Players were elected to the 2014 Pro Bowl as usual, but this new wrinkle plays on both the popularity of the NFL draft and fantasy football in an attempt to revive what has been a stagnant event over the years.
Rather than scrap the event entirely, this breath of fresh air has fans buzzing about the Pro Bowl. Here is a look at the full roster, followed by three names to watch early come draft day.
|Pro Bowl Roster - Offense|
|QB||Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|QB||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|QB||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos|
|QB||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers|
|QB||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers|
|QB||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks|
|WR||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|WR||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys|
|WR||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns|
|WR||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals|
|WR||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans|
|WR||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions|
|WR||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears|
|WR||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|OT||Branden Albert||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OT||Jason Peters||Philadelphia Eagles|
|OT||Tyron Smith||Dallas Cowboys|
|OT||Joe Staley||San Francisco 49ers|
|OT||Joe Thomas||Cleveland Browns|
|OT||Trent Williams||Washington Redskins|
|OG||Jahri Evans||New Orleans Saints|
|OG||Ben Grubbs||New Orleans Saints|
|OG||Mike Iupati||San Francisco 49ers|
|OG||Logan Mankins||New England Patriots|
|OG||Louis Vasquez||Denver Broncos|
|OG||Marshal Yanda||Baltimore Ravens|
|C||Ryan Kalil||Carolina Panthers|
|C||Alex Mack||Cleveland Browns|
|C||Mike Pouncey||Miami Dolphins|
|C||Max Unger||Seattle Seahawks|
|TE||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns|
|TE||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers|
|TE||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints|
|TE||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|RB||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs|
|RB||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|RB||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers|
|RB||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks|
|RB||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles|
|RB||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings|
|FB||Marcel Reece||Oakland Raiders|
|FB||Mike Tolbert||Carolina Panthers|
|Pro Bowl Roster - Defense|
|DE||Greg Hardy||Carolina Panthers|
|DE||Cameron Jordan||New Orleans Saints|
|DE||Robert Quinn||St. Louis Rams|
|DE||Cameron Wake||Miami Dolphins|
|DE||J.J. Watt||Houston Texans|
|DE||Mario Williams||Buffalo Bills|
|DT||Gerald McCoy||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|DT||Haloti Ngata||Baltimore Ravens|
|DT||Dontari Poe||Kansas City Chiefs|
|DT||Justin Smith||San Francisco 49ers|
|DT||Ndamukong Suh||Detroit Lions|
|DT||Kyle Williams||Buffalo Bills|
|OLB||John Abraham||Arizona Cardinals|
|OLB||Ahmad Brooks||San Francisco 49ers|
|OLB||Tamba Hali||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OLB||Justin Houston||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OLB||Robert Mathis||Indianapolis Colts|
|OLB||Terrell Suggs||Baltimore Ravens|
|MLB||NaVorro Bowman||San Francisco 49ers|
|MLB||Vontaze Burfict||Cincinnati Bengals|
|MLB||Luke Kuechly||Carolina Panthers|
|MLB||Patrick Willis||San Francisco 49ers|
|CB||Brandon Flowers||Kansas City Chiefs|
|CB||Brent Grimes||Miami Dolphins|
|CB||Joe Haden||Cleveland Browns|
|CB||Patrick Peterson||Arizona Cardinals|
|CB||Darrelle Revis||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|CB||Richard Sherman||Seattle Seahawks|
|CB||Aqib Talib||New England Patriots|
|CB||Alterraun Verner||Tennessee Titans|
|FS||Jairus Byrd||Buffalo Bills|
|FS||Earl Thomas||Seattle Seahawks|
|FS||Eric Weddle||San Diego Chargers|
|SS||Eric Berry||Kansas City Chiefs|
|SS||Kam Chancellor||Seattle Seahawks|
|SS||Troy Polamalu||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Pro Bowl Roster - Special Teams|
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
There is a certain allure to young stars such as Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, but either Rice or Sanders will have to get boring in the early goings and select a veteran quarterback.
Boring is not a horrible way for either to go in an offensive-minded showdown, especially with Peyton Manning on the board.
The Denver Broncos signal-caller has thrown for 5,211 yards and an NFL-record 51 touchdowns through 16 games, leading him to be the highest vote-getter as ESPN details:
Those 13 trips tie for second-most in NFL history, and this one comes just in time as Manning will not be restricted to receivers from the AFC—meaning he could lob passes to Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
While certainly not the biggest name, both men in charge of the draft—especially Rice—are going to want some young blood to promote the health of the league on a national scale.
There is no better way to do that than grab Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns. Gordon has earned the right to be up there with the Megatrons and A.J. Greens of the world after a 2013 campaign that saw him amass 1,564 yards and nine touchdowns—despite missing the first two games of the season.
Gordon broke a variety of records through 16 Weeks, but one stands above all:
Despite these impressive feats, Gordon did not finish among the top-10 wide receivers in fan voting, as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal illustrates:
Thank goodness for coach and player votes, as both groups clearly saw something in Gordon's impressive year—Rice and Sanders will, too.
Perhaps most helpful to Gordon's case for a high selection was his enthusiasm for being named to the event as NFL Network captured:
There is arguably no better deep threat eligible for the Pro Bowl than Gordon and he is a lock to make the trip to Hawaii with his team out of contention. Expect to see his name come off the board early.
Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
While defense is hard to come by in the Pro Bowl for the sake of player safety, we all know Sanders is going to nab elite defensive backs early to counter the explosive offense Rice is sure to assemble.
Sanders has to look no further than Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, who wants to be the No. 1 player off the board:
Peterson has a case. He ranks as the No. 12 overall corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), in large part thanks to his ability to shut down most consistently.
Peterson also has 40 total tackles and three picks, and also doubles as an electric returner.
If a defender is going to sneak into the early part of the draft, there is no better bet than Peterson.