On paper, the New York Giants roster is one of the NFL’s most improved. The team should be in playoff contention and build on its 6-10 finish in 2020. More team success typically translates to more accolades for its players, so many Giants players could become Pro Bowlers in 2021. Although the Giants don’t have a ton of star power — which makes it harder to earn an honor dependent on fan voting — they do feature a slew of talented veterans and young players across the field. With that in mind, here’s a look at five players who are most likely to represent the Giants in the Pro Bowl this coming season.
Five New York Giants Pro Bowl Candidates in 2021
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley is unquestionably New York’s most popular player. And it’s well-deserved. The running back is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in football. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons before tearing his ACL in Week 2 of 2020.
— NFL (@NFL) February 9, 2020
Barkley will head into 2021 healthy and ready to solidify himself as a superstar. The Giants revamped their receiving core this offseason, which will take defensive attention off Barkley. That should allow him to put up some big rushing numbers. Using his agility, Barkley will also generate a slew of highlights. Since Pro Bowl selections depend on name recognition, Barkley’s big-play ability should work in his favor. The third-year running back has a great chance at making the Pro Bowl, and he could even win Comeback Player of the Year.
Cornerback James Bradberry
James Bradberry broke out in 2020. In his first season with the Giants after leaving the Carolina Panthers in free agency, Bradberry recorded three interceptions and deflected 18 passes (the third-most in the NFL). He was one of two Giants to make last year’s Pro Bowl.
Bradberry should continue to thrive in 2021. He’s the centerpiece of an extremely talented secondary. With more depth behind him, Bradberry will likely have more opportunities for interceptions and big plays. If Bradberry capitalizes on those chances as well as he did last year, he’ll surely be in line for a second straight Pro Bowl nod.
Defensive Tackle Leonard Williams
Leonard Williams was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs last year. He racked up 11.5 sacks and 42 pressures, establishing himself as the anchor of New York’s resurgent pass-rushing corps. Additionally, he was an excellent defender against the run. Under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Williams finally realized the potential that made him the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Giants signed Williams to a three-year, $63 million extension, so he should continue to build on that success. The team brought in more edge rushers such as Ifeadi Odhenigbo and Azeez Ojulari this offseason, which should prevent offensive lines from frequently double-teaming Williams. As a result, he has a good shot at improving on his stellar 2020 campaign. Superstars like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox are already perennial Pro Bowlers, which makes it especially difficult for up-and-coming defensive linemen like Williams to earn selections in the NFC. But if Williams puts up the same numbers he did last year, it will be tough for voters to pass over him again.
Safety Jabrill Peppers
Like Williams and Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers also had a career season in 2020. Peppers totaled 91 tackles, 11 pass deflections, and an interception last year. Since being traded from the Cleveland Browns in 2019, Peppers has taken advantage of his athleticism to develop into one of the league’s better strong safeties.
Jabrill Peppers picks off Dwayne Haskins and takes it back 32 yards for a TD. pic.twitter.com/iFh4C505FT
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 29, 2019
As is the case for Bradberry, Peppers should benefit from New York’s added secondary depth. Quarterbacks will likely throw his way more often, which could help Peppers rise on the interception leaderboard. While interceptions aren’t the definitive measure of success for safeties, they almost always correlate with Pro Bowl voting. If Peppers creates more turnovers and matches the rest of his 2020 stat line, he will almost certainly be a Pro Bowler.
Linebacker Blake Martinez
For years, Blake Martinez has been one of the NFL’s best tackling inside linebackers. He spearheaded the Giants’ defensive turnaround in 2020 with his consistent impact. Martinez finished with 151 tackles, the third-highest total in the league, and made his presence felt in the passing game with three sacks, five pass deflections, and an interception.
To reach his first Pro Bowl, Martinez will likely need to lead the league in tackles and help the Giants earn a playoff berth. That’s not out of the realm of possibility. However, even accomplishing that much wouldn’t make Martinez a lock. Inside linebacker is another position teeming with established stars in the NFC. With only two slots available barring injuries, Martinez will have to beat out Bobby Wagner or Fred Warner — arguably the two best middle linebackers in football. Nevertheless, you can’t count out Martinez. His elite tackling ability and popularity in a big market could put him among Giants in the conversation come December.
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