy of consideration. Despite being ejected from the game, his two sacks and deflected passes in the Superdome means that Orakpo leads the team in sacks.
Orakpo has been to the Pro Bowl three times already in his seven-year career and despite only having five sacks and two passes defended through his first 8 games of this year, he has been the most dynamic player on the defensive side of the ball in recent weeks. It’s a reason why the edge rusher is the next most likely player on this disappointing Titans team to reach the Pro Bowl this season.