Top Midseason Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowl Candidates

Now that we are about halfway through the regular season, it is time to start considering which players are deserving of Pro Bowl consideration. 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: Jacksonville Jaguars

BLAKE BORTLES

Having been the number one quarterback taken in last year’s draft, Blake Bortles had an expectedly ‘shaky’ start to his NFL career on a team which was offering him little help. Nevertheless, Bortles has made obvious progression with his game this year. His footwork looks much cleaner and his mechanics look much sharper; perhaps most importantly we have seen few of the head scratching decisions which fans and analysts are so accustomed to with rookie quarterbacks. Bortles’ reading of the game has improved so much over the past year that not only has his touchdown total gone up by nearly 200% but he has thrown for seven less interceptions so far in 2015. Impressive stats for a young quarterback who has played against some formidable defenses such as the Panthers, Jets and Patriots so far this season.

Bortles has put up some staggering numbers and some clutch plays so far, which he has needed to considering that his offense is getting no help from their defensive counterparts. This has meant that despite solid performances from Jacksonville’s young signal caller the Jags have lost far more games this year than perhaps they should have. For instance if you look at the game against the Buccaneers in October, Bortles threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns, yet somehow his team still lost the game 38-31. Once the defense gets better upfront, which it will when Dante Fowler, Jr. recovers from his season-ending injury, I expect to see Jacksonville challenging in what is a pitiful AFC South.

According to statistics, Bortles is currently playing better football than MVP hopeful and undefeated quarterback Cam Newton. I am not denying that there are better quarterbacks in the league but if Bortles maintains the level he’s playing at the I see no reason as to why he can’t take the trip to Hawaii (at least as a replacement).

ALLEN ROBINSON

Once Justin Blackmon’s NFL career imploded as soon as it had begun, there was little hope for the Jacksonville offense as it’s most explosive player became running back Maurice Jones-Drew. That is no more. Welcome, Allen Robinson. Robinson epitomises the feeling which Gus Bradley is trying to generate within this team. On both sides of the ball there are explosive playmakers who are all very young. The second year wideout has been phenomenal so far this season, coming into his own at a similar rate to that of his quarterback. So far Robinson is tied for second in the NFL with six receiving touchdowns and ranks in the top ten in receiving yards.

Many great teams in the league like the Bengals and Seahawks have a strong tradition of drafting players and developing them into stars. This young Jaguars team is no different. Robinson, Bortles and Allen Hurns look to be at the forefront of an incredibly exciting story which is about to unfold in Jacksonville.

With multiple games over 100 yards and a first down percentage of 75%, despite the signing of Julius Thomas in the offseason it is clear to see why Bortles has established a connection with this young receiver. Eight wideouts make the trip to Hawaii in January and there have been few as productive as Allen Robinson.

ALLEN HURNS

One of the only wide receivers as productive as Robinson so far this year? Fellow second-year wideout Allen Hurns. No wonder that Blake Bortles has progressed so far. His receiving corps has revolutionized itself from a year ago. As seen in the widely acclaimed series ‘NFL Hard Knocks’, it is becoming increasingly difficult for undrafted free agents to make a name for themselves in an increasingly competitive league. Nevertheless, Hurns is defying all odds and is having the best breakout season from an undrafted player since Arian Foster did back in 2010.

Hurn’s production is almost identical to that of Robinson, with the two of them quickly becoming the most consistently dominating duo in pro football. Hurn’s numbers are impressive for any young receiver, but emerging as one of the top talents from the 2014 class is testament to the work ethic of Jacksonville’s number two receiver, considering that 14 wideouts were taken in the first two rounds of the the NFL draft, including teammates Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson, alongside names such as Odell Beckham Jr, Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin. So far the only two names on that list which can match Hurns’ production are Robinson and the generational talent which is OBJ.

Having tied for second in overall receiving touchdowns with his team mate and going for 635 yards through his first eight games, Hurns and Robinson have combined for the best statistical start to the season from any receiving duo since Randy Moss and Wes Welker in the New England Patriots earth-shattering 2007 season. It is for this reason that British fans have every reason to get excited about seeing more of the Jags over the coming years. They could quickly become a very competitive team with a few more faces and a little more good fortune. Eight receivers go to the Pro Bowl and these two are both genuine contenders to go off the back of their start to the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the first of multiple appearances for both of these men.

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