The Pro Bowl itself has become somewhat of an uninspired game, but the honor is still there for each player who earns the nod. This is especially true for the quarterback position as because it’s typically the most important position on the field.
Earning a Pro-Bowl berth might not be as glorious as it use to be, but it's still something each player fights to earn.
Blaine Gabbert has plenty natural talent but hasn’t been able to figure out the rest of what it takes to succeed as an NFL quarterback. His biggest issue at this point is his inability to deal with pressure and make sound decisions.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision to draft Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft has a chance to have a significant impact on Gabbert’s play.
However, even with better protection, Gabbert is unlikely to have enough of an impact to push himself into the Pro Bowl mix. It also doesn’t help that his top target, Justin Blackmon, is suspended for the first four games of the season.
Brandon Weeden had some good moments as a rookie, but not enough to project a major step forward this season. The Cleveland Browns still have some of the same issues as last year, with an inexperienced wide-receiver group.
Both of these coaches have strong offensive backgrounds and have helped develop young quarterbacks. Most recently, Chudzinski worked with Cam Newton, and Turner helped bring along Philip Rivers.
However, their presence will help more for the long term rather than help Weeden make a Pro Bowl appearance in his second season.
Jake Locker is another one of those young quarterbacks who has all the talent in the world but has yet to figure everything out. Locker’s accuracy issues have followed him from college and have yet to be correct.
The Tennessee Titans need Locker to find some consistency in order for the team to have a shot at the playoffs.
Locker himself could find his long-term job security in question if he doesn’t show major improvement this season. A Pro Bowl berth would go a long way to helping him keep his starting job.
Josh Freeman is heading into one of the more important seasons of his career. Freeman has flashed a ton of talent but has yet to play with any type of consistency. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have assembled a good-looking roster and now need Freeman to take them to the next level.
Luckily, he has talented playmakers like Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin at his disposal.
Martin is the key to Freeman’s success, because he can provide the offense with stability. The presence of a strong running game will help draw pressure away from Freeman and open things up for the play-action pass.
The Buffalo Bills have talent at the quarterback position but also a lot of question marks. Kevin Kolb has yet to play with any type of consistency and has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Kolb has the talent needed to succeed in the NFL, but he has yet to put it all together.
E.J. Manuel was surprisingly the first quarterback taken in the 2013 draft and will have plenty of expectations thrown his way. Manuel will have a big learning curve that includes learning a new offense and transitioning to life as an NFL player.
All these factors make it highly unlikely that either of these quarterbacks will earn a Pro Bowl nod. There are just too many obstacles that need to be overcome.
Mark Sanchez will need to use the preseason to hold off rookie Geno Smith for the starting job. However, the New York Jets might feel more comfortable easing Smith into the starting position. Sanchez provides them with a veteran presence and someone who has experience dealing with tough situations.
The lack of talent on the Jets offense will make it tough for any quarterback to find success. Despite his recent struggles, Sanchez might be the best option to manage the team through this tough situation.
Either way, neither Sanchez nor Smith will be in contention for a Pro Bowl appearance by the time the season ends.
Even if Christian Ponder is able to take a step forward in his development, the Minnesota Vikings will still make Adrian Peterson the focal point of the offense. Leaning on Peterson will take opportunities away from Ponder.
It’s also important to note that Minnesota has a lot of new faces in the receiving corps. Ponder will need time to build a relationship with Greg Jennings, and Cordarrelle Patterson needs time to adjust to the raise in competition.
None of these factors in the fact that Ponder has yet to show anything make us believe he’s ready to take a major step forward in his development.
Mike Vick is in an interesting situation this year with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s coming off a disappointing year in 2012, has a new head coach in Chip Kelly and is working on learning Kelly’s unique offensive attack.
All these situations make it tough to feel good about Vick’s chances at making a Pro Bowl appearance.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Vick excels in Kelly’s offense and has a huge year. However, there are just too many unknowns to feel great about this situation. Everybody will feel more comfortable once we get a look at how Kelly will run his offense.
There was a lot of speculation earlier in the offseason that rookie Tyler Wilson would push Matt Flynn for the starting job. However, the Oakland Raiders have since quieted some of that speculation by naming Flynn the starter.
Flynn has an uphill battle to succeed with this team, as the Raiders don’t have much talent on the offensive side of the ball. He’s working to build a relationship with young receivers Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner and Rod Streater.
That group has shown some flashes but lacks the consistency Flynn will need from them to work his way into the Pro Bowl mix.
The Houston Texans offense is one of the more balanced attacks in the NFL. It loves to feature Arian Foster and allow Matt Schaub to take advantage of the mismatches he helps create. The Texans need Foster’s threat as a runner to help overcome the limited weapons in the passing game.
Houston features the very-talented Andre Johnson and little else. This is why the Texans decided to use their first-round pick to bring DeAndre Hopkins to help the wide-receiver position. However, this addition comes after the offense lost James Casey to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
Schaub is going to need someone else to step up and provide another explosive weapon to the mix.
The St. Louis Rams finally went out and focused on giving Sam Bradford some talent at the wide-receiver position. St. Louis orchestrated a trade to ensure it was in position to draft the versatile Tavon Austin.
Bradford hasn’t had a talent like Austin at this disposal throughout his career with the Rams. Having someone capable of taking a short pass and turning it into a big gain really makes the job of a quarterback easier.
However, Bradford will need to navigate the top NFC West division if he has any hopes of earning a Pro Bowl appearance. The San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have tough and aggressive defenses.
Philip Rivers is coming off two very disappointing seasons and now faces the challenge of having to work with a new offensive coordinator. Despite Norv Turner’s up-and-down run as a head coach, nobody can argue that he isn’t an elite offensive mind.
It will take some time for Rivers to get use to the new style of Ken Whisenhunt, who comes in with a good reputation of his own.
While the coaching situation will play a role, Rivers’ Pro Bowl chances might come down to the health of his receiving corps. A completely healthy Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander have a chance to be a highly productive group.
The Cincinnati Bengals have done a great job surrounding Andy Dalton with talent. He has the luxury of working with A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Jermaine Greshman and rookie Tyler Eifert. Dalton has had two solid seasons but now needs to take another step in his development.
Cincinnati has more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to make a long playoff run. However, the Bengals need Dalton to really find a way to take full advantage of all these weapons.
Everything is in place for Dalton to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl, but he has to seize this opportunity.
The expectations for the Miami Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill are very high for the upcoming season. Miami went out and added playmakers like Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller to help Tannehill take the next step in his development.
Tannenhill has the arm strength needed to take advantage of Wallace’s speed. He just needs to work on his decision-making and overall accuracy. The Dolphins have to feel good about his development so far, but there’s more work to be done.
A Pro Bowl berth could be in his future, but earning the nod this season is a long shot.
Ben Roethlisberger is in line for a tough test this season. He’s heading into the year having to work in a replacement for the speedy Mike Wallace and waiting for Heath Miller to recover from a knee injury.
Those were two of Roethlisberger’s favorite and most-reliable targets. Factor in the uncertainty at the running-back position, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are putting a lot of pressure on Roethlisberger to carry this offense.
It will take this offense some time to build continuity.
Any quarterback who has the luxury of throwing to Calvin Johnson has a chance to make a Pro Bowl appearance. Johnson’s ability to make plays despite heavy coverage is a real asset for Matthew Stafford.
However, this year might be a little tough for Stafford, because the Detroit Lions don’t have much else at the wide-receiver spot. They are counting on both Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles to completely recover from their injuries last year.
There are also major question marks along the offensive line, where the Lions need to replace both Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. Things don’t look as promising as they have in previous seasons.
Eli Manning has established himself as one of the more clutch performers in the NFL. His ability to perform in pressure situations is a big reason why the New York Giants have two Super Bowl victories in his career.
New York also has a good mix of weapons that help Manning stuff the stat sheet. The combination of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and new addition Brandon Myers will make it tough for defenses to keep the Giants offense in check.
The one area that works against Manning’s Pro Bowl hopes is his tendency to throw a high number of interceptions. He has averaged 17.5 interceptions per season over the past four years.
Tony Romo has shown the ability to consistently put up the numbers needed to be in the Pro Bowl discussion. This year won’t be any different, as the offense has the same weapons in place from last year.
Romo has a more focused Dez Bryant, the steady Jason Witten and hopefully a healthy Miles Austin at his disposal. These three have a ton of talent and ability to help Romo put up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers.
The Dallas Cowboys also beefed up the interior of the offensive line when they drafted Wisconsin’s Travis Fredrick to come in and play center.
A lot of Romo’s mistakes last year were directly tied to extreme pressure from the interior of the line.
The Kansas City Chiefs looked at this past year’s draft and didn’t see a quarterback capable of coming in and helping this team. This is why Andy Reid and company decided to make a move to add the veteran Alex Smith.
Smith is coming off two very productive seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and some renewed confidence. He’ll have every opportunity to display his talents and fill the stat sheet.
The Chiefs feature several capable receiving options in Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster. Smith can also lean on a strong ground game that has the explosive Jamaal Charles in place.
Smith has a good chance to really put up some impressive numbers this season.
Carson Palmer quietly had a very strong season with the Oakland Raiders last year. He managed to top the 4,000-yard mark with very little surrounding talent. Landing with the Arizona Cardinals will provide Palmer which much better pass-catching options.
The Cardinals boast a receiving corps led by Larry Fitzgerald, who is arguably one of the top five receivers in the game. Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd join Fitzgerald to make a very talented group.
Palmer’s only worry surrounds the play of the Cardinals offensive line. This group allowed over 50 sacks in each of the past two seasons.
Joe Flacco’s performance in last year’s playoffs helped him get paid and also showed that he has the ability to put a team on his shoulders. The Baltimore Ravens invested heavily in Flacco, and now it’s time for him to carry his playoff success over to the regular season.
One issue facing Flacco is that he lost one of his favorite targets when Anquan Bolden was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He will now need to count on a group that includes Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.
Flacco may help the Ravens win a bunch of games this season, but it’s a stretch to predict that he’ll put up big-enough numbers to guarantee a spot in the Pro Bowl.
The biggest question mark in the way of Robert Griffin III’s Pro Bowl chances is his health. It’s unknown whether or not his knee will be healed enough for him to start the season. It’s also important to note that this knee injury is keeping him out of offseason workouts.
Despite a sensational rookie year, Griffin still has areas of his game where he needs to improve. So far, most of his offseason has been spent rehabbing. There’s also the possibility that he’ll play a little hesitantly when he does return. Nobody in the Washington Redskins organization wants to see another knee injury.
However, he is talented enough to make the Pro Bowl even if he misses a few games at the beginning of the year.
This is the year that Jay Cutler needs to show he has the complete package to be an elite NFL quarterback. The Chicago Bears used this offseason to upgrade the offensive line and bring in more pass-catching help.
Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson and Kyle Long figure to give Cutler the time he needs to locate open targets. The addition of Martellus Bennett should provide Cutler with another pass-catching option opposite Brandon Marshall.
However, the biggest addition might be head coach Marc Trestman. He has proven throughout the course of his coaching career that he knows how to develop a productive offense. All this comes together to create the perfect situation for Cutler.
The expectations for Cam Newton entering his third season are much higher than previous years. He needs to start winning football games and show that he’s more than just a talented player. The Carolina Panthers roster is starting to add more talent and might be ready to push for a playoff spot.
Newton’s Pro Bowl chances are very strong because he has shown the ability to make plays with both his feet and arms. His high touchdown total over the past two seasons also increases the likelihood we’ll see Newton at the Pro Bowl.
However, he will need to show some progress, because there are several talented quarterbacks in the NFC.
The Seattle Seahawks had a very busy offseason, which included bringing in top-notch playmaker Percy Harvin. This addition is expected to help make Russell Wilson’s sophomore season more successful than his rookie year.
Wilson showed last year that he boasts the talents needed to attack the defense with both his legs and arm. He also proved to be a fierce competitor who’ll do whatever it takes notch wins.
Despite all his success, there was still a bit of a hole at the wide-receiver position. The combination of Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin doesn’t really strike fear into opponents. '
This is why Seattle went out and added Harvin to the mix.
Year after year, Tom Brady finds a way to continue his success and put up eye-popping numbers. This year could be his greatest test, as several of his top targets from last year are either gone or face some uncertainty.
The loss of Wes Welker means that New England Patriots will need someone to replace a player who has topped the 100-catch mark five times in the last six seasons. On top of the loss of Welker, the Patriots have to be a little concerned about the long-term health of Rob Gronkowski.
His offseason has consisted of surgeries to his forearm and back. The recent legal troubles of Aaron Hernandez figure to take another player out of lineup. However, at this point it’s a little early to speculate.
Despite his unbelievable talent, it won’t be easy for Brady to overcome the loss of some of his top targets.
Andrew Luck is already one of the more exciting quarterbacks in the NFL, and he’s only entering the second season of his career. The Indianapolis Colts know that Luck is the center of their team and that he’s the one who’ll lead them to success.
This is why so many of their moves are made to surround Luck with the best support. Indianapolis didn’t only bring in speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey to help Luck, as they also upgraded the talent along the offensive line.
Improved pass protection will help keep Luck healthy and give him more time to locate open targets.
With Sean Payton back in the mix, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2012 season. Brees looked out of sync last year, which resulted in some major struggles and turnovers.
It’s easy to understand why Brees would struggle with Payton suspended. The two have a great connection and just know how to run an offense together.
However, Brees will need to get over the loss of left tackle Jermon Bushrod. The Saints don’t have a suitable replacement, which could cause some protection concerns. They are hoping that Charles Brown or maybe rookie Terron Armstead will step up and fill the position.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will again be among the teams fighting for a Super Bowl berth. At this point in his career, Ryan has accomplished everything he can in the regular season.
He now needs to find a way to bring home a championship.
Ryan should have another productive year thanks to both his talent and the playmakers he has at his disposal. Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez have come together to create major mismatch problems for opposing defenses.
Even though most of Ryan’s focus will be on winning a Super Bowl, he knows that the regular season is important to build confidence and hopefully home-field advantage.
Colin Kaepernick’s ability to make plays with both his legs and arms is what makes him such a special talent. Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers believed in him so much that they were willing to replace veteran Alex Smith in the middle of the season.
San Francisco features a strong running game that adds another element to the offense. That ground attack makes it difficult for defenses to key on just one area.
However, Harbaugh knows that if his team has a chance to make another Super Bowl appearance Kaepernick needs to continue his development. The best way for a young quarterback to take a step forward is by learning while in the lineup.
Aaron Rodgers has developed into one of the most consistent and dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. He does a great job pulling off wins by using both his physical talents and high football IQ. The combination of Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy is lethal duo.
This year will be the first year in a while in which Rodgers has a chance to have a productive running game at his disposal. The Green Bay Packers used two picks in this year’s draft to bring in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin.
The presence of a running game will help the Packers find more balance within the offense. It will also force opposing defenses to take some attention away from the passing game.
Peyton Manning answered any questions about his neck injury by having a terrific first season with the Denver Broncos. He now is more familiar with his surroundings and has another weapon to target.
It’s not out of the question to expect an even better season from Manning this year. He has built a stronger relationship with Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker, while Denver added Wes Welker to the mix this offseason.
Not only is Manning one of the top contenders for a Pro Bowl nod, but his team is also one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.