Pro Bowl

Pro Bowl Format 2014: Updated Rules, Rosters and More for Unconferenced Game

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 27: Fireworks are set off during the 2013 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl pre-game show on January 27 , 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IJanuary 21, 2014

The NFL Pro Bowl has never been considered the best all-star game in professional sports. In fact, by many accounts, it has been viewed as the worst.

But with a brand new format, rules and a loaded roster, the Pro Bowl is making another attempt at gaining attention. The only question is: Will it work?

Rather than having two different conferences facing off against one another like they have in the past, the NFL is embracing the fantasy football culture and allowing two of the biggest former superstars in Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice to pick their own teams in an unconferenced format.

The two legends will participate in the first-ever Pro Bowl fantasy draft. The draft will kick off on Tuesday Jan. 21. NFL.com provides the info on what to expect: 

On Tuesday, alumni captains Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice get the party started on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET, primarily by drafting offensive linemen. (One fullback, one punter and one special teamer per team are also selected.)

In total, 22 players will be selected on Tuesday.  

On Wednesday, the other 66 players will be selected, starting at 8 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. 

As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, the team captains have already been set:

Unfortunately, the new format isn't rubbing some players the right way. According to Taylor Price of the San Francisco 49ers official website, Patrick Willis isn't too keen on the idea of tackling one of his teammates:

In the draft, Rice and Sanders will get to select from rosters selected by the fans and replacements for those either not able to participate or playing in the Super Bowl.

With the new format, here is all the information fans need to know before the game kicks off this weekend.

 

Game Information

When: Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Watch: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra

Rosters

Pro Bowl: Offense
Pos.PlayerTeam
QBTom BradyNew England Patriots
QBDrew BreesNew Orleans Saints
QBAndrew Luck*Indianapolis Colts
QBPeyton ManningDenver Broncos
QBCam NewtonCarolina Panthers
QBPhilip RiversSan Diego Chargers
QBRussell WilsonSeattle Seahawks
QBNick Foles*Philadelphia Eagles
WRAntonio BrownPittsburgh Steelers
WRDez BryantDallas Cowboys
WRLarry Fitzgerald*Arizona Cardinals
WRJosh GordonCleveland Browns
WRA.J. GreenCincinnati Bengals
WRAndre JohnsonHouston Texans
WRCalvin JohnsonDetroit Lions
WRBrandon MarshallChicago Bears
WRDemaryius ThomasDenver Broncos
WRDeSean Jackson*Philadelphia Eagles
WRAlshon Jeffery*Chicago Bears
OTBranden AlbertKansas City Chiefs
OTJason PetersPhiladelphia Eagles
OTTyron SmithDallas Cowboys
OTJoe StaleySan Francisco 49ers
OTJoe ThomasCleveland Browns
OTTrent WilliamsWashington Redskins
OTDuane Brown*Houston Texans
OGJahri EvansNew Orleans Saints
OGBen GrubbsNew Orleans Saints
OGMike IupatiSan Francisco 49ers
OGLogan MankinsNew England Patriots
OGLouis VasquezDenver Broncos
OGMarshal YandaBaltimore Ravens
OGEvan Mathis*Philadelphia Eagles
C Ryan KalilCarolina Panthers
CAlex MackCleveland Browns
CNick Mangold*New York Jets
C Mike PounceyMiami Dolphins
C Max UngerSeattle Seahawks
TE Jordan CameronCleveland Browns
TEVernon DavisSan Francisco 49ers
TEJimmy GrahamNew Orleans Saints
TEJulius ThomasDenver Broncos
TEJason Witten*Dallas Cowboys
RBJamaal CharlesKansas City Chiefs
RBMatt ForteChicago Bears
RBFrank GoreSan Francisco 49ers
RBMarshawn LynchSeattle Seahawks
RBLeSean McCoyPhiladelphia Eagles
RBAdrian PetersonMinnesota Vikings
RBEddie Lacy*Green Bay Packers
RBAlfred Morris*Washington
FBMarcel ReeceOakland Raiders
FBMike TolbertCarolina Panthers
NFL.com (*Denotes replacements)
Pro Bowl: Defense
Pos.PlayerTeam
DEGreg HardyCarolina Panthers
DECameron JordanNew Orleans Saints
DERobert QuinnSt. Louis Rams
DECameron WakeMiami Dolphins
DEJ.J. WattHouston Texans
DEMario WilliamsBuffalo Bills
DTJason Hatcher*Dallas Cowboys
DTGerald McCoyTampa Bay Buccaneers
DTHaloti NgataBaltimore Ravens
DTDontari PoeKansas City Chiefs
DTJustin SmithSan Francisco 49ers
DT Ndamukong SuhDetroit Lions
DT Kyle WilliamsBuffalo Bills
OLB John AbrahamArizona Cardinals
OLBAhmad BrooksSan Francisco 49ers
OLBTamba HaliKansas City Chiefs
OLBJustin HoustonKansas City Chiefs
OLBRobert MathisIndianapolis Colts
OLBTerrell SuggsBaltimore Ravens
MLBNaVorro BowmanSan Francisco 49ers
MLBVontaze BurfictCincinnati Bengals
MLBLuke KuechlyCarolina Panthers
MLBPatrick WillisSan Francisco 49ers
CBBrandon FlowersKansas City Chiefs
CBBrent GrimesMiami Dolphins
CBJoe HadenCleveland Browns
CBPatrick PetersonArizona Cardinals
CBDarrelle RevisTampa Bay Buccaneers
CBRichard ShermanSeattle Seahawks
CBAqib TalibNew England Patriots
CB Alterraun VernerTennessee Titans
CBTim Jennings*Chicago Bears
FSJairus ByrdBuffalo Bills
FSEarl ThomasSeattle Seahawks
FSEric WeddleSan Diego Chargers
SSEric BerryKansas City Chiefs
SS Kam ChancellorSeattle Seahawks
SSTroy PolamaluPittsburgh Steelers
SSAntrel Rolle*New York Giants
NFL.com (*Denotes replacement)
Pro Bowl: Special Teams
Pos.PlayerTeam
PBrandon FieldsMiami Dolphins
PJohnny HekkerSt. Louis Rams
KStephen Gostkowski*New England Patriots
KMatt PraterDenver Broncos
KJustin TuckerBaltimore Ravens
PRCordarrelle PattersonMinnesota Vikings
PRDexter McClusterKansas City Chiefs
ST Justin BethelArizona Cardinals
ST Matthew SlaterNew England Patriots
LSJ.J. JansenCarolina Panthers
LSMatt OvertonIndianapolis Colts
NFL.com (*Denotes replacement)

A few players have already had discussions with the two coaches about which team they will likely be drafted by, including Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts who was told he would be drafted by Sanders:

Sanders also made his own voice heard on Twitter, saying he would draft San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers—though he spelled his name wrong—and is considering Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens:

As for Rice, he said he is considering either Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams or J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans with his first defensive pick, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN:

 

Updated Rules

Apart from just the changes in the way the teams are chosen, there are differences in the way the game will be played on the field. Here are the changes to the rules, according to NFL.com:

  • Game within the Game—A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct "two-minute drills," which are especially exciting for fans.
  • No Kickoffs—The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
  • Rosters—The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
  • Cover Two and Press Coverage—The defense will be permitted to play "cover two" and "press" coverage. In previous years, only "man" coverage was permitted, except for goal-line situations.
  • Stopping of the Game Clock—Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
  • Game Timing—The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
  • Play Clock—A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
  • Sacks—The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.

One of the most interesting changes out of those is taking away kickoffs. After the NFL changed the rules recently limiting the amount of kickoff returns in the game, the Pro Bowl nullifying kickoffs is taking away from the amount of excitement that special teams can provide with a huge return.

To counteract that, the two-minute warning rule will generate clutch situations for every quarterback inserted in the game. In this case, quarterbacks can be used much like pitchers are in the MLB All-Star Game, constantly being able to put in a new one for a limited amount of time.

With just four quarterbacks on each roster, each signal-caller could play a quarter and get a chance to show off in a two-minute drill at the end of his respective period of play—literally becoming a quarterback.

Perhaps the updated changes to the Pro Bowl will breathe new life into what has become somewhat of an afterthought in between the championship games and the Super Bowl. Just trying to envision the possibility of every fantasy football player's dreams does seem enticing, but will it actually make sense?

Either way, the changes should make the game more intriguing and ultimately more entertaining. And in a game that could use a little more excitement, fans should tune in to see how much the game will change without the restraints of prior seasons.

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