The Pro Bowl is a big deal each and every year in the NFL.
The roster for the 2012 Pro Bowl was just released, and as always, many players were snubbed, and others were added to the roster just because of previous performances. Many people believe that the Pro Bowl has become a joke, but it is a still a great honor to be recognized by the fans, players and coaches as one of the best players in a single season.
I am not sure that any player would not want to go to a Pro Bowl, unless of course they were playing the Super Bowl. There are many young stars in the NFL that could break out and become the best player in their position soon.
The Saints have six players that are currently on their roster that should make a run at earning their first start in the Pro Bowl next year.
Some of these guys are veterans that have been snubbed year after year, including 2011, and others are young players that are in position to have an outstanding 2012 season.
Let's take a look at six New Orleans Saints that should compete for a Pro Bowl berth in 2012.
Jermon Bushrod was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011, but as a reserve. He has played well enough to be a starter for the NFC, and he will earn that right next year.
Bushrod has been protecting Drew Brees' backside since their Super Bowl title season in 2009. He has done a tremendous job against elite pass rushers like John Abraham, Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011.
All of those elite rushers have combined for zero sacks against the Saints this season. How many left tackles can say that they have not allowed a sack from any one of those guys?
Bushrod surely gets some help from Brees and the rest of the Saints offense, but we cannot take anything away from this guy.
Bushrod gets a bad reputation for a poor performance he put up against DeMarcus Ware in 2009, but since that game, Bushrod has not done anything except play great football.
It was a bit of a shock that Bushrod was not voted as a starter for the 2011 Pro Bowl, but it is positive to see him in there at all. If he keeps up this kind of play, then he is a lock to start next year's game.
I do not believe that anyone expected Jed Collins to be as good as he has been in 2011.
The best part about this young fullback is that he can only get better. Collins will surely improve on this year's performance in 2012. He did well in Pro Bowl voting this season, but can definitely get his first with a repeat performance.
Collins is the perfect fullback for the Saints offensive system. He can block well in both the run and pass game, but he is athletic enough to get into the open field and make a catch, or take a ball up the middle for the tough yards.
The Saints went out and signed fullback Korey Hall with the thought that he would be the starter this season, but Collins stole the job away in training camp.
There is no reason to believe that Collins cannot come back in 2012 better than he was this year and earn his first trip to Hawaii.
Marques Colston is certainly a guy who deserve a Pro Bowl.
He has been the Saints No. 1 receiver since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Colston is the best receiver for the Saints and the most dependable.
There is some speculation as to if he will return to New Orleans because he is a free agent when the season ends, but I would be shocked if Colston was not in the black and gold in 2012.
Despite where he is playing next season, we will likely see Colston in Hawaii next year. Colston has hit the 1,000 yards receiving mark four times in his career, and will likely do it again next week against the Carolina Panthers.
A case could be made for Colston to be a Pro Bowler in 2011, but he missed two games early in the season and does not have the stats compared to the leading NFC receivers. However, Colston definitely has the skills and talent to be the best receiver in the NFC.
Colston will surely put up over 1,000 yards again in 2012 and will probably be close to 10 touchdown catches. If he was playing in a bigger market, then Colston would more than likely already have two or three Pro Bowls under his belt.
In 2012, I fully expect to see Colston as a Saint in the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Brian De La Puente is probably the Saint that has impressed me the most in 2011.
That is saying a lot because Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles and Roman Harper are having absolutely fantastic years. However, I expected to see guys like Graham and Sproles explode in 2011. I knew that Harper and Brees could play like this because they have before, whereas De La Puente has never been a starting center before.
To be completely honest, I had no idea who this guy was when I was watching him in the preseason.
When starting center Olin Kreutz went down with an injury early in the season, I thought second-year player Matt Tennant would replace him, so when De La Puente came in, I had to do a quick Google search to find out who the guy is.
Throughout the 2011 season, De La Puente has performed very well. He is a young center and has improved drastically through the year. I can only imagine what an entire offseason with the Brees and the Saints can do for De La Puente.
I believe that he will receiver his first Pro Bowl bid in 2012, followed by many more after that.
I frankly cannot believe that I have to include Malcolm Jenkins on this list.
It is astounding that he was not selected for the 2011 Pro Bowl. Jenkins is one of the best, if not the best, young free safety in the NFL.
Jenkins is all over the field, tackling running backs, hitting tight ends and punishing wide receivers. He is a constant contribute to the Saints defense in every facet of the game. Jenkins is among the league leaders in every statistical category.
In 2012, Jenkins will be in Hawaii. If he is not, then we probably need a new system.
Jabari Greer is another player that should have been elected to the Pro Bowl a long time ago.
Greer has been the best cornerback in the NFC South for three years now and continues to put up great numbers. Greer has covered opposing offenses best wide receivers all year and has done a fantastic job in slowing them down.
The Saints secondary as a whole gets a bad reputation because of how many passing yards they allow, but that stat alone is very deceiving. They allow a lot of passing yards because opposing offenses are constantly playing catch up, and Greer and other Saint defensive backs are not even considered for Pro Bowls because of it.
However, in 2012, Greer should make his first Pro Bowl because he will undoubtedly put up another great performance.